Best Video Camera: Creative Vado HD vs Flip Mino HD vs Kodak Zi6?

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First, I got the Kodak Zi6. Then, I got the Flip Mino HD. A few hours ago, I received a recently-ordered Creative Vado HD and decided that instead of doing a full-on review of it, I’d compare it directly against the Mino HD and the Zi6 – in a short video shootout.

  • Flip Mino HD Likes: small and lightweight; has decent software that runs on both Mac OS X and Windows; decent “foreground subject focused” audio in noisy situations.
  • Flip Mino HD Dislikes: Touch controls are too sensitive; there’s a plastic protector that flips out along with the USB connector; colors are always washed out; flat video quality; white balance is impossible; tons of noise in low light; my skin tone never looks right indoors; built-in YouTube uploader decreases quality automatically; tiny LCD screen; cheap plastic wrist strap.
  • Kodak Zi6 Likes: decent saturation; decent audio; great LCD size; uses AA batteries; uses SDHC media; macro switch; great quality when not blurring.
  • Kodak Zi6 Dislikes: unpredictably blurred recordings in low light; no clear audio when noisy; no Mac software support; can be oversaturated in certain scene; heavy construction.
  • Creative Vado HD Likes: great balance of color and saturation in the average shot; tends to favor skin tones; wide angle lens; can record two hours; replaceable / rechargeable battery via USB; lightweight; sharp definition.
  • Creative Vado HD Dislikes: included skin doesn’t accommodate battery replacement / hard reset; audio is treble muted from behind (in narration); skews to light which isn’t always neutral; has a wrist strap slot but doesn’t come with a strap.

The Flip Mino HD is the worst of the bunch to my eyes and ears, and I’m looking to sell it (hardly used) at a good price. The Kodak is completely unusable in artificial light (due to uncontrollable blurring), which rules it out for where I’d need it most. I don’t think Flip is going to fix their problems with a software update, but I’m holding out hope for a Zi6 fix. Kodak has to get its act together – so does Pure Digital.

For my money right now, it’s the Creative Vado HD. The wide angle lens is absolutely essential when you’re trying to get closer to a subject – or if you want more in the scene. That’s all you need to know – and all the reason to go with a Vado HD over the others. Even if you think the Zi6 isn’t bad, the Vado’s wide angle lens trumps it. You have to be much further away from your subject to get the same shot as you can with a Vado (closer, and with MORE in the frame). Keep that in mind the next time you’re in tight quarters, or when you have to take three steps back just to get the shot you wanted.

Plus, the Vado does a much better job with skin tones and saturation (generally) compared to the other two in indoor situations. The HDMI cable may be another win for you and the Vado, but I seldom use video out in these cameras – so that’s just a value add. Hardware controls are comfortable on the Vado, and I like how its USB connector is flexible.

Now, you can watch the following videos inline – but I’d also recommend viewing them on YouTube (where you can watch the original 1280×720 as recorded and uploaded without editing). I’ve linked to the HD versions in the list above. Understand, too, that the Zi6 was at least six inches behind both the Flip Mino HD and Creative Vado HD in this test – even though it appears as though the Creative Vado HD was the furthest away. I’m telling you: that wide angle lens is AWESOME.

Flip Mino HD

Kodak Zi6

Creative Vado HD

55 thoughts on “Best Video Camera: Creative Vado HD vs Flip Mino HD vs Kodak Zi6?”

  1. Thanks for doing this: I was looking to get a digital camcorder soon, and I was going to get the Zi6. Thank God I didn’t. That thing looks a mess compared to the Vado.

  2. the Zi6 has obvious motion blur in this test. It however has the best sound.
    It’s a shame that the most flexible options seems to have the worst results.

    Do results vary on the Zi6 with different media at all?

  3. Chris, thanks for guiding me on this. I bought both the MinoHD and the Kodak Zi6. Not too thrilled with either, but at least the Kodak has removable media. The MinoHD doesn’t offer enough features and is locked down, no removable battery, only 4GB, etc. That one is def going back to Amazon. The Kodak…I’ll hold for a bit until they update the software. I like its potential. I’ll consider getting the Creative as well to test.

  4. Great idea to do a comparison of the the three of them. Really enjoyed it I personally choose to get the Kodak Zi6 because I am a fan of Kodak Products I think its great!


  5. Looking at all of them right now for an aerial video podcast using a consumer UAV, so thanks for the review. Also I just found out that Wal-Mart has the VPC-HD100 from Sanyo, the 8gb seemingly Wal-Mart only version of their VPC-HD700 720p camera – Except that the 100 has 1080p.

  6. love the in-depth review, personally i have to say i wouldn’t pick any one of them. I would be willing to pay lots more for a actually DV or HD camera that a little mini. But if it came down to it my final choice would be the Flip series. Thanks Chris.

