Believe it or not, when it comes to action video cameras there isn’t only one.
Although the GoPro name has become the Xerox of the genre in recent years, options exist, and one of the best new models available this holiday season is the second-generation JVC Adixxion.
The top selling-point of the $299 camera is its compact packaging. Unlike the GoPro Hero, which requires external housings to waterproof and mount it, the Adixxion is a one-piece unit that’s water, shock, dust and freeze-proof, and has two tripod sockets – one on the bottom, another on the side. The lens is situated on its narrow end like a camcorder, as well, making it seem more aerodynamic than the blunt, still camera-style layout of the GoPro, while offering a closer fit when attached to the side of a helmet or a goggle strap.
Despite its compact size, there are six buttons on the Adixxion that make it easy to navigate menus and set up shots right on the camera, which you can do using the integrated LCD screen, another feature the GoPro requires an add-on accessory for.
Of course, all of the above could be said about the original Adixxion, which is still available for $199, but the new one gets some major updates underneath its shell.
Most notable is that it now shoots video in the 1080/60p HD format, up from 1080/30p, and has an improved 170-degree lens and digital image stabilizer that together deliver significantly better picture quality than the lower-priced model. It’s still not at the level of the 4K footage you get from a top of the line GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition, but is definitely on par, at least, with the HD output of a $299 Hero 3+ Silver Edition.
I used the Adixxion to shoot footage for several TV car reviews and its small size made it very easy to mount in awkward positions, including one that got it dunked in mud during a Jeep Cherokee test, an ordeal it survived just fine. You can zoom through the wide-angle to get a more conventional frame of view, and the resulting video held its own compared to the other HD formats used in the edited pieces. Battery life at the highest resolution seems to be just under an hour.
As with any camera stuck to the side of a moving vehicle or human being, the audio is overwhelmed by wind noise at anything faster than walking pace, but is excellent when stationary or protected inside a car. Anyway, you’ll be dropping a Nu Metal or Dubstep music track under the video to make your antics look more exciting, won’t you?
Getting it to a wider audience should be a snap thanks to built-in WiFi and iOS and Android apps that allow you operate the camera remotely from a smartphone or tablet, and feed live video to UStream or upload clips directly to YouTube. I didn’t try the internet features, but my kids did take it on a live roving report to the farthest reaches of our apartment and the stream stayed strong a good 35 feet from the iPad that it was tethered to.
It was only a matter of time before one of the established consumer electronics brands created a legitimate competitor to GoPro and the other startup action cam companies, and the Adixxion is the most convincing effort yet.