It's reasonable to expect the new version of a product to be better than or at least as good as its predecessor. When it's not, it makes the new version that much more disappointing. That's unfortunately the case with the Kodak PlayTouch, also known by its model number, the Zi10.
The PlayTouch is the update to the Zi8, which was an excellent minicamcorder and one of the only models available with an external mic jack. The PlayTouch has a very similar feature set--including the mic jack--but has a 3-inch touch screen, a wider lens, and a smaller, more attractive body. The thing is, the touch screen apparently comes at the cost of some video quality, because the PlayTouch's movies simply aren't as good as the Zi8's or the waterproof Kodak PlaySport's. The touch screen does have a couple advantages that some users might value enough to overlook its video issues, though.
|Key specs||Kodak PlayTouch|
|Dimensions (HWD)||4.3 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches|
|Weight (with battery and media)||5.1 ounces|
|Storage capacity, type||128MB internal memory (20MB available); SD/SDHC memory cards|
|Resolution, sensor size, type||5 megapixels, 1/3.2-inch type CMOS|
|LCD size, resolution||3-inch touch-screen LCD, 230K dots|
|Lens||Fixed focus, f2.8 44mm at 1080p, 33mm at 720p (35mm equivalent)|
|File format (video, audio)||H.264 video, stereo AAC audio (.MP4)|
|Resolution (highest)||1,920x1,080 at 30fps (16Mbps, progressive)|
|Image stabilization type||Digital|
|Battery type, rated life||Lithium ion rechargeable; 100 minutes (720p @ 30fps)|
The PlayTouch is nice-looking and an improvement over the Zi8 in size and comfort. It feels better built, too, perhaps because of the metal casing. It's small and light enough to fit in a pants or jacket pocket, which is pretty much what you want in a minicamcorder. On top is a switch for moving from normal shooting into macro for close-ups as well as a jack for connecting headphones or an external stereo mic. Because of the jack placement there is a chance you'll end up with your mic's wire in your shot. I'd prefer the jack to be on the side, but it's not a deal breaker and I'd rather have the jack than not.
As typical of minicamcorders, the lens on front is left fairly unprotected, so you'll need to remember to keep it safe and clean. Next to the lens is the mono microphone, an IR receiver for an optional remote, and a record light that blinks red when you're recording. The light as well as all operational sounds can be shut off.
Below the lens is the battery compartment cover. Though having a removable battery is great, the cover makes a horrible creaking sound every time you adjust your grip. If you're not careful while shooting, the mic picks this up as a cracking or popping sound in your movies. The cause is two metal clips that help hold the cover in place when closed. Pushing the clips down into the body of the PlayTouch is enough to stop the noise, but it does make the cover slightly less secure.
Under a cover on the right side of the body below the power button is the SD/SDHC memory card slot; there is almost no internal memory available for storage. The left side has an AV jack as well as a door protecting Mini-HDMI and Micro-USB ports and a flip-out USB connector. Cables are included for each of these.
On back is a single Record/Select button and a 3-inch touch-screen LCD. The screen is bright, but Kodak adds an LCD Glare Shield feature to this model that sounds fancier than it is. It simply improves screen visibility in bright outdoor lighting by changing from a Normal picture to High Saturation or Black & White. The settings have no effect on the actual video, but they can help you see what you're shooting.