Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Greg
Liquid Image Ego: A Worthy Sports Camera Contender
Sports cameras are all the rage, and not just with folks out in nature. We’ve seen them pop up, used by everyone from amateur investigative journalists hoping to catch scoops to shows like MTV’s ‘Catfish’ where they’re used to capture plenty of on-the-go footage. There are plenty of competitors in the marketplace, each offering different feature sets and accessory options. They’ve improved greatly since a few years ago- smaller casings, better batteries and image quality- and we’ve been testing out one of the latest.
The Liquid Image Ego- part of their line of Xtreme Sports Cams, technically model 727- is fairly small, cute, and about the size of a shot glass. In the case, you’ll find not only the camera itself but a nice cover for the lens, and a flat mount bracket and some adhesive pads. It’s light enough to stick onto something and trust that it won’t fall off to easily, but they do make quite a few additional, optional accessories like an underwater housing that allows you to make the camera waterproof, and other mounting options.
Also called helmet cams or action cameras, we’ve seen quite a few- from inexpensive pin-or-clip-it-on options like the MeCam to the excellent Pivothead video recording glasses and more comparable models like the Drift HD720. Of course, names like GoPro have gained traction, while others like VholdR and Oregon Scientific or Midland’s XTC series might not be as familiar. What sets aside the new Ego are a few features like the wifi connection to an easy app that offers lots of control options, as well as excellent image quality at a very aggressive price point.
One strong recommendation: make sure that you update the firmware. A fairly recent update is available online, and we made sure to do that first. You’ll also want to make sure that you purchase a Class 6+ MicroSD card, as basically no memory is included. An 8GB card will be able to hold about 90 minutes of footage, and the camera can handle 1080p at 30 fps or 720 at 60 frames per second. You can take still pictures as well- they’re actually quite good, thanks to the 12 megapixel sensor and decent optics. The 135 degree wide angle view is decent- not quite the 170-degrees offered on others, but going further creates that fisheye effect that can be pretty distracting. Still images feel a bit overexposed, and you can’t expect great low light performance, but colors were good.
The Ego has a 1050 mAh rechargeable battery, which should last you around two hours of solid filming. Recharging is handled via USB. As always with sports cameras like this one, the microphone is mediocre and of limited use- don’t expect to capture your interview documentary footage with this one. But that’s not what you want to do, hopefully- instead, you’re getting one of these to show off your skateboarding, skydiving, or skiing skills. While many action cams offer a remote control, this one uses your smartphone or tablet instead (iOS or Android). We had no trouble with the app, but have to admit that we don’t want to take out our phones on the slopes. You can use the phone as a viewfinder, which is handy, but there is a bit of lag. And you can’t record to your smart device directly, unfortunately.
Build quality is good- we were fairly rough, and our unit still looks good. It’s impressively light though, easy to forget, and captured footage is excellent. You’ll face the “shaky cam” issue common amongst all smaller cameras, but with some clever mounting options and careful use, you can minimize the problem. We would’ve liked slightly bigger/better controls on the Ego itself, and perhaps an included way to charge it via an outlet. It’s a cute, solid option that is sure to continue improving as the app gets better over time. Available online and in stores for around $170, the Liquid Image Ego can be purchased in any of five color choices.