HandlingTo really understand this new version of the Playsport, it's important to realise that it's not just a pocket camcorder, but a complete kit allowing the most budget-conscious film-makers to shoot video on the go. The Burton pack includes a GorillaPod-style mini-tripod with flexible legs that twist into any position to ensure a steady shot whether it's resting on a smooth table or a rocky outcrop. That's a definite bonus as that's an accessory that's missing on every other pocket camcorder. Next up is the 4 GB, Class 4 SDHC card, something else which is usually missing from this type of product. Finally, there's also a carry case and an HDMI cable, although this last item was included in the past.
|A 4 GB Class 4 SD card is included||The tripod, HDMI cable and carry case|
As for the camcorder itself, very little has changed since the previous versions. If you're not familiar with them, then you should know that you use a smartphone-style two-inch LCD screen at the back to line up your shoot and play back your video. Physical controls are available to control playback, start and stop recording, and switch between video and photo mode. The lens, which has autofocus and a digital zoom, is on the the other side. The whole thing is shockproof and waterproof at depths of up to three metres. The Playsport camcorders have a USB output for copying MP4 files to your computer, and a HDMI output for watching your videos directly on a HD TV. According to Kodak, there's no way to include a headphone jack or line in for a mic and keep it waterproof.
Finally, Kodak includes a Share button which allows users to tag which clips to upload to social networks like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. This is then done automatically using software stored in the camcorder itself as soon as you connect it to a computer. Unlike other pocket camcorders, the Playsport doesn't rely on a built-in mini USB cable but uses a separate, external cable.
Video QualityThe Playsport Burton offers two different quality settings for video: 1080p and 720p. The former provides Full HD video with 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 frames per second with an average focal of 48 mm, which is a very narrow angle of view; you need to stand about two metres back to be able to get two people standing side by side into the same shot. In 720p mode, you shoot 60 1280 x 720 pixel frames per second with a much wider field of 36 mm.
|48 mm focal length in 1080p mode||36 mm focal length in 720p mode with a|
We recommend this second mode because the higher 60 fps framerate obviously means that that you can capture movement much more fluidly. If you plan them properly, you can even edit together some pretty decent slow-motion sequences as you can see in this extract:
The Playsport Burton also offers a second 720p mode and a WVGA (848 x 480 pixels) mode, both at 30 fps, but we're not sure why you'd ever want to use them.
But what about the videos themselves? They look pretty good both online or directly on your computer screen, as long as you're filming outside. As soon as light levels begin to drop, lots of electronic creeps in. A HD TV is less forgiving, with pixelisation visible when you're moving too fast and grain in darker areas. We shot test videos at 1080p and 720p and played them back on a 42'' Full HD TV and found the difference in quality between them and a traditional AVCHD camcorder was immediately obvious, both in terms of the amount of visible detail and the fidelity of the colour reproduction. In photo mode, even the 5 Megapixel still shots are less impressive than what you'd get from a digital camera, with a very average amount of detail and lots of subtle colour erased. We suggest you leave it for web-based used.
The Playsport does have one big advantage over other camcorders though, in that it is both waterproof and pretty tough. Given that you can only take it to depths of three metres, then you'll probably use it in the pool rather than while SCUBA diving. The underwater mode attempts to even out the colours by applying an orange filter to counteract the blue hues. Of course, being waterproof also applies on the slopes, and the Playsport Burton should also be able to handle a little bit of snow!
- Waterproof, shock-resistant exterior
- Attractive materials
- 4 GB SD card included
- HDMI and mini-tripod included
- Underwater mode
- Video contains medium amounts of detail
- Low sensitivity
- Very narrow field of view in 1080p mode
The only real strength of the Playsport Burton is the range of accessories which justify the price rise. The fact it's waterproof and shock resistant might attract some consumers, but the quality of the video is better than that of a decent smartphone.