Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Greg
iON Action Cam: Shoot/Share With The Air Pro 2
If you’ve spent any time outdoors recently, you’ve probably seen a few people wearing cameras. Even reality TV has seen a boost in small, wearable, portable cameras that have become ubiquitous on shows like MTV’s Catfish. Whether it was at the recent Olympics or via the endless Youtube uploads from amateurs and professional athletes, action cameras are booming, and they come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to fit a lot of different needs and environments.
The iON Air Pro line has something for everyone- just check out their comparison list of their six different models! The differences may not be immediately obvious beyond some tweaks to still images and water resistance, but the iON Air Pro 2 action camera that we’ve been testing out strikes a great balance of features and is probably the best model for those more serious about the videography, looking to capture high-definition footage that can be screened for friends, family, and put online easily.
Let’s start with the basics- this bad boy weighs in at only 130 grams, and is of the longer, barrel or tube-shaped variety rather than a smaller block-like type similar to the previously-reviewed Liquid Image Ego or JVC Adixxion. It lacks the remote and onboard screen of some cameras, like the Drift HD models, but makes up for it with some of the better onboard controls that we’ve seen. Plus, unlike many action cameras, this one is ready to hit the deep blue sea straight out of the box- no additional case needed as it’s waterproof as-is (to 10 meters, or 30 feet). The Air Pro 2′s buttons and the primary switch are big, easy to press even with gloves on, and the unit’s storage capacity/memory is based on the MicroSD card you use (they are easily and cheaply available).
iON offers various kits and accessories, including tons of mounting options and even expanded batteries via the “Podz” system. Ours came with the Wi-Fi Podz, which allows you to connect the camera to your smartphone or tablet directly to the camera, which shows up as a network. The apps are fine, if a bit laggy, and we only tested with iOS on an iPhone. One key note is that you can see the battery life via the app, but we couldn’t find a meter or indicator on the camera itself. There is a mini tripod as well, and it’s simple to mount the camera to a helmet or bike handlebars with the included extras.
As with every action camera, the onboard microphone won’t do much good once you start moving- wind noise cuts everything else out. Stills were much better than those from almost any other competitor we’ve tried- 14 megapixels and a little blurry generally but with good color balance and contrast. The field of view is 180 degrees, which means a slightly fisheye perspective from the fixed lens, which can be useful if you’re mounting on a helmet or awkward for some other purposes. Recording is done at 1080p or 720p with 30 frames per second or drop down to 720p for faster 60fps (the slightly bulkier and more expensive Air Pro 3 allows full 60fps at 1080p footage). Our primary issue with the Air Pro 2 is the low battery life- it will last only about two and a half hours… or about an hour with wi-fi turned on! And Android lovers should note that the app is still under development for that platform. Low light performance isn’t strong, but this is a great form factor and package for anyone looking to grab shots of their winter or summer sports. Video quality is top-notch, the accessories varied and interesting if a little bulky, operation simple- all of which makes the Air Pro 2 an excellent option in a crowded field. Add to that that it’s one of the few models waterproof without a separate casing, and it’s well worth the $250 price tag, available online and in stores now.