Posted By RichC on July 11, 2011
Since my wife Brenda rarely reads my blog, I think I’m safe talking about her birthday and gifts that are gadgets. I will probably get chastised by both men and women alike in repeating the similar mistake year after year by giving her something technology oriented for her birthday, I’m doing it one more time. As if that wasn’t enough to get me in the dog house, I’ve opened the arriving package using the excuse that “I want to be sure the item works and that the battery has a full charge?”
This year I’ve been debating between a new touchscreen Nook or a replacement camera for her 10 year old point and shoot clunker. After playing with the Nook, I realized that the hardware expense is not the big one … It’s the impulse book buying after one owns an e-reader – the gift that keeps on costing! Besides about the only time Brenda finds free time to read is when we’re on vacation, I’m not sure how much she would use an e-reader?
So I’ve decided to go the camera route and realized that the decision was still not easy. First, more and more point and shoot photos are being taken with improved cellphones and smartphones; perhaps I could replace her Palm Centro? BUT then she told me that she specifically did not want a new phone (or to have to ‘learn’ a new phone?), just as she doesn’t want a new car and would rather have her old Rav4 fixed (see post). I’m thinking it is a good thing that she is comfortable with the old models … probably the reason she still keeps me around?
Option 2 would be to pick up a nice compact Canon camera that has all the great technology such has face recognition, build in flash, a zillon megapixels, etc. Probably not a bad option, but the prices are rises in order to satisfy “my” desire for better quality and more features.
Option 3 would be for half the price of a good quality Canon there are several mini-camcorders which shoots suburb video (actual 1080p HD), which is far better than our old tape based camcorder. They also can still shoot acceptable point and shoot photos which gives even the best smartphone cameras a run for their money. Besides not having a better point and shoot camera to drop in a pocket gives me an excuse to tote along my DSLR for higher quality photos.
This leads me to my EAA friend Steve who often comments on my blog and happens to work for Kodak. He posts videos from his Kodak mini camcorder on his flying blog and I’ve found them to be excellent. Although his model isn’t the one I purchase for a variety of reasons, most of the features are similar. I traded the “microphone in” jack for the shockproof and waterproof ‘wrapper’ of the Playsport model, but kept most of the functions that I felt made the Kodak cameras easy to use.
The latest model in the Playsport line is the Kodak Playsport Zx5 and it has a few features that out of the box I found impressive. First, the small size and excellent audio and video surprised me (provided you have decent light). The autofocus worked well although the manual macro mode is very limiting and zoom feature isn’t all that smooth to use while recording … still, it is nice to have it. The 5 back panel buttons are intuitive and after just a few tries, I had it figured out. The removable SD card was far better than the included Kodak software that connects to the camcorder by USB, in my opinion … but it may be a good thing for those who struggle with connecting devices.
I’m not sure about battery life just yet, but the lack of a replaceable battery could turn some people off, but having a device that is sealed from water and is durable whether you’re swimming, caught in the rain, bouncing around at a sporting event or out sailing (hint, hint) may be a worthwhile trade-off. So far, the $125 (July 2011 search for it) price tag seems a good price for such a handy gadget … besides IF my wife doesn’t want it, it will handily fit in my computer or camera case.(below is a test video shot at 720p being held at arms length and uploaded to YouTube)