The Kodak PlayTouch (Zi10) is the successor to the Kodak Zi8, a popular pocket video camera that is known for its ease-of-use. The PlayTouch is thinner and lighter than the Zi8. It sports a large touchscreen, a jack for an external microphone, an HDMI output, and records video in full HD. Given those great features and the Kodak heritage, we decided to take a closer look.
As shown in Figure 1, the Kodak PlayTouch comes in a small but colorful box.
The PlayTouch comes with a USB charging cable, a wall plug that uses the USB cable, a composite video cable, an HDMI cable, a soft gray carry case, a wrist strap, and two small instructional booklets. These items are shown in Figure 2. Inclusion of an HDMI cable is a rarity and will be much appreciated by most purchasers.
The PlayTouch itself is shown in Figure 3. As you can see, it is a very simplistic device. On the front is the camera lens, the IR receiver for an optional remote control, and the microphone opening. The PlayTouch is 2.3 × 4.3 × 0.6 inches (58.4 x 109.2 x 15.24 mm) and at 3.52 ounces (100 grams), without the battery, it is lightweight and fits nicely in the pocket. Although the PlayTouch feels somewhat sturdy in the hand, our testing showed that it is not. We will comment more on this topic later in this review.
Besides the black color that is shown, the PlayTouch also comes in teal, orange, and chrome.
[nextpage title=”The Hardware”]
The simplicity of the device continues on the back where a 3-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen takes up most of the real estate, as shown in Figure 4. Under the screen is one button which is the Record/OK button. The speaker is to the right of that button. The name “Kodak” is near the bottom.
The right side of the PlayTouch contains most of the ports. As shown in Figure 5, a plastic door can be opened to reveal these ports. Although not a major detriment, the door emitted an annoying squeak when it was opened and closed.
When the door is open, you can see a pop-out USB arm that is released by pressing on the yellow slide lock. Next to that is a micro USB port that can be used for charging the device, a micro HDMI port and an A/V out port.
The left side of the PlayTouch, shown in Figure 6, has the power button near the top and the battery compartment and SD card slot below the power button. The card slot takes SD and SDHC cards up to 32 GB, but no card is included.
One extremely nice feature of the PlayTouch is an external microphone jack, which is on the top of the device as shown in Figure 7. The top also has a focus slider that can be set to close-up or normal.
Charging the battery requires that you use the USB cable with the wall charger. You cannot charge the battery by inserting the USB cable into a computer.
Once the battery is charged, you simply insert the USB into a computer and the Kodak Camera Setup App starts automatically. During the setup you have two choices, as shown in Figure 8. You can install the Kodak Share Button App that lets you transfer, email and upload pictures and videos to online sharing sites, and/or install the ArcSoft Media Impression Software which can be used to edit, create, and share your video on devices and online.
To complete the setup, you must purchase and insert your own SD card as there’s very little built-in storage in the PlayTouch, certainly not enough for recording video.
[nextpage title=”Using the PlayTouch”]
With such simple controls, the PlayTouch is easy to use. The screen is bright and functions fairly well in bright sunlight. The screen has a helpful anti-glare coating. As a touchscreen, it accepts the typical gestures including tap, tap and hold, swipe, and drag. Most of the time, the touchscreen was responsive, but we had a few instances where it froze and refused to respond.
The basic touchscreen controls can be quickly mastered, making the PlayTouch easy to use.
The screen is optimized for reviewing videos in landscape mode. When you playback videos, they fill the whole screen and look quite good.
When recording videos, however, only a small portion of the screen shows what you are recording. The rest of the screen is used for controls, as shown in Figure 9.
Videos can be recorded in 720p at 30 and 60 frames per second or at 1080p at 30 frames per second. There is also a macro mode available from the slider on the top of the device. The videos are clear, crisp, and smooth if you use a tripod or have a very steady hand. Although the camera has built-in image stabilization, we found it didn’t fully compensate for our slightly shaky hands.
Videos taken at 720p were crisp and clear, but 1080p videos were slightly jagged with artifacts appearing occasionally. All the automatic functions worked well, except the white balance, which we would have liked to have been able to adjust. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a way to do so.
When we started taking videos, we began to notice the inferior build quality of this device. The front and back of the device seemed to shift slightly when in use. This was very evident when pressing on the touchscreen. When we tried to zoom in and out by pressing the screen while taking a video, the device actually made a squeaking sound as the front and back of the device rubbed together.
Although the videos we recorded were good, the squeaking was noticeable during playback, completely ruining the audio. We also noticed that the audio from the built-in microphone was stronger on one side of the camera than on the other.
This is, however, one of the few pocket cams that we’ve seen that can accept an external microphone, and the PlayTouch worked well with all the external microphones we tried. The only problem was that since the jack is on the top of the PlayTouch, when using an external microphone, it’s difficult to keep the microphone cable out of the picture. The PlayTouch records in mono AAC with the built-in microphone and in stereo AAC with the microphone jack.
The MP4 videos we took worked well with all the video editing software we tried. You can also trim shots and extract stills right from the camera (in JPEG format). Video effects like black-and-white and sepia are also available in the camera. This camera has EasyShare functionality that lets you choose photos and videos to automatically upload to YouTube, Facebook, or email when you connect to the Internet.
The included HDMI cable is a plus, and if you take a lot of family videos, the ability to show them on a television is great, but the videos showed compression artifacts when viewed on a large screen.
Also, you can put a headphone on the microphone jack to listen to your videos in stereo.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Kodak PlayTouch (Zi10) Camcorder include:
- Dimensions: 2.3 × 4.3 × 0.6 inches (58.4 x 109.2 x 15.24 mm)
- Weight: 3.52 ounces (100 grams)
- Storage: 128 MB internal memory (20 MB available); accepts SD/SDHC memory cards
- Sensor type: 1/3.2-inch CMOS
- Resolution: 5 megapixels
- Screen: 3-inch touchscreen LCD, 230K dots
- File format: H.264 video, stereo AAC audio, MP4
- Image stabilization: Digital
- Zoom: 4x digital
- Battery: Lithium ion rechargeable; 100 minutes at 720p at 30fps
- Focus modes: normal, macro
- Focus range: normal: 100 cm–infinity; macro: 15 cm
- Battery: Rechargeable KODAK Lithium-Ion
- More Information: http://www.kodak.com
- MRSP in the US: USD 180
As the next generation after the widely acclaimed Zi8 pocket recorder, the PlayTouch, also known as the Zi10, had some excellent features, but our hands-on review lead us to give it a big “Thumbs Down.”
When we review products, we end the review with our list of strong and weak points. These list the positive and negative features of the product so that the readers can decide for themselves which features are important to them. In the case of this Kodak PlayTouch camera, however, we felt obliged to list one of the weak points in bold – Poor Build Quality. The camera case was so poorly manufactured that it interfered with the normal functioning of the camera. The touchscreen was unresponsive at times, which became increasingly evident as our review continued. Because of this, in spite of its positive features, we cannot recommend this camera.
We loved the compact design, ease of use, connectivity options, ability to extract still photos, and the jack for an external microphone. We were also impressed with the fact that Kodak included the HDMI cable. They would, however, have been better off putting that extra money into the build of the device.
- Compact design
- Easy to use
- Good connectivity options
- Jack for external microphone
- Good 720p videos
- HDMI out
- HDMI cable included
- Easy to extract still photos
- Poor build quality
- No onboard memory
- Small screen area for taking videos
- Microphone jack on top a little inconvenient
- 1080p videos mediocre
- No white balance control