The Kodak Zx1 is a welcome new weather-resistant addition to the HD pocket camcorder realm.

The Kodak ZX1 closely resembles the Creative Vado HD and, with its metalised front, reminded us of the company’s Zen Micro MP3 players. Its red-on-black colouring, meanwhile, reminds us of props from Disney’s ‘Tron’ film.

More importantly, the Kodak ZX1 is an admirably compact camcorder – approximately a third smaller than the Kodak Zi6 – that tapers down to the bottom and fits naturally into a pocket. We took it on a fairly hectic cycle ride, through forests and down steep hills, where it had no problem capturing our descent. It’s not great at zooming though.

At 90g, the Kodak isn’t much of a burden. But, as with the Flip Video MinoHD, it’s slow to fire up and we occasionally found it didn’t want to switch on, causing us to miss the odd interesting bit of action.

We preferred the ZX1’s rubber casing to the scratch-prone examples found on several of its rivals. Kodak claims this casing makes the Kodak ZX1 weather-resistant, which is good news given the track record of the British summer.

The Kodak ZX1 has a 2in LCD screen and snags 1,280x720 footage at 30fps or 60fps. You can then view the results on an HD screen, thanks to the provision of an HDMI output alongside USB. You also get an AV connection and the cable to hook it up this way.

What we liked far less was that the Kodak ZX1 doesn’t really come with any internal memory. You can record approximately 15 secs before having to resort to an SD or SDHC Card. We were also surprised to find AA batteries powering this camcorder, which make it significantly heavier than the svelte Vado and Flip.

Unlike some of the other contenders, the ZX1 can take 3Mp stills as well as standard-definition and HD footage. The footage you end up with offers pretty good approximation, with colours turning out fairly natural and not too much overexposure.

NEXT PAGE: our original review, from April 2009

The Kodak Zx1 is a welcome new weather-resistant addition to the HD pocket camcorder realm.

Original review, from April 2009, by Tim Moynihan

Offering a lot of what we like about Kodak's Zi6 pocket camcorder, the Kodak Zx1 has a slicker, more durable frame.

Like the Kodak Zi6, the Kodak Zx1 has the ability to shoot 720p high-def video at either 30 or 60 frames per second and carries the very reasonable price of £121 inc VAT.

The Kodak Zx1 also shares some other nice features with the Kodak Zi6, such as the ability to shoot 3Mp stills (they look better than your standard mobile-phone camera's shots, but not by much); expandable storage via a covered SDHC card slot on the side (alas, there's no on-board storage; you must use an SDHC card); the ability to flip between those 30fps and 60fps rates; recording standard-def VGA video, as well; and recording all three video modes as H.264-encoded .mov files.

But the Kodak Zx1 isn't just the Kodak Zi6's guts in a smaller, ruggedised frame. First off, gone is the flip-out USB connector, which makes sense because it would probably snap off during your first snowboarding wipe-out. Instead, you must attach an included USB cable to the Zx1 to offload videos on to your computer.

Lessening the sting for flip-out-USB fans is the addition of an HDMI-out port and cable; the Kodak Zx1 is the only HD pocket camcorder we've tested other than the Creative Vado HD that has HDMI-out, so it earns a couple of brownie points there.

Also gone from the Zi6's bag of tricks is the landscape/macro mode toggle. As such, the Kodak Zx1 doesn't handle extreme close-ups as well as the Kodak Zi6 does, but video quality in other areas has actually improved when compared with its pocketable HD sibling.

For one, white balance has improved a bit. In our test shots, the Kodak Zi6 sometimes cast a bluish hue over white backgrounds, but the Kodak Zx1 shot brighter, whiter video when we put it through the same paces.

Kodak also seems to have fixed the colour-oversaturation problems we sometimes saw in the Kodak Zx1, but video looks a bit darker than most other pocket HD camcorders, even in bright indoor lighting.

The Kodak Zx1 also performed better in low light than the Zi6; that said, footage wasn't as smooth, and a bit choppier than our best low-light performer, Pure Digital's Flip Video MinoHD.

When its 2x digital zoom is zoomed out to its widest potential, the Kodak Zx1 is also in line with most other pocket camcorders. It offers the same wide-angle lens as the Zi6 and rivals such as the Flip MinoHD.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference when compared with the Zi6 - and with every other pocket camcorder - is the Kodak Zx1's weak microphone. The Kodak Zi6 has a great on-board microphone - the best we've heard in terms of volume and clarity - but the Zx1's microphone is at the bottom of the pack.

It had trouble picking up softer sounds in our standardised audio testing, perhaps because the mic is now on the top of the Kodak Zx1, rather than on the front of the device.

The Kodak Zx1 looks great and feels great in the hand; it kind of resembles a Nokia candy-bar phone on human growth hormones. It's far less bulky than the Kodak Zi6, with a hard plastic front and a slick, brushed-metal back. Under its 2in LCD screen, which handled all lighting conditions well, are control buttons cut out of the metal: a record button in the centre, a four-way directional pad to control its 2x digital zoom and frame-rate options, and four dedicated buttons for deleting clips, starting and stopping playback, and jumping back into recording mode.

Helping its looks are its various colour schemes: you can buy the Kodak Zx1 in red, blue, pink, yellow, or black.

What's more, you can also swap out the Kodak Zx1's faceplate with a second designer battery cover included with the camcorder. Also in the box are a nice offering of accessories: an HDMI cable, a USB cable for offloading your clips to a computer, a plug-in battery charger (with two rechargeable AA Ni-MH batteries), a wrist strap, and a soft carrying pouch.

Kodak Zx1: Specs

  • CCD: CMOS x 1/4.5in
  • 1.6Mp
  • 3Mp stills, JPEG
  • fixed focus lens
  • Focal Length: 4.1mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Digital Zoom: 2x
  • Exposure/Balance: White Balance: auto
  • 2in LCD
  • SD/SDHC card expansion slot
  • Supported Video File Formats: H.264 (MOV), AAC LC
  • Video Resolution: VGA: 640×480
  • Built-in Microphone
  • Speaker
  • Video Out: 1 x AV
  • USB Ports: 1 x USB 2.0
  • Input Ports: DC In
  • Output Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries included
  • 50.1x20x107mm
  • 0.09kg
  • CCD: CMOS x 1/4.5in
  • 1.6Mp
  • 3Mp stills, JPEG
  • fixed focus lens
  • Focal Length: 4.1mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Digital Zoom: 2x
  • Exposure/Balance: White Balance: auto
  • 2in LCD
  • SD/SDHC card expansion slot
  • Supported Video File Formats: H.264 (MOV), AAC LC
  • Video Resolution: VGA: 640×480
  • Built-in Microphone
  • Speaker
  • Video Out: 1 x AV
  • USB Ports: 1 x USB 2.0
  • Input Ports: DC In
  • Output Ports: 1 x HDMI
  • Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries included
  • 50.1x20x107mm
  • 0.09kg

OUR VERDICT

We liked the variety of shooting options on the ZX1 and its compact yet durable design. We would’ve liked to have seen more onboard memory or the provision of at least a modest SD Card in the box, however. And while the footage we took looked good, we found the controls rather fiddly and their purpose not clearly marked. A better zoom would have boosted the good-looking Kodak’s score.

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