The JVC GR-X5's manual states, "Commercial use without proper permission is prohibited." I'm not sure how JVC plans to enforce this rule, but the thrust of it is significant: while three-chip cameras have historically been expensive professional and prosumer units, the GR-X5 represents a relatively affordable three-chip option geared to general consumers.
In theory, three chips offer better image quality than one, as well as the potential for still images that are more competitive with those of dedicated digital still cameras. Our theory is that single-chip DV cameras have evolved to the point of diminishing returns. They are not likely to get much smaller or to offer much better quality, so the manufacturers have had to move to three chips to make significant improvements.
JVC bills the GR-X5 as a 'cutting-edge digital media camera'. It's a sort of Swiss Army knife that is supposed to satisfy all a consumer's imaging needs, both video and still. With a typical price of £860, this would be an expensive camcorder or still camera, but if it truly satisfies both needs, it's not such a bad deal.
As is typical of JVC, it made the GR-X5 a distinctive camera -- a hybrid that borrows features and design elements from both video and still cameras. While it isn't the best video- or still-capture device, it may be a perfect fit for those looking for a jack-of-all-trades.
At 510g, the JVC GR-X5 is a solid little dark-grey cube. It looks like the offspring of a camcorder and a still camera, bearing some resemblance to both parents, but unlikely to be mistaken for either.
The camera's front is dominated by a 10x zoom lens, which sits behind a tiny removable lens hood. On top of the camera, just behind the lens, are a stereo mic and a standard shoe for mounting accessories. No doubt due to the GR-X5's limited surface real estate, some controls and connections are strangely located on the camera's front: namely, an awkwardly placed zoom control and ports for power, an AV connection, headphones and an external microphone. These ports are fine when not in use, but cables sprouting out the front of a camera will likely find their way into an occasional shot.