Hands-on review: Kodak PlayTouch pocket HD camcorder

Kodak recently unveiled its latest pocket HD camcorder, the PlayTouch. Here's the review.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Kodak recently unveiled its latest pocket HD camcorder, the PlayTouch. Here's the review.


Fortunately, the PlayTouch device itself doesn't require much of a set-up at all. Just charge the battery upon opening the box using the included wall charger (which also doubles as a microUSB cable when removed from the plug).

Compatible with both Mac and PC computers, the PlayTouch is also a bit easier to connect to your laptop or desktop thanks to the built-in USB connector, plus you've also got HDMI and A/V ports on the side for larger and better displays. Kodak has been nice enough to include the related cables as well as a wrist strap, a felt case and a 4GB SDHC card in the box.

There's also a microphone/headphone jack up top, located right next to a tab that is easy to miss allowing the user to toggle between landscape and macro modes.


Once turning the device on using the side power button, nearly everything is controlled on the rear 3-inch capacitive touchscreen. To capture a photo or a movie clip, the videographer only needs to hit the rounded square button in the bottom center to start and stop recording. The PlayTouch is capable of recording full 1080p HD movies at 30fps as well as 5.0-megapixel stills. If you can spring for a 32GB SDHC card, you could squeeze up to 10 hours of recording time in one session.

As seen in the photo below, the user interface is rather straightforward. Switching between photo and video mode on the bottom left side was a little confusing at first, but eventually you'll snap the kind of file you want. My finger also kept slipping to the playback button when trying to zoom in and out, which was a tad frustrating.


At the bottom right, you've got that little magic wand at the end granting the powers of special effects for your video and photos. That starts off with "normal," and continues on to high saturation, black and white, sepia, and 70's Film, which with a yellow and orangish saturated frame definitely fits the bill.

Finally (and most importantly), up top you have an icon with tools representing the Settings menu. Here you can adjust a number of details, including face detection brackets, digital image stabilization, video output (NTSC or PAL), microphone gain levels, and the Share function.

This last one is key to the branding of the PlayTouch as one of the standout features of this device is that you can upload media to a select number of social networking sites and email multiple recipients at one time. Those sites include Flickr, Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, and of course, the Kodak Gallery.

Once you plug the device into your computer via USB (and have installed the included Kodak Share Button software), you can turn on the program, walk away from your computer and the camcorder should do the rest.

Personally, I like to touch-up and edit my photos before uploading anything directly from the memory card. But if you're traveling or don't have much time but you want to share (and show off) your photos and videos immediately, this is a useful option.

As for the quality of the video, it's not bad at all for a pocket camcorder and having full HD 1080p onboard is really an asset. Indoor and dimly-lit situations are tricky. For example, I took this video cam to the So Kodak concert in New York City on October 5, and while it caught the scenes on stage rather well, shooting anywhere else in the venue was a bit of a lost cause when there wasn't enough light around. The same goes for stills, although they turned out better than expected - if not a bit grainy and/or soft. Below is one example. Also, remember to toggle the perspective button up top so the camera knows where to focus.

While this sounds like a lot to digest, using the PlayTouch rather simple. Videographers of nearly all skill levels could probably just pick one of these up without having to read the manual and understand the basics within a few minutes.


Available in five shades (black, chrome, magenta, orange and teal), the Kodak PlayTouch is retailing now for $229.95.

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