Kodak PlaySport ZX5 review

Full review: Waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, but is it smartphone rival?

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Durable action cam that films in crisp 1080p

The pocket camcorder market wobbled this month with shock news that Cisco was axing its Flip brand. The reasons behind this move are myriad but with HD video shooting now found in most phones, it’s clear that camcorder manufacturers have to try that bit harder to entice the general public away from gadget convergence.

Kodak knows this and that is why it has given the Kodak Playsport ZX5 rugged features that can withstand water, dust and even shock. Given that the glass-fronted iPhone 4 seems likely shatter if you give at a hard enough look, the ZX5 is refreshingly a gadget that can shoot HD video in places you wouldn’t even dare think about bringing your phone to.

Kodak Playsport ZX5 controls

For such a rugged cam, the ZX5 is surprisingly dinky. Measuring just 58.2 × 111.9 × 17.7 mm, it’s smaller than many smartphones but a tad thicker.

Kodak has made the chassis of the ZX5 look as funky as possible. Our review unit was a pale green colour and resembled a turtle shell – albeit one with a 5.5mm lens lodged near the top.

Flip it over, though, and the ZX5 is more functional than fancy. The on button is situated at the top of the cam, with five function buttons curved round the main record button on the back.

Kodak Playsport ZX5 Features

Controlling the Kodak Playsport ZX5 couldn’t be simpler. The five buttons let you toggle between video camera and camera, playback shots, bin any undesirable footage, drill into the settings and share what you have filmed. There’s also the ability to zoom – 4x digital – a feature which circles the record button. We found this to be a touch tough to use but it didn’t harm our shots.

Other notable features include two sturdy port covers which flip out to reveal an SD card slot (up to 32GB and SDHC only) and HDMI and USB slots. Shooting footage on the camera is a breeze. The Playsport is light in the hands (it’s just 125g) and the 2-inch display was passable as a viewfinder.

Kodak Playsport ZX5 video

Footage can be shot at 1080p, 720p or WVGA – all of which look decent when played back. In fact, 1080p footage really impresses, even if it could do with a slight bit of colour correcting.

As an action cam, the Playsport is a little workhorse. The ZX5 can be submerged in three metres of water – in our tests there were no signs of leakage and the images shot came out clearer than you would imagine.

The dirt and dust we mustered up in our garden to test the Playsport’s grime-deflecting capabilities also proved that the ZX5 can take a drubbing.

Kodak Playsport ZX5 Verdict

After giving the Playsport a wipe down and connecting it to a PC, we found that you have to install a couple of programmes to share what you have filmed. Once done though, it was easy to get images onto Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. All our footage was recorded to an SD card – as the 128MB internal memory is more-than paltry.

But this is a slight niggle, considering we had so much fun with the Playsport. And given that you can shoot 1080p while re-enacting Jackass, this is one point and shoot that’s with you for the long and occasionally rocky haul.

Kodak Playsport ZX5 price: £120-£150 online, link Kodak

Kodak Playsport ZX5 launch date: Out now

Kodak Playsport ZX5 specs:

  • Sensor:1/3.2–type 5 MP CMOS
  • Lens: fixed focus5.5 mm, 35 mm equivalent
  • Video: 1920x1080p/li>
  • Screen: 2-inch 154k dots
  • Stabilisation:Digital
  • Storage 128Mb int,SD, SDHC
  • Battery10 hours HD video
  • Connections: USB 2.0, HDMI
  • Dimensions/Weight: 58.2×111.9×17.7mm/125g