We're fond of the Kodak Zi8 pocket videocamera for reasons we've previously delineated here. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Kodak unveiled its successor, newly christened the PlaySport Zx3.
Its chief improvement seems to be that it is sturdier, more rugged, and ... waterproof. Up to 10-feet deep, anyway. At CES, Kodak displayed its PlaySports inside mini-fishbowls.
However! Undoubtedly because of this underwater capability, the vidcam no longer has a jack for an external microphone -- the one clear advantage Kodak's Zi8 offered over the wildly popular Flip brand. (With only a built-in mic, your audio source has to be right next to the camera, which is often impractical. You can't hear distinctly what someone is saying in a long shot.)
The PlaySport also doesn't have the Zi8's macro/landscape toggle capability, and its 2-inch LCD viewing screen is signficantly smaller. Plus, the flip-out USB dongle, to jack the whole camera directly into your laptop or desktop for downloading, is missing in action.
On a positive note, the retail price is significantly less ($149, compared to $179). And did we mention that it's waterproof? Up to 10-feet deep?
So if you're the sort of videojournalist who does a lot of shooting around wading pools, is nervous about dropping your camera, but doesn't need to conduct intelligible interviews, the PlaySport is for you.
But seriously, what is Kodak thinking? Reacting to criticism that Zi8 was not a very sexy name, they held a product-naming contest on Twitter, randomly selecting 100 entries for a free Zi8 and inviting the grand-prize winner to CES in Vegas. (Disclosure: KobreGuide's editorial director won one of those nifty Zi8s, and is stunned that his entries weren't deemed superior to PlaySport.)
Naming cameras is not the only thing Kodak needs help with -- where did they get the idea that what consumers want is not good clear audio, even at a distance, but rather the ability to store their camera in a fishbowl?
The PlaySport is due out in April. We say: Hang on to your Zi8.
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