  7. From a contrast standpoint the black levels look crushed on the Kodak Zi6 and Creative Vado and the Flip Mino HD seems to retain more detail. Probably why it is has that washed out look.

    The wide angle lens on the Vado is probably the deal breaker. Thanks Chris!

  8. I Believe the Vado was the best of these 3 cameras. Kodak ,however, has good color then again you can change the color contrasts post production and/or with cam settings. Also Kodak you can add SD cards Vado not. If Kodak fixes the frame drop problem it would be the winner.

  9. Great Review! But what about the RCA EZ300HD? I’ve been trying to get a hold of one and can’t seem to find one in stock. HD video on Vimeo looks great and has all the features I would want:
    – Removable LLithium battery
    – Expandable memory via SD Card Slot
    – HDMI connector

    Also, reports from CES2009 show the new RCA EZ209HD looks even sleeker.

  10. I bought the Mino HD and the Vado HD and returned both of them. The audio levels were -terribly- low, so much so that I had to turn up the volume on my amp at least 200% in order to get “normal” audio levels. I didn’t notice this in your tests — has anyone else noticed this.
    I liked the color of the Mino HD better. The Vado HD looked like the colors were artifically saturated. But I agree, the wide-angle lens is very useful.

  11. The mic on the Vado is just pathetic. It sounds like you are talking into a tin can. That alone makes this camcorder useless.

    I just watched 5 other low light Kodak Zi6 vids on Youtube and they weren’t anywhere near as bad as the one you put up here. I think something funky must have happened in the encoding/ transcoding of your vid, or you just got a Zi6 lemon.

  12. Why not consider the Panasonic TZ5?

    Get 720p video, with 10x optical zoom and true image stabilization?

    $35 on NewEgg for a 16GB SD card and I have over an hour of recording HD video on it.

  13. I have the Flip Mino HD and the issue I am having with it for most is the FlipShare software, which is very “crashy” on Vista and does not easily (batch-wise) let you export the video clips to a decent editing program. I do a manual batch conversion via SUPER now (mp4->wmv).

    Flip support is telling me they are working on the FlipShare issues, but do not seem very responsive…

  14. something’s wrong with FlipShare software. I can’t get it to work on 3 different vista machines. Vista’s bad but not that bad … this one’s on Flip and they need to fix this now!!!

  15. I was just wondering, what SD/SDHC card did you use in the Zi6? What write speed? When compairing these three cameras, this is a pretty important consideration. Thanks!

  16. Sweet, thanks for doing this comparison. I was looking for a small, inexpensive camera for recording dance events, and this has definitely helped me make a decision. Vado it is.

  17. Ian: Check the files sizes of the Panasonic TZ5–their huge. Panasonic has something for motion JPEG. It looks pretty good, but file sizes are way too high.

  18. I went with the Kodak Zi6. The sound kills the other two.
    I don’t have a drop frame problem, so I don’t know what you are talking about. Maybe you’re not using the proper speed memory card ?
    The Kodak also has a 60fps “higher HD” setting which you didn’t talk about.
    I agree about the low light bad quality but they all do that more or less and I just turn on the lights bright in order to make it work.

    I also like the rechargeable battery with the kodak. I have 4 so I’m always ready to go.

  19. I’d also recommend viewing them on YouTube (where you can watch the original 1280×720 as recorded and uploaded without editing).

    –sigh– I wish I knew why people keep passing this misinformation around. especially people who should know better.

    Youtube does NOT DO 1280x720p HD. It does 960×540 at BEST. That includes this blog author’s samples.

    That being said, the samples were still quite useful… the Vado, for example, has some sort of auto-chroma gain; I can see the wood in the background constantly increasing and decreasing saturation. Then again, that might just be the regular gain adjusting, as sensors tend to desaturate when they gain up.

    I’ve been looking for true 720p test videos from this thing, and no luck so far.

  20. Youtube does do HD at 1280×720 at 2mbit/s h264. I prefer the Sanyo pocket HD camcorders such as the HD1000, HD1010 or the new HD2000 for their better optics and mini-jack audio input for more usable sound recording quality, also for their more ergonomic handle. Though the Sanyo pocketable HD cameras are a bit more expensive I guess.

  21. Thanks for the post! I’m a newbie and don’t really need anything to professional so the comparison was really helpful. I just ordered the Vado HD and can’t wait for it to arrive! Hoping to pull still photos from the videos so that I don’t have to buy a new digital camera.

  22. I am debating between Flip Mino HD, Kodak Zi6 or Zx1, or Vado….Vado audio is really bad in those videos…I can hardly hear it. Kodak has the best sound, but weird blurr….Flip has horrible image ( color and all) and bad sound..but they have custom design choice which I am so attracted too! How about Kodak Zx1? Does anyone know if Zx1 is better than Zi6?? I heard the audio on that is really bad too….I’m so confused!! Someone, tell me which one is the best choice for image quality, audio, and features.

  23. Couple things–not that you have to answer–have you tried the sony webbys? I messed with one the other day in natural light at Hover Dam here in Westerville, OH and it did OK around dusk. Had UH mazing zoom.

    Also gonna probably get a Blue tech thing.

    VERY cool video though.

    I’ll have to look at the vado.

    Or screw it, I’ll buy all 3.

    I rock a man purse, so I don’t know if any will be a problem to cary as my daily driver.

  24. I’m very impressed with what this kid has done here, I wish he worked for me and my company.

    I just won a Vado HD in an internet contest, had no idea what it was so googled it and reviews of it and came upon this boy’s site. It hasn’t been shipped to me yet, but it seems I won something that is not a piece of junk and I’m thrilled what this kid has told me about it.

  25. This kid is over 30 years old and has been doing this great job for years and even appears on CNN website in the videos section. Where you beeen all this time lol.

    I’m with the zx1.

  26. how do any/all of these compare to onboard video on the canon powershot pocket cameras (which mine doesn’t have hd, so aside from that).

    why would you want a pocket video camera. when a camera can take great images, and do decently well with video, even the audio is great.

    the creative cam, doesn’t have any optical zoom? seems silly.

    I WANT TO PURCHASE ONE. But I can’t warrant carrying two devices. B/c I’m into photography.

    Someone talk me into it;)

  27. I just recently went with the Kodak Zi6. I have shot a few videos in different lighting and they all turned out pretty good so far. The audio sounds really good. I do hate the fact that I gotta back up some to get more in the shot though. Ill probably try this out for another week before I decide to keep it. The Vado HD is really tempting. I wish best buy would carry it in store but they don’t. I usually don’t buy many of my electronics online. I guess cause it’s easier to return to the store of whatever. Anyways nice video!!

  28. Volume best on Kodak per Chris’s samples. Just got the Mino just recently for my birthday. Was considering going to trade, if pos, for the Vado d/t wide angle, but after listening to sound quality…with my ‘tin ear’, even though Kodak is better for that, I guess I will stay with Mino for now. Am hoping the feature re recharging is not a big issue for me.

  29. Thanks a lot for the review. It helped me buy Vado HD.

    I am just wondering if it is possible to use it as a webcam? I did not find good information anywhere. Some suggest it is possible if my computer has HDMI input, it is possible.

    It would help if you have any comments on this.

    Thanks again.

  30. I have used the Vado. Picture quality and operating is best, but cannot take my own photo as the camcorder cannot stand on flat surface. I have to use the tripod all the time.

  31. i found my kodak had strobbing/blurring problems even in daylight. i sold it and now using my iphone 4 for handheld work. looking for the next solution – maybe the vado is it? wide angle sounds cool. thanks for posting!

  32. The Creative Vado HD is a joke. I purchaased it and downloaded the firmware and software, charged it overnight according to manufacturer… but the “Power/On” button never worked!! After sending emails to Creative, they finally responded and said i should return defective camera… got a replacement with a second Creative Vado HD… and same thing.

    What a waste of time.

  33. Im a Photographer and Ive been a Photographer for years
    the lighting thing is WRONG!
    people who are originally light toned to begin with will appear light in cam,OBVIOUSLY! I know people who wear high spf foundation and they looked still dark skinned on cam..Alek wek still looks dark in any bright lighting,so does wesley snipes and others.. the brighter the better when it comes to lighting because it brings out your true tones.Personal preference. WE HUMANS ALSO DONT TAKE PICS IN THE DARK! Ive seen pics where its a group photo and the light people appeared pale and darker toned people still appear darker toned. Its a basic concept.
    Dark skin will appear dark skkin regardless, light skin will appear light on cam regardless! Lighting doesnt change skintone, if that were teh case wesley snipes and the rest of black celebrities would be looking caucasian. Do not make ignorant statements. PLEASE!
    Also keep in mind that we get darker do to seasonal change, the sun darkens us…AFRICAN AMERICANS TOO!
    If anything, the features have been altered, but anything else is just her skin! Also keep in mind that Beyonce uses alot of bronzer on her skin, there are pics of her and other celebs with deep skintones because she uses bronzer. Also, because Beyonce’s hair is blond most of the time, there is no contrast with the skin.
    However, please dont say “lighting” it is not lighting! Pale people will appear pale on cam, dark skinned people will appear dark. lighting only brings out the true tones.
     White or Light skin shows out better in front of the camera then dark skin. It has to do with reflection of light. White or light skin reflect light 100 fold better then dark skin (which absorbs it). And if you know anything about cameras u know the object that is being captured by the camera has to reflect the light projected unto it in order to be caught by the camera lens.

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