funkyfresh electronics

Kodak Zx1 Review

The Kodak Zx1 is the latest pocket video camera from Kodak and sports HD 720 H.264 video capture as well as still JPEGs. It’s drop dead easy to use, very much like the Flip camera but perhaps slightly less intuitive. It takes a few minutes to figure out how to get in and out of different modes and one of our testers accidentally deleted a day’s worth of footage when they were trying to scroll through to find content to display on the TV.

We like the build quality of the Zx1. It feels more expensive than it is. It has nice rubberized covers for the various slots and connectors and is very beach friendly. Outdoor footage shot at 30fps looked fine for basic home video. We had a very windy day at the beach and were pleasantly surprised by the audio quality. We were expecting more noise.  Color and saturation are okay and the results almost have a cheap film camera look.

The package the Zx1 comes in borders on misleading. The picture of the SD card on the package could easily fool some consumers into thinking it’s included in the package. It’s not and the onboard memory is useless. Luckily, our friends at SanDisk have sent us a variety of SD cards to test. We recommend at least an 8GB card so you can shoot several hours worry free. Since the Kodak Zx1 uses standard AA batteries it’s easy to reload for extra long days or when you’re on vacation. Kodak does include batteries and a recharger in the box. The recharger is big and cumbersome and not our favorite. We much prefer a flat style recharger that sits flush on the wall. This one is top heavy and literally fell out of a couple of sockets we used.

The Zx1 is priced at $149, right smack dab in the middle of the portable flash cam market. It’s sleeker and feels better made than the Flip camera but the video isn’t any better. Also, keep in mind, all of these tiny little cameras use tiny little lenses. Just because they capture “HD Quality” footage doesn’t mean it even approaches what you’ll find with professional gear. However, the convenience and the instant on experience make it all worthwhile. Because the truth is you’d never drag that big camera to the beach anyway.

So go with what you like. All these cameras in the $100-$200 range are pretty darn good considering the price. The Kodak Zx1 just happens to be one of the better looking and better feeling pocket cams.  If a splash friendly design is important to you this unit definitely deserves a closer look. 

Visit Kodak for more information.

Philips DVP 5990 Review

One of the questions we get a lot is, “What’s the easiest way to play videos from my computer on my TV?” There are myriad options depending on your level of expertise, quality requirements, budget, and spare time. However, one of the best values and easiest solutions is to simply buy a DVD player with a USB port on the front and a plethora of popular codecs inside.

The Philips DVP-5990 is a slim single disc player that plays Divx, MP3s, WMAs, JPEGs, and a variety of undocumented formats. You’re mileage may vary but we found it very good at playing all the popular formats we regularly use on our PC.

Let’s not forget it’s a DVD player first. The DVP-5990 loads DVDs quickly, upscales to HD and provides an excellent picture. The player also includes an HDMI connection for easy setup with your HD TV. The USB 2.0 port is easily accessible on the front and is compatible with high capacity flash drives. We used it with a 16GB microSD card inside a small adapter. The great thing about this approach is it doesn’t stick out far from the player. We can keep the USB microSD adapter plugged in and keep the player neatly tucked away.

The menu for navigating the USB content is a basic folder tree but it works fine. If you keep things nice and organized on your flash drive you’ll have no trouble finding what you want to watch. On the DVD side the DVP5990 gets to the root directory of the DVD quickly and allows for skipping of previews and piracy notices.

The Philips DVP5990 sells for about $60 and is a real bargain considering everything it does. Experiencing the random access of video via the USB port reminds one of the early days of MP3s when CDs started to look really dated. Optical media is dying a slow death that will accelerate as more consumers experience “on demand” media with simple players like this one. 

Visit Philips for more information.

Samsung 58A650 Plasma Review

The Samsung 58A650 is a very well done plasma TV that isn’t as cheesy as the “touch of color” catalog pictures might suggest. The 58A650 has some of the best specs you’ll find in a plasma TV. It’s attractive and also includes a pretty good build-in sound system

DLP, laser, LCD and plasma TVs all have their strengths. With plasma it’s all about very rich color, contrast, viewing angle and brightness. The Samsung 58A650 delivers on all fronts and is ready to roll with very little calibration right out of the box.

Samsung has continually improved the GUI and software on its TVs. Some of the early Samsung DLP TVs were a joke when it came to tweaking settings and navigating the menu structure. Samsung’s current generation of TVs is leaps and bounds ahead of the early sets and much more user friendly.

The most difficult part of setting up a big screen TV these days is moving it around and deciding where to put it. Since this is a review unit we simply left it on a stand. The swivel makes it easy to connect to the entire home theater system. We love HDMI. The 58A650 has plenty of connections including one for your PC. A 58 inch plasma makes a pretty awesome PC monitor.

So this “Touch of Color” thing, yeah, what’s that all about? Well it’s basically a subtle band of red light on the bezel of the TV. It can be toggled on and off. It essentially gives a Virgin American cabin vibe to your plasma. I think the biggest problem with this feature is the marketing materials. The red glow isn’t nearly as bright as the pictures suggest. In fact, it’s barely noticeable and can be toggled on and off.

Samsung is hitting its stride with it’s entire lineup of TVs. We’ve seen this model on closeout for under 2K which is a pretty screaming deal. If you’re in the market for a plasma this is worth a look

Visit Samsung for more information about its Plasma technology and its entire lineup of audio video products.

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