If there's one thing extreme sports practitioners like doing, it's showing off. Whether that stretches to the extent of the likes of Tony Hawk and Mat Hoffman, or simply means recording your weekendly adventures and posting them up on YouTube doesn't really matter. What's important is having proof that you are as skilled as you claim to be - it's one thing to claim to have pulled off The 900, but only the most trusting of friends will buy the story unverified.
Camcorders like the Panasonic SDR-SW20 go some way to addressing this audience, but fall short at a couple of hurdles. For a start, waterproof and rugged though many of these devices are, they're not really designed for attachment to, say, a helmet or a set of handlebars.
Luckily there are camcorders out there better suited for such a task. The Oregon Scientific ATC5K is one such device, offering not only the ability to roll with the punches, but also coming with a slew of attachment options which should make it a great addition to the inventory of anyone looking to record their "eXtreme" sporting activities.
Specs wise the ATC5K compares reasonably favourably with the competition at its £149.99 MSRP. Video can be recorded at either 640 x 320 or 320 x 240 (with sound) which is good enough for video upload services like YouTube, Vimeo and their ilk. Admittedly it doesn't compete with the quality of 720p camcorders such as the Toshiba Camileo Pro HD, but they're not going to survive an encounter with a low-hanging branch. Indeed, there is a sizeable gap between the front of the camcorder's outer shell and its lens to help protect it from such collisions.
Because of its rugged construction, using the Oregon Scientific ATC5K is a more complicated process than it might otherwise be. The buttons are a bit clunky to use and the configuration options are basic to say the least. Pressing the menu button for a few seconds brings up your settings, while shorter presses cycle through the various options although annoyingly rather than constantly cycling through, when it reaches the end, it then exits out of the menu completely.
The ATC5K sports 1.5in LCD at the back is just about good enough to tell whether a recorded video is worth keeping or not, but as I just mentioned, it's pretty hard to get as far into the menu as deleting a duff file without losing patience and throwing the ATC5K at a wall. At least it will survive the abuse, though.