Drift X170 mounted on Porsche nose

Drift X170 mounted on Porsche nose

Since we reviewed vHoldr’s ContourHD headcam last month, Drift have brought their new X170 offering to the market. Whilst it’s not the first to feature a super-wide 170º lens, it offers a colour LCD to frame the view and adjust settings. This is really good news for reviewing footage with your mates after filming. Before going any further we should point out though, that this headcam doesn’t shoot HD, not even semi HD, but plain old 720×576/480 4:3 footage (both PAL and NTSC flavours). This has been fine so far and the norm in this market, but things are moving on rapidly and any camera, be it point and shoot, or video camera, needs to at least shoot 1280×720 HD to look good on our latest widescreen TVs and computer monitors.

We took the X170 for a bit of Club 100 karting first: the supplied headstrap was tightened to maximum and slipped over our racing suit around the lower leg, just below the knee. We then used the goggle strap mount and slipped in the camera pointing back at the driver. After warnings from the kart mechanics that headcams always fall off due to vibration, we decided to add some gaffer tape just to be sure; this camera is kindly on loan from actioncameras.co.uk , so better not get it mangled by 18 karts running it over!

[Gallery not found]
click through to next page to see karting video and much more!

Mounted to leg with supplied strap and goggle mount - we added tape too...

Mounted to leg with supplied strap and goggle mount - we added tape too...


The best feature of the headcam is that you can check on the LCD that you have framed your view, without too much sky or objects in the way. We did a quick test sitting in the kart and reviewed it instantly on the LCD screen before committing to a race test. Super-wide-angle lenses are essential for filming action. This 170º lens is ideal as it’s often not possible to mount the camera far enough away from what you want to film. You can also spin the lens through almost a full turn to level the horizon, and avoid inverted sequences. Hint: just make sure the raised mark on the lens is pointing directly up, whichever way the body of the camera is mounted.

Next we mounted it in several places on a Porsche 911 Turbo to see what some steadier, more controlled footage looked like. The wrist worn remote proved to be useful, and only went out of range when the camera was mounted on the rear of the car. Both the engine noise from the kart and Porsche drowned out the feeble bleep that confirms recording though, this could do with being much louder. The green power-on LED that turns to red when recording, proved to be a much more useful camera status confirmation.

Overall performance of the camera was good for non-HD footage, but when put alongside the ContourHD, suddenly the lack of detail was noticeable and the 4:3 format feels “old”. We drilled down through the menus and found a 16:9 setting, which presumably just crops pixels top and bottom, but despite selecting this option the footage turned out to be 4:3. Did we do some thing wrong or is there a glitch in the system? We can’t be sure, but we did notice that long clips, such as the 15 minute kart race, proved to be too much data for the onboard system to process. We couldn’t review this clip, and in fact the camera’s OS crashed more than once, forcing reboots. When home and in front of the computer though our clips were there and fine, but there were some anxious moments at the track wondering whether our efforts were wasted. The LCD is there to review and reassure the user that the vital moment is “in the can” but had us worried instead. However, this is better than reviewing the footage at home and finding, as we did, that the ContourHD headcam we had fitted to the driver’s helmet was pointing too far down, thus not capturing the horizon…When framing with the LCD take care, as it’s quite small and doesn’t show 100% view; we found ourselves including part of the camera suction mount without meaning to.

X170 LCD screen and menus

X170 LCD screen and menus

Microphone: wind noise was not too bad, but that could be because all sound recorded was extremely low. In our video of the Porsche we wacked up the volume in Final Cut Express as far as it will go for the interior sequences, but still could not hear the sweet tones of the wailing engine. For the exterior scenes we reduced the sound substantially. In both cases the headcam’s microphone was turned up to maximum.

Battery life was OK with the supplied AA alkaline batteries, but a set of Lithium AA cells got us through a ton of filming without dying. We would still prefer lithium-ion power, chargeable via USB. Using non-rechargeable batteries just doesn’t feel right these days…

Conclusion: If you can accept non-HD footage, this headcam ticks all the boxes. It gives you good menu options, LCD to frame and review, remote control, and all in a package not much bigger and heavier than non-LCD headcams, at at a very competitive price of 199 UKPounds from actioncameras.co.uk

Features:

• High resolution video – 720×480 pixels (Max)
• Photographs – 5MegaPixels
• Wide angle lens – 170°
• Lens can be rotated into position through 300°
• Built-in LCD viewing screen – 1.5”
• Capture photos / videos
• Built-in Microphone
• Speaker for audio playback
• 1/4″ (8mm) camera screw thread mount
• User friendly control panel
• Expandable memory – SD card (16Gb Max)
• Adjustable microphone levels
• Direct to TV AV playback – PAL / NTSC
• Charged by 2x AA batteries
• Can be charged by the 12V cigarette lighter adapter (not included) for in-car / on-board footage
• Radio frequency wireless remote control – 5meter reach (without line-of-sight needed)
• Waterproof to 0.5m
• 1 year manufacturers warranty
• Multilingual Instruction Manual and Menu Settings:

* English
* Spanish
* French
* Italian
* German
* Portuguese

__dottedbgwhite

Specs:

Sensor type: CMOS
• Lens angle: 170°
• Built-in Microphone
• Video format: MP4 or MJPEG AVI (user selectable)
• Frames per second: 30 fps
• Video format: 4:3 or 16:9 (user selectable)
• Batteries: 2x 1.5V AA batteries
• It is highly recommended to use Lithium-ion batteries
• Power-Save option saves batteries by powering down the screen
• Built-in memory: 32 MB
• SD memory capacity: Supports memory cards up to 16 GB
• Video resolution: 720 x 480
• Photo resolution: 5 Megapixel
• Exposure: Auto
• LCD screen: 1.5” colour TFT
• Lens focal range: 0.5m to infinity
• Dimensions: Camera – 133 (L) x 50 (D) x 33 (W) mm / Remote Control – 52 (L) x 40 (W) x 13 (D) mm
• Power: Camera – DC 3V, 2x AA batteries (included) / Remote control: DC 3C, 1x CR2032 battery (included)
• RF: Receiver (Camera): 433.92MHz ISM band / Transmitter (Remote): 433.92MHz ISM band
• Weight: Camera – 128g / Remote control – 19g
__dottedbgwhite

Pros:
170º super-wide-angle lens
Lens swivels to adjust horizon
LCD screen
Adjustable exposure etc via LCD
Simple wrist band remote
Water resistant to half a metre

Cons:
Non-HD
Heavier and bulkier than other headcams
Sound recording poor
Firmware glitches
No lithium-ion power pack

Drift X170 headcam

Drift X170 headcam

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay