The TomTom Bandit Action Cam
TomTom have recently launched the Bandit Action Cam in an attempt to break into the market currently dominated by GoPro.
The Bandit is probably the closest rival to GoPro’s Hero 4, and has some cool features to make it a serious contender.
Prices start at £269.99 for the basic package, but more adventurous users might be better off going for the premium pack at £329.99, which also includes the waterproof lens, remote control and additional mounting accessories.
Both packs conveniently include a GoPro mounting adaptor, which means not only can the bandit be used with TomTom’s range of accessories, but a whole host of add-ons already on the market.
Hardware – The Unit
Out of the box, the Bandit feels robust and high quality with a unique tubular design. The main cylinder can also be rotated, giving it a great deal of versatility when it comes to mounting options.
The camera features TomTom’s patented Batt-stick: an internal barrel that houses the battery, micro SD card and USB interface. This all-in-one module can be easily removed and means that the unit is charging whenever the user uploads video clips to their computer. This is a handy convenience compared to the two step process of removing the card and charging the battery separately.
The simple menu system is accessed via the small monochrome screen, with a D-pad for navigation. There’s no viewfinder on the unit itself, however once connected, a mobile device can provide the enhanced display options.
The Bandit can shoot ultra HD video—up to 4k—and takes impressive looking 16 megapixel photos. At 1080 resolution it can shoot video at 30 and 60 frames per second, and 60 and 120 frames per second at 720. The quality of 1080p may not be quite as sharp as on the GoPro Hero 4, but it seems to deal with solar glare a little better.
Battery life is fairly impressive too, with TomTom claiming the batt-stick will last up to 3 hours of continuous shooting and testing shows that it really can.
On the downside, it is let down by its internal microphone which is susceptible to noise and doesn’t produce quite the same clarity as other products on the market. This can be overcome by adding an external device, but that sort of destroys the point of an action cam.
A unique feature of the bandit is its array of sensors for speed, G-force, altitude and, if you buy the monitor, heart rate. Overlays from these sensors can then easily be added to the footage — a little gimmicky maybe, but it certainly sets it apart from the others on the market.
One of the Bandit’s key selling points is the supplied software app that removes the necessity of a computer for basic editing and uploading.
The unit acts as its own wifi hotspot, which connects directly to the user’s mobile device in real time. The camera can then be controlled via the app viewfinder and footage can be reviewed and edited whilst the files are still stored on the camera.
The Bandit’s app can quickly create a highlights reel by combining clips from the previous 5 days’ recording. Shaking the connected mobile device automatically produces a short video, which is a fun novelty. However, there aren’t a lot of options for customising the end result, so it’s really just a convenience if you want to share a video quickly to social media whilst still ‘on location’. By no means is it a replacement for dedicated editing software.
Music tracks can be selected to play in synch with the clips, but they must be from a linked iTunes account, which is a little frustrating if you are Spotify user, but once again the mobile app is really for simple clips rather than custom productions.
Action cameras are becoming ever more popular and TomTom’s efforts aim to prevent GoPro from becoming a synonym for such products, like the Hoover or the Walkman.
The TomTom Bandit combines quality and functionality at an affordable price and its software, though not perfect, makes it an incredibly versatile piece of kit.
It’s also worth remembering that this is TomTom’s first foray into the action camera market – and it is a fairly solid effort. Assuming they improve the function and software with future versions, TomTom are certainly a viable alternative to the other brands out there.
Below are a few videos from the TomTom Bandit. Take a quick look and be the judge of whether this action camera is for you.