With the ever growing popularity of online video, more and more devices are turning to YouTube as a selling point. For people posting on the video sharing site, uploading can the biggest hassle. The Zx1 is designed to be a highly portable, easy to use HD video camera that can upload to YouTube with ease. It succeeds at accomplishing all these things but does so by sacrificing one of the most important aspects of online video – image quality.The Zx1 is capable of capturing video at 720p resolution at either 30 or 60 frames per second. It can also record in VGA mode and capture still images as well. It doesn’t come with any internal storage so you will have to buy a separate SD card to take full advantage of it but considering how cheap SD cards are these days that’s not too big a problem.
When you connect the camera to a computer via USB, you are prompted to install the Kodak software which acts as a media browser but also allows you to upload to YouTube. All you need do it select the video you want to upload, enter your YouTube user name and password and fill out the video description. It then uploads the video to your channel in HD if you captured it using one of the HD modes.
The image quality is fairly mediocre, especially indoors or in low light. Outdoors it is better but still isn’t that great. It tends to suffer from blurry edges and image noise. Indoors there is a fair about of discolouration and images tend to be rather grainy. Still images look good with great colour when taking shots outdoors but once you take the camera inside, they show the same image noise as seen when making videos. The thing about this camera though, is that it isn’t meant to be a high performance HD camera. It is designed to be a direct competitor with Flip Video. If you have ever used one of those, you will know that it isn’t the superior image quality that has made Flip so popular. It’s the compact design, cheap price tag and convenience. The Zx1 is on-par if not slightly better than Flip when it comes to image quality but also outshines in design.
One of the best things about this camera that we were really impressed with is its boot time. When you turn it on, the camera springs to life and you can start shooting video almost instantly. This feeds into the convenience factor. The problem with most handycams is that you need to first lug them around and then when something happens you want to film, you need to wait for it to boot up before you can film. With the Zx1, you never need to miss a moment.
The design is attractive and fairly intuitive. The camera sits at the rear of the device with the front sporting a 2inch screen. The screen is bright and clear and is just the right size for a pocket camera. The buttons on the front are few in number but handle all the cameras functions easily. However, if you have big fingers you may find it a little fiddly at times, especially when zooming.
The camera is powered by two AA batteries. While normally we would jump on this and demand that they use a lithium ion battery, in this case we can’t really complain since the sales package includes two rechargeable AA batteries and a wall mounted recharger. It also means that if you run out of power you can easily pick up regular batteries at a convenience store and keep on filming to your hearts content.
On the whole, we quite liked the Kodak Zx1. If you purchase one expecting excellent image quality you will be sorely disappointed but for something cheap that lets you upload straight to your YouTube account, it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s good to see Kodak moving into new areas and giving Flip Video something to worry about.