When in video recording mode, you can use the joystick to toggle down the setting to HD, VGA (640x480), and finally, still image capture. The lower VGA setting is useful if you're low on memory (files sizes are much smaller when you capture in lower resolution) or know you're going to be compressing your video for Web distribution or e-mail distribution. That said, it's always better to capture the best possible image and keep that as your "master" and work down from there.
We do appreciate the four speeds of fast-forwarding and rewinding, and you can advance or rewind your footage frame-by-frame if you want. The 2.4-inch LCD is pretty sharp and the sound played back loud enough through the Zi6's little speaker so long as I cranked up the volume (the mic seems sensitive enough). No complaints there.
What do you do after you've captured your video? Well, like most of these types of mini camcorders, Kodak loads software into its memory. Windows-only ArcSoft MediaImpression is included with the Zi6 and it automatically installs when you plug the Zi6's USB connector into your desktop or laptop PC. There's the usual shortcut upload to YouTube, as well as some editing features that allow you to trim your clips, adjust contrast, color, and brightness, and splice you clips into a cohesive movie, complete with customized background music and titles. If you own a Mac, you can copy your video and still images to your computer by dragging and dropping the files from the camcorder as you would with any USB storage device (and upload them to YouTube easily enough) and then edit your video using iMovie. So, all is not totally lost.
The Zi6's extra resolution helps when comparing its video with that of the Flip Mino and Ultra, but image noise and lack of sharpness keep it from overshadowing those models. Though the video looks softer overall, it looks that way at a larger size, which some people may find ample compensation. Typically, you only view these video files in a small window on your computer. However, with the Zi6's footage you can actually blow the video up full screen and it retains more detail. Video shot in the Zi6's VGA-resolution mode does look comparably sharp to that of its competitors. In low light, however, the Zi6's footage looks perceptibly noisier than that of the other camcorders. But it remains usable.
The Zi6 delivers reasonably accurate color and exposure, but performance feels a bit slow. While it adjusts properly moving from brightly lit environments to darker scenes and compensating for overly backlit subjects, it doesn't do so particularly quickly and its autofocus is relatively sluggish. When you pan and move the camera around, things tend to go in and out of focus. For rock-solid video, you really have to keep the camera still.
When you factor in that you have to buy an additional memory card, its price runs it up against a whole other class of products, such as the Aiptek Go-HD, which offer features like higher resolution stills and optical zoom rather than digital zoom. Despite its problems, I generally liked the Zi6. The video is pretty good and plays larger than Flip Video's current lineup offers; with its big screen, support for removable memory and the ability to use AA batteries it all adds up to an attractive package.