Friday, January 16, 2015

Product Review: Kodak Playsport Zx5 Waterproof Pocket Video Camera

Ratings (out of four stars)
     Video/Image Quality- 3
     Integrated Memory- 2
     Additional features- 3.5
Ease of Use: 3
Support: 3.5
Verdict: Overall rating 3. The Kodak Zx5 is an excellent value for shooting video at the beach or pool or on the go.

Quick Look
Pro: Video quality is good on this simple-to-use waterproof pocket camcorder that can withstand the elements.
Con: The unremovable battery means you’ll have to watch that you’re not running out of juice.

Review (648 words)
While smart phones are convenient, using them for every task—like shooting video—is like trying to use only a screwdriver to build a house. The Kodak Playsport Zx5 Video Camera gives you another tool that’s still pocket-sized but powerful enough for the job. With its HD image capability and the durability of a rugged action video recorder, your on-the-go videos will actually be enjoyable to watch and share.

One of the best features of the Zx5 is that it can take some abuse. No more worrying about accidental drops or protecting your camcorder from splashes at the pool. This recorder shoots underwater up to 10 feet and is dustproof and shockproof, resisting damage when dropped from 5 feet. The rubber coating also makes it easy to grip, even in water. It’s perfect for adventures from the skate park to skiing.

The Zx5 has several recording modes, from high-definition 1080p/30 frames per second (fps), 720p/60 fps, and 720/30 fps, to WVGA 30fps. The sound quality is acceptable from the internal mono microphone and speaker, but the mic jack is missing as well as a headphone jack. The 2" LCD screen has an unimpressive pixel resolution of 154,000, far less than comparable camcorders. For good playback you’ll have to watch video on your computer or plug the Zx5 into an HD TV with a micro-HDMI cable that’s free from Kodak for the cost of shipping when you register online.

An upgrade in the Zx5 is the autofocusing lens, where many pocket camcorders have a fixed focus. The lens also works quite well underwater, using image correction for a crisp image. While some camcorders require a distance of a few feet to get a clear picture, the Zx5’s autofocus neatly goes into macro mode to clearly shoot small objects close up. Image stabilization, as well as zooming, is digital instead of optical.

Kodak has made this camera simple to use, with just five buttons and an easy on-screen menu. After installing the software on your Mac or PC and plugging in the Zx5 with the included micro-USB cable, a one-time fill of email and social media information allows later quick-click sharing of images and .mp4 video files right from the camcorder. There’s even a video-trimming function so you don’t have to first edit files on a computer.

A few other handy features we like are the ability to reduce the appearance of glare on your screen for sunny days, a tripod hole and optional remote control for selfie videos and shots, and the cool effects color filters.

The Zx5 has a lot of noteworthy features with just a few minor downsides. When Kodak strengthened the case of the previous Zx3 for this newer model, the battery went from being detachable to unremovable, which may bother a few users. So although the Zx5 is meant to be used on the go, don’t stray too far from an electrical outlet if you need to record for more than a couple of hours. You’ll also need more memory: the 128MB of integrated memory can be expanded up to 32GB.

The last drawback of the Zx5 is that it can be challenging to get crisp images in low lighting. The modest 1/3.2-inch light sensor can create a bit of graininess in indoor video. And since the Zx5 doesn’t have a flash, while you are able to shoot still photos or create them from a frame of video, it’s best done outdoors to avoid blur.

Overall, the Kodak Zx5 is an excellent buy, a mid-priced pocket camcorder for those wanting the convenience of a small, go-everywhere device that can take decent video—while withstanding some extra wear and tear. It comes with a warranty of one year. Kodak has a longstanding reputation of good customer support, and it has many online resources, including FAQs and manual, with assistance also available by email, phone, and chat.

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