With the advent of broader bandwidth, faster computers and cheaper cameras, a slew of companies have been engaged in sort of space race, all scrambling to be the first to come out with the ultimate in integrated point-of-view camera technology.
Integrated is the key word here.
The two heavyweights to emerge in the helmet camera market are Viosport and Twenty20, and while both offer high-quality point-of-view video solutions, both can be cumbersome, requiring a separate recording device, multiple power sources (for the recorder and for the camera) and what usually ends up as an irritating tangle of cables. And after all that trouble, both companies still leave it up to the end-users to figure out how to edit and share the fruits of their labor.
But not anymore.
Fueled in part by a grant from the military, Michigan-based Viosport reincorporated as "V.I.O." and is in the process or releasing a new dedicated recorder/camera combination called the POV.1, which is built to military spec but available to everyday weekend warriors. The system features a rugged shockproof and waterproof recording device with an LCD monitor that connects via just one heavy-duty cable to a helmet or handlebar mounted camera. Editing can be done right on the side of the trail and the camera can be toggled on and off via a wireless remote control that can be mounted within easy reach on the user's handlebar. The POV.1 comes with its own Windows-based editing software and is expected to retail for $850. For more go to www.vio-pov.com.
Not to be outdone, Twenty20 also is bringing out a new gadget, this one called the VholdR. Twenty20 takes integration a step further by combining the recoding device and camera into one smaller-than-a-Redbull-can package, however it lacks the playback screen of the VIO.1. Instead, the VholdR uses two lasers that let the user quickly identify the camera's orientation. Simplicity is key with the VholdR, and the unit uses an easy to toggle magnetic that turns the camera on and off. Easy to read (green/yellow/red) indicator lights let the user determine battery and storage status. The VholdR uses up to a 4 GB SD card and stores about and hour per gig of MPEG-4 video. The VholdR retails for $350 and will be available at the end of September. To pre-order or for more information go to www.vholdr.com.
If numbers like $350 and $850 sound a bit much then a third option, GoPro's Digital Hero 3 wrist-mounted camera, might just be the ticket. Housed in a waterproof plastic case good for up to 100 feet, this 3-megapixel digital camera takes still shots, three-frame bursts or video, runs on two AAA batteries and stores data to an up to 2 GB SD card. The company is working to produce a handlebar mount that should be ready this fall, and the unit retails for a much more palatable $139. See more at www.goprocamera.com