Wednesday, September 23, 2009

our Kodak Zi8 test

I'm excited to be launching a wide-ranging test of the new Kodak Zi8HD ultralight camcorder, with the help of some clients and colleagues around the U.S. The camera has just arrived and while it's getting charged and assembled, here are some early thoughts I can share with you and my testers, who'll get the camera next:
  • Weight: It's still lightweight, but with its larger battery and the need for an SD card to extend the memory, this 1.4-pound camera's heavier than the Flip MinoHD Camcorder or the Flip UltraHD (the 120-minute version), which are 11.2 ounces and 12 ounces, respectively. See the view top left, showing the battery compartment.
  • Connections: After the Flip, with its pop-out USB connection (which doubles as a charger and as the path to upload your video), my first impression of the Zi8 was "My, doesn't this come with an assortment of cords and plugs," and none appears to do more than one function--so you have a charging cord, an uploading cord and the cable to connect to a TV or monitor. There's a pull-out USB on a flexible short arm (see photo right). A full charge requires 2 hours!
  • Memory: Flip cameras come with built-in 30-, 60- or 120-minutes of juice, and charge relatively quickly via the USB port for later models (or with new AA batteries for the smaller, older models, useful for those who don't want to take chances). The Zi8 "has limited internal memory--perfect for a few practice videos/pictures," according to the manual. So I've added $88 to the price with a 32GB SD card, the maximum memory this can accommodate, which will allow up to 10 hours of recording.
On the plus side, there's potential for widescreen filming, longer videos, and an external microphone jack--all catnip for those of us who've been playing with Flip cameras. My first impression: Can't beat the Flip for intuitive design and ease-of-use out of the box, but the extra features open up lots of possibilities. Watch this space for updates from me and my testers in the weeks to come.

And Flip has just reduced prices on its cameras, so you can now get the HD versions for around $150-160, instead of their earlier just-over-$200 price. (Photos for this piece? Took them, yes, with a Flip camera.)

Buy a Kodak Zi8

Buy a Flip MinoHD Camcorder (the 60-minute version) or Flip UltraHD (the 120-minute version)

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