Published on August 1st, 2015 | by Greg0
Make Out Like A TomTom Bandit, With Easy Action Video Editing
We suggest that you let a little more action in your life- and what better way to encourage it than with some new technology? Today’s gadget is a smarter version of an action camera, taking the familiar device and adding handy capabilities to make your life simpler, rather than piling on complicated features. If editing videos is a perpetual nightmare for you, then this model might just steal your heart. It certainly is for us, as it’s all too easy for a relaxing vacation to become time spent trying to capture it all, and then turning what might otherwise be a nice jaunt down memory lane into a forced march through hours of footage trying to find nice moments amidst blurry outtakes.
The TomTom Bandit GPS Action Camera clearly is a first child- it’s trying hard to stand out, as you might expect from a company looking to differentiate itself from a crowded existing field. As we’ve recently stated, cameras are becoming much more than cameras these days. And the company behind this one is best known for their excellent GPS navigation devices, though we’ve also been impressed by their move into fitness wearables, a category that felt like a natural extension. The action camera market might feel further afield, and when it comes to optics, TomTom’s little guy isn’t actually amazing (more on that soon). But TomTom’s expertise lies beyond the lens, and it’s in these other areas where the Bandit excels- the app, for instance, is better than most competitors. The build quality here is also very high, with a much sleeker design and a more playful touch than just about anyone else out there right now (the less serious Polaroid models excepted). We’ve seen a pretty wide range of models over the years, from companies large and small, and the TomTom Bandit sets itself far apart from most of the category thanks to the inclusion of GPS and other sensors, as well as how they find a way to put those sensors to work.
In a world where GoPro seems almost to have become the generic term, and where even the Bandit can utilize and is compatible with GoPro mounts, it’s exciting to see something truly different from an action camera. The Bandit looks at first similar to a Contour Roam, with a barrel shape and a removable battery pack. Simply pull out the aptly-named BattStick and you have access to the microSD slot (capable of using up to 128GB microSD memory cards), and you don’t need to worry about taking a cable since there is a handy USB 3.0 port built right in. Speaking of which, battery life is pretty solid, about three hours of recording life. The Bandit is waterproof to IPX7 standards, but an optional accessory lens cap brings that to a whole different level, the IPX8 standard allowing it to work up to 50 meters underwater. Onboard controls are simple, and the small LCD screen on the top makes selecting your mode and options easy. And this is one of the few 4K-capable action cameras that we’ve seen so far, though it does come with a significant caveat- it will only capture at 15 frames per second (60 fps at 1080p, 120 fps at 720p). Photographers can also grab 16 megapixel still images; time lapse and slow motion modes are fun too.
There is, of course, wi-fi connectivity to allow you to connect wirelessly to your phone or tablet, and that’s actually at the center of what makes the Bandit unique. As you can see in the image above, the playback includes icons that highlight special moments- like elevation or acceleration changes, heart-rate indications (via their fitness watch), or when you press a button to indicate that something cool happened. TomTom brags about the “shake to edit” feature, and the fact that the camera includes a built-in media server, which help save storage space on your mobile device. Indeed, instead of a laborious transfer process and an interminable period editing, we were able to get a good couple of minutes of video in seconds in a “story” and post it quickly. That meant less time spent going through footage and more time having fun. Connecting is simple, but you can’t expect the camera to do all of the work- we did end up relying on the ability to highlight a moment ourselves, as some of the most beautiful moments don’t raise your heart rate or make a physical impression that can be detected. Skiing and snowboarding fans are likely to find these features more useful than, say, climbers.
The Bandit uses an unusual clip-in system that feels pretty good but does allow for some side-to-side wobble which can show up in your videos. Adhesive curved and flat mounts are included, and a hoop mount that can pop into GoPro mounts. Other accessories are available, and we got a chance to check out the nifty wrist-strap remote control. You can also remove it from the strap and use it by itself, as it’s about the size of a silver dollar coin, easily pocketable. There isn’t any zoom functionality and we found low-light filming quality to be middling, but the Bandit did handle abrupt lighting changes with aplomb, and color and detail are comparable to others in this class. It is bigger and heavier though, but feels more solid and durable as a result. Overall, TomTom’s first outing into action cameras is certainly distinctive, clever, and fun- and is available now in a basic package for $399 or a premium version with additional accessories for $100 more.