First look: TomTom Bandit Action Cam

TomTom3The relatively new product category of action cameras have opened a whole new world for the avid motorcyclist. They bring an easy way of showing the world the incredible feeling of riding and can record evidence of the systematic violence being brought upon us by cagers all around the world. Long has this segment been dominated by GoPro, but TomTom wants in and has developed the Bandit action cam. These are my first impressions…

TomTom4The Bandit Action Cam is cylinder shaped camera which gives it a more stylish and discreet appearance that for example the GoPro. It comes in a sleek box together with all the accessories which to be honest are few in numbers. There are three mounting plates, two of which are for surface mounting and one extremely valuable GoPro-adapter since most people tend to have those kind of mounts. A manual is included but that’s pretty much it.

TomTom1Now, I know what you think: What about the charger? Nope, there are none. The Bandit uses a battery pack with an integrated USB-plug that goes into your other chargers or in a computer. To recharge the battery (1900 MAH), you push a button and twist, and out comes the battery stick. The slot for the Micro-SD is on the battery stick as well. I am not fond of these kind of mechanical twists because they tend to break after a while, but it feels rather solid. We’ll see how the plastic copes with a couple of hundred twists. There are a panel which can be removed to allow a cable to connect instead to facilitate handling and probably increase life span at the same time.

The lens is protected by an IPX7 shell which makes it really robust, and the entire camera comes with a really solid feel, but at the same time somewhat heavy. I don’t think it will be a problem at all, but when it comes to helmet attachments, every gram counts.

TomTom2On top of the camera there is LCD-display which you control with a four-directional button, also on top. The ON button is easily accessible at the end of the battery pack and the OFF button is situated on top of the lens. At first I felt that the OFF button was a bit hard to press down since it’s small and lack good tactile feedback, but once you get used to it, it’s not a deal breaker. It’s easy enough to control the camera through the control button but it’s even better to use the TomTom app. My only complaint about the buttons is that I suspect they will be hard to press with gloves on but on the other hand, the control button has a much better tactile feedback and being shaped as the edges of a square, gives you better handling with gloves on. Oh, and don’t mistake the big white thing in the middle for a button. It’s not.

The app transforms your camera to a viewfinder where you can control settings easily enough. By setting up the camera as your Wi-Fi router (not the same as connecting the camera to your regular network, bear in mind) you can connect your smartphone or tablet to the camera. Once you’ve done that, you have a great, lag free viewfinder.

On paper the Bandit has a lot of cool features. I have to get back to you on quality and functionality once I’ve put it through a few challenges but the specs are promising. You have 1080p at 30 and 60 fps, 720p at 60 and 120. On top of that you can record in slow motion with 1080p at twice the speed, 720p at four times the speed and WVGA at six times the speed. The cinematic view offers 4K at 15 fps and 2,7K at 30 fps which should be good enough.

Of course you have a photo mode with burst capability. Normally you shoot at 16 MP but with burst mode you can choose 8 MP too, to get ten photos in one second! Timelapse mode offers 4K or 1080p with photos being taken at 1, 5, 10, 15, 30 or 60 seconds intervals.

One feature I haven’t tried yet is the “shake to edit”-function which promises to edit a cool video in seconds. The camera logs for example speed, G-forces, acceleration and, if you have a pulse monitor, heart rate and tags the highlights. By shaking your smartphone, these highlights are edited into a single movie, ready to be uploaded. This feature will in theory reduce editing time to a minimum, but we will test how it really works more in detail later on.