A camcorder aimed at a young, fashion-conscious user, the Kodak Playfull ZE1 comes in a choice of black or silver with blue, orange or purple detailing around the lens.
The Kodak Playfull ZE1 is one of the thinnest and lightest pocket camcorders available with dimensions of 42x100x16mm and weighing just 95g. The candybar-shaped camcorder nonetheless manages to incorporate everything necessary into its body. There's a 1.5in LCD, a 5Mp stills camera and a choice of video capture modes covering 720p at 30 frames per second but also 1080p and WXGA resolutions. It also boasts the Share feature for which Kodak has become known. See also: Group test: what's the best digital camcorder?
For a £106 product, this sounds very promising, but with just 128MB of internal memory, you'll also need to shell out for an SD card. This goes into a slot down one side of the Kodak Playfull ZE1 – getting at said slot is quite a task due to the fiddly, hard-to-open covers on either side. On the same side as the SD card slot (which accepts cards up to 32GB) is a micro-HDMI port to play back videos and photos on a HDTV. The other panel has the Power button with a small indicator light and a micro-USB port which can also be used to connect the wall charger.
On the front of the Kodak Playfull ZE1 you find a round wheel to toggle through options. There is also a Record Mode button to switch between photo and video recording. Alongside this are Review, Delete and Settings buttons. These are flush with the camcorder's surface, making them difficult to invoke. However, there is no such issue with the Share button – a solid bar below the navipad that pops up a scrollable list of destinations including Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Orkut, a gallery on Yandex – Russia's answer to Google – and a preset email address. (A clue to the range of sharing options is provided by a removable sticker on the front of the Playfull.) You can also share your photos and video to the Kodak Gallery or a Kodak Pulse photo frame.
Getting good results from this camcorder was no mean feat. We found the Kodak Playfull ZE1 hard to grip because its surface is so smooth and it weighs so little. The still photos taken were not great due to the poor digital image stabilisation and lack of a flash. Video footage wasn't much better.
This is a shame as the Kodak Playfull ZE1 offers the ability to film videos in 1080p at 30 frames per second, 720p at 30 or 60fps, or WVGA (848x400) at 30 fps. This, as well as being able to capture pictures up to 5Mp is a strength of the Kodak Playfull ZE1. Using the round wheel to zoom in and out works quite well on the 4x digital zoom when taking pictures but for videos the zoom was very jumpy.
The screen, reminiscent of early camera phones, is really too small and low resolution to properly see what is going on even though the Kodak Playfull ZE1 offers a glare shield feature for bright sunlight. You can view only three menu options at once, making it laborious to cycle through to the option you need.
The pop-out USB arm also felt quite flimsy – at times we were afraid of breaking it. The Kodak Playfull ZE1 comes with a HDMI cable, AV cable, wall charger and wriststrap. You'll need an SD card as the 128MB onboard is only enough to store a test picture or brief video clip. An infrared remote control can also be bought separately to control the camcorder when it's connected to a TV.