The Zi6 has already been launched state-side, but with a strong interest in this new class of camcorder, it is no surprise to see it being quickly introduced this side of the pond. But can Kodak push the likes of the Flip and the Creative Vado aside? We got hands-on the dinky player for a brief look.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Zi6 (apart from a name that has no conceivable pronunciation) is the size. Measuring 64 x 114 x 23.5mm it is larger in the hand than the Flip or Vado, but the size is perhaps justified by the inclusion of an impressive 2.4in LCD display. Whilst it is still pocketable it is approaching the size where some might be deterred, however it is relatively slim so shouldn’t cause too much of an issue.
One other thing you’ll notice is the overall impression of quality, with the two-tone silver and black colour ways an improvement on some rivals’ overly plastic look (other colours are also available).
Like competitor models, the built-in USB 2.0 connector springs out at a press of a button allowing you to connect straight to your PC. The ArcSoft MediaImpression Light software is onboard and provides a simple interface allowing you to plug and play. Kodak were keen to point out the direct upload option allowing Zi6 users to get their footage into YouTube.
As with some fixed focus cameras, you’ll find a switch on the side of the Zi6 that switches between regular and macro modes, so detailed work is an option, shifting the focal range for those close-ups. Other controls are based around the buttons on the back, with a large central four-way controller with that all-important red button to record the action. This is sandwiched between a stop/delete button and a playback button so things are kept simple and it is all very easy to use. The four-way controller also gives you 2x zoom.
Of course the headline feature here is HD, meaning the Zi6 takes a huge jump in quality its rivals, offering 720p. However, if you are interested in sharing your files online you might want to take advantage of the different quality settings – from HD60 (720p, 60fps) down to VGA. The icons on the screen tell you what settings you have engaged. Still images can also be captured giving you the option of a 3MP still shot.
The Zi6 takes AA batteries, which partly explains the size, but Kodak do supply rechargeable batteries so you get the best of both worlds. You’ll also find all the cables bundled in the box, to connect up to the two 3.5mm jacks on the side of the Zi6, allowing playback. The HD jack allows a high-definition Component output with the audio stream coming from the AV jack.
Whilst there is 128MB on on-board memory, most wanting to shoot in top settings will opt for the SD option, accepting SDHC up to 32GB, with the added bonus of being able to remove the SD card and slot directly into a PC if you prefer to work that way, or swap out a full card to carry on filming.
With an impressive spec sheet this is an obvious step-up for the pocketable camcorder options, giving you the flexibility of AA batteries and removable storage whilst delivering HD quality footage. Of course, you’ll need to pay out for the SDHC card to get the most out of the Zi6, so you’ll have to add that into the overall price, making this a more costly option.
The size is also approaching some of the slimmer cameras, so it is a tough call whether to opt for this or use a camera which would cost more, but give you full control over still images.
Of course, on our brief look we saw the software in use, rather then being able to vigorously test it ourselves. Also we couldn’t hook-up to a HDTV for a full test on the all-important quality. A Kodak spokesperson confirmed that we would soon have our hands on a Zi6 for a full review, so watch this space.
Until then, based on overall build quality and ease-of-use, the Zi6 looks like an exciting addition to the pocketable camcorder trend.