camcorders

Kodak PlayFull Ze2 Review

The Kodak PlayFull Waterproof Ze2 is a cheap, bare-bones camcorder that lets you shoot 720p HD video underwater.

$99.00 at Walmart
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Introduction

There’s nothing flashy about the Ze2 in terms of performance or features, but its ridiculously compact design and sub-$100 price tag may be enough to entice consumers into a purchase.

Design & Usability

The PlayFull Waterproof isn't much larger than a credit card, and it weighs just about three ounces.

The ultra-compact design of the PlayFull Ze2 certainly has its benefits in terms of portability. This is a camcorder that can easily slip into any pocket, and it is so light that it will never tire out your arm (even after long periods of shooting). On the other hand, the PlayFull Ze2 may actually be too light for some. The compact size of the camcorder makes it difficult to get a good grip on the product, and without much weight it is also hard to balance.

It's one of the smallest and lightest camcorders we've ever seen, and Kodak somehow added waterproof capability to the Ze2's tiny frame.

The PlayFull Ze2 lacks a tripod mount on the bottom of the camcorder, perhaps because the Ze2 is too thin to accommodate one. This missing tripod mount shouldn't bother most users, but if you're looking to strap this camcorder to a tripod to record a concert or event, then you'll need a backup plan. The Ze2 is waterproof up to 10 feet, which is something that surely makes the camcorder more durable. Kodak also claims the Ze2 can handle a fall of up to 16 feet without a problem, but I'm not so sure about this spec. The Ze2's body doesn't feel all that strong, and, while the camcorder is very light, it's not light enough to float through the air like a feather. I'd be worried about the Ze2 getting banged up when dropping it on a hard surface. You're much better off dunking it in the water.

Aside from its waterproof coating, the PlayFull Ze2 suffers from serious design flaws. Its buttons aren't good, the camcorder feels cheap, and it has a terrible grip. Still, it's one of the smallest and lightest camcorders we've ever seen, and Kodak somehow added waterproof capability to the Ze2's tiny frame.

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Features

Kodak limits the PlayFull Waterproof to 720p HD recording, and the camcorder has no manual controls to speak of.

Once you cover the fact that the Ze2 is a small, cheap, waterproof camcorder, there's really not much else to talk about. The camcorder is extraordinarily limited, confining video recordings to just 720p HD recording—there's no 1920 x 1080 full HD record mode on this little guy. There's also a basic still image mode on the Ze2, but photos are limited to just one megapixel. That's likely a whole lot worse than the photos your cellphone is capable of taking.

There's a basic still image mode on the Ze2, but photos are limited to just one megapixel.

The Ze2's photos and videos are stored on separately purchased SD memory cards. Even the card slot suffers from serious design flaws, as I had repeated trouble inserting and removing my memory card from the camcorder. There are a few digital effects on the Ze2, including a 70s film setting, a black & white mode, and a sepia tone option. None of these functions are all that impressive, though, and they're all filters that you can add later using editing software (or even YouTube).

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Kodak PlayFull Waterproof Ze2, take a look at these other camcorders.

Performance

If you can't say anything good, then don't say anything at all.

If our reviewing ethos forced us to only focus on the positives, then there would be nothing to say about the Kodak Ze2's performance results. Images were blurry, colors were inaccurate, and motion looked awful. Even the camcorder's battery life was worse than the competition. If you want a camcorder that captures high-quality video, don't get the PlayFull Ze2. It will disappoint you to no end.

Conclusion

The cheap cost of the Ze2 makes this camcorder impossible to ignore—despite its glaring performance weaknesses.

The Kodak PlayFull Waterproof Ze2 is far from perfect, and it clearly lacks the performance and image quality of its peers. The fact that the camcorder can’t record full HD 1080p video was a serious problem, as the Ze2 put up some of the worst sharpness numbers ever recorded from an HD camcorder. The Ze2's low light results weren't quite as horrendous, but the camcorder was still unable to match the performance of its peers.

Even among cheap, ultracompact models, the PlayFull Ze2 is one of the worst performers so far this year.

Even with its abysmal video quality, there are some compelling reasons to purchase the PlayFull Waterproof. It’s an incredibly cheap camcorder that can be purchased online for well less than $100, which makes it a good option for children or people who want a camcorder they don’t have to worry about busting. The waterproof design helps in this area too, as it makes the Ze2 a more durable option than, say, using your cell phone as a video camera. The Ze2's YouTube- and Facebook-enabled upload interface, made even easier with Kodak's Share Button App, is also a solid asset.

So, the PlayFull Waterproof does have its positives, but it’s certainly not a camcorder we’d recommend to anyone who cares about having good image quality. Even among cheap, ultracompact models, the PlayFull Ze2 is one of the worst performers so far this year.

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