“Turn right in 300 metres, then merge right for M1…” When you think TomTom, you most likely have images of a dashboard mounted screen purring navigation instructions to you in an accent of your choosing. But this giant of the GPS world also make equipment that’s built for the trails, not just avoiding toll roads, such as the new Bandit camera.
When it comes to wearable cameras, there seems to be two schools of thought. The first is to go minimalist, such as the Shimano Sports Camera (read our review here!) or the new GoPro Session.
This makes for a lighter, smaller unit but often sees a reduction in user-friendliness, for instance with non-removable batteries or an absence of a screen/menu system. The second is to make things a bit bigger, but generally gain a better lens, replaceable battery and usually some kind of LCD screen/menu.
TomTom’s Bandit takes the second approach: it looks like something a Stormtrooper would carry in their utility belt.
A chunky cylindrical piece of kit, it weighs in at 191g and feels robust enough to take on a low-hanging tree branch or two without a worry.
With technology in this area changing faster than Australian PMs, TomTom have sought to give the Bandit a full arsenal of features, some of which are entirely unique. There’s the usual swathe of frame rates, slow-motion settings, time lapse and photo burst modes, plus a remote button for triggering recording, and it also integrates with your external heart rate sensor.
There’s a mobile app, of course, which lets you set the angle, adjust settings, view the files and (more on this below) edit and export movies instantly.
But what takes the TomTom Bandit to hyperspace is its integration of GPS and the ability to highlight (either manually or automatically) the most awesome moments of footage. We haven’t put these features to the test yet (this is just our first impressions, after all), but the Bandit will apparently use GPS inputs to automatically mark the most dramatic moments in the video file.
For instance, it KNOWS when you’re airborne, or when you’re pulling the most g-forces, or going super fast.
These moments are then ‘highlighted’ in the footage. Similarly, you can manually highlight a section by pushing a button on either the camera or the remote.
Finally, using the phone app, you can instantly create a video from the highlighted moments.
This is pretty crazy: simply shaking your phone creates a ‘story’ of the highlights, which you can then add a soundtrack to and export to your phone’s gallery and share to your Facebook page for many, many life-affirming likes.
Phew! This thing is a pretty in-depth piece of kit, but we’ve got to say it all feels very intuitive so far. From a practical standpoint, we love the replaceable battery, the separate start/stop buttons for recording, and there’s no rattle or play in the clever ‘jaw’ style mounting system.
The Premium Pack which we’re reviewing also comes with an adaptor for GoPro mounts, which is sensible call given the proliferation of mounting options this opens up.
We’re going to be doing a full video review of this unit soon, so navigate your way back to Flow in a few weeks for our verdict.