Kodak PlaySport – Handheld Camcorder, Waterproof to 10’, Weatherproof, 1080p Hi Def, 5MP Stills, with Image Stabilizer, All for $150 or Less

Handheld camcorders are so popular!  There are some important advantages in some over others, as is the case with the new Kodak PlaySport, retailing for $150, but often found for less and, through June, 2010, perhaps even FREE, so keep reading for that info.

I took notice of the Kodak PlaySport at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) held in January, and was impressed enough to feature it in my YouTube channel’s coverage of the show.

What’s hot?

• Low initial cost (even when considering the requirement to purchase memory to record stills and video)

• Easy to use, really easy to use

• Available in Purple, Blue and Black

• Pocket sized and feels rugged; making it ideal to take along anywhere

• Comes with HDMI cable for direct connection from PlaySport to high def TV

• Also included standard A/V output connection with cable

• Very good low light performance

• Sharp, bright and clear 2-inch display

• 4x digital zoom

• Takes several levels of video quality; WVGA (wide, standard resolution), 720p HD, 720p HD at 60fps, 1080p HD – all easily accessible and selectable from the big button on the front rocking it left to reveal settings, then navigate to the choices, including taking still shots

• Unlike nearly all competition, includes electronic image stabilization to lessen effects of what is always shaky video from camcorders this small – switchable on and off in Settings menu – note: most modern video software for PC and standard on Macs in iMovie include post-processing to remove shakiness and do a pretty fair job, but it’s always better to start with it in the camcorder

• Takes very acceptable HD video AND 5MP stills for its size and cost

• Electronic Glare Shield menu setting to improve LCD viewability in bright, outdoors conditions

• Waterproof to 10 feet

• Special setting for underwater shooting to keep images sharp and natural looking up to nearly 10 feet away

• Weatherproof

• Easy upload to social networking sites through included Windows software and the Mac’s included iPhoto and iMovie software

• Comes with built-in Windows software that allow 9-up photos, perfect for analyzing that golf swing! (see notes below and sample)

• Works with accessory available wireless remote control – $13 from Kodak – HERE – handy for direct playback on connected TV and for remote operation of record function (while PlaySport is on a tripod? – There is a standard tripod screw hole on the bottom, so go ahead and use it)

• Compatible with Macs and Windows PCs, but built-in software is ONLY for Windows and there are no plans by Kodak to offer special built-in Mac software – a minor inconvenience, as you will read.

• Expansion SD/SDHC card slot (above battery, under waterproof door) with support for up to 32GB card

• Replaceable and (relatively) inexpensive Lithium ion battery

Now and ONLY through 6-30-10 get one FREE with purchase of certain Calloway drivers (info at http://www.callawaygolf.com/) from numerous retailers (including those on the Internet) that can be found through THIS link.

What’s not so hot?

• With virtually NO useful on-board memory, an SD/SDHC card purchase is mandatory, adding to the initial cost, but 16GB SDHC Class 4 cards are only about $50 and getting cheaper – that amount of memory is good for over 3 hours of great HD video (1080p and 720p at 60 fps) and lots more at the other lower quality settings

• I’d buy at least one extra battery and be prepared to purchase more if your use dictates the need for more, such as vacations and outings where you just cannot run out of battery power

• 4x digital zoom – nearly all similar products include only image-degrading digital zoom, but it sure would be great to see optical zoom on one of these and still have it affordable, rugged and even weather resistant.

• Built-in ArcSoft MediaImpression for Kodak software is Windows only, so the 9-up stills for analyzing golf swings, for example, is for Windows only, but Macs can still import stills and videos through iPhoto and edit videos using iMovie, plus upload to popular social media sites the same as can be done via Windows computers using the software that is built-into the PlaySport – no biggie

 

PlaySport is rugged, pocket-sized and fully submersible up to 10 feet.  It’s weatherproof, too, so take it to the beach and pool, boating and while enjoying life anywhere, even on the golf course, where a special capability makes PlaySport quite interesting.  It’s designed for sharing and easy to take videos and 5-megapixel stills to share via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and any other way you can imagine!

Shoot up to 1080p HD at 30 fps that is capable of being made into beautiful Blu-ray DVDs if your computer is so equipped (unlikely today), or into darn fine standard definition DVDs from the high def original files.  Save those files on a computer until the cost and ease of producing at-home Blu-ray DVDs becomes more available.  The 5-megapixel stills capability is also a nice touch.

Stills are decent but not a substitute for even a $100 dedicated digital still camera.

What caught my attention in addition to what’s above is the electronic image stabilization absent from nearly all others in this category, even those costing twice as much and NOT waterproof!

Also worthy of particular acclaim is very good low-light performance.

With only 20.3MB of its total 120MB of built-in memory available to the user, you’ll need to purchase a high capacity SD card to slot in under the protected cover.  Fortunately, they’re pretty inexpensive, and getting less expensive all the time.  Shopping for cards, I found 16GB Class 4 (the right “class” or speed for this camera) for as little as about $50, with the 32GB card, the maximum capacity specified for use in the PlaySport, going for about $80, so there is this added immediately expense necessity.

Another nice feature is the ability to remove and replace the Lithium ion battery, Kodak’s model KLIK-7004, readily available from Kodak for about $30, but made to fit by others for lots less (See Lenmar for good replacements, their model DLK7004 with a two-year warranty is quite reasonably priced if you search for that Lenmar product number online).

 Built-in Windows software by Arcsoft allows 9-up image viewing, which, for example, can be useful in analyzing one’s golf swing, as can be seen above. This ties in with the Callaway promotion through June 30, 2010, which can provide a FREE PlaySport with the purchase of a Callaway driver!  Not a bad deal at all.

However, having only a very short time with the camera, long enough to know I really, really like it and can comfortably recommend it in time for Dads ‘n Grads shopping, I was NOT able to test the Arcsoft MediaImpression for Kodak software to successfully duplicate what you see below.  I’ll have to take their word for it at this point, but I am confident after speaking with Kodak representatives that it’s a fun and worthwhile activity.  The software loads and works well under Windows 7 for me, the stills and videos transferred perfectly well, but I just could not readily see how to do this 9-up trick.

Another byproduct of this quick hit/short time with hands-on finished goods is that I was not able to do much of my own video and stills, certainly not of the type I am willing to share with you all!  Take it from me, however, that, though what I shot was not what I’d want to share, the images, both still and video look very nice on our 50-inch Pioneer plasma set.  Low light performance as indicated above was particularly impressive. The underwater shots I screened (supplied by my friends at Kodak), which included good samples of colorful ocean fish, kids swimming in pools and having lessons, exactly what I’d do were my kids little.  In my day, I had to do this with bulky and expensive camcorders plus expensive waterproof housings.  Boy, have things changed!  I so identified with those sample shots!

From family events and fun times to sports, be it golf, a batter’s swing analysis, soccer form or anything imaginable, I’ve no doubt that you will be pleased with the results. Look at it this way; whether you get one before June 30, 2010 as part of the Callaway promotion, or you actually buy one for yourself or as a gift, it’s a pretty nice product.

More info is at www.kodak.com or call 1-800-235-6325.

Kodak PlaySport is available at major retailers including Best Buy and Amazon.com, as well as Kodak.com. And you know the drill, shop online in your favorite search engine and find the PlaySport for less than $150.  And don’t forget the mandatory purchase of an SDHC class 4 memory card or you’ll have no way to record your stills or videos.  With the image stabilization, ruggedness, waterproof/weather resistance and quality of the result, Kodak has put together a great little package sure to please the masses.  Exactly what we expect from Kodak!

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