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Chilli Technologies Action Cam 1 - Performance and Verdict
Inside the Action Cam 1 is a 1.3-megapixel CMOS sensor of unspecified dimensions. The lens is entirely fixed, so you can't zoom or focus. Anything beyond a metre or so will be focused, and a mono microphone is also built in. This allegedly has a range of 12ft, although we found its abilities somewhat mediocre. Video is captured at VGA resolution, so 640 x 480 pixels, and 30 frames per second. This is recorded at under 1MB/sec, so you can fit over an hour of footage on a 4GB SD Card. With 8GB SDHC cards costing around £10 these days, you won't need to spend a fortune to make the Action Cam 1 capable of storing a useful amount of video.
Operating the Action Cam 1 is very rudimentary. With batteries and memory installed in the device, you simply press the button on the top to turn it on, after which the light on the front begins to flash and the unit emits a beep. Press the button again and the light goes off followed by a second beep to signal recording has commenced. A camera icon on the display flashes to indicate recording is in progress. You can't actually turn the Action Cam 1 off after this. Instead, you simply leave it on. After a minute or so it will beep automatically, indicating that it is powering itself off.
In sunlight or good artificial lighting, the Action Cam 1 picks up a reasonably bright image. A fair amount of sharpening is applied, so the footage looks artificially detailed. There's also no image stabilisation, so every vibration will be picked up. Overall, it does an adequate job of recording your point of view as you perform sporting activities. However, we also found the shutter speed was relatively low, so fast head motion made the image blurry. For example, we tried wearing the Action Cam 1 whilst sparring in a martial arts dojo, and the results were extremely jerky and unclear.
Its abilities in poor illumination are not so impressive, either. In our regular 100W ceiling light test, the Action Cam 1 scarcely picked up a picture at all. This puts it behind even cheap pocket Internet camcorders, although it's significantly more keenly priced. So the Action Cam 1 is not going to be any use in dark environments, such as caves. But if you’re rock climbing, cycling, or on a motorbike trackday in good lighting, it records perfectly respectable video, albeit not HD or even widescreen.
Once you've gotten round the foibles of the helmet attachment, and pointed the Action Cam 1 in the right direction, it does a decent enough job. When you consider its sub-£25 price, its abilities seem more impressive. Even adding £10 for a memory card, it’s still amazingly cheap. As a second camcorder purely for picking up footage in more extreme sporting situations, it’s almost disposable. So you won’t need to worry about your expensive camera equipment, and can give your full attention to your sporting activities.
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