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KODAK PLAYSPORT Video Camera  
   
  An inexpensive pocket camcorder that you can take with you anywhere
 
 
   
   
 
 
 
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Kodak PLAYSPORT
If you are looking for a rugged, inexpensive, waterproof video camera that's easy to use, the KODAK PLAYSPORT might be just the ticket. Typically, we like to test out video cameras during one of our cruise assignments. However, with the PLAYSPORT we decided to try something a little different. We took this little camcorder with us on a two-week motorcycle tour through Colorado and Utah. After all, Kodak claims that the PLAYSPORT is for "adrenaline junkies."

The PLAYSPORT is what Kodak refers to as a "pocket video camera" and it falls into the same category as the Flip™ and Sony® Bloggie™ camcorders. The first thing I noticed about the PLAYSPORT was its size and shape. It feels more like a cell phone than a camcorder. The leather/rubber finish gives it an expensive feel and keeps the unit from slipping out of your hand, especially handy if you are using it to shoot underwater videos or photos.

Kodak has decided to pack the PLAYSPORT with some very extensive video capabilities. You can shoot video in your choice of the following formats:

  • 1080p: 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps
  • 720p: 60 fps—1280 x 720 @ 60 fps
  • 720p: 1280 x 720 @ 30 fps
  • WVGA: 848 x 480 @ 30 fps

You can also shoot 5.3 MP still photos with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio (interpolated).

The 1080p option is not one you would expect to find on a small, inexpensive camcorder. This format is best when shooting HD video that will be viewed on an HD television (capable of reproducing 1080p). However, 720p will deliver excellent results and is preferred for viewing on computers or mobile devices. Another unique feature is the 60 frames per second option (720p). This comes in very handy when you want to video action scenes such as sporting events. The 60fps option allows you to get smooth slow-motion during editing of your video clips.

Kodak PlaySportSETUP AND MENUS

Anyone familiar with a digital camera or camcorder should be able to pick up the PLAYSPORT and begin using it with virtually no training. That's a good thing since the documentation that comes with the unit is scant. A small (too small in my opinion) power button on the right side of the camera powers the unit on and activates the small, not-so-well-lit LCD screen. There are four function buttons for RECORD, PLAYBACK, TRASH and TOOLS. Clicking the TOOLS button displays 11 small setup icons. From here you can set the Date/Time, NTSC/PAL, brightness, volume, mic sensitivity, underwater shooting mode, LCD Glare Shield, face detection, E.I.S. (stabilization), format SD card and info.

The menus are simple and very straightforward. In addition to the four function buttons, there is a round toggle "mouse" with a left, right, up, down function and a start/stop button in the middle.

On the right-hand side of the unit is a flip-open door that reveals a USB port, mini-HDMI port and A/V mini-port. To their credit, Kodak even includes every possible cable you would ever need to take advantage of these ports. They even include the mini-HDMI cable, something camcorders five times the price often do not come with. Unfortunately, the PlaySport requires a proprietary USB cable to connect it to a computer USB port instead of a handy flip-out USB connector like on the Flip, Sony, Panasonic or even some other Kodak models. That means I have yet another USB cable to keep up with when traveling. The USB cable is a trade-off necessary to retain the waterproof integrity of the PlaySport which would make a flip-out connector unreliable.

The small, rechargeable lithium-ION battery has been the subject of much criticism on many review sites for its low battery life. In spite of this, I never found myself running out of battery life during my test. Then again, I tend to shoot very short video scenes of 10 seconds or less and I always power off the camera when I am finished. If battery life is an issue for you, you should consider purchasing a second battery to keep with you. The battery begins recharging as soon as you plug the unit into the USB connector on your computer and the power button lights up letting you know the battery is charging. When the light goes out, the unit is fully charged. Kodak even includes a very handy USB to 110 plug so you can charge the battery without a computer. Nice.

Video and photos are recorded to any standard SD or SDHC flash card. For our test, I was using an 8 GB (Class 4) Micro-SD with an SD adapter. There is also 128 megabytes of internal RAM with 20 meg reserved for recording video and photos if no SD card is installed.

VIDEO

Before you begin shooting video, you can set the video format by pressing the left (<<) arrow on the "mouse". This will overlay a menu on the screen where you can choose between the different video formats. This is a much better method than making the user go into the setup/tools menu. Once you have selected the video recording format, just press the round RECORD button in the middle of the mouse and the unit starts recording until you press the button a second time. There are audible beeps to alert you when recording starts and stops. When the PlaySport is in Pause mode, there is an HH:MM:SS readout in the upper-left corner that displays the amount of recording time available on the SD card. Once you begin recording, the readout changes to show the elapsed time MM:SS of the current clip.

The quality of the video captured by the PLAYSPORT depends on several factors. First of all, low-light video quality is abysmal and there is no LED to shed even minimal light on a subject in low-light situations. Outdoors, however, the video quality is quite good, the only limitation being the underwhelming E.I.S. (Electronic Image Stabilization). No matter how steady I tried to keep my hand, there is still a noticeable shake, even at widest angle. Part of this may be due to the location of the lens, at the very top of the camera, which creates somewhat of a fulcrum effect when shooting video. I noticed this, too, when I tried to attach the camera to my motorcycle using the tripod mount (located on the bottom of the PlaySport). There was much more vibration and shake transmitted to the PlaySport than other cameras I was testing at the time. But, in all fairness, how many people will be mounting a camera to a motorcycle?

The PLAYSPORT has a 4X digital zoom and it does allow you to zoom in and out while recording, something a lot of small camcorders do not offer.

The LCD screen could use some work. It simply is not bright enough to be easily seen in sunlight. I pretty much found myself just aiming and hoping I was getting the right shot. The sound quality that comes from the small microphone (located on the front next to the lens) is good. However, there is no electronic wind cut filter and you can get a LOT of annoying wind noise.

In spite of these shortcomings, I cannot help but believe the PLAYSPORT delivers on what it is designed to deliver. This is an inexpensive, easy-to-use camcorder for active situations. I don't think Kodak was designing the camera to shoot indoor video. This is a camcorder you take to the beach, or the pool, or when riding your snowmobile. In my case, I was able to hang it around my neck while riding my motorcycle and I did not have to worry when we rode through a little rainstorm. You can check out my sample videos below.

To get the video clips into iMovie on the Mac, I was not able to use the Capture/Import capabilities in iMovie. Instead, I had to locate the video files (the PlaySport shows up as an external hard disk drive when connected to the USB port) and copy them to my Mac first, then use the Import Files menu option.

PHOTOS

As stated earlier, The PLAYSPORT will shoot 5.3 MP still photos. Using the right (>>) arrow on the "mouse" you can select the "5MP" option and from then on, pressing the record button will snap a photo. There is no built-in flash, so indoor photos in low-light are not even worth discussing. However, as long as you have a decent amount of light, the camera takes pretty good pictures. I have included some sample photos below.

SUMMARY

This is one camera/camcorder that, the more I used it, the more I liked it. Once I got over the fact that this is not a high-end camcorder and learned its limitations, I began to really appreciate it for what it is. The KODAK PLAYSPORT is a really, really good little camcorder that would satisfy 80% of the consumer video users out there.

As for cruise enthusiasts, the KODAK PLAYSPORT will make a great travel companion. You can keep it in your pocket or around your neck throughout the cruise and it will be ready to shoot when the scene presents itself. Take the PLAYSPORT with you on your shore excursions to capture your zip-line adventure in St. Maarten or your parasailing in St. Thomas. You can even hold it underwater to shoot video of the Stingrays swimming around your legs in Grand Cayman!

For $149 retail the PLAYSPORT is a no-brainer (I saw one at Walmart today for only $129).

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

If you do not require the waterproof capabilities of the PLAYSPORT and would prefer the convenience of the flip-out USB connector, check out Kodak's other pocket camcorders, the Zi6™, Zi8™ or the new PLAYTOUCH™.


What I Like

  • Great design, comfortable in hand
  • Easy to use, great interface
  • 1080p and 720p 60fps
  • Excellent build quality, rugged
  • Exceptional video quality
  • Good still photos
  • Kodak generously includes a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable
  • Just downright fun to use
  • Ridiculously inexpensive

What I Don't Like

  • Needs better image stabilization
  • Screen hard to see in bright sun
  • Could benefit from a wind-cut filter, or re-locate the microphone
  • Standard USB cable/connector would be nice
  • Kodak made me give it back

SAMPLE VIDEO

This short video shows a few of the scenes shot with the KODAK PLAYSPORT.


Kodak Playsport HD Video Review - Pt. 1 from CruiseReport.com TV.



Kodak Playsport HD Video Review - Pt. 2 from CruiseReport.com TV.



SAMPLE PHOTOS


Click on any of the photos below to see a larger version.

 
   
   
8 Comments
SUZYANGELO
HD Waterproof Pocket Video Camera (Black) (Electronics) Customer Video Review Length:: 3:08 MinsOK lets start off with this camera is $149 keep that in mind. The 5.3MP still phoots are fairly good, not to bad, but remember this is a video camera first a dedicated 5MP still photo camera will take much better phoots, but again hey these aren't to shabby it just depends on what your trying to do. Quick shots here and there excellent and better than any cell phone I've had. At a wedding where you want crystal clear and sharp phoots .well not so much. The HD video camera is pretty nice, easy to use and I was just stunned at the digital zoom. It actually works and works well, not to blocky or grainy more so at the extreme 4x level but at 2x to about 3x the camera compensated nicely and actually cleared up the image not sure how they do it, but they do. As others have noted, with rapid movement of the camera you will notice your image jumps or shakes. Now remember what I told you to keep in mind $149. Yes it does have that little feature , but it's not a $299 video camera with a higher quality lens and CCD. Slow down, don't go from left to right or up and down at 100MPH and it's not bad. Moving images within the video are fine, it's just if you move the camera itself very rapidly you will notice it. I tried the 3 HD video modes, and it also has a standard resolution mode as well that I did not try. I compared all 3 with and with out the image stabilization on which did not seem to improve or degrade the image at all. At 720p 30 fps Not to bad, noticed the jumpyness or shakyness of the image as I moved left to right in my test, but slow down and it's not to bad. At 720p 60 fps Now were getting better, really not bad at all, again not $300 video camera good, but pretty darn nice, and clearer and the shakyness of the video smoothed out a bunch, again slow down in your movements for best quality. At 1080p 30fps Nice quality really nice, but the jumpyness of the video is back, you have to take it a bit slower but nice quality all in all. I did not try the underwater mode, but assume it works as advertised everything else has so far. Now I throughly loved the fact that there are no CD's with this camera, nothing in the box to load. You simply plug in the provided USB cable and the software every bit of it and all the drivers you need for the camera are built right in and install on your PC from the camera this is an excellent feature, I always misplace the CD's and have to download from the website anyhow. Speaking of downloading from the website this camera is flash upgradeable with new firmware I went to the Kodak website and found that there was an upgrade I could download to correct a few minor anomalies that they found cool so hopefully this camera gets even more corrections in the near future and maybe a feature update someday? I also loved the fact that ALL the cables came with the camera. HDMI, USB, and Component video cables All of them they can charge you at least $10 for each individual cable, but they give them to you with the camera for $149, now how great is that ?!?! As at least one other reviewer has said, yes there is no case or protective sleeve that comes with the camera, but I would take the cables over a case anyday, you know what ever they included it wouldn't be what you wanted. Either they gave you a sleeve and you wanted a case for your accessories or they gave you a case and you didn't want to carry all the accessories so you go out and buy yourself a protective sleeve or pouch. So just go get what you want I myself purchased the Kodak Case that Amazon recommended to me . also a nice purchase, perfect size not to big, not to small and has a little accessory area that you can carry one of the cables and a spare battery if you need. This camera feels rugged and well built. It's easy to use, lots of features like image stabilization and face tracking, it comes with all the cables, free software that's always with you in the camera, and costs only $149. So not to bad at all, and my conclusion is this if your looking for a sharp and crisp still photo camera drop the $100 just for that and buy one, if your looking for a excellent video quality camera drop the $300 just for that and buy one. But .If your looking for a pretty nice, simple and decent quality camera that does it all and is rugged enough to go out in the rain or underwater drop $149 and buy this one. I've included a video I compiled and edited down to show the different resolutions and the phoots. Keep in mind that while your viewing that this is an flv
Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:42 PM  
STEVEDIETCH@MSN.COM
Where can I get a neck strap that holds the ZX5 upright like that? Thanks.
Friday, April 13, 2012 11:11 AM  
DAVIDLEVINE
welll the stills were good I asume it had to be HD for they look maybe to godd 5..5 Meg but I do not know much about this mattterI have not really tested my Zi8 on big screen I do not like the way it stops att then end of a seen I asume most burn it on a a DVD it is to bad it does not have specia efects I love then IO would want toget a Yellow filter fpr better black and whites
Sunday, February 26, 2012 3:49 PM  
RENEE
Can't wait until I get mine! I'm not really an adventure gal but this year I'm coming out of my shell. I plan on going to some waterparks and outdoor concerts this year. Hopefully this camera wil be a fun incentive and good excuse to get out the house more! Great Review you've sold me!
Tuesday, March 01, 2011 1:01 PM  
ERIK
The stills are better than I expected :-) Can´t wait to get my Playsport, ordered it yesterday? Mainly to use it for videos on the beach etc, but i guess it also will be a pretty good substitute for my SLR in som cases. Great review man. Thanks.
Monday, January 24, 2011 12:47 PM  
RICKEE RICHARDSON
@Bush Yes these are at full res.
Thursday, December 30, 2010 5:21 AM  
BUSH W
nice shots are these at full max resolution setting?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 9:37 PM  
WAYNE
Kodak is just an old Meanie
Sunday, October 31, 2010 7:39 AM  
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