By Josh Fate
With a similar size and shape to a small cell phone, the camera fits into a pocket or purse very easily. The few on-camera controls allow for easy operation and control of the camera. Built-in HDMI and USB 2.0 give you plenty of versatility for watching and editing your movies with the on-board software. Thanks to the built-in USB arm, you don't need to carry a cable to hook up to any computer. Viewing and framing your movies and images is accomplished with the camera's small, 1.5-inch LCD screen. With just 70,000 dots, it's a low quality image, but it is more than enough to see your subjects, and with the built-in Glare Shield it is easy to see in all lighting conditions.
Capturing still images with the ZE1 is very quick and easy. There are not a lot of camera settings, making it a very simple point-n-shoot camera. Image quality is very good for a camera that is video specific, surpassing most of the digital videos cameras that we have seen in the past, but still with similar image quality to a cell phone. The images are fairly sharp and well exposed, but noise quickly becomes a problem as light decreases. The lack of flash leaves some images blurry or too dark if you can hold the camera still enough.
Video quality from the ZE1 is very good for such a small and affordable camera. While there is a little noise that softens some of the finer details in the movies, they are well exposed with vivid color. On the computer movies may not play back as smooth as they should, but they look great on a HDTV via HDMI. The 4x digital zoom with quickly degrade the image quality and we recommend not using it unless absolutely necessary. Audio quality in the movies is very good, but like we see with most all digicams, the built-in mic is very sensitive and will pick up the noises that are closest to the camera. A microphone input would have been a great addition.
Powering the ZE1 is a built-in Li-Ion rechargeable battery that can be recharged anywhere there is a computer or power outlet, thanks to the built-in USB arm and power adapter. This allows you to keep your camera charged while on the go, but the built-in battery does not allow you to swap it out in an emergency. While completing our tests, we were easily able to capture 15 minutes worth of movies and approx. 30 still images on a single charge. While this doesn't sound like much, this was done over a 2 week span with plenty of battery life left.
Bottom Line - Kodak's PlayFull ZE1 features the ability to capture full 1080p HD videos with sound at the push of a button. Incredibly small and easy to use, this is perfect for anyone that likes to capture video memories. It also has the ability to capture 5-Megapixel images and record with scene modes. Its overall video quality is very good for such an affordable camera, however, the still image quality is comparable to a standard cell phone image. With a MSRP of US $129.95, this is perfect for teens or parents who like to share their memories at the push of a button.
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