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HD170 1080p action cam with built-in playback screen and ultra-wide lens


June 14, 2010

The Drift Innovations HD170 and remote control

The Drift Innovations HD170 and remote control

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Helmetcams, lipstick cameras, action cameras - whatever you call them, there’s something endlessly fun and fascinating about tiny, rugged video cameras that can be mounted just about anywhere, put through all sorts of abuse, and then proceed to output first-person videos that put your viewers right in the action. We’ve valiantly tried to cover the various makes and models as they’ve come out, and they’ve all had their good points and their compromises. With Drift Innovations’ new HD170, however... well, let’s just say it sounds like one of the best so far.

First, some basics about this camera. It shoots in full 1080p high-def, plus 720p or WVGA HD, should you wish. It can also continuously shoot 5mp stills, comes with an assortment of mounting options and has a remote control, so you can start and stop recording even if the camera is mounted in a hard-to-reach place. Nice features, but ones that are shared with some of its competitors.

One of the things that puts the HD170 in an elite pack, however, is its LCD viewfinder/playback screen. The ability to line up shots precisely, then check on-site that everything worked, are essential to shooting the kind of wild-n-crazy videos for which actioncams are designed. Of the similar cameras we’ve looked at, the otherwise-impressive GoPro HD HERO Wide only has a “peephole”-type viewfinder, while the VholdR ContourHD and Gobandit GPSHD (as far as we can tell) have none. Similar cameras that do have an LCD screen include the Kodak Playsport and the Oregon Scientific ATC5K (big brother of the ATC2K), but they don’t measure up when it comes to...

...the lens. True to its name, the HD170 has a 170-degree wide-angle lens. The only other camera we know of with such a wide lens is the GoPro. While this feature will make your footage look kind of fisheye-ish, it’s entirely appropriate for action videos - the more that your audience can see in both the foreground and background, the more immersive the viewing experience. Just as important, an ultra-wide lens also does a great job at smoothing out the jiggles. Also, like the VholdR, the HD170’s lens rotates. This means you can mount the camera in whatever orientation works best (sideways, for instance), then just swivel the lens around to straighten out the shot.

Other nifty features include an external microphone input, manual iris capability, and a low-light mode. While water-resistant, the camera is not waterproof, unlike the GoPro and the ATC5K - perhaps a DiCAPac case could be pressed into service.

The Drift Innovations HD170 goes on sale starting in early July, for US$329.99.

Buy this on Amazon About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

The lastest release by GSM Outdoors in the Epic Stealth Cam range has 1080p and a 168 wide eye lens. :) They dont have a viewing screen but are under $280 USD retail!!


Gavin Greaves

I\'ve used my ContourHD while riding on my ZZR400 through Okinawa in some rather ridiculous downpours - it\'s not waterproof, but it has held up in some nasty conditions.

Amongst the features this thing offers, the most important differences I can see with the Drift HD170 would be the external mic input, remote control, and manual iris control. These things would be mighty keen, and if I wasn\'t content with my ContourHD, I\'d definitely make the jump for these features.

Joseph Smathers

the website says it\'s waterproof to 1/2 a metre


Dunno if its worth the $329US they are asking on ebay. There are smaller cams with hi res for alot less. It does look nice tho. I\'d wait till the price drops to a realistic level. I noticed its not waterproof which for that price is rediculous. It sure looks like it wouldnt have been hard to make it water proof so thumbs down there. Overall, Not unless your