Kodak PlayFull HD Video Camera review: Kodak PlayFull HD Video Camera

Behind a cover on the left side are a Micro-HDMI port and SD card slot (there's only 20MB of available internal memory, so you'll need to buy a card for recording). With previous models Kodak included an HDMI cable, but not with the Playfull. Instead, you'll need to register the device on Kodak's Web site to get the cable sent to you for a $6.50 shipping and handling fee. That's cheaper than buying one and better than what other manufacturers offer, but it's a bit of a hassle and an extra cost.

On the right side are the power button and a covered Micro-USB port for battery charging with the included wall adapter or by computer; the USB arm can be used for charging, too. (The battery isn't user-replaceable, and charging takes about 3.5 hours by electrical outlet or 4.5 hours by computer.) The Micro-USB can be used with an optional AV cable, too, but not for video and photo transfers. On the bottom are a standard tripod mount and IR receiver for use with an optional remote control.

Given that this is designed to be a basic shoot-and-share video camera, there are no jacks for headphones or an external mic; for those, you'll have to get a Kodak PlayTouch (or a Zi8 if it's still available).

As is typical of minicamcorders, the lens on front is unprotected, so you'll need to remember to keep it safe and clean. Next to the lens is the mono microphone, but that's it. There's no flash or video light, which is still a rarity on this type of pocket video camera. The problem is that smartphones typically have them, so not having one is a negative (regardless of how helpful they actually are).

Controls are simple enough, requiring just a little use to master. Instead of obvious buttons, the Playfull just has a flat panel with labels, which when pressed are actually buttons. With so many things being touch sensitive these days, pressing the labels might not immediately occur to everyone, though. Similarly, there's a raised ring around the record button that's used as a directional ring for navigating menus and settings as well as working the digital zoom and controlling playback. However, arrow markings apparently weren't in the design budget, and you have to press the ring fairly hard, perhaps making it easy for less tech-savvy users to miss the fact that this ring is a control. Still, all it takes to record a movie is to power up and press record.

Lastly, just below the record button is Kodak's Share button, which lets you tag the stuff you want to share online on your choice of sites or by e-mail. You can send things directly to Kodak's line of Pulse digital frames, too. The weak link here is that you're still required to connect the Playfull or insert your SD card in a computer to do your sharing. Otherwise, Kodak's three-step sharing process is pretty great.

Above the controls is the bright but tiny LCD. I rarely had trouble seeing the screen in bright sunlight and Kodak's Glare Shield feature, which bumps up the screen's color saturation, helped when I did. Viewing angles are good on it, too. No, the problem is that it's just really small, which makes it difficult to see what you're shooting and whether it's in focus. That wouldn't be as much of an issue if this had an autofocus lens, but again, it doesn't.

Conclusion
While testing the Kodak Playfull for a couple hours one day, I had three people ask me about it. (I'm generally unfriendly-looking, making that even more unusual.) They were naturally amazed by the size, but equally turned off by the LCD. In fact, everyone I showed the Playfull to said the same thing. But if you want something this small, you have to sacrifice something. In Kodak's favor, the screen is at least good for its size, and overall, the Playfull is a nice little gadget that produces very good HD movies for its size and price.

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