The Kodak Zi8 was an absolute performer that stole the show when it came to performance and looks. The PlaySport, also referred as the Zx3, on the other hand is a little smaller in terms of width and is fully waterproof till a depth of 10 feet / 3 meters. But the question is does it perform just as well as the Zi8?
The Kodak PlaySport features a full hardened plastic body that makes it quite rugged and durable. With respect to its size the Zx3 measures in at 23 x 44 x 8 mm but feels a tad heavy at 128 g. However the weight shouldn’t be your primary concern as it comes in a real sturdy shell – reason why it weighs in a little more than the Zi8. Pocketing it shouldn’t be an issue also as it is barely as big as a cell phone. Moreover the rough rear and ribbed sides add to the overall grip. The HDMI/USB and battery compartment flaps come with rubber gaskets that seals in tight when closed. The inbuilt memory is limited to 128 MB though you are given only 20 MB to record video and stills. Memory can however be added via the expansion slot which supports a whopping 32 GB of memory.
In the looks department the PlaySport comes in with a decent set of looks but isn’t a stunner as the Zi8 proved to be. However this total depends from an individual’s point of view because white isn’t my personal favourite when it comes to gadgets. Having said that, the camcorder comes in three different shades but the front remains unchanged which sports a white face. The screen is a little small at 2-inches but performs well when viewed outdoors. In addition to this the camcorder also features a decent viewing angle. However the screen that the PlaySport comes with isn’t resistant to scratches which shouldn’t have been the case since this particular model is built for rugged usage.
Camera controls are easily accessible as they all come placed just below the 2-inch screen. There are a total of four controls along with a four way directional pad that doubles up as a zoom as well as a fast forward button while recording or when playing videos. The other four controls allow you to preview, delete photos and videos and change various settings. Moreover the camcorder features 2 different shooting modes that improves overall screen visibility. The modes include High Saturation and a Black and White mode. The High Saturation mode comes in handy under low light conditions while the Black and White mode is best used when shooting under really bright conditions. However this doesn’t affect the video that is being shot in any way; these modes basically help improve the overall screen visibility under different conditions.
Camcorder settings are pretty straight forward and won’t take up much time to get used to. There is also an underwater mode that supposedly improves the overall picture and video clarity. The confusion sets in when the need is to change the recording modes of the camcorder. The video and camera modes are not present in the settings menu but are only accessible by pressing down the left side of the directional pad. A really awkward place for such a setting to be placed as a new user would literally have to guess to get to this. Having said that, the PlaySport allows recording in four different modes - these include 1080p, 720p (60 fps), 720p (30 fps) and a VGA mode.
Apart from its ability to record video the camcorder also allows you to capture still images with its 5 MP CMOS censor. However the quality is not something that can be compared to a standalone digital camera but nevertheless comes out just about average. Images will be more than acceptable at resolutions less than 800 x 600. Video capture quality on the other hand is good but not the best if you compare it to the Zi8. It might seem unfair to compare the two but if the device says it can record in full HD then it should be able to deliver without compromising on performance. Having said that, the overall playback quality of the Kodak PlaySport can very well be considered above average under decent lighting conditions. What disappoints me here is the Image Stabilization (IS) performance as there is a decent amount of jitter in the recorded video. Under low light though the camcorder just about manages to average out as the video appears a little grainy and colors seem to be out of proportion. It would be advisable to carry a separate battery along as the battery last for less than 2 hours when shooting at its highest resolution.
The Kodak PlaySport sells for Rs. 7,999 which is actually a good price for a camcorder that’s waterproof and HD capable. It might not be the best in terms of video quality but in comparison to its price the camcorder does quite well. Moreover it comes out as a rugged camera that’s a decent all-rounder. However if you are the sort of person who is very finicky about video quality and need a recorder that’s compact then the Kodak Zi8 is the best option.