The action camera market is flooded with options and dominated by the behemoth that is GoPro. Beyond the American brand it can be tough deciding where to put your money. TomTom, the GPS navigation specialists, have entered the action camera market looking to make the production and sharing videos a realistic endeavour for the average person. Meet the TomTom Bandit.
“Within 30 minutes we’d gone from start to finish and had a final product ready to slap all over Facebook.”
The biggest hurdle with action cam video is sifting through hours of mundane footage in an attempt to make something watchable. We know that pain only too well and for many it means they don’t make the most of their incredible cameras. That is the USP of the TomTom Bandit, which utilises built in sensors to measure speed, altitude, g-force and more to decide where the best moments of your footage are. It breaks these moments up into a tagging system called Highlights. The idea is to make finding the best segments from your day easier. From there you can choose them manually or let the editing program do it for you. Highlights can also be selected manually by pressing the Highlights button on the back of the camera.
For the full tech specs click the toggle below.
|Specs||TomTom Bandit||GoPro Hero 4 Silver||iON Air Pro 3 WiFi||Sony Action Camera AS200CV|
|Video Resolution||4k 15FPS / 2.7k 30FPS / 1080p 30FPS / 1080p 60FPS / 720p 60FPS / 720p 120FPS||4k 15 or 12.5 FPS / 2.7K 30,25,24 FPS / 1440P 47,30,25,24 FPS / 1080p 60,48,30,25,24 FPS||1080p 60,30 FPS / 720p 120,60 FPS||1080p 60,50,30,25,24 FPD / 720 120,100 FPS|
|Photo Resolution||16 MP||12 MP||12 MP||8.8 MP|
|Weight||190g||147g (With waterproof housing)||142g||93g (Without waterproof case)|
|Battery Life @ 1080p||3hr||1hr 50 Mins (Removable)||2hr 30 Mins||1hr 50 mins (Removable)|
|View Screen||Settings Only – Image Via App||Yes – Full Colour Touch||No – App Connection Only||Settings Only – Image Via App or Remote|
|Waterproof||No – Splashproof. Optional Waterproof Lens Cover||Yes – In Housing to 40 Metres||Yes – 14 Metres||Yes – In Housing 10 Metres|
“One of the finest aspects of the Bandit system is the mounting. It’s simple, almost idiot proof and fast.”
Getting everything going with the Bandit is as simple as any other camera available. A short two second hold of the back button turns it on. The no frills black and white screen on the top of the camera utilises a directional pad that sits around the screen’s edge for navigating the menus and changing shooting modes. In this area the TomTom is basic and clear, with changing modes a synch. Menu options are entirely conquerable for even the least tech savvy people too.
The TomTom Bandit can also be controlled via the app, available on iPhone and Android. This allows you to change all the settings, see the camera in real-time and is easily one of the cleanest and most concise programs we’ve seen. The camera pairs through the Bandit’s Wi-Fi signal to your device and works perfectly, making connection easily and remaining stable. It has, as of yet not crashed or struggled to connect. One of the finest aspects of the Bandit system is the mounting. It’s simple, almost idiot proof and fast. With the pad stuck on the side of the helmet and aligned using the app, the bandit clips on with a mere push and then rotates around its own base to sit at the correct angle. It’s complex to explain but easy to use and extremely fast to setup.
Within mere minutes of removing it from the box, we’re ready to ride. The simplicity of the operation, using separate buttons to begin and stop recording, means you never have to worry about accidentally turning the recording off when you want it on and so on. It’s also preposterously easy to add your own ‘highlights’ to the recording, a quick push of the button on the back achieves this and allows the TomTom Bandit app to group it for viewing later. It’s not a new idea, but it is very well executed. This made finding those exciting, beautiful and wild moments that touch easier to find.
That application however is not even close to the perfection that is the mobile app. On your phone you can do everything the desktop app can but it’s in your hand, requires no plugging in, no fuss and works ridiculously quickly. You can select clips, add them, insert transitions and overlay neat speed, altitude or g-force graphics as well as lay an audio track from your iTunes, without plugging anything in. All of the above is performed over the Wifi signal from the Bandit.
This is a truly mobile thing, it can be done during lunch, uploaded to Social Media or saved to your phone. Editing and broadcasting on the fly is awesome and TomTom have made having action camera footage that is worthy of watching a reality for me. You can also use the ‘shake to edit’ feature and it’ll collect a bunch of the automatically selected highlights and drop them into a video for you. It works, but it wasn’t as good as picking from the highlights list and quickly re-ordering them manually.
Typically, I’m the guy that suffers at anything more advanced than playing iPhone games and sending emails, so for me it’s provided access to something I wouldn’t have bothered with. The app was easy to decipher, the camera simple to use and even easier to mount.
The sound capture is also a let-down. It’s worth noting that as of yet, the built in microphones on all action cameras are pretty poor but the Bandit lives at the worse end of the spectrum. The mic sits right below the lens at the front. The first mod we made was adding the little beard, dead cat accessory thing, but at anything over 10km/h you get wind noise and it’s not great.
Finally, it isn’t waterproof out of the box. The splashproof label means it’ll survive some rainfall but because of the microphone position the stock lens cover leaves it vulnerable. You can buy a waterproof lens cover, but then you lose sound capture.
The reality is that the image quality and colour saturation are perfectly good for the intended use. It saturates colours a lot, a touch more than our GoPro and that results in a image that looks nice straight away. For a casual user it works fantastically because the image comes out punchy and vibrant. For a more serious use it’s not ideal because of the tendency to crush colours and remove detail. It also lacks any form of colour profile alteration, saturation or sharpness controls, but that is the exact reason it’s so easy to use.
The only other gripe we have is the current lack of brightness/exposure control. On Brake Magazine GoPro’s we use aftermarket ND filters to stop the image looking wobbly and as of yet, you can’t do that easily with the Bandit. Subsequently it suffers in bright sunlight, with the image looking jittery. It’s an ailment that becomes all Action Camera’s but it’d be nice to have a solution to control it.
It does have some flaws, the buttons aren’t great, the sound is poor and the image quality is significantly better in the higher resolution (yes, they are different things) but in the real world use of an everyday adventure rider, those issues are bested by the functionality. If you’re looking for a camera to fiddle with, change settings, worry massively about image quality and colour grade footage, the TomTom isn’t for you, but if you want to capture your mates rolling in the mud with minimal fuss and ease of use then the Bandit is without question the camera you need to buy.