Well, I guess it’s that time of year again where I would go back to Perlis with my dad due to a 3-day weekend. And what better way to spend it by going to the ultimate road in Malaysia which is Wang Kelian and testing out my new Vio POV 1.5 helmet cam.
This is the first product review I am writing, so here goes.
The Vio POV 1.5 comes in a neat carrying case that looks like a CD album
The old helmet cam required an external battery pack that uses 8 AA batteries. There is a separate mic with its own wire, resulting in a system that had too many wires. They had to be connected to an external camcorder which would serve as a recording device. The view of the camera was not wide, so the image would get obstructed whenever I sit up to take a corner and I’m not exactly pointing my head up right. Plus, a major disappointment I had with the old camera was that the wiring isn’t robust and the connection isn’t tightly sealed. If the connection just so happens to twitch slightly, the wires would lose contact and the electrical signal gets lost. As a result, the video image disappears. However, the mic is not affected by this wiring problem, so the audio is left intact.
The goods inside
The Vio POV 1.5 improves upon this old, ghetto, DIY-style helmet cam in many ways. There is only one wire in this system. The wire connects the camera to the LCD unit and transmits the image obtained by the camera and is shown on the LCD display. In addition, the cam draws power from the unit, so there is no external battery pack since the unit itself uses only 4 AA batteries to power itself and the camera. The unit has a color LCD display (which is neat) since you can replay and watch your videos as soon as you are done filming a run. But what the LCD is most useful for is that you can make sure that your helmet cam is pointing in the exact angle and direction you want it to be prior to filming. That way you will always be sure you will get a good angle and image. The unit comes with an 8 GB SDHC memory card which can record up to 3 hours of footage. The video files are saved as AVI files. The resolution of the video is 640 x 480, but you can change this to 720 x 480 in the settings too if desired. Another major plus point is that this sytem comes with a wireless remote which comes with a strap that you can wear around your wrist. The remote has 2 buttons, record and stop. There is a small LED light that blinks red when you press the record and stop buttons. The video taken by the helmet cam is superb. The image is wide angle (110 degrees field of view, horizontally and vertically) so you can see the whole road, especially when sitting up to take a corner.
The only thing I don’t like about the system is that the LCD unit is bulky. As a street luge rider, it can be quite uncomfortable wearing the unit in my leathers. The solution is to wear it using a pouch and wear it around the waist. This may seem fine for freeriding, but if you desire to use it during racing so you can film your actual race runs, it is not so desireable since the pouch gets in the way and can distract you.
The system is also expensive at US$ 650 (I got it for US$ 600 from Amazon!) but I guess the professionalism, high quality, and overall satisfaction that you get with the system justifies the high price.
Improvements I would like to see in future versions of the Vio POV would include a wireless connection to transmit the video data from the camera to the LCD unit so you don’t have wires dangling about. I would also like to see the LCD unit become slimmer and use lithium ion batteries, much like a cell phone. This would help greatly in being able to wear the unit inside my leathers comfortably. I would also like to see a better wrist strap supplied with the wireless remote, perhaps using a similar wrist strap like the one on my Garmin Forerunner 101 GPS system.
Overall, I give the Vio POV 1.5 a rating of 9 out of 10. I love it because of the high quality video, a much more robust and reliable system, and the overall professional reputation of the unit. Not to mention I HAVE to love it because I paid US$ 600 for it!
The Vio POV 1.5 mounted on my street luge helmet using the magnetic star mount, with a corresponding magnetic star mount mounted on the inside of the helmet shell
Let’s compare some screenshots taken from the old cam versus the Vio POV 1.5. Each screenshot for both cams is taken at almost the exact same point on the road for comparison of the angle and field of view.
Max speed: 95.7 km/h (May 2008)
Max speed: 103 km/h (June 2008)
Max speed: 104 km/h (January 2009)
Max speed: 105 km/h (June 2009)
Is it possible for me to beat the 105 km/h mark? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m looking for more speed!