TomTom has announced its entry into the action camera market and the solution is super-consumer friendly. Not only is TomTom taking a sensible approach to the design, but also the editing and sharing of the content you capture.
The results, at first glance, are very impressive. This is a congested section of the market with GoPro dominating, and many rivals from the likes of Garmin, Panasonic, Sony and others.
So the TomTom Bandit has to offer something that removes some of the existing barriers and that's exactly what it does. Introduced as a device that's designed from the ground up, there's plenty of innovation in TomTom's new action camera.
The TomTom Bandit is a barrel-type action camera. It has a 16-megapixel CCD sensor sitting behind a wide-angle lens to the front, with a display and a controller on the top.
There are two elements to the design that are immediately appealing. Firstly, this camera really comes in two parts, the camera and controls, and the Batt-Stick that slots into the rear and locks.
The Batt-Stick is interesting because it also houses the microSD card (you'll need a Class 10 or higher card) and features a full USB connector inside. That means you can slide the whole lot out and have access to your content without the need for any cables.
The second handy element to the design is the bracket that's built around the barrel of the body. This will let you rotate and attach the camera, without the need to flip the capture or use awkward mounts - you can set the angle on the camera itself.
The entire thing is sealed to IPX7 standards, with no need for an additional case to keep it waterproofed, although you'll need an additional lens cover if you want to dive to 50m. That means - similar to the Garmin VIRB XE - that this is a rough and tumble action camera that's ready to go out of the box.
The battery is a 1900mAh unit, which TomTom states will give you 3 hours of full HD capture. If you need to connect it to a power source, there's a connection point on the rear under a rubber cover. This will allow you to use the time-lapse feature for long captures, for example, but it is also a connection point for an external microphone.
There will be a range of mounts for the TomTom Bandit, and already we've noticed that there will be an adapter for GoPro mounts. If you have the mounting equipment for the rival camera, you'll be able to use it for the Bandit - Toshiba did the same thing with its action cam, so it's no surprise to see it here.
But TomTom will be offering a range of options for mounts of its own, as well as a wide array of accessories.
The TomTom Bandit offers capture at a range of different resolutions: 1080/30p, 1080/60p, 720/60p, 720/120p for normal capture as well as 4K at 15fps and 2.7K at 30fps. The lack of 4K at 30fps is a little disappointing, as you can't capture action at 15fps.
You can also capture slow motion, still photos and time lapse.
The display on the top is similar to that found on TomTom's sport watches and makes it easy to see what you're doing and let's you navigate the menu with ease. There's one-button controller beneath it and in our initial play, it was easy to setup and start recording.
There's an additional button on the rear and this can be used to mark something as favourite. The idea is that you can punch it as you line up for a jump or trick, so it's easy to organise content as you go along.
There will be a separate remote offering a start/stop and favourite button, which can be wrist mounted. We're also sure that TomTom will be integrating control into other devices too: in one of the presentation videos, we're pretty sure we saw the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio being used. TomTom declined to confirm this.
Looking to add more to your video, the TomTom Bandit also contains a whole host of sensors. There's the GPS you'd expect, along with a gyroscope, pressure monitor and accelerometer. You'll also be able to connect a Bluetooth heart rate monitor.
The result will be that the Bandit knows when you're excited, hitting that huge corner at ridiculous speeds. It will capture this data, which you'll not only be able to display on your video, if you want, but also use it for the Bandit's most appealing feature: auto video editing.
TomTom Bandit is more than just an action camera, it's the editing suite and social sharing part too. Ok, so you'll need to use your smartphone to control the latter parts, but it's designed to do away with the need for a computer, making the process quick and easy, and of the moment.
The TomTom Bandit app will let you create a video from just by shaking the phone. This will mix up your clips, find the good bits and assemble your action movie. Because of all that data, Bandit knows what's fun and what's just empty footage. You'll have more action and less of the rubbish bits with you waiting your turn on the grid, in the traps, on the lift.
Of course all that footage is there, if you want it, but the idea here is to give you an action video quickly and easily. Cleverly, you don't have to transfer the data to your phone until the video is set. Only once you've assembled the pieces does it transfer to your phone to be shared with the outside world, adding data visuals (like speed) or music if you want.
It looks very slick from what we've seen so far, because this is added functionality. If just want conventional capture, you can do that too.
You can also use the app for live viewing, which looked fairly lag free from what we saw demonstrated. Interestingly, it also includes audio streaming, making it more useful for remote monitoring.
So the first impressions are really good. TomTom Bandit looks like an innovation that really puts usability first, rather than trying to add convenience to an existing system.
Of course, on the showfloor everything looks great: we're yet to see the quality of the captured footage, how it deals with vibration or wobble and how well the mic works. But as it is, TomTom Bandit is a welcome addition to the action camera world and if it works as promised, it should make it simple to edit and show your footage.
That price of £299 is competitive too. It will be hitting stores in May and we'll bring you a full review as soon as we can.