I recently went on a 1 week holiday to Charlotte Pass Ski Resort in Australia’s Snowy Mountains and took a media loan Kodak ZX1 HD pocket video camera with me. Soon afterwards I was lent it’s competitor, the Flip Mino HD to review so I have compared them.
Although the unit has some shortcomings, Kodak’s weather resistant metal/rubber design proved itself useful when I dropped the ZX1 in a few snow drifts and the video quality is pretty good for a handheld budget device.
The Kodak ZX1 is a good example of Good Enough tech – cheap, fast, simple products that don’t have lots of features or super-perfect audio/video quality but make up for it with ease of use and a low price.
- Weather resistant metal/rubber design – tested and worked fine in snow
- Standard tripod can be screwed onto the bottom – would be a perfect outdoor activities companion to the Joby Gorillapod SLR Flexible Tripod I reviewed recently
- Turns on quite fast which helps to make sure you don’t miss recording crucial video recording moments
- Small: similar in size, shape and weight to an old Nokia candybar shape mobile phone
- Nice extra touches: HDMI and composite video out cables included, spare battery cover in package in case you lose yours.
- DC in, dual use AV OUT USB for connecting to computer or to a tv and mini HDMI connection on the left side covered by rubber protective flap
- SDHC card slot covered by rubber flap on right side and lanyard hook.
- Only 2x zoom (and it’s digital zoom which is practically useless) plus the zoom steps are very jumpy.
- Takes 3 megapixel still photos but these are very average quality – not as good as 3MP cameraphones I’ve tested
- Speaker on top of the ZX1 doesn’t always pickup sound well. Speaker should have been on the front facing whatever is being videoed
- Doesn’t have any internal memory – luckily I have contacts at Sandisk Australia and they kindly shipped me a 16gb Sandisk Ultra II SDHC card to use with it.
- Buttons are easy to press but could be labelled better
- Note: If you’re travelling and using a netbook computers with Intel Atom 270 processor it won’t have the power to play HD video
This is an example video taken using the Kodak ZX1 at full 720p HD 60 fps quality with 16:9 aspect ratio in low light conditions – “View from Ridge Overlooking Charlotte Pass Ski Resort”. Note the original video is smooth – I suspect the few stutters in the Vimeo video are caused by the conversion process from 60fps.
Kodak ZX1 Compared with Flip Mino HD
I was recently sent a media loan Flip Mino HD 60minute pocket HD video recorder to review. It has similar video quality and useless 2x digital zoom (Kodak and Flip can we please have optical zoom?) as the ZX1 but in other ways is quite different.
Benefits compared to ZX1
- Aesthetically the Flip Mino HD looks more sleek and fashionable than the ZX1
- Buttons & Menu system are better designed than ZX1
- Included video editing software is a bit easier to use than ZX1
- Internal battery can be charged via flip out USB connector at top of Flip Mino HD connected to laptop/PC, the ZX1 batteries need to be charged from a power socket
- Comes with internal 4 GB memory compared to ZX1 which only uses external SDHC cards (not included in the retail package)
Deficiencies compared to ZX1
- Small 1.5 inch screen vs ZX1’s 2 inch screen
- ZX1 allows recording at 3 different video quality levels whereas the Flip Mino HD only records at one resolution
- Definitely not suited for use while traveling/backpacking as its shiny surface will get scratched really easily
- Not waterproof, weatherproof, drop resistant like ZX1
- Flip Mino HD’s storage is fixed at 4GB (60 minutes video) compared to the ZX1 which can use SDHC cards as large as 32GB (up to 10 hours video)
- Flip out USB connector at top of Flip Mino HD bears the full weight of the unit when plugged into a PC for charging/data transfer. I’m worried that over time it could become weak and also it could be easy to accidentally break off.
- The Flip Mino HD records at 720p but the included composite video out cable is only SD quality, it won’t display the video on your TV at full quality like the ZX1’s HDMI cable does.
Verdict: Would I buy the Kodak ZX1 or Flip Mino HD?
Personally I’d suggest buying the Kodak ZX1 if you’re technically savvy, have spare large SDHC cards, plan to use a pocket video recorder when traveling and might throw it around and treat it roughly
On the other hand if you’re buying it for your parents, grandparents, uncle/auntie etc who want a pocket video recorder to use at home or during family events and need a simple device that’s easy to use I’d suggest buying the Flip Mino HD
Other People’s Reviews of Kodak ZX1
There’s certainly a market for the Zx1 if you want to do a lot of outdoor shooting and need a compact video camera that’s solid enough to survive a few knocks and bumps. It will take you time to learn the controls — and you will sometimes curse them — but at the asking price, we reckon it’s a fair but not spectacular value.
– CNET Australia
The Zx1 scores huge on general gadget thrills — it yields good if not great HD video, with superb portability. Given the inclusions, and particularly 60Hz recording, Kodak’s Zx1 is a brand-name bargain
– AV Hub
On the whole, we quite liked the Kodak Zx1. If you purchase one expecting excellent image quality you will be sorely disappointed but for something cheap that lets you upload straight to your YouTube account, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s good to see Kodak moving into new areas and giving Flip Video something to worry about.
Other People’s Reviews of Flip Mino HD
Similar in size to an iPod or a small mobile phone, the Flip Mino HD (also known as “The Flip”) is a one-trick pony. I say pony as opposed to horse because of its size: the Mino variant is the pony while the yet-to-be-released-in-Australian model of the Ultra HD is more like the horse.
the Flip Mino HD is a simple and easy video camera that does what it does well. There hasn’t really been a dedicated video recorder before. This is the point & shoot of video cameras and it really is a joy to carry around with you permanently.
– Leigh Stark
Though Pure Digital’s Flip Video camcorders started the whole pocket camcorder craze, they’ve been beaten at their own game. The upstart manufacturer, recently acquired by Cisco, is being overtaken by brands like Eastman Kodak, who have just about perfected the simple, affordable formula that made the Flip camcorders so popular.
In the end, it could be Pure Digital’s obsession with simplicity that allows the competition to seize control. The desire to not complicate the Flip has made Pure Digital wary to add new features or allow users to exert any kind of significant control over the camcorder. With the Flip camcorders, there is only one way to shoot video—Pure Digital’s way – and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
– Camcorder HQ
The Flip does have its limits. Bear those limitations in mind though and the Flip Mino HD is a dream, and a great fit for someone who wants the portable ability to shoot great-quality video without lugging around a full-sized camera.
– PC World
The Flip Mino HD will retail in Australia for $299 recommended retail price in Australia at most major camera stores. It is not available in stores at time of writing