Click the picture to watch the video

Coming off the success of the Zi8 Kodak has created a new pocket video camera that’s capable of 1080p video, underwater recording (up to 10 feet), comes with image stabilization, a two inch color display – and oh yeah, it shoots pretty darn nice five megapixel 16×9 stills. And it retails for less than $150!

I have always relied on my iPhone in situations where the Playsport would function best and side-by-side, the Playsport wins hands down. It offers better video and better stills. It’s similarly sized and only weighs a quarter of a pound. It fits in your shirt pocket.

I tested it making a little movie of my new 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8. I was impressed with the ease of operation. I spent less than a minute looking at the manual. I popped a 16GB SDHC card in the camera (good for five hours of 720P recording) and went to town. The controls are intuitive and very easy to use. There are only seven buttons total on this camera. There’s one to turn it on/off. There’s one to put the camera in LiveView mode, there’s a video playback button, there’s a toggle wheel for zooming in and changing recording modes, there’s the capture button, a trash button and a menu button.

The Playsport comes in black, blue and purple. It is easy to grip thanks to a rugged rubber outside edge. There’s also a wrist strap and a tripod socket. They even throw in an HDMI cable so you can hook the Playsport right up to your HD TV right out of the box. Very nice touch. A USB power cable is also included that doubles as a download cable so you can get images to your computer.

The IS actually works. It’s electronic rather than optical so it only works to a point, but given the price of this unit I’m amazed it’s there at all.

Kodak also includes a way to help you see the LCD screen on sunny days. It’s called the LCD Glare Shield. Hitting the LIveView button cycles you through different display screens making it easier to see.

I played a bit with the smart face tracking software and in good light, it works reasonably well.

I’m very impressed with the quality of the video I got from this $149 camera. It could be better of course. The low-light performance is on par with similar cameras but not as good as you’d get from a larger DSLR that shot video. Nor should it be at this price point.

I’m not a fan of proprietary batteries and the Playsport has a free, rechargeable battery included with the camera, but I’d prefer it run on standard AAA batteries which are widely available anywhere in the world. It might be due to the camera’s small size that Kodak had to go with the proprietary battery.

My only complaints are small. In my pocket, the ON button kept accidentally getting pressed, draining the camera of power. An On/Off lock button would be nice. A small carrying case would be nice, even a cheap felt one, since the LCD can get scratched.

If you’re a Windows user, the Playsport ships with software you can use to edit the movies. Mac users will need to use iLife software.

For an inexpensive pocket video camera, I think the Kodak Playsport is pretty tough to beat. It has some pro-features at a consumer price. Highly recommended.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store