Kodak PlayFull Ze1 Camcorder Review
For the past few years, Kodak has excelled at making reliable, compact camcorders that are both cheap and easy to use. The PlayFull Ze1 certainly has all those traits, and, continuing in true Kodak fashion, the camcorder avoids many of the useless gimmicks that plague other ultracompact models. There is one gimmick the PlayFull succumbed to, however, and that's the idea of making a camcorder that is so tiny that it actually becomes a nuisance to work with. The PlayFull Ze1 is just a tad too small for our taste, and this, combined with its poor auto white balance system, dampened our overall impression of the camcorder.
The PlayFull launched earlier this year with a $129 price tag, but the camcorder can be found online now for as little as $70 bucks, which makes the Ze1 one of the best bargains we've seen in a while (even compared to other budget cams). This makes it the ideal camcorder for a young child or someone who is weary about handling an expensive piece of equipment just to record videos. The quality of the Full HD video captured by the PlayFull Ze1 is certainly not fantastic, but it's definitely better than what we expected to see from such a cheap model. Besides, if you're spending $70 bucks for a camcorder, you shouldn't expect your clips to look picture-perfect.
Instead of skimping on video performance, Kodak cut corners on the PlayFull by incorporating a tiny LCD (1.5 inches) and using a cheap overall design. Unlike its brand-mate, the Kodak PlaySport, the PlayFull Ze1 is easily scratchable, has some terrible buttons, and would be unable to survive a drop from any significant height. These design flaws can make for a frustrating user experience at times, but, again, these are all things that we expected to see from a budget camcorder.
The PlayFull Ze1 is not waterproof, and consumers must be careful not to confuse it with Kodak's new waterproof PlayFull Ze2 camcorder. The Ze2 is very different than the Ze1: it tops out with a 720p record mode and has an altered shape and design (not to mention the waterproof capability).