Kodak pops out PlayTouch minicamcorder

The popular Zi8 pocket video camera gets updated with a sleek body and a 3-inch capacitive touch screen.

Kodak

Kodak's Zi8 has been one of the best mini camcorders available since it launched in 2009. It isn't perfect, but it has a lot of features the competition doesn't have, such as a switch for shooting in macro and an external mic jack. The PlayTouch (secretly called the Zi10, and seriously, Kodak, try googling product names before you go to production with them) is the update to the Zi8, and while it keeps many of the core features of its predecessor, it's a significant upgrade in design. This includes the use of a 3-inch capacitive touch screen.

I spent a little time with the PlayTouch recently and the body, screen, and interface are quite nice. The build quality is significantly nicer than the Zi8's, putting it closer to a smartphone; it measures 2.3 inches wide by 4.3 inches high by 0.6 inch deep. Though shooting is done vertically, the picture rotates in playback so you can view videos on the wide screen.

Controls are responsive, menus scroll easily, and selections are clearly labeled. Thankfully, though, Kodak sticks with a physical button for starting and stopping recordings. Editing options are improved, allowing you to get stills from video and trim clips or shoot in "creative" modes like black and white, high saturation, and a '70s film look. And to help you see what you're shooting in bright outdoor lighting, Kodak included its LCD Glare Shield feature from the waterproof PlaySport.

The macro mode is back, as is the external stereo mic jack, but it's now on top and can be used for headphones as well (the built-in mic is mono). The remaining features are pretty much what you'd find on the PlaySport. It records at WVGA, 720p, or 1,080p at 30 frames per second or at 720p at 60fps; has 4x digital zoom and electronic image stabilization; a Mini-HDMI output with cable included and SD/SDHC card slot for storage (only 128MB of storage is built in); and it's powered by a removable battery that's charged in-camera by USB. Lastly, the PlayTouch has a swing-out USB connector for on-the-go sharing with Kodak's integrated sharing software. Of course, there's a share button, too, making uploading and sending photos and clips that much more simple.

Look for the PlayTouch this fall in black, chrome, magenta, orange, and blue for just less than $230.

 

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