Two new pocket-size digital camcorders I've been testing should make any amateur videographer — and those who want to be one ...
Two new pocket-size digital camcorders I’ve been testing should make any amateur videographer — and those who want to be one — a capable shooter.
The Flip Mino is the latest camcorder from Pure Digital Technologies. I like the Mino, just as I’ve liked every incarnation of this product line. And because it’s 40 percent smaller than its predecessor, the Mino truly fits into a pocket.
The Kodak Zi6, which is shipping this month, is the imaging company’s entry into this category. It offers key differences over the Mino, including a bigger viewing screen and the ability to shoot in high definition. But it is fatter, taller and wider than the Mino, perhaps making it better for a purse.
Both devices create quality videos. They plug directly into a TV, use a USB “arm” to attach to a computer, work with Macs or PCs and offer simple controls for capturing and playing back videos. Both are priced at a suggested $179.
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Kodak, of course, is banking on its brand. Who is familiar with Pure Digital Technologies, after all?
A colleague preferred the heft of the Kodak Zi6, saying it felt sturdier and not “plastic-y” like the Mino.
But I prefer the Mino. Everything you need, from capable software to storage, is built into the device. The Zi6 also includes software, but it’s minimal, plus you need to buy a separate storage card to hold more than a few minutes of video.
The Mino is sturdy. If you want to let a 4-year-old shoot videos, as I did, you won’t worry if it falls to the floor.
On the other hand, the Zi6 provides a viewing screen twice as big. Many users will appreciate this, as they do with digital cameras, when reviewing a video.
But using the Zi6 is a bit more complicated. For one, the controls are not as intuitive and are squished together. In my tests, I often hit the wrong button.
Shooting a video is easy, but the finished product was shakier than on the Mino. That could be due to its bigger size, since the Zi6 is slightly difficult to hold. But the big screen is better for seeing what you are shooting.
When you turn on the Zi6, it defaults to the HD mode. It shoots at 720p — or 720 lines of resolution at either 30 or 60 frames per second — and in my tests, the quality of that HD video was excellent.
Shooting in HD takes up more storage, and the Zi6 offers only 128 megabytes of internal memory. That means you run out of space after shooting just a few videos.
So if you want to shoot in HD and have a computer display or TV to take advantage of the higher quality, you will need a separate storage card.
But when you consider you’re not using a professional-grade video camera under ideal lighting conditions, the lesser-quality VGA shooting mode is fine. I made roughly six videos (between 30 and 60 seconds long) before running out of space.
To load the video onto a computer, extend the USB arm and plug it in. The built-in software makes the experience practically goof proof, displaying your videos and then placing them in easy-to-find folders. But you can’t edit with the software. Instead, for PC users, the Zi6 ships with ArcSoft’s Media Impressions software for video editing. Kodak says Mac users can use Apple’s software for editing.
The Mino’s built-in software, on the other hand, allows one to stitch videos together, send them as e-mails and upload to a number of Web sites. It is more useful for folks who don’t want to mess with robust editing software.
To get the Mino to be as slim as a standard iPod, Pure Digital did not include batteries. Users need to plug the Mino into a computer via USB for charging. Although a charge lasts a long time, I still consider this a drawback.