I originally wrote this review when the Kodak Zi6 was pretty new. Since then, Kodak’s Zi8 has been released. It does higher-resolution 1080p video, has a mic input and a better view screen — but loses the ability to interchange batteries. It also shoots at a native wider angle. (I found the Zi6 to be wide enough.) And Kodak refined the design — it looks and feels better in your hand.
If you compare the video quality at 720p, there really isn’t much difference. Basically, you will pay about double what the Zi6 costs to get the newer Zi8. My verdict? Go for a used or refurb Zi6 unless you have a big HD TV and will play your home videos on it (and even then you probably would have a hard time telling the difference).
The JVC Picsio is also a new entry into this market niche. It does 1080p video — but why would you want to buy something with such a stupid name? And it has that lovely Gucci purse look about it too, which I would avoid with a ten-foot pole. Apparently other consumers agree with the idea of avoiding this one, based on how few have been bought.
Below is my original review. If you don’t read it, at least scroll down to the bottom for the punchline.
The Flip Mino was the first real player in this market. The concept: a small, pocket-sized video camera that will let you download video directly from the device to the web. Kodak came next with the Zi6, the first to offer HD output (720p). Flip then followed with the Mino HD. And then Sony released the Webbie. Their traditional-video-camera-looking CM1 seems to have hit the market first, in terms of the number of reviews out there. But the PM1 is the smaller model that is a real competitor for the Zi6 and Mino HD. The PM1 is shown at the left. Middle is the Zi6, and at right is the Mino HD. They are not to scale with each other.) The CM1 costs $30 more but adds a 5x optical zoom lens. But its bulkier size rules it out of the competition, for me
The device quality probably goes in this order: Sony, Flip and Kodak.
Prices: the Sony is mid-pack, the Kodak is the cheapest, and the Mino HD is the most expensive of the trio. (I used to list the prices here — but they keep dropping!)
I bought the Kodak Zi6: I like it. I got a really good deal on it via bestbuy.com. If the Sony were available when I was in the market, I probably would have gone for it. (I have a W-series point-and-shoot still camera that I love.)
One of the critics’ complaints is that the Kodak’s low-light performance is poor. Not true!! I took this video at a concert recently, and the result was almost brighter than the live event! The automatic sensor for light levels kicked in and did a great job.
Here’s a review featuring things like picture quality.
If you’re considering the Mino HD, skip it. Reasons? When the built-in battery runs low, you’re stuck. (The Kodak uses AAs. Like the Mino, Sony also uses a built-in battery.) When the memory runs out, you’re stuck (4 gb internal and not increasable). The Kodak uses the biggest SD card you can afford. Sony uses Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, which are slightly more expensive. Finally, the Mino has a smaller view screen (1.5″) than the Sony (1.8″) and the Kodak (2.4″).
The Sony has 5 mp still capability. The Kodak’s is 1.6 mp. Flip? None.
Sony’s swiveling lens is unique in this class. You can film yourself and see what you look like without having to stop, play back and then re-do.
A fourth player in the mix is the Creative Labs Vado. It’s roughly in the same price league but requires Perian for Mac people to play the created videos.
Recommendation? Buy the Sony unless you will be taking a trip where you can’t charge the battery (a week-long wildlife safari in Kenya, maybe). It also does not have a direct-USB out port. So if you do the fast-onto-YouTube thing, go with the Kodak.
Remember that these are not meant to compete with real video cameras. None have image stabilization, for example. But for my family, the Kodak has effectively replaced our higher-quality larger Canon, because of its size and ease of use. Downloading a video from flash memory is way easier than the old Firewire from tape method.
The punchline? I sold my Kodak Zi6 and bought a Canon SD960 IS. It does optical zoom and takes great stills too. I also sold my Sony still camera. Two into one = best way forward for me! I have been very happy with both the still images and the video. And now the Canon SD-1300 is the rough equivalent to my SD-960.
Note that all the Amazon links on this page are affiliate links. They used to give me a small amount of earnings, but the law in Colorado changed, and Amazon made it where no one here can earn money through their affiliate program. So now the earnings go to a friend of mine in Indiana.