For a pocket camcorder, Kodak's Zi6 Pocket Video Camera has a ton of features and shoots video with surprisingly bright colours.

Kodak’s Zi6 predates the ZX1 by a few months. It offers the advantage of an SDHC slot, plus 128MB of internal memory.

The Zi6 can capture 1,280x720 video at a framerate of either 30fps or 60fps and in a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Composition and results are viewed via its 2.4in LCD screen.

The unit is physically larger than its rivals from Creative and Flip (pages xx and xx), but feels more substantial and will still slip comfortably into a pocket. The larger size is partly due to the fact that the Zi6 requires two rechargeable AA batteries for power. A mini charger is included.

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With smooth rubber bodywork at the front and back providing firm purchase for fingers and thumb, the Zi6’s buttons and controls are large and well-marked. Press a button next to the lens and, apeing the Flip, a USB arm flicks out from the side for attachment to a PC or laptop. Below this are outputs for HD and AV cables, and both leads are provided in the box. What it misses is an extension lead for the USB arm itself.

On the other side is a protected slot for an SDHC Card and, above this, a slider switch for manually swapping focal distance between close up and infinity – much like you’d see on a digital stills camera.

Everything feels very much in the right place, with the four-way joystick for operating the slightly jerky digital zoom falling under the thumb.

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The quality of the Kodak’s larger screen is much better than its Creative and Flip rivals, displaying no obvious artefacts. However, the built-in mono microphone is quite sensitive, picking up the camera’s operational sounds.

With operation simply plug and play, video quality is a slight improvement on the Flip; colours are realistic but shadow areas are slightly noisy when shooting daylight interiors. A screw thread at the base also allows the camcorder to be attached to a tripod. Further good news: at press time, Amazon UK was advertising the Zi6 for just £85 inc VAT.

NEXT PAGE: our original review, from April 2009 (Verdict on page 4)

For a pocket camcorder, Kodak's Zi6 Pocket Video Camera has a ton of features and shoots video with surprisingly bright colours.

Original review, from April 2009, by Tim Moynihan

The Kodak Zi6 won't replace your full-sized camcorder or even rival such a camcorder's feature set, but it does offer characteristics unique among the current crop of pocket HD camcorders.

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The Kodak Zi6 combines a lot of things we love about Pure Digital's Flip MinoHD - a flip-out USB connector for direct-from-device uploads to YouTube and for offloading clips to your computer, dead-easy controls, and relatively good video quality - with a few extra tricks that trump Pure Digital's popular gadget, such as the ability to toggle between macro and landscape modes and the presence of three video-shooting modes and a still-photo mode.

Still images captured with the Kodak Zi6 aren't much to look at, but having the option to snap a still is nice.

The three video modes all record as H.264 .mov files: a 60-frames-per-second HD mode (720p), a 30fps HD mode (also 720p), and a standard-definition VGA mode that takes lower-resolution clips with a smaller file size.

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In still mode, the Kodak Zi6 captures 3Mp images with its CMOS sensor; stills are a bit better than what you'd get with your average cell-phone camera, but don't expect stunning, high-res shots that you can crop and edit.

The Kodak Zi6 is slightly bigger than pocket camcorders such as the Flip Mino HD, but it's still very pocketable. It's about the size of an old Palm Pilot, versus the Flip's iPod nano-sized frame.

ven though it's an all-plastic body, the Kodak Zi6 also feels pretty durable in the hand - a bit heftier than the plastic-and-metal Flip Mino HD. However, all the ports, covers, and doors on the Zi6 mean it could be a bit more susceptible to damage when it's dropped.

For a basis of comparison, we shot the same footage side-to-side with both the Kodak Zi6 (at the 30-fps HD setting) and the Flip Mino HD. The Zi6 showed some interesting differences in well-lit indoor settings - its colours looked more vivid in the source .mov file.

The Kodak Zi6 repeatedly produced more vibrant colours in video clips. However, sometimes colours were a bit too vivid to the extent of looking blown-out. There was also visible noise in the footage when the player window was maximized; quite a bit more grain was visible than in the Flip Mino HD's raw .mov footage.

When shooting in "landscape" mode with the Kodak Zi6, subjects closer to the lens were also a bit blurrier and more out-of-focus than they were with the Flip Mino HD. Switching to "macro" mode did help, but close subjects were still a bit blurry.

