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With the Kodak Zi6, the Pocket Camcorder war is over before it begins

October 23rd, 2008 by James in A/V Devices, Photography

As Nat mentioned a few days ago, the launch of the Flip Mino represents the next step in pocket camcorders that provides more on-board memory and decent quality video for the YouTube set. Easy to use, easy to upload. Very low cost. But I can tell you this, the Flip is dead. Killed and buried. With extreme prejudice. By the Kodak Zi6.

Why? Because for about $180, users not only get that easy of use, large onboard memory with expandable SD card slots, and low price, they also get 720 HD quality at a blazing 60 frames per second. Did I mention it also records in 16:9 widescreen? A logical and nice feature for HD TVs which are designed to take advantage of that aspect ratio. But it is tad puzzling why Kodak chose to only allow for 120MB of onboard memory – that’s what, 5 seconds of HD footage? But with the cheap cost of SDHC cards and it’s expansion slot, the decision was probably to put the money into the quality of the video and less on storage options figuring people will just use their existing SD cards (up to 32GB) to store video footage with. It only makes sense.

The footage isn’t too bad for a $180 pocket camera. It certainly blows the standard definition “flip” style camcorders out of the water. Smooth white balance, accurate color, and a nice large LCD screen to watch it in. And thanks to its 60 frames per second recording speed, panning movement can be handled much better and with less artifacting than its competitors that still shoot SD at less than half that speed.

And while it won’t compete with its larger HD cousins like the Canon HV30 or the Panasonic HDC-SD9, this is largely due to the fact that full size palm camcorders have better optical zoom options and other whistles and bells, while every pocket camcorder has to rely on digital zoom, which isn’t really a zoom at all, more like a digital enlargement of the existing image (think blowing something up in a copy machine).

As for connectivity, the Zi6, like its counterparts, utilizes a jack-knife style USB connector to plug into a PC for easy editing with the included software (not my favorite, admittedly) or to fast upload to YouTube. Users can also plug the camera directly into their TV with the included standard (and cheap) A/V cables. And slow motion playback is a direct feature.

And another cool option Kodak includes in the price are precharged AA rechargeable batteries and mini charger kit included in the price. That’s nice and environmentally conscious decision which makes the Zix (get it?) much more appealing.

The Zix records in Apple’s ever more popular H.264 with audio encoded to AAC. And the Zix also take still photos, which is another feature we’re sure pocket camcorder fans will “flip” for since the other guys don’t. But what’s the main feature I’m thrilled the Zix has that the Flip doesn’t? A Tripod mount. That’s right. Someone finally got the idea that even though people want a camcorder that’s small enough to fit into a pocket, doesn’t mean they don’t want to be able to mount it on a tripod when they need to.

So forget the pocket camcorder war. And forget the Flip – which blazed a path in this category of video cameras. The Kodak Zi6 takes pocket camcording to a whole new level and makes it not only a must as a backup camcorder for serious videophiles, but also as an important item to toss into your glove compartment to capture Kodak moments when you need to.

2 Comments on “With the Kodak Zi6, the Pocket Camcorder war is over before it begins”

paul merrill Says:

October 23rd, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Thanks for the review.

I ordered mine via Amazon (to save the shipping costs), but it won’t ship for another week or two. Sigh – waiting, waiting.

patdon Says:

November 14th, 2008 at 8:59 am

actually the flip, both the first mino and now the minoHD, have tripod mounts.
by the way, did I mention that Flip has an HD cam now? the miniHD?

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