When an industry leader owns most of its market share, the brand can become the product. Such has been the case with Band-Aid, Rollerblade, Kleenex and other products that almost define their own categories. The GoPro video camera is another such “category killer,” and consumers forget there are other options to capture action video without shelling out top dollar for the big dog.
iON Air Pro
The newest edition to new iON’s Air Pro series offers simple, one-touch and full 1080p HD video resolution. iON cameras take a different form factor than that of GoPro, as these devices are bulletshaped—all the better to sit closer and lower on your helmet.
It is completely waterproof without requiring any additional housing. Like the company’s other cameras it is compatible with iON’s accessory Wi-Fi PODZ and the new iON app 2.0 for iOS and Android. This enables use of a smartphone or tablet to control camera functions and settings, view live streaming video and replay or immediately upload footage to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or share it via email.
Sony Action Cam AS100V
Opting for a shotgun-style design rather than the boxy form of the GoPro, Sony’s Action Cam AS100V is easy to hold and splash proof without needing any extra case or protection. The f/2.8 Zeiss Tessar lens offers a spectacular 170-degree field of view. Behind the lens sits a 13.5MP Exmor R sensor that’s capable of capturing 12-megapixel stills in photo mode.
Connectivity is provided via NFC for one-tap setup with Android phones. The built-in GPS tracks location data, which can then be overlaid on videos using the PlayMemories Home software. Battery life is great, with the Sony outperforming the GoPro Hero 3+ at the default bitrate. The GoPro managed 1 hour 59 minutes while the Sony lasted 2 hours 17 minutes.
Contour’s third version of its camera allows it to be taken almost anywhere. Like the iON Air Pro it is bullet-shaped for low-profile video action. You can take the Roam3 underwater to about 33 feet without a special waterproof housing.
The lens rotates 270 degrees—180 degrees to the left and 90 degrees to the right—which gives more positioning options without the need to mess with settings or flip the video with editing software. My favorite feature is the laser level. Because the Roam3 has no screen or built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to connect to a mobile device, the laser helps you set up your shot. Just push the status button on the back, and it kicks on for 15 seconds.
The Roam3 gives you two options for mounting: you can use the sliding rail mounts or take advantage of the tripod mount in the bottom. The 1080p video is recorded at a variable bit rate between 14 and 16Mbps, which is good for its price range, and it results in better detail than you’d get from lower-end models.