Most GoPro competitors cannot match the undoubted POV leader’s picture quality due to insisting on keeping to very low bitrates, but the list of innovative and user friendly features on its rivals just gets better and better. The TomTom Bandit is a case in point.
TomTom is one of the latest entrants to the action camera market with its new Bandit camera. With a humorous ad campaign using a rather adventurous goat it would be easy to view the camera as just another attempt to launch a bog standard action camera. However it appears that the Bandit is incredibly well thought-out.
TomTom has taken the approach of creating a whole ecosystem that includes capturing and editing footage quickly and easily. The camera utilises sensors that detect high motion and then marks these parts of the clips with metadata. The clips can be offloaded to your phone via the supplied app, and then all you have to do is shake your device and an edit of your highlights is created ready to be uploaded to your choice of social media while you are still out and about. Metadata marks can also be manually entered using the remote control as well.
One of the biggest issues I come across on a regular basis is from users with no editing experience wanting to quickly upload footage. TomTom’s way of thinking will help such people greatly.
Other features include 50m waterproofing with no need for an additional case. This could be a drawback if the camera mount is not easily replaceable should it receive a hard impact and break. The battery doubles as a USB storage device ready to plug straight into your computer, as well as being able to charge using the same method.
Two large separate buttons on the rear of the camera provide start and stop record functions, while the camera is also capable of rotating 360 degrees to ensure that you will always have a level shot. This is an area that GoPro has always fallen down in.
Framerates of 15fps 4K, 30fps 2.7K, 1080p60 and 720p/120 are available, as well as timelapse and realtime GPS and heart rate (with the optional heart rate monitor sensor) metadata. Lots of accessories are also available, including the all important GoPro mount adaptor, and a camera float. The video modes available point to it possibly using the same sensor as the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition.
Ever got fed up of changing out GoPro batteries in cold and wet environments? TomTom has also thought of this. Because the battery and MicroSD card slot are an integrated unit that plugs into the camera, TomTom also supply a splash proof case that will protect any spare battery that you are carrying. Usually I have to carry my GoPro in a small PeliCase inside my kayak because it is the best way to protect the spare batteries.
Swapping the batteries out with the GoPro involves undoing the waterproof housing, taking off the back of the camera and putting the new battery in, usually while it is tipping it down with rain. This not only risks the electronics, but it also means that all my efforts to stop the inside of the case steaming up go to pot as well! TomTom’s solution would mean that spare batteries can easily be carried in a pocket and changing them will minimise the time that the electronics are exposed.
At first viewing the Bandit appears to be a very well thought out camera system, but whether the usability features will be enough to stave off competition from the GoPro juggernaut with its full framerate 4K capabilities and ProTune mode remains to be seen.