This is a tiny camcorder, therefore it has a tiny lens. The MG130’s 34x optical zoom lens has a filter diameter of 30.5mm and a focal length of 2.3mm-78.2mm. Not a bad zoom for such a pint-sized small fry. To the right of the lens is a vertical switch that controls the retractable lens cover. This eliminates the need for an external lens cover, but it relies too heavily on the shooter’s memory to close it. On this particular model, it’s easy to bump the lens open, so keep an eye on it during transport. Directly underneath the lens is the 2 channel built-in microphone, which stays out of harm’s way thanks to its low placement. On the left side of the microphone is a USB terminal that is housed by a flimsy plastic port cover that pulls out with the greatest of ease. This is cheapness at its prime. To the bottom left of the lens is a minuscule LED video light that provides about as much light as an illuminated iPod. Above the light is the remote sensor.
The Right Side
The right side of the MG130 is a barren wasteland. No ports, buttons, or switches—just the mode dial on the far left and the highly economical hand strap running along the bottom. As far as the hand strap goes, we’ve seen better keychain handouts from local banks. It’s cheaply made and feels rigid along the back of the hand. JVC definitely cut some corners on the MG130. The mode dial is round and shifts up to toggle between video and camera mode. Those with hands bigger than a size small will have difficulty bending their fingers into a cramped position suitable enough to reach the clustered controls on this camcorder, and the mode dial is no exception.
There’s no viewfinder to speak of on the MG130, and a tall, slim battery engulfs most of the back end. The battery does not jut out and is flush within its shallow cavity. Since there isn’t a viewfinder, adding a bigger battery is not much of a problem. To the right of the battery is a small panel consisting of a round AV jack and rectangular DC input. These are both contained by - you guessed it - a fragile, thin strip of plastic that rips off just as easily as the USB port cover. Weak. Above these ports is the oval record start/stop button that is cramped in with the back of the mode dial. A vertical set of three lights line the top of the back. They are the access/charge, video mode, and camera mode lights. On the bottom of the camcorder is a burly hinged door that encloses the SD card slot. Unfortunately, you have to remove the MG130 from a tripod in order to swap cards, which is a bit of a hassle.
The Left Side
This is where all the action happens. Flinging open the MG130’s 2.7” 16:9 LCD screen reveals a series of buttons. Along the bottom are the menu, direct DVD, and direct backup buttons. Along the right side of the LCD cavity is the select/play/record button and auto/manual/info button. This is an awkward, L-shaped layout that encompasses trivial buttons like direct DVD and direct backup, which could have been options in the menu. The LCD has the hookup with a multifaceted joystick that can perform a number of instant adjustments like program AE and night shutter mode. The only downside is that it’s bit small and could falter in the hands of a Fidgety Frank. A battery status level/index button and function menu button lay conveniently above and below the joystick.
All you’ll find here is the miniature zoom toggle and photo button located at the battery end of the MG130. Since this camcorder is so diminutive, the index finger overpowers the zoom toggle and almost reaches the other side. Therefore, the shooter is required to slide their hand down in the strap and grab the MG130 at a low, awkward angle. Ergonomics is not the focal point here, as JVC designed the MG130 for tourists and families on the road.