In test footage shot through a window during daytime, colours were much more vibrant with the Kodak Zi6, especially in terms of brightening subjects that were in shadowy areas.

Ratcheting the Kodak Zi6 up to 60fps in HD mode made a big difference. Footage was much smoother, and colours remained brighter than they appeared when shooting with the Flip Mino HD. Again, uploading clips to YouTube has a noticeably negative effect on video quality, but the source file showed smoother video than what you'll see in these clips.

In general, test footage with the Kodak Zi6 had an edge over that of the Flip Mino HD in terms of vivid colour, especially indoors with both fluorescent lighting and sunlight in the scene. The Zi6 also did a better job at making subjects lurking in shadows more visible.

On the flip side (pun retroactively intended), the Kodak Zi6 produced more jagged distortion on sharp, high-contrast edges, and it didn't have the cleanest focus for subjects that were between macro range and a few feet from the camera. The Flip Mino HD seemed to produce smoother video, with a less-colourful and more cinematic look. In short, we liked the Mino HD's overall image quality better.

NEXT PAGE: storage, and using the Kodak Zi6

For a pocket camcorder, Kodak's Zi6 Pocket Video Camera has a ton of features and shoots video with surprisingly bright colours.

The Kodak Zi6 has minimal on-board storage: 30MB, which is enough to store only a few still shots. Instead of storing your video footage in the camera, you store it in a bring-your-own SDHC card (an SDHC card slot is on the side of the unit).

An SDHC card can store up to 32GB of video footage, but you'll have to factor in the cost of purchasing such a high-capacity card if you don't have one already.

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It's simple enough to power up and start shooting video without even looking at the manual. A four-way minijoystick sits under the LCD screen on the back. Pushing the joystick down starts and stops recording, and snaps pics when you're in still-photo mode.

Pressing the joystick to the left or right toggles through the 60fps HD, 30fps HD, VGA, and still modes, while pressing it up and down activates the 2X digital zoom. A playback button sits to the right of the joystick, and a delete button sits to the left of it.

The top of the Kodak Zi6 houses the power switch, while the left side of the device has a landscape/macro switch, a covered SDHC slot, and the battery compartment door. On the right side is the flip-out USB connector, as well as composite and component ports for viewing HD and standard footage on your TV. On the bottom of the Kodak Zi6 is a tripod connector and a place to attach the included wrist strap.

The Kodak Zi6 runs on two AA-size batteries, and two rechargable nickel-metal hydride batteries come with the unit, as does a battery charger. You have to remove the batteries from the Zi6 to charge them; the battery charger is a bulky wall-socket unit that can charge both AA and AAA batteries.

Shooting video with the Kodak Zi6 is as easy as it is with other pocket camcorders, but the 2.4in-diagonal LCD screen makes framing your shots and playing them back a slightly more pleasurable experience. Every other pocket camcorder we've seen has a noticeably smaller screen.

The Kodak Zi6's bigger display is bright and crisp enough to see straight-on in bright sunlight, but it is noticeably harder to make out what's on the screen at side angles.

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All in all, the Kodak Zi6 is a good option for those who want a pocket camcorder that offers more control over your video than what the Flip offers, as well as those who like the use of removable storage. Its feature set is solid, it gives you more control over frame rates and image quality than other pocketable models we've tested, and its colours look bright.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.com

Kodak Zi6: Specs

  • 64×114×23.5mm
  • 107g
  • SDHC card
  • 2x optical zoom
  • 2.4in screen
  • 1.6Mp (3Mp stills) resolution
  • 2x AA Rechargeable/Lithium
  • USB 2.0
  • H.264 .mov files in three modes: 60fps HD mode (720p), a 30fps HD mode (also 720p), standard-definition VGA mode
  • 64×114×23.5mm
  • 107g
  • SDHC card
  • 2x optical zoom
  • 2.4in screen
  • 1.6Mp (3Mp stills) resolution
  • 2x AA Rechargeable/Lithium
  • USB 2.0
  • H.264 .mov files in three modes: 60fps HD mode (720p), a 30fps HD mode (also 720p), standard-definition VGA mode

OUR VERDICT

The Kodak Zi6 is well-built and feels substantial. We liked its large, responsive buttons and controls. However, there’s no USB extension cable or removable SD/SDHC Card provided in the box and the mono microphone picks up operational noise.

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