First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
The VIO P.O.V 1.5 is a semi-durable helmet camera that can record video at a resolution of 720x480.
- Solid video and audio performance, plenty of recording options, bundled extras
- Only waterproof up to one metre, expensive
The VIO P.O.V 1.5 is a durable and lightweight helmet cam that can take some very impressive video. Despite its limited underwater functionality, it remains one of the best action cameras on the block.
Price$ 1,145.00 (AUD)
The VIO P.O.V 1.5 is a pro-level helmet cam geared towards the rough-'n'-tumble sporting set. Unlike most helmet cams, it places image and sound quality at the forefront, with durability coming in a distant third. That said, this video camera will still survive some knockabout treatment and is waterproof to a depth of one metre.
The included camera head provides a maximum video resolution of 720x480, along with support for 16:9 widescreen recordings. By contrast, most helmet cams offer a resolution of 640x480 or lower.
However, the VIO P.O.V 1.5's superior optics come at a price — with an RRP of $1145, it is one of the most expensive helmet cams on the market. Whether it’s worth all that extra dosh depends on how serious a videographer you are. Most users would probably be better off with the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera, which retails for less than a quarter of the price. Nevertheless, the P.O.V 1.5 remains a good option for cashed-up videophiles with a penchant for extreme(ish) sports.
Helmet cams come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with a disparate range of price tags to match. In recent months, we’ve looked at the afore-mentioned ATC3K Action Camera from Oregon Scientific, as well as the premium Elmo SUV-cam II, which is the P.O.V 1.5’s main rival. Despite their similar price tags, the SUV-cam II and P.O.V 1.5 sport quite different specifications. This makes it difficult to determine which product is the better buy — do you go for the superior imaging performance of the P.O.V or the extra ruggedness of the SUV-cam?
The VIO P.O.V 1.5 adopts the same cabled approach as the Elmo SUV-cam II. The unit consists of a lipstick-sized camera head attached to a rectangular recording device via a 1.5m digital cable. At 40x60x167mm, it’s slightly bulkier than the SUV-cam, which may be a concern for surfers and the like. Despite its larger dimensions, the VIO P.O.V 1.5 actually has a smaller LCD screen than its Elmo rival. At just 2in it’s not the most user-friendly display on the market, requiring you to squint while framing complex shots. Of course, many helmet cams have no viewing screen at all, so we suppose it could be worse.
One of the downsides of cabled helmet cams is that you’re often forced to store the recording unit away from the action (in a bag or pocket). This can lead to muffled audio, as the microphone is built into the recording device rather than on the camera head. By contrast, all-in-one helmet cams keep sound and video recording closely entwined, though admittedly they are usually forced to compromise audio quality due to the small size of the microphones used. Provided you have it pointed in the right direction, the VIO P.O.V 1.5 will do an excellent job at capturing audio. The omnidirectional microphone boasts variable sensitivity levels that can be adjusted on the fly (as befits the premium price tag, a 3.5mm external microphone jack is also included).
Image quality is probably the main area in which the VIO P.O.V 1.5 beats its Elmo rival. When we selected the highest video setting, our test footage appeared crisp and vibrant — even on large screen TVs. We were able to mix our VIO P.O.V 1.5 footage with shots taken on a standard-def camcorder, with no noticeable loss in image quality. This makes it a worthy choice for budding filmmakers who hope to get their output screened at festivals and the like.
The VIO P.O.V 1.5 offers a choice of six video resolutions, compared to the SUV-cam’s four. It also has a cropped 16:9 mode and variable frame rates, ranging from 30 frames per second to 15fps.
The amount of choice on offer means you can tailor your videos to suit a range of playback options, from YouTube clips to widescreen televisions. What’s more, VIO has promised additional camera heads in the near future, which may boost the video resolution even further. Like the SUV-cam II, recordings are stored on SD memory cards, though unlike Elmo, VIO has seen fit to include a 4GB SD card in the sales package. Nice.
Indeed, the amount of bundled goodies you get here really puts the Elmo SUV-cam to shame. In addition to an SD card, the sales package includes a remote control, a carry case, AV and USB cables, and a dizzying array of mounting devices, ranging from wrist straps to plastic clamps and magnets. The SUV-cam II is downright stingy by comparison — you don’t even get a single mounting clip.
Being aimed at outdoorsy types, the VIO P.O.V 1.5 is waterproof to a depth of three feet (around one metre). Compared to other sports-flavoured helmet cams, this is well below average. For example, the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera — which retails for just $299 — is waterproof to a depth of three metres The Elmo SUV-cam II has a camera head that can survive depths of up to 40 metres. This makes the VIO P.O.V 1.5 less suited to water sports, though an optional waterproof bag can be purchased to extend the unit’s waterproofing to 5m.
Naturally, the VIO P.O.V 1.5 is also dustproof and shock-resistant, negating the need for kid gloves while performing gnarly BMX tricks. It is also guaranteed to work in temperatures ranging from -10 to 60 degrees Celsius.
All up, we feel that the VIO P.O.V 1.5 offers a better deal than the Elmo SUV-cam II, despite its limitations. The combination of superior image quality, bundled accessories and slightly cheaper price tag give it the edge.
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