Off the bat I was impressed with the fact it had 1080p video. I've played with the Zi6 and it was very cool, but lacked in the resolution department, only being 720p (man, what a snob I am!) I've had a Sanyo camera for a few months now which does 1080p so understand just how much better it looks on my 46" LCD. The Zi8 only has a mono microphone, but something new for this release over the previous Zi range is that option to plug in a stero mic. So, the device just got that much better for sound, meaning it opens up new doors for those looking to do adhoc interviews and man on the street kind of things, in a decent resolution without having to carry around anything bigger than a cigarette packet.
This brings me onto the size, it's TINY, I carry it around with me everywhere in my pocket it's so small. In fact, it sits right next to my iPhone and I hardly notice it's there. But having it on me all the time means I can capture things on video that I'd normally have to remember, little things, like my son spinning round till he falls over, or my other son smearing yoghurt in his hair. Or even the argument in the supermarket that I posted on YouTube because it was funny. Anything now becomes a possible target for recording onto a chip in my pocket and the fact that the startup time is around 3-4 seconds is also a boon.
The filesize is fairly OK as well. With a 4gb SDHC card inserted, I get about 40mins of 1080p.You can only capture about 30 seconds of video on the device without a memory card, so make sure you pick one up in a bundle or buy a SDHC card with it. Which is nothing to sneer it. I've found though (especially with the Sanyo, which has 8gb) I leave it until it's full up and then have to spend ages copying all the video off, trawling through each one trying to remember which clips were what, renaming etc. I still have to do that with the Zi8, but less often, so it's less of an arduous task. Made especially easier by it having a ping-out USB connection.
If you slide a little doodad at the bottom of the camera, the USB connection pops out of the side, it's really been redesigned well, as now, instead of being a hard plastic stick with a USB pin on the end, it's now a rubbery, wobbly thing with a USB pin on the end, meaning that you don't have to worry about anything snapping, especially when you've got your laptop on your lap and the camera hanging out of the side. I also makes it easier if you've got your USB ports in odd, or cramped places.
Copying the files off on an Apple is a breeze; plug it in, the drive mounts and there are your videos. Easy, fuss free. On a PC, it's not so good (or on a mac if you install the dire software). On the Zi8 is all the software you need to perform its many publishing functions, (DVD, YouTube etc). On Windows, the software is clunky and horrible and I'd much rather use explorer to navigate my movies, then pull them into Picasa for my various publishing options. You can do that afterwards, but you still need to use the proprietary software to get them off in the first place, yuk.
The videos themselves a pretty good. The quality is above average for a device of this size and price point. The camera does, however, suffer in low light situations and is practically useless in a restaurant which is lit soley by candles and my winning smile. When it can be used in less than ideal conditions, the video is very blocky and grainy and not on a par with other devices of it's ilk (I've not tried the flip, but I've heard it's OK in low-light).
Another gripe I have about the camera is it's extremely useless zoom. It's a digital zoom, which is bad enough, but don't try zooming in while recording, you'll look like an idiot film-maker. It doesn