Review: Kodak Zx1

The world of consumer electronics is thick with compromise. It’s a sad fact that blows harder than the Santa Anas, especially as designers keep trying to load smaller, cheaper devices with piles of high-end features. That’s why we went ga-ga for Kodak’s Zi6 pocket cam, a solid HD shooter that trumped the all-mighty Flip Mino HD and never made the concession between low cost and high quality.

And it’s also why we felt a slight letdown from the Zi6’s fancy successor, the Zx1. Don’t get us wrong, this cam is a solid piece of hardware with a trimmer, more pocket-friendly footprint, slick weather-resistant shell, and the same 1.6-megapixel sensor and 4.1mm lens that let the Zi6 deliver its glorious HD video. But one key “upgrade” left us completely bumbfounded (bummed out + dumbfounded): namely, the lack of a built-in, pop-out USB.

Of course, there are still several pots of feature gold stashed at the end of the compromise rainbow. Kodak’s ditching of the spring-loaded USB wasn’t for naught. In its place, you get an HDMI slot. Impressive for a diminutive, $150 handycam, but only practical if you’re willing to carry, keep or track down a cable. The revolution launched by the Flip was predicated on one feature: simplicity. No cables, no cords, no wires, no nonsense. If you’re willing to trade that convenience for HDMI, then this cam is well worth pocketing.

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