Until under-thirtysomethings outgrow them, direct-to-YouTube camcorders will continue to flourish. And everyone wants a piece of the pie that was pretty much baked by Flip Video, with products like its latest
On one hand, there are a couple of ways in which veteran Kodak outclasses its younger competitors: 720p HD video compared with the typical 640x480-pixel VGA resolution and a 2.4-inch LCD. A nice touch, which shows its heritage, is a switch that toggles between standard and macro focus distances. As seems to define this product category, it has a built-in, flip-out USB connector. Cleverly, the button for the connector also serves as a tiny mirror for shooting yourself in the face. It also accepts SD cards, but that's to supplement its paltry 128MB of storage--only 30MB of which is available for video. I tried it, and that was 36 seconds. It might as well have no internal memory at all. Extrapolating--Kodak has not published any capacity information--that's about 50MB per minute, or 41 minutes of video on a typical 2GB card. Which is optional.
While most models are getting smaller, the Zi6 is relatively huge--approximately the size of the clunky
Kodak plans to charge $179.95 for the Zi6 when it ships in September, and you'll have to tack on at least another $20 for a 2GB card, which brings the price up to $200. People buy these camcorders because they're cute, cheap and easy. They don't seem to care about the poor video quality, so I doubt they'll pay a premium for HD--and I haven't seen the video yet, so it could very well be poor HD. (We'll have a review soon.) And it
doesn't do Mac, does the Mac incompletely--the whole direct-to-YouTube upload capability operates through Windows-only software--making it not-so-easy for lots of people in its target market. Furthermore, the extra cost of the card puts it in competition with a whole other class of products, such as the