Over the last month, Tom Tom and Panasonic announced the release of their new action cameras. TomTom drops the Bandit and Panasonic the HX-A1. (TomTom wins the naming contest.)
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TomTom’s Bandit is the company’s first entry into the action camera market. They’ve incorporated some interesting features that differentiate the Bandit from some of the other cameras. The Bandit is packed with sensors – everything from GPS to motion – to pack more data into your videos. The funkiest feature of all, though, is the “shake-to-edit” ability. The Bandit is capable of editing footage on the camera itself – no downloading to the computer necessary. Shaking the camera in edit mode will put together an automatic montage of highlights from you recording via tagged segments. Tags can be added automatically or manually with a large, easily accessible button on the back of the housing.
The Bandit can record 4k at 15fps, 2.7k at 30fps, and 1080p HD at 60fps. You won’t be creating any super slo-mo footage, but it’ll get the job done. You can bump up to 120fps if you drop resolution to 720p. The camera is waterproof to 50m without any additional housing. It also features the usual – time lapse, 16 megapixel stills, wireless connectivity to smart devices. The Bandit is designed so that the battery and processing unit comes out as one piece so you can charge and download. It contains a 1900mAh battery to keep you recording for up to 3 hours.
The Standard version will cost $430 and will come with a splash-proof lens cover, various surface mounts and a GoPro mount adapter. Step up to the Premium version at $500 and you get a remote control, handle bar mount, a dive lens cover, a 360 pitch mount, and a power cable in addition to the Standard accessories. The Bandit will be available in Europe this month and in the US soon.
Panasonic enters the action camera market with its new HX-A1. While they’ve made action cameras before, this is the first one that comes close to the standards of GoPro and Sony. Panasonic builds on its experience with normal camcorders to add some nifty features to the HX-A1.
The HX-A1 is light (45g) and small, so you can fit it in places some larger cameras won’t go. The housing is rated IP68 waterproof, so you can drop it in a puddle up to five feet deep without killing the camera. It’s also rated shockproof up to a five foot drop, dustproof, and will operate in temperatures down to 14°F. (Despite lacking these ratings, GoPros have been dropped from airplanes at 10,000′, taken to the edge of space, and tromped through the desert on Dakar vehicles and survived, so take it with a grain of salt.)
Where the HX-A1 stands apart, however, are the features only Panasonic can add. This little camera is capable of shooting in complete darkness with the addition of an external IR light source. It can also act as a secondary camera in what Panasonic calls “Wireless Twin Mode.” When paired with a Panasonic W870 or W970 model camcorder, the HX-A1 footage can appear in a sub-window within the normal video footage, adding a new dimension to your videos. There’s no viewscreen, but you can connect to your smart device to preview and share videos on social media via Panasonic’s app.
Unfortunately, the HX-A1 falls short in the sensor department. It’s only capable of 2.7-megapixel still photos and will only shoot up to 1080p at 30fps. You can bump up to 60fps by dropping the resolution to 720p, but the HX-A1 falls short of most other action cameras when it comes speed at any resolution. You have to drop down to VGA resolution (480p) to get real slo-mo footage. We couldn’t find information on the HX-A1’s battery size, but Panasonic says you can record up to 2 hours and 45 minutes with the extended battery, which increases the size of the case.
The HX-A1 will shine in situations where you need a tough, ultra-compact, ultralight action camera and where resolution is less of a concern. It’s also less expensive than a lot of other options, costing only $200 when it comes out in June.