I've had the opportunity to test the Kodak Z16 pocket camcorder, which takes high-def (720p at 60fps, 16:9 aspect ratio) as well as VGA-quality video. It's a compelling alternative to the Flip Mino, which doesn't record high-def but costs the same as the Kodak camera. (Both list for $180.)
Things I like about the Kodak vs. the Flip: The high-def camcorder can store videos and still images on SD cards; the Flip Mino only has internal memory and can't capture stills. The Kodak camcorder uses rechargeable or regular AA batteries; the Flip Mino's internal battery must be recharged and isn't replaceable.
However, here's something I really don't like about the Kodak camcorder. In bright sunlight, you can barely make out what's displayed on its 2.4 LCD screen. Shooting video at the beach on a beautiful day requires a fair amount of guesswork and squinting. This is one of the things that baffles and angers me about portable electronics. Why would you make a compact digital camera or camcorder whose screen washes out in bright sunlight? Don't manufacturers take into account that people like to shoot video and pictures outdoors? Hello? Is anyone home?
By comparison, the Flip Mino's screen is extremely bright and easy to view outdoors on a sunny day. The same is true with the Flip Ultra, the Mino's still-available predecessor. (It sells for $150.)
If the second-generation Z16 has a better screen and slims down a bit (it's bulkier and heavier than the slim Mino), it could be an extremely compelling product. As it stands, I wouldn't recommend it unless you rarely plan to shoot in bright sunlight.
Speaking of which, I snapped the image below with the Z16 at the South Yuba river near Nevada City. It was a bright, sunshiny day, so I just aimed the camera and hoped for the best.
P.S. Pictured below is Monarch, a former show dog who reigns at Harmony Ridge Lodge, just north of Nevada City. A former private residence beautifully transformed by its new owners, the lodge combines rustic charm with guest room appointments that look like something you'd find at a Four Seasons. The rates are reasonable, too, and the lodge is becoming a popular wedding spot, which should tell you something. At night you can sit out in the gardens and gaze up at the stars and the Milky Way. The inn has a secured Wi-Fi network, though it's not accessible from all rooms. My partner and I have been here five or six times already (the lodge just opened a year ago) and are already planning our next stay.