Monday, 7 January 2013

RoadHawk Ride Head Cam Review + Sample Video Footage

RoadHawk Ride, the one on the top. Ignore the Blackburn light behind it.
The RoadHawk RIDE is a small, high definition Bullet Camera designed to be worn on your helmet. It's supplied with a 8GB SD Memory card that can hold around 2 hours of HD video which can be upgraded to a 32GB card to hold over 8 hours.

Either way, the built-in Li-Poly battery will record for 90 minutes and, you will have to use the cable supplied to connect the camera to an external battery supply for longer recording times.

The operation is as simple as it comes. One button to turn it on and start recording, if you see a green and blue led flash, you're good to go. To stop recording and turn it off, simply press the button again.
This one button on/off operation is quite useful if you only want to record some sections of your ride and not others. For example, as you'll see from one of the clips in the accompanying video in this article, I cycled down the river to the Olympic stadium, knowing that my ride would be longer than the battery life of 90 minutes, I only recorded the sections on road, and for a few minutes as I was approaching the stadium. Each time reaching up to the single button to turn it on or off without the need to stop and remove my helmet to fiddle around with the camera.

It records on a constant loop in five minute .MOV video files with inbuilt date/time stamp. Constant loop means you don't need to worry about the memory card becoming full as when it does reach capacity it will automatically go back to the start of the loop and start recording and replacing the earliest filmed file on the camera. It's therefore important that if you capture something you want to keep that you transfer it off the camera and on to your computer as soon as possible. That's not particularly hard to remember as you'll be charging the camera up via USB cable after a ride anyway and as soon as you plug it in, you can easily drag and drop files to and from the camera as you would any other USB device.

I found that the five minute blocks that the camera records also make it easier to find and edit footage you want rather than have one huge continuous recording.

You get quite a few clamps, connectors and attachments (more on the contents of the box here) that allow you to take your pick at where you want to place the camera. I found it useful to shoot some test footage in various positions around my helmet using the Velcro strap and holder before deciding on a permanent place using the sticky mounts. The sticky mount is on top of my helmet, isn't 100% flush with the surface, but is still very secure. I’ve used it for around a month, it's been in a few downpours and I've test wiggled it around a bit and it shows no signs of coming unstuck. Which, as you don't want to capture footage of the camera bouncing along the road behind you, is obviously very important.

The video quality is very impressive. Especially when you look at the size and weight of the thing. 720p quality video at 30fps is more than enough to record everything going on in the direction you're pointing the 135 degree wide angle lens. I've had no problem pausing the video and identifying the registration plates of nearby vehicles when playing the video back. It performs well in almost all levels of light. During the middle of the day, and as the manufacturers claim in low light mornings and evenings as well. It doesn't at all claim to have night vision or record well in the pitch black, but in the interests of covering all the bases it is next to useless on quiet side roads during those dark winter evening commutes.

If sound is important to you, please note that it comes with the waterproof end cap on as default. The inbuilt microphone is underneath that, so that cap will block out all the sound. It's simple enough to unscrew and screw on the one with the holes in the back for dry days. It's just not mentioned in the instructions so don't go thinking it's broken and isn't recording sounds before trying the cap with holes in it as I did. Good/bad news with the dry day cap on is that it's sensitive enough to pick up semi-muttered expletives directed towards people that cut you up...

Would I recommend it? Most definitely.
It’s suitable for both off and on road use, and at its current price of £149.95, if you’re using it on the road it could provide invaluable high definition video evidence if ever you’re hit by someone.

-Next to useless on quiet side streets in the dark

+One button operation
+Plenty of attachments, mounts and clamps supplied
+720p video quality
+Simple USB charging and drag and drop of files

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