For some, the world of extreme sports is as much about capturing and sharing the action as it is about the sport itself. The action is captured on small lightweight cameras, attached to a person or kit, and the best-known name in this market is GoPro.
But GoPro cameras are not the only option, and there are some serious rivals. TomTom may be new to the field, but it has definitely done its homework with the Bandit. The striking white body is detailed with a red band which instantly makes the Bandit stand out.
It's not just about the looks, though, as this small camera features GPS, built-in motion and heart rate sensors, 4K video and slow motion capture alongside a breakthrough mobile app. You only need to spend a short time with this camera to realise that the GoPro Hero now has a serious rival.
TomTom's attention to design detail and usability is apparent from the outset. The exterior of the camera is neat and tidy with a large, easy to read LCD – though this is not a live view screen; it merely shows menu settings alongside the camera's selected mode and options. A separate four way control panel and stop button join it on top, while the back of the camera features the start and highlight button – this enables you to instantly tag clips as they're recording. On the base is the mount that enables you to attach the camera to yourself or your kit, and aside from that the rest of the body is clean.
Video resolution and frame rate is key to capturing the action and the Bandit meets that demand with 4K at 15 frames per second (fps), 2.7k at 30fps, 1080p at 60/30 fps and 720p at 60/120fps, enabling slow motion capture. The Bandit can also shoot time-lapse sequences and capture stills at up to 16 megapixels.
It's available in two packs; the Base Pack includes the camera, adhesive mounts and GoPro adapter, while the more expensive Premium Pack includes a bike mount, 360 pitch mount, waterproof lens cover and remote.
There are quite a few differences between the design of the Bandit and other action cameras, showing that the designers have really thought about who and how this camera will be used.
The battery pack is a good example as it offers three hours of use when recording 1080p at 30fps. This does drop if features such as Wi-Fi are in use, but it's still very respectable. Power is supplied through the Batt-Stick, a unit that slots into the back of the camera. This features a USB connector and MicroSD card slot, so there's no need for additional cables or a card reader – this unit does it all and is a really nice touch.
It also means that if you know you're not going to have access to mains power you can carry additional Batt-Sticks with you. Under the Start / Highlight button on the back of the Batt-Stick is a small rubber flap that protects the port for the optional USB connection cable.
The base pack is not waterproof out of the box and arrives with the standard lens cover which is just splash proof. However, using a similar twist release system as the Batt-Stick, the lens cover can be removed and replaced with the Dive lens cover – this can be bought as an optional extra and offers up to 40m water proofing.
The final hardware related feature is the mount, and this is a completely new mechanism that uses two spring loaded clips and slots to attach. There are a series of mounts for attaching the camera directly to helmets, bikes and boards, and TomTom has also released a GoPro mount adapter which is included in both Base and Premium Pack, enabling you to use the camera with any standard GoPro mount.
The way the mount attaches to the camera is another feature that differs dramatically to anything else we've yet seen on an action camera. The camera part of the mount can be rotated through 180 degrees around the body enabling you to easily position the camera as needed. However, unlike the Drift series of cameras, which have a rotating lens that changes the orientation of the footage, the Bandit's mount rotation is really designed to enable you to rotate the camera into the correct orientation – this makes the camera extremely easy to mount.