Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera
All-terrain camcorder for hardcore sports enthusiasts
- Water/shock/freeze-proof, all-in-one design, lots of bundled extras
- No viewfinder, terrible audio, a bit too bulky for helmet use
While not without its flaws, the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is an excellent product for the asking price. If you're an outdoors enthusiast keen to chronicle your exploits, look no further. It's the best valued sports camcorder on the market.
Price$ 249.99 (AUD)
For years now, compact camera manufacturers have offered special ‘ruggedised’ models for hard-hitting lifestyles, such as the ubiquitous Olympus Tough range. Unfortunately, the camcorder industry has been slow to catch up. It’s a strange anomaly, as video lends itself to outdoors action a lot more than photography does (think about it — would you rather look at a solitary photo of a skateboard trick or see the whole stunt in action?). Thankfully, Oregon Scientific has come to the rescue with the ATC3K Action Camera; a ‘bullet’ style camcorder that can stand up to some serious punishment.
As the stern-faced sportsmen on the packaging illustrate, the ATC3K is designed for outdoor activities of the ‘extreme!’ variety — think BMX racing, kayaking, skiing, abseiling, surfing and live alligator-wrestling. Whether your sport of choice involves water, dirt, snow or lots of falling over, the ATC3K can get into the thick of the action. In addition to being waterproof by up to ten feet (around three metres), the device is also shock-resistant and freeze-proof, ensuring it will survive in almost any environment. In short, it’s the action man’s action cam!
In terms of design, the ATC3K is a curiously topsy-turvy gadget. Its tiny lens resembles a viewfinder on a circa-1990s camcorder; complete with a dinky rubber eyepiece. To add to the confusion, the other end looks a lot like a traditional lens cap — it’s actually a waterproof lid that houses the SD card slot and AV/USB connections. We suspect a lot of users will accidentally take blurry close-up shots of their eyes before they get used to the camera’s inversed appearance. Well, it made us feel stupid anyway.
Measuring 108x44x57mm and weighing just under 200g, the ATC3K is quite bulky for a bullet-cam, and with good reason — it’s completely self-contained. By contrast, most bullet-cams (such as the Elmo) require you to carry around a separate recording unit. While we do appreciate the ATC3K’s all-in-one design, it does lead to a few significant problems. For starters, there’s no viewfinder or LCD display, which forces you to shoot blind — you just have to point it at the action and hope for the best.
We also weren’t keen on the additional size and weight. While this won’t cause any problems when mounted to objects (i.e. – a bike’s handlebars) it can prove quite troublesome when strapped to a helmet. In addition to making you look a bit geeky, the plus-sized gadget protruding from your head also gets uncomfortable quite quickly. If you’re specifically looking for a helmet-cam, we’d therefore recommend picking up a smaller lipstick-sized device.
The ATC3K records video at a maximum resolution of 640x480 to SD/SDHC memory cards (320x240 and 160x120 resolutions can also be selected). This puts it on par with a good-quality camera phone, which is appropriate given its price tag. The results are suitable for uploading to video-sharing Web sites like YouTube, or watching on smaller TVs. However, on larger high-definition displays the flaws and aberrations become far too obvious. Nevertheless, for the asking price it does a much better job than expected.
Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said about the ATC3K’s audio output. Even in a quiet room, we found the muffled and echoed results to be wholly unusable. Don’t even think about supplying an on-the-fly commentary to accompany sports videos — your breath will be completely wasted. According to Oregon Scientific, this was a conscious decision to combat rugged usage. As the instruction manual states: “The ATC3K is specifically designed for extreme sports… It is for this reason we have made the microphone less sensitive.” Personally, we think they should have removed the audio functionality altogether and shaved a few bucks off the price. In any event, most ATC3K owners will add ear-bleeding rock music to their videos (it’s an 'extreme sports' thing), so the ability to capture audio probably isn’t important to them.
Oregon Scientific has neglected to include an SD card in the sales package, which means you’ll have to go out and buy one. On the plus side, the device does come with 32MB of inbuilt flash memory (though admittedly, this will fill up in a matter of minutes). Despite the omitted SD card, we were extremely impressed with the large number of bundled accessories. The array of mounting clips, straps and pads (not to mention a miniature tripod) should ensure your camera will fit to any surface.
The ATC3K action camera uses AA batteries rather than lithium-Ion. If you plan to take your camera on a skiing trip, you may want to do some online research, as certain AA batteries will cease to function in very cold climates.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® Portable SSD
Acer Swift 7
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Surface Pro 4
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- HBO brought its best shows to life at SXSW with an awesome escape room
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- Behind the scenes with Team Walkinshaw at V8 Supercars Melbourne 2017
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- TPDeployment OfficerQLD
- FTL&D ConsultantVIC
- FTL&D Manager, Transformation Program in Finance ServicesNSW
- TPBusiness Analyst - HealthQLD
- FTProgram Manager-SAP Transition, SAP FICO ImplementationNSW
- FTProcurement Business AnalystVIC
- TPGIS Officer | Map InfoQLD
- FTSeeking all Java Developers!NSW
- CCFinancial/Logistics Administration OfficerACT
- TPSenior SAP Time and Payroll Functional ConsultantQLD
- FTStorage Engineer (HDS)NSW
- TPUnix- Technical Support OfficerVIC
- FTSAP Data Migration LeadNSW
- CCInfosphere ConsultantACT
- CCSolution ManagerSA
- TPSenior Drupal Developer / ArchitectQLD
- FTProject ManagerACT
- FTSenior Lead Developer/Architect - TelcoVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTDatabase DeveloperACT
- FTBusiness Analyst - SalesforceVIC
- CCOracle Middleware Production SupportACT
- CCDigital Business ArchitectACT
- FTPMO Project Analytics and Tools ManagerNSW