TechBits: Action cam roundup (12.18.13) - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

TechBits: Action cam roundup (12.18.13)

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Many people looking for an action camera look no further than GoPro, because they simply don't know there re other cameras of that type.  GoPro is definitely the best known- but it may not be the best camera for every person.

The Tech Guy got to try out a few different cameras, and has a rundown of a five different models.  They're listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer.

GoPro Hero 3 Black  This is the top of the crop from the best known action cam manufacturer.  The Hero 3 Black has video modes ranging from 240 frames per second in WVGA all the way up to 15 fps in 4k (the emerging hi-def standard that's not yet in wide use.)  It has adjustable field of view, in case you don't want wide-angle with pronounced fisheye.  Some features are not the most user-friendly for average users.  (For instance, doing a time lapse shoot produces a series of JPG files that must be stitched together in the included software.  Other cameras output time lapses as video files.)

  • Storage: microSD
  • Waterproof: with case (included)
  • LCD screen: add-on (not included)
  • Connectors: USB mini, micro HDMI
  • Removable battery: yes
  • Mount system: proprietary
  • Smart phone app control: yes (also has included remote control)
  • Price: $399.99


JVC Adixxion GC-XA1  At less than half the price of the Hero 3 Black, the Adixxion is designed to be used by average consumers, not video pros.  The menus and controls are designed to be user-friendly- but that doesn't mean it's short on features.  It has a wide variety of video modes, including live streaming through the included software.  The Adixxion is 'quad proof' out of the box:  It's waterproof, shock proof, dust proof, and frost proof.  (The Tech Guy has dropped it into water and onto concrete from a height of 6 feet, and it did fine.)  The JVC Adixxion is a good, solid camera for people who don't want to pay a top-line price for a very good camera.

  • Storage: SDHC/SDXC
  • Waterproof: yes (to 5 meters)
  • LCD screen: yes
  • Connector: USB mini, mini HDMI
  • Removable battery: yes
  • Mount system: 1/4-20 (standard tripod screw, bottom and side mounts)
  • Smart phone app control: yes
  • Price: $155.98 (Amazon)


Liquid Image Ego  At $200 less than the GoPro Hero 3 Black, the Ego delivers outstanding video quality ion a small package.  The biggest drawback is the tiny display, and the lack of a method for adding an LCD screen.  The optimal way to sight in and control this camera is with a companion app on a smart phone.  Video modes are more limited than the GoPro and JVC models, but they should be adequate for most uses.  The Ego is water resistant, but not waterproof.
  • Storage: MicroSD
  • Waterproof: with case (not included)
  • LCD screen: no
  • Connector: USB micro, micro HDMI
  • Removable battery: no
  • Mount system: 1/4-20 (standard tripod screw)
  • Smart phone app control: yes
  • Price: $199.99


Polaroid XS100  At less than $200, this is a very solid camera.  One standout feature is the G-sensor auto rotation system.  If the camera is mounted sideways or even upside down, it can detect its orientation, and adjust shooting so the image is right-side up.  The camera also gives vibration feedback to confirm actions like the start of recording- because sometimes visual confirmation isn't easy.  It has a sleek, aerodynamic design- but it does not have an LCD screen or a smart phone app for setting a shot.  (The wide angle lens makes it easier to get a good shot even if you can't see the output from the sensor.)  The frame rate is adjustable at 720p, so you can do fast or slow motion shots.
  • Storage: MicroSD
  • Waterproof: yes (to 10 meters)
  • LCD screen: no
  • Connector: USB micro
  • Removable battery: no
  • Mount system: 1/4-20 (standard tripod screw)
  • Smart phone app control: no
  • Price: $159.00 (Amazon)



Vivitar 785HD  This camera is the bottom-rung price wise, and on features.  It also has the worst video quality of any in the group.  But for a very inexpensive camera, it has an LCD touch screen to help sight in your shots and set your recording modes.  That's just about the only outstanding feature for this one.  However, this would be a good camera for just trying out action cams to get a feel for how they work.  It would also be an OK camera if you need one you wouldn't mind losing in a high-risk environment- for instance, whitewater rafting, where something that falls into the river is gone for good.  Just don't expect great video quality.

  • Storage: MicroSD
  • Waterproof: with case (included)
  • LCD screen: yes (touch screen)
  • Connector: USB mini
  • Removable battery: no
  • Mount system: 1/4-20 (standard tripod screw)
  • Smart phone app control: no
  • Price: $63.59 (Amazon)
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