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Review - TomTom Bandit

We take a look at TomTom's first action cam offering

28Jun

What Is It?

The TomTom bandit is TomTom's move into the action cam market, aiming to take on the likes of GoPro and Garmin, who have been in the market for considerably longer.

It is a bullet shape, which gives it a slightly more sleek look than a GoPro, which can look a little telly tubby-esque with certain mounts. It has a removable lens and the entire back of the camera can be removed and plugged in through the USB connection in it. It makes it simpler to charge, upload film or change memory cards. At this point it is probably worth noting that it doesn't come with a memory card, but takes a Micro SD card which means that if you run out of space, you can quickly and easily just switch out with another.

It is also waterproof down to 1m, but a separate dive lens can also be bought for around £30/$39.99 which extends this down to around 50m, making it ideal for diving and swimming. I didn't use it for that, for the review it was mainly for cycling, but I still found it worked well in even the most intense rain, so the waterproofing seems to have worked. It also comes with a range of mounts. We used the handlebar, rucksack strap and standard mounts throughout the review.

The footage comes in a range of qualities up to 4K, depending one whether you want to record more using less space, or less but with higher quality.

Footage is uploaded through both USB to computer and can also be accessed through a wifi connection to an app on your smartphone.

Is it any good?

The first place to start is naturally with the recordings from the camera, which were good throughout the review. The images were sharp and the sound quality was also excellent. I used it with a 32GB memory card and I could record several hours of footage on it, even when it was on the highest possible quality. This is a strong indictment for the storage capabilities of the camera and shows that you could use it for more or less an entire day if necessary.

In terms of mounts, I found that the camera stayed on each very well and even hitting rough patches and bumps at high speed didn't cause any movement that I would have considered to even be close to dislodging the camera. However, I found that the handlebar mount was perhaps a bit too unforgiving for strong footage quality, unless it was being used on a bike with suspension. When it was on the helmet it certainly weighed a bit more than many other cameras I have used and I found that I needed to place it centrally on the helmet to avoid issues with helmet shift due to this. However, once on it was on centrally this wasn't an issue and stayed in place well.

I used the camera in a wide range of conditions, from heavy rain through to bright sunshine and although drops sometimes impacted recordings in the rain, it was still useable and of a decent quality throughout. Turning it on and off is through the button on the rear, which is large and hence easy to find and use even when it's mounted on your helmet. This same button starts recording and another button at the front stops it, the power button then turns on 'highlights' which will highlight areas of the video that you want to look back on later.

Uploading to the computer is simply done through taking the battery out of the camera and plugging it into the computer. From here it can be easily uploaded to youtube or edited through editing software. One part that I particularly liked was the way it can be uploaded to your phone through Wifi, with films easily viewable or even using your phone as a viewfinder for the camera, a nice touch. It also has overlays that can be used, like heart rate and speed, thanks to the GPS integration within the camera, which is again, a strong design feature.

How does it compare?

The clearest comparisons are to the GoPro Hero 4 and Garmin VIRB XE as they generally have the same specs. However, the VIRB XE is around $100 more and the GoPro about $200, which shows that it is good value.

It comes with an RRP of £239.99/$299.99, which is a strong price point for a GPS connected and well designed camera.

Both others have a slightly better frame rate at 4K recording though, aside from that there is little difference apart from size and weight.

Should I buy it?

It is good value, has strong design features and is certainly a challenger to the action cam crown. Perhaps it could do with being a touch lighter, but at the same time is considerably cheaper than its rivals. So if you are in the market for a decent action cam, then this should certainly be on your list. 

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