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Published on September 3rd, 2011 | by Greg


Outdoor Research and Samsung Keep Us Dry And Filming

La­bor Day- fast ap­proach­ing, it will mark the un­of­fi­cial start of fall and the end of sum­mer. But in the Bay Area, the sea­son­al change is for the warmer, as one of our nicer pe­ri­ods rolls around and the weath­er gets love­li­er. In Hawaii, where some of our staff ‘work’, the start of Septem­ber doesn’t mean much in terms of weath­er- but does mean that the heavy tourism sea­son is com­ing soon and ev­ery­one can en­joy a sort of lull be­tween peaks. Some of our main­land staff vis­it­ed the Pa­cif­ic Is­lands re­cent­ly, and came back with plen­ty to say about two par­tic­u­lar pieces of gear, both lightweight and fair­ly in­ex­pen­sive.

The Out­door Re­search He­li­um Jack­et is ap­pro­pri­ate­ly named. Weigh­ing un­der sev­en ounces, this storm shell is su­per-com­press­ible, al­low­ing you to cram it any­where- in a cam­era bag, small purse, or the small­est area in your car­ry-on. We couldn’t quite fit it in­to our pock­ets, but it can fold in­to it’s own, mak­ing for an easy-open and quick-wear piece of out­er­wear per­fect for rapid­ly chang­ing weath­er like that in Hawaii. Rain comes and goes, and this jack­et held off even large squalls- we went so far as to try it in a wa­ter­fall to test the seals, and though it was a bit hard to tell for sure thanks to spray, the seam tapes seemed sol­id and zip­pers prop­er­ly wa­ter-re­sis­tant.

We missed hav­ing front hand pock­ets, though a napoleon (up­per chest) pock­et is easy-to-reach if a bit small. Avail­able in four col­ors- av­o­ca­do, black, and blue, ours was a pret­ty neu­tral mush­room which looked great with most oth­er cloth­ing.  Elas­tic cuffs and a nice­ly firm hood lip make for a cozy, dry, and warm ex­pe­ri­ence in the He­li­um. And it felt fair­ly breath­able as well- cer­tain­ly a bit less so than some lighter lay­ers, and it felt a bit hu­mid in the armpit and rear back re­gions. It might not look like much, es­pe­cial­ly when crum­pled in­to a tiny ball, but it holds up well and holds out wa­ter. At around $140 or so MSRP and on­line for un­der $100, it’s a great buy.

And if you’re head­ing in­to Hawaii or any­where with clear wa­ters, you’ll be fool­ish to trav­el with­out a wa­ter­proof cam­era. Sure, you can buy a case for your DSLR- but it’ll cost you a for­tune and dou­ble the weight of an al­ready heavy item. We pre­fer to trav­el a bit lighter when snorke­l­ing or scu­ba div­ing, or even just at the beach. The im­age qual­i­ty isn’t as good, but we were still im­pressed by the Sam­sung W200. It’s sim­i­lar to a stur­dier Flip- one of our fa­vorite lightweight video cam­eras- and fea­tures a flip-out USB arm for easy trans­fer of im­ages and video. Un­like most com­peti­tors, though, it’s wa­ter­proof, shock­proof, and dust­proof, and has a nifty an­tifog lens that keeps im­ages clear even in high hu­mid­i­ty. And it does full 1080p or 720 high-def­i­ni­tion video or 5.5 megapix­el pho­tog­ra­phy and help­ful­ly in­cludes an HD­MI port, though of­fers on­ly au­to-fo­cus, a fixed frame rate of 30f­ps, and a 3x dig­i­tal zoom.

We tried it both in reg­u­lar con­di­tions, as well as un­der­wa­ter. The above-wa­ter shots, both video and still, are unim­pres­sive- our iPhone 4 cam­eras were a bit bet­ter in col­or, clar­i­ty, and much bet­ter in sound qual­i­ty. Un­der­wa­ter, or in mixed en­vi­ron­ments, it’s a sol­id con­tender- our on­ly re­al is­sue was the un­for­tu­nate shak­i­ness of most videos. There is some lim­it­ed sta­bi­liza­tion, but we would’ve pre­ferred some­thing bet­ter. A wider lens might’ve been op­ti­mal as well for ac­tion shots. A Mi­croSD card is need­ed, and not in­clud­ed un­for­tu­nate­ly, but they are avail­able wide­ly and cheap­ly. A 16GB card can hold some­thing around 2 hours of video at 1080p. The LCD screen was on­ly so-so, as it was a bit hard to see in sun­light, but did hold well against drops and some con­tact with the el­e­ments. Con­trols and grip were on­ly OK- a side record but­ton and a more tex­tured sur­face would be help­ful for in­stance, but the W200 has a nice weight and form fac­tor. Avail­able in two col­ors, the W200 runs about $130 and has some nifty fea­tures which we do hope to see on oth­er cam­eras (the pause and con­tin­ue abil­i­ty is ex­cel­lent, al­low­ing you to briefly cut with­out start­ing a new file). All in all, this is a sol­id per­former for in­clement con­di­tions, though we wouldn’t rec­om­mend it for day-to-day use.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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