An ode to the Kodak cameras that would have been

kodak graveyardKodak has been in trouble for awhile. Over the past few months it’s sort of reminded me of someone in a SAW movie: hacking away at his limbs to save himself. Kodak’s been slicing departments with the greater good in mind, and once it killed its sensor business, we felt like its camera division entirely wasn’t long for this world.

Kodak is potentially leaving two victims in its wake: the PlayFull Zi12 and the EasyShare M750. The pocket camcorder and Wi-Fi point-and-shoot were shown off at CES just last month, and while they weren’t revolutionary digital imaging devices, they had vision — something that’s been missing from Kodak cameras for awhile.

The EasyShare M750 took a cloud-based approach, and entered the Wi-Fi point and shoot market, no holds-barred. Kodak had introduced socially-integrated cameras before, but their capabilities fell short and only auto-uploaded your photos to a couple of sites (like Facebook and Flickr). The M750 opened up your options, and outdid some competitors that were just storing images in their own cloud storage centers — you could send photos to a Kodak Wi-Fi printer, copy to a Wi-Fi device, save to  your PC, push to your smartphone, or auto-share them.

Like most Kodak cameras, the M750 wasn’t the most capable thing on the market, but it rose above the mediocre models we’ve seen in the past. With a 16-megapixel sensor, 3-inch capacitive touchscreen, and HD video capture, Kodak outfitted the M750 with most of the new, emerging trends that consumers are starting to look for more and more. It also made a point to plug Kodak’s many cloud and printing solutions products, a segment it’s going to have to capitalize. And it was to cost $170, not a bad price, all things considered.

We also got a look at the PlayFull Zi12, an impressive update in its handheld camcorder line. The body had been redesigned and slimmed-down, and actually struck us as surprisingly sleek-looking for a Kodak device (which generally come off feeling and looking like children’s toys). It also packed an upgraded sensor and flash, and in our brief demo, the video capture was remarkably improved.

It was a meager lineup to say the least, and it indicated Kodak was winding down its point-and-shoot business. But now that we’ve been told the units will likely never launch, it’s all very real. Shutting down Kodak cameras is the end of a legacy, and two victims are these capable devices that won’t see the light of day, and whose brief appearance at CES yielded some happy surprises. 

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