Ease of Use
The operation of the Zx1 is very straightforward. Dedicated buttons on the camcorder allow you to switch between still photo taking and video recording. In playback, you can rewind, fast forward, and freeze a frame. Deleting stored video is not as intuitive as it should be, but once you familiarize yourself with the controls, the camcorder’s operation is simple.
The Zx1 has three video quality settings: VGA, HD/30 frames per second (fps) and HD/60fps. The VGA mode is suitable for the Web or computer viewing, while the HD modes should be used for any video destined for the television.
While you shouldn’t expect breathtaking high definition footage from a pocket model, the Zx1 does boast impressive HD quality for its class. At HD/60fps the Zx1 captures fast motion with little distortion. Colors are reproduced sharply. Video quality diminishes in lower light, however, and the Zx1 doesn’t offer a video light to boost performance.
A true benefit of the Zx1 is its water and dust resistant body. You can’t dump it under water, but it can get splashed. To get this tougher exterior, the Zx1 is a tad heavier than competitive models but for someone who’s prone to dropping things, or thrives on outdoor adventures, it’s a worthwhile trade-off. It feels more substantial in your hand while still easily pocketed.
There’s also a nice selection of body colors: blue, red, pink, black and yellow.
The Zx1 is significantly less expensive than its two main competitors, but the price is deceiving. While the Flip Mino HD and Vado offer a generous amount of internal memory, Kodak packed the Zx1 with a paltry 128MB of internal memory – barely enough to record a few seconds of HD video.
However, there is a slot for SDHC memory cards. The good news is that the Zx1 accepts cards up to 32GB for up to 10 hours of HD/30fps recording. That’s significantly longer than the Flip or Vado, if you’re willing to dig into your wallet for a high capacity card.
Poor Photo Capability
The unit does advertise the ability to snap 3-megapixel photos, but they’re interpolated from a 1.6-megapixel image sensor and of poor quality. The unit also has a 2x digital zoom, which does not provide any true magnifying capability.
The Zx1 is a worthy entry into the pocket camcorder field and is especially nice for outdoor enthusiasts. If you steer clear of the still photos and spend some extra cash on a high capacity memory card, you won’t be disappointed.