TomTom Bandit Action cam
When we first got the press release for Tomtom's new Bandit action cam we thought it might just be another ill-fated attempt at breaking into the lucrative action cam market, a closer look sparked our curiosity enough to get one in for testing.
Headline figures for the Bandit are similar to those of the GoPro Hero4 Silver - you can shoot at up to 60fps in 1080p or opt to go super high def with 4k shooting at a pretty lowly 15fps. You get a 16 MP sensor for single photo shooting and a timelapse and slow motion filming option.
So, specs and target market are broadly similar but the similarities end there. TomTom have opted for a bullet shaped cam which is aesthetically rather pleasing with its Apple-esque sleek white casing but could lead to some difficulties with mounting in certain positions.
Weight of the unit is similar to the Garmin Virb Elite at 190g - 80g more than the GoPro Hero4.
Operation is very straightforward with a record and stop button as well as directional arrow buttons to navigate the simple menu options. The stop button is very small and rather fiddly to operate - certainly not easy enough to be accurate with gloves on and the camera mounted on your helmet. Lucky then that the Bandit is wi-fi enabled and there's a handy, free to download TomTom app which allows your phone to connect to the Bandit for remote control. This also gives you a viewfinder screen desperately missing from the unit itself.
The options available in app mode mimick those on the unit so we often found ourselves opting to use our phone exclusively to control the Bandit.
The Bandit isn't specifically marketed as being waterproof, shockproof or freezeproof but there is an optional waterproof lens cover available which gives a 50m waterproof rating without any additional casing. Construction seems solid and burly enough to take light knocks and bangs.
The base pack gives you a couple of 3M backed standard mounts as well as a GoPro mount adapter, the premium pack costs £80 more but comes with an additional wrist strap remote control, handlebar mount, 360 degree pitch mount, waterproof lens casing and power cable.
The integrated batt-stick does away with cables, twist and pull to reveal the microSD card housing and USB stick used for charging and transferring. The 1900mAh battery's performance is in line with that of the Garmin Virb Elite and GoPro Hero4 Silver giving around 3 hours of recording time at 1080p 30fps.
So, hardware specs pull the new Bandit more or less in line with the best of the rest but much of the success of action cams these days rests on the editing software, does the Bandit compete?
Rather than spending days editing down videos most people want intuitive software that can make the process quick and hassle free and the results professional looking. This has proven to be the ace up the sleeve for the Bandit.
Shake your phone and the Create a Story feature uses the built in sensors such as the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope and pressure meters to analyse the film that you've captured picking out the highlights and stitching them together into a cohesive and engaging movie. Further editing is a breeze through simply dragging and dropping different sections around the timeline.
This process is super quick, easy and intuitive and creates a genuinely good array of footage. You can then overlay speed and g-force meters, add a soundtrack from your library, upload and share.
For pure simplicity of use and the excellent app for both remote control and editing, the TomTom cam is a serious contender - watch out GoPro, there's a new Bandit in town.