Carting a camcorder with you has become a whole lot easier, thanks to pocket-sized digital camcorders such as Pure Digital Technologies' Flip Ultra and Flip Mino. These inexpensive cameras are not only drop-dead easy to use -- push a button to record and another to play -- but produce video acceptable for posting to sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Recently, Kodak entered this market with its diminutive pocket camcorder, the Zi6.
In doing so, it's given Flip and consumers interested in pocket video something to think about. Not only is it about the same price as the Flip Mino (£129.99 including VAT to the Flip's £119.99 at Amazon), but unlike the Flip camcorders, it shoots in HD, offering 720p at either 60 or 30 frames per second (as usual with these models, UK TV framerates aren't available, but most TVs can playback the Zi6's video). It also takes still shots at three-megapixels (interpolated), stores data on SD cards (up to 32GB), and runs off two rechargeable AA batteries.
Like the Flip camcorders, the Zi6 includes a built-in USB connector. Just press a button on the front of the camera and out pops the connector. Its 2x zoom lens lets you zoom like you can with a Flip, but the Zi6 also includes a Macro switch that, when engaged, allows you to get within an inch of your subject without blurring. It features a 2.4-inch LCD that's not tremendously bright but can be seen outdoors in all but the sunniest conditions; a mono microphone on the front; a built-in speaker; and AV (composite) and HD (component) output ports on the side.
The Zi6 is available in black or pink, and includes composite and component cables, two rechargeable NiMH batteries, a battery charger, wrist strap, camera pouch, user guide, and Arcsoft's Media Impression software. The software is completely useless to Mac users as it's Windows-only. And the Zi6 doesn't come with a SD memory card.
The Zi6 is bigger than the Flip Mino--think iPod classic versus iPod mini. But that larger size allows for the bigger LCD. Much of the camera's operation is controlled through a joystick on the back. Turn the camera on, choose how you want to capture the image by cycling through the options with the joystick (HD video at 60 or 30 frames per second, standard definition video, or still), press the center of the joystick in to begin the capture, push the joystick up or down to zoom in or out respectively, then press the joystick again to stop. I wasn't completely thrilled with the joystick, as I occasionally bumped it when I didn't mean to, but I found it no less troublesome than the Flip Mino's touch-sensitive buttons, which I also occasionally press by mistake.
To play your video, press the Record/Play button to the right of the joystick to choose Play. Press the joystick to the right or left to cycle through movies or stills you've captured and press the joystick to start playback. To remove movies or stills, just select them while in Play mode and press the Trash button to the left of the joystick.