Teetering confidently at the top of a black run is the latest upright design, palm-sized ‘Zx’ offering from Kodak in the Zx3, aka the ‘PlaySport’, announced at CES, it’s marketed in black, blue or purple. Unlike rivals the Flip Mino HD or Sony PM1, this palm-sized camcorder is designed to be used outside.
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Like competitors, maximum quality 1080p High Definition video clips are recorded to removable SD or SDHC (32GB holding 10 hours of lower quality 720p footage), or the 128Mb internal memory. With a concessionary five-megapixel photo option thrown in. But perhaps just as importantly, for those who do end up chewing a mouthful of snow, it’s waterproofed to three metres (or 10ft) and feels rock solid without being weighty at 128g.
So the PlaySport can be operated with wet hands or gloves, buttons are large-ish, responsive and well spaced, like fingers spread out from a palm. Powering up in just over two seconds, a round unmarked button for one-touch recording takes pole position. Ridged edges near the base and a soft textured faceplate prevent it slipping from your grasp as you hurtle to the finish, whilst a wrist strap provides a necessary back up –handlebar and helmet attachments optional.
For on-the-go convenience the PC and Mac compatible Playsport’s lithium ion battery can be recharged via the mains or a laptop’s USB port; also the route via which footage can be uploaded to social networking sites like Facebook. An HDMI port is provided alongside for hooking up to a flat panel TV; otherwise make do with the 1024×768 pixels 2-inch screen, its clear, ghost-free image relayed in 16:9 widescreen.
Up, down and all around
There’s no optical zoom on the Zx3 but instead a smooth 4x digital option, activated by tabbing up or down on the multi directional control pad. A press of the ‘Settings’ button denoted by a spanner and cog summons an icon led-toolbar, via which the PlaySport can be switched to underwater mode or anti-glare setting applied. It’s not immediately obvious what all icons mean without referring to the manual, so the next Gen model would benefit from a brief text description for each.
Footage looks reasonably sharp when shot outdoors, although we did experience a few white balance issues. Interior shooting came out dark and grainy, as the lens itself is tiny. However sound was bright and clear despite being mono.
So while it won’t win sporting gold, there’s enough pluck about the PlaySport to snatch bronze and it’s compact size and reasonable price should certainly provide some serious competition in the pocket camcorder market.