Last year I was able to check out Kodak’s first foray into the handheld HD camera arena when they lent me a Zi6 for a month. When I sent it back, I immediately picked one up as soon as they were available locally. While not perfect, it was a great little camera for my purposes. It was small, had easily replaceable batteries as well as virtually unlimited capacity thanks to it’s SD card slot. The HD video quality was pretty decent as was the price point.
Except now, Kodak managed to improve upon this great little camera and the new model is called the Zx1 (which sounds like something Bond would drive). Kodak was kind enough to send me an advance unit to play with again and here are my initial impressions, photos and sample video:
The box is a little bit smaller than the Zi6 box…which makes sense since the unit is smaller although it actually comes with more in the box including: a set of rechargable batteries and charger, a cloth bag, wrist strap, USB cable, A/V cable, an HDMI cable (!) and an extra battery door cover.
Kodak sent me a blue one which I quite like. The main directional pad in the middle is actually backlit blue too. The Zx1 will come in 5 different colours but unfortuantely no green for me. The unit feels comfortable in the hand, even more so than the Zi6. The size and shape feels like a Nokia N95 or some kind of MP3 player (remember the Olympus M:Robe?) and makes me wonder how long before the iPhone or some other cellphone has HD video recording capabilities built in.
Sample video uploaded to YouTube (view in HD):
You can check out the original, unaltered video file,straight from the camera [20mb .MOV, right click to download]
I haven’t had a chance to shoot much video with it yet but my initial thoughts on the device are:
- smaller size
- rubberized & ruggedized form factor is very comfortable
- buttons are easily pressed, much more so than the Zi6
- screen seems sharper/clearer but could simply be because it’s smaller than the Zi6
- faster startup and record
- HDMI port and included cable
- no goofy pop out USB plug – I know some people like this but it never seemed to line up with any of my computers (laptops/desktops) so it felt like a liability and may break off – besides, people should be using a card reader anyways…faster and doesn’t kill the batteries
- lens feels wider than on the Zi6
- easier to open rubber port doors
- smaller screen
- video doesn’t appear to be any better than the Zi6
- still no stablization
- no included SD card – considering smaller SD cards cost next to nothing these days
- no macro mode, unlike the Zi6 which has a great one
- still no indicator for the remaining video you can capture on your SD card
- not sure if it’s a Kodak issue or Flickr issue, but the Zi6 and now the Zx1 doesn’t seem to use a compatible codec that works on Flickr
I think the smaller, more rugged form factor alone has me wanting to sell my Zi6 and switch to the Zx1. I’ll post some more video once I’ve had a chance to play more with it and compare it to the Zi6…including testing out the low light improvements the Zx1 supposedly has.
The Kodak page I linked above says the Zx1 comes out in April…but Amazon says May 15th.
Update (November 18, 2009): I ended up buying a Zx1 for myself…after selling my Zi6, I bought the Zi8 when it first came out but missed the weatherization and AA battery support. After finding a smoking deal on the Zx1, I returned the Zi8. All are great cameras…but there are features I like on each of them. So for ME, the Zx1 is the better choice.