Kodak Playsport

Last month we ran a roundup of pocket high-definition video cameras. One model we were really looking forward to trying was the Playsport, a waterproof offering from Kodak. Unfortunately a courier mishap kept it from appearing in the feature, but we did manage to get hold of it in the end.

NamePocket camera: Kodak Playsport
At a glance:Waterproof to 3 metres.,Shoots well in daylight.,Not so great indoors.,No flip-out USB connector.
Summary:An ideal offering for the outdoor adventurer.
Rating:4/5
RRP:$329
Contact:kodak.co.nz

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Last month we ran a roundup of pocket high-definition video cameras. One model we were really looking forward to trying was the Playsport, a waterproof offering from Kodak. Unfortunately a courier mishap kept it from appearing in the feature, but we did manage to get hold of it in the end.

The Playsport takes the traditional pocket-camera shape, ruggedised and waterproofed without compromising on comfort or aesthetics. The body is rubberised for a good grip, with a large reinforced lanyard port at the bottom.

Video quality is good, with excellent contrast and colour reproduction in bright outdoor scenes. Given its rugged nature, this is exactly where the Playsport is designed to be used. Indoor and low-light performance isn’t quite so great, with undersaturated colours and a fair amount of grain. The Playsport also doesn’t handle close-ups too well, with some definite blurring.

The waterproofing works well: I didn’t test the camera down to the advertised three metres, but it certainly shoots underwater without any trouble. Not a single drop found its way beyond either of the securely-locking, waterproof hatches: one that covers the A/V, HDMI and USB ports, and another that protects the battery and SD card.

Like the JVC Picsio and Sony Bloggie in last month’s roundup, Kodak’s Playsport features a miserable amount of internal memory – 128MB in total, of which barely 20MB is actually usable for image and video storage. No memory card is included, so you’ll need to provide your own card up to 32GB in size.

Though a memory card is notably missing, Kodak has certainly bundled in everything else you’ll need. In the box you get a standard Micro-USB cable for charging and connecting to a PC; an absolutely tiny, lightweight mains adapter that provides a single USB port for charging; a standalone battery charger, A/V cable and even a decent HDMI cable.

The standalone charger is particularly impressive: you can charge the battery in-camera, but that can be a right pain if you opt for a spare battery or two. The external charger lets you charge one battery while using another, without having to pay for yet another optional extra.

On the downside, the Micro USB cable is the only way to connect the Playsport to your PC: there’s no flip-out USB connector as found on competing models. While Micro USB is a soon-to-be common standard (it’s the connector many mobile phone vendors have agreed to use on future models), we haven’t reached the point where you’re likely to find a spare cable on every desk. If you’re concerned about connectivity, you do have to carry your cable around. Perhaps this is part of the price you pay for waterproofing: a flip-out connector may have been too impractical.

The Playsport’s bundled software – ArcSoft MediaImpression – is installed from the camera itself, saving the hassle of an installation DVD. Still, it does require installation: a portable application that runs straight off the camera’s memory would be far more convenient.

The software is not the most intuitive package I’ve ever used, but it does allow easy enough upload to YouTube and other video services. Supposedly it supports Twitter upload via Twitvid, but I was unable to get that up and running.

Altogether, Kodak’s Playsport is an ideal offering for the outdoor adventurer. It’s rugged, waterproof and shoots well in daylight. If you’re looking for something to record the company conference, stick with something like the JVC Picsio for improved indoor image quality.

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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