Is this Kodak's last great minicamcorder?

The Kodak Playfull Dual or Zi12 is the true replacement for its excellent Zi8.

LAS VEGAS--It's really too bad that all the bankruptcy talk and lawsuits overshadowed Kodak's CES product announcements, particularly its latest minicamcorder, the Playfull Dual.

It's called the Dual because it's set up to shoot both full HD movie clips and 12-megapixel stills. Movies can be captured at 1080p at 30 or 60 frames per second (H.264) and it can also do high-speed capture at up to 240fps at 720p resolution for slow-motion clips.

As a still camera, its backside-illuminated sensor allows for faster shooting and better low-light image quality. It has an f2.6 wide-angle lens--26mm for photos and 31mm for video. Plus, there's a built-in Xenon flash to help brighten your shots.

One of the key features of its predecessor, the excellent Zi8, was its mic/headphone jack and, thankfully, that returns on the Dual. It also has a Micro-USB port for transfers and charging, Micro-HDMI for connecting to an HDTV, and an SDHC card slot for storage.

On the right side/top are discrete controls for photos (the sample I played with focused and shot faster than most minicamcorders I've tested). On back next to the 3-inch high-res LCD are the remaining controls including a one-touch video record button and Kodak's Share button for in-camera tagging for uploads to sharing sites and e-mail. The Dual has a nice-looking updated interface, too.

I actually got to see a sample of the video quality and if what I saw is indicative of the final product, this could be the first minicamcorder to actually be as good as a full-size camcorder. Of course, the big downside is the lack of a zoom lens; all that's available is an improved 4x digital zoom.

Look for the Playfull Dual in February for $199.99.

 

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