Magazines are trying to evolve into digital media brands to stay relevant and vibrant in a digital media world. This evolution in many case includes online video, which is a lot easier said than done — producing video content that creates unique value for readers is not part of the traditional magazine’s core competency.

One magazine I came across that has really gotten video right is Popular Mechanics, a brand you might easily associate with technology of decades past. But Popular Mechanics appears not only to be keeping pace with bleeding edge technology, but is also using digital media technology in smart ways.

Here is a Popular Mechanics article on Mircosoft’s new surface computing technology, which comes with a video that includes eye-popping demos and insightful interviews with the developers — there’s no way that a printed magazine piece could ever have done this story the same justice (the text article appeared in the June 2007 issue), but what’s more notable is that Popular Mechanics did an excellent job with the video production. It’s not just video for the sake of doing video, which is the big risk for magazine and other print brands.

And kudos to Popular Mechanics for making their videos embeddable, so that you can enjoy the video right here. (Via Dan Blank, who has some interesting thoughts on how surface computing could further reduce our dependency on paper.)

The article with video also got picked up on Digg.

I don’t know how Popular Mechanics is doing with its advertising trend ratio, but it’s definitely an example of a traditional media brand that “gets it” and is now going about the hard work of figuring out how to get it done.