You may have noticed I put up my first HD video last week on a post about YNAB. If you weren’t around for the first few weeks of my “attempts” at video blogging, you’re probably saying “so what?” But believe me, it’s a big step up.
So obviously, I didn’t build my own HD camera from scratch. I went out and bought one–the Kodak Zi8 to be specific (the first of many affiliate links in this post filled with shameless promotion of this fantastic product). It wasn’t as simple of a decision as it sounds.
Regardless of the actual price (about $180 in total) of everything we bought, which doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, we considered this a “major” purchase, because it wasn’t really an immediate need and very much a “gadget.” I try to stay away from gadgets for my own sanity (I would buy them all).
For the first time since starting this blog, we went through a complicated process of evaluation and decision-making and actually pulled the trigger on something. Today, I’d like to share that experience with you as a “purchase case study.” I think it will be fun, check it out:
The Waiting Period
When someone first turned me onto the concept of a pocket camera, I knew I was hooked. Almost immediately, I could imagine how my personal and professional work flow would change as a result. I was memorized.
That’s when I knew the waiting period had to kick in–I wasn’t going to make a rushed and emotional decision on anything until I understood what it was and why I was getting it.
A week was the starting point, but the final time frame was closer to 2-3 weeks until I was happy with my thinking process and ready to pull the trigger.
Testing the Waters
One of the first things I like to do when I think I’m going to like something (or that it will work out as planned) is to the test the waters. Thankfully, I had a couple of old webcams lying around that would do the trick.
I threw up videos for my blog readers (on Fizzlettes) and my family and waited for feedback. Both audiences were unanimously positive, and I knew I had hit the right chords. The “market” was there, now I had a decision to make…
Getting Over the Buzz
The “Flip” was all I heard being talked about. Flip this, Flip that. It’s very similar to the buzz Apple is able to generate about its products. People are willing to pay Apple’s premium because of the “experience” of owning an Apple product and the deep emotional attachments we carry to their stuff.
I could have just gone out and bought a Flip. They’re attractive–well designed, simple, and sleek, and they appealed to every one of my senses. But I went against my gut and forced the brain to do a little research…
I admit–it was difficult finding recent information on anything. Even with the immediate nature of the Internet these days, reviews of electronics, particularly “X vs. Y” reviews lag horribly behind the latest and greatest releases.
Persistence paid off, and the results were surprising. The Kodak Zi8 was rated much higher than the Flip in almost all categories, on almost all the blogs I visited.
What was even more surprising was my reaction–“Well, I think I’ll get the Flip anyway.” There was the stupid buzz again–I couldn’t shake the already-formed emotional connection with the first product I saw, and the one everyone was raving about. But it turns out the rave was unwarranted–the Zi8 was already being branded as the “Flip killer.”
Slowly but surely, I turned my brain in the right direction. I wouldn’t let my waiting period expire until I knew I was making the right decision…
I’m all about giving yourself options. It was a big driving factor in this purchase, because electronics are so prone to becoming obsolete overnight.
I loved the Zi8’s SD card slot and the ability to plug in an external microphone–both features were missing from the Flip and both were super-important to me in terms of future flexibility–for storage size, use away from home, and quality of recording.
The Zi8 won hands-down for flexibility.
I knew that to pull the trigger, I would need to find not just one, but multiple compelling reasons for getting the camera. Not just silly excuses to satisfy myself.
I hate buyer’s remorse. If I ever get a case of it, I run to the store and return the product immediately. So I’d rather not get something in the first place if there’s not a compelling reason.
Thankfully, for the Zi8, I found many–expanding my blogging brand, family communication, memories of our new baby, and videos for family businesses. All were important to me, and I knew that even one would have a big impact on my quality of life. Having all of them improved was a bonus.
Finding The Money
The Kodak was bought (and yes, I’m incredibly proud of this) with 100% blogging income. I saw it as an investment into my blogging and had no problems with using the money, especially because the camera provided some of the very compelling side benefits I described above.
Without having the cash on hand, I wouldn’t have thought twice about delaying the purchase until later next year.
Finding the Value
I knew the cost of the camera and the potential benefits I would get from using it, but the question I was really interested in was–“Is this worth the cost?”
I had only a couple of reference points–similar competitor’s products and other camera products, including more full-featured HD cameras. In all cases, the Zi8 was very competitive at its price point.
And it was worth the $180 to me. Particularly since we had just been looking for a cheap, $100+ still camera for the birth of our baby (our SLR needs to get fixed), and the Zi8 takes pictures. Imagine that! (Another compelling reason).
Getting the Best Price
What was interesting (and lucky) about this purchase is that the only place that seemed to have the Zi8 in stock at the time was Kodak itself, and it also happened to be the cheapest in price (on sale at the time). I never buy directly from the manufacturer, because it rarely makes financial sense. I ate my words with this buy.
What I passed on were the countless accessories offered as “add-ons.” Just consider my vague recollection of SD card prices as I shopped for them: Kodak, $40-$50 for a 4 GB card; Amazon, $25-$30 for a similar card; Costco $30 for TWO similar cards. Bingo…third time is the charm (and I happened to have some things to return to Costco).
Kodak had me hooked on the price of the device, but I wasn’t about to blow my savings on a trip down accessory lane. On top of the cards, I avoided getting any chargers, batteries, cases, or any other junk that was offered to me…I’m sure it’s all useful, but one of the nice things about the Zi8 is that it already comes with everything you need–even an HDMI cable.
Pulling the trigger to buy is not the end of the story. Once the decision of “yes, we’re getting this” is made, it’s so easy to fall into the “I want it now” trap. I’m a sucker for gadgets and it was all I could do not to check the UPS tracking information every 10 minutes (once I ordered it), or try to find the product locally (before I ordered it).
Cooler heads prevailed once more, and I knew the only cheap place that had it in stock was where I ordered, and I would have to wait patiently. Thank goodness for fast order processing, and Kodak had that puppy in my hands in 3 business days flat.
The interesting thing about any big purchase is that it usually carries completely unintended and unpredictable consequences. This one was no different.
It turned out that while the camera was great and worked perfectly, my computer was fine for Internet use but horrible for processing video. Trying to edit video is doable, but it’s definitely not smooth. And it didn’t even cross my mind during the purchase/research process…
The End Result
Ultimately, the end result of any good purchase for us is a benefit and an improvement of our life in some way. So yes, I think it was a good decision to purchase the camera.
My readers are loving the videos, and the average time on site for Fiscal Fizzle has increased from about 1:30 to 2:30 just by placing a video at the top right corner of the site. My grandmother had to watch a video of me saying hello three times because she couldn’t stop crying from happiness. And we’ll have memories of the birth of our son forever (okay, so I won’t tape everything).
One more plug…
Because why not, right? Kodak has really been off my radar for a while, and I’ve noticed a lot of their products making their way into my home lately. Good sign for them and a reflection on their recent quality and innovation.
So if you’re interested in a pocket cam, the Kodak Zi8 (yup, another affiliate link) is the way to go, in my humble opinion.
Photo of Zi6 by DesheBoard