02.Colour & Noise Performance
03.Motion & Sharpness Performance
04.Low Light Performance
05.Compression & Media
08.Handling & Use
09.Playback & Connectivity
Compression & Media Summary
• H.264 codec and MOV files are easy to read on most computers
• Multiple recording options include a standard definition VGA mode
• Removable SD/SDHC cards are versatile and convenient
• Editing software is easy to use, but not as user-friendly as the Flip software
The Kodak Zx1 compresses files using the H.264 codec. H.264 is the generic high definition codec used by companies that don't want to utilize the confusing and often-difficult AVCHD codec. Most video editing software programmes are compatible with H.264. You can simply drag-and-drop the MOV files on either a PC or a Mac without too much hassle.
Strangely, Final Cut had some trouble reading the files recorded in HD60 mode. QuickTime and iMovie had no trouble.
|HD60 60p||1280 x 720||approx. 12 Mbps||H.264 in MOV file format|
|HD 30p||1280 x 720||approx. 12 Mbps||H.264 in MOV file format|
|VGA 30p||640 x 480||approx. 0.5 Mbps||H.264 in MOV file format|
|The primary recording media is SD/SDHC memory cards|
The Kodak Zx1 does come with a modicum of internal flash memory, but that's really just meant to house the built-in editing software. With the software taking up most of that capacity, there's only about 30MB left for videos and photos. Even if you decided to try deleting the software, you'd only have 128MB of internal flash memory—two minutes of footage on the camcorder's maximum quality setting.
You are much better off purchasing a couple of SD/SDHC memory cards. The Zx1 is compatible with memory cards up to 32GB, which is more than enough to hold hours of footage.
The card slot is encased by the same weather-resistant rubber port cover that encloses the AV outputs. This sturdy port cover combined with the shock- and weather-resistant flash memory makes for a good travelling companion.
|30MB internal memory||27 sec||36 sec||153 sec|
|1GB SD/SDHC memory card||15 min||20 min||85 min|
|2GB SD/SDHC memory card||30 min||40 min||170 min|
Much of the allure of these ultra-compact camcorders is that the user has a simple, foolproof process for editing and uploading videos. Pure Digital has set this bar high: the software built into the Flip camcorders works like a breeze and is so easy to use that you might find it insulting.
Unfortunately, the ArcSoft programme that ships with the Kodak Zx1 is not quite as intuitive or streamlined as the Flip software. For starters, it's not compatible with Macintosh operating systems. That means that everyone who purchased a Mac for its user-friendly OS will not have the benefit of the Zx1's plug-and-play functionality.
The welcome screen is self explanatory, but it's strange that only a couple options appear here. Without doing some exploration, there would be no way to know that you have to 'Browse My Videos' in order to do simple video edits. If you jump straight to the YouTube upload, you'll probably miss this option altogether.
|The welcome screen doesn't help much with navigation.|
The media browser is a simple thumbnail view with the classic Windows list browser to the left. At the bottom are a handful of options, like importing, file conversion, emailing, and uploading to YouTube. There are also tools for capturing a still photo form your video or 'making a move.'
|The browser is where you'll find links to most options.|
The film making option lets you combine clips, add music, and rotate/trim clips. This is also where you go if you want to make a DVD—an option that's not very obvious unless you make it to this screen and see the button in the lower-right corner.
|The movie-making portion of the software is unimpressive.|
The most commonly used option in the software will probably be the YouTube upload feature, which takes you through the steps required to put your clips online. There aren't any other video sharing sites available (i.e. Vimeo, Flikr), but the process for YouTube is fairly straightforward.
|Uploading to YouTube is pretty simple.|
Unlike the software on the Flip camcorders, the Zx1 software lets you fill in a lot more information on your video, including tags, privacy settings, a category, etc. Unfortunately, these fields are all required before the software will allow your video to be uploaded. If you wanted to just name the video and be on your way, you might be disappointed.
Once you tell the programme to upload, the video will be appropriately labelled and compressed for YouTube.
|You have to fill in all the details, even if you'd rather not.|
Overall, the software is a bit disappointing, considering the target demographic. If Kodak wants to provide its users with a simple post-production experience, they're going to need to focus on providing a more intuitive interface. The ArcSoft application is surprisingly inaccessible considering the bare bones functionality offered.
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