Kodak ups the ante in the pocket video wars with the Zi8 1080p HD cam

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The Kodak Zi8 shoots full 1080p HD at 30fps

The Kodak Zi8 shoots full 1080p HD at 30fps. View gallery (4 images)

Kodak is trying to out-flip the Flip with its latest pocket digital video cam, the Zi8. Aimed squarely at the heart of the hot compact video market, the Zi8 outdoes the Flip Ultra HD with 1080p recording, electronic image stabilization, an SDHC card slot, and an external mic jack. Plus it'll shoot 5-megapixel stills, track faces, and is designed to perform better in low-light conditions.

The pocket camcorder was defined by the Pure Digital Flip, first introduced in 2007. Now, all of the contenders in the pocket camcorder market have the same general set of features. As the competition heats up manufacturers are looking to differentiate their pocket cams from the others, and especially from the Flip.

Three of the biggest considerations when comparing pocket camcorders are the resolution, screen size, and the amount and type of video storage.

The Zi8 shoots full 1080p HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) at 30fps (frames per second). The Flip HD Ultra and Flip Mino HD only shoot at 720p (1920 x 720 resolution), as do most other models in this class. The only other pocket camcorder we’ve seen recently that shoots 1080p is the Samsung HMX-U10. The Kodak Zi8 can also shoot at 720p if desired. In this mode the frame rate can be increased to 60fps.

When you’re shooting full HD, the on-board display becomes more important and so Kodak has equipped the Zi8 with a 2.5in. (6.4cm) color LCD display. Again, Kodak is trying to lead the pack as only the DigiLife DDV-JF1 has this size screen. Most other pocket camcorders get by with a 2in. (5.1cm) display.

Early pocket video camcorders like the Flip use built-in, fixed memory to store video. This limits the amount of footage that can be shot before the camcorder must be connected to a PC for uploading. The Kodak Zi8 uses removable SD/SDHC media cards, which the company says can store up to 10 hours of video on a 32GB card.

Pocket HD Camcorder Comparison

Kodak Zi8

  • 1080p
  • 2.5in. (6.4cm) display
  • SD/SDHC removable media

Samsung HMX-U10

  • 1080p
  • 2in. (5.1cm) display
  • SD/SDHC removable media

Pure Digital Flip Ultra HD / Flip Mino HD

  • 720p
  • 2in. (5.1cm) display / 1.5in. (3.8cm) display
  • 8GB fixed memory / 4GB fixed memory

DigiLife DDV-JF1

  • 720p
  • 2.5in (6.4cm) display
  • SD/SDHC removable media

Creative Labs Vado

  • 720p
  • 2in. (5.1cm) display
  • 8GB fixed memory

The Kodak Zi8 also features built-in electronic image stabilization. While electronic image stabilization is not as effective as the optical and mechanical stabilization used in larger cams, it is still a welcome addition in a pocket camcorder.

Other features of the Zi8 include a mic jack for connecting an external microphone, a flexible swing-out USB connector, and a removable lithium-ion battery that can be charged inside or outside of the camera. The Zi8 also features one-touch uploading to Facebook, and easy connectivity to other online service such as YouTube.

The Kodak Zi8 will be available for purchase in September for USD$180. For more information visit Kodak’s website.

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