In recent memory, it seems there has been one name in the inexpensive sport camcorder market: GoPro. Its HD Hero camera set the bar for quality and versatility at a consumer-friendly price-point.
The tiny camera’s ability to shoot in HD in the most difficult of conditions, whether as a skydiver’s helmet cam or mounted to a skateboard, made it a must have for video professionals and extreme sports enthusiasts alike. And the GoPro Hero 2, released a little over a year ago for around $300, upped the ante on video quality and low light capability, even going so far as to add 120fps recording, albeit at WVGA (800x480) resolution. At the time, it was the best sport camcorder value...
Flash forward one year and GoPro faces stiff competition for the action camcorder crown. JVC made a splash in June with its ADIXXION Action Camcorder, for $350, a rugged competitor with built-in wifi and LCD (GoPro requires a separate wifi add-on for $60; LCD for $80), but if you need high frame rate capture, you’re limited to 60fps (in 720).
120fps in 720p
Enter Sony’s Action Cam, which parrots many of its rival’s capabilities, including a model with built in wifi (albeit for $270), but the true standout feature is 120fps recording in 720p HD. If you don’t care about wifi, you can have one of these beauties, bundled with a waterproof housing, simple remote, and built-in stereo mic and image stabilization, for $200.
While this isn’t meant as an apples-to-apples comparison, I’m sure some of you are wondering which option is the right for you. All three shoot 1080p in an ultra-compact form factor and offer accessories to expand their usability. If you don’t need 120fps HD, the visual quality of the GoPro, along with some ability to change viewing angle, might lead you to pick-up a Hero 2. If you want/need built-in wifi AND a built-in LCD, then the JVC ADIXXION fits the bill. But if 120fps HD is the feature you’re drooling after from your sports camcorder, the Sony Action Cam is your only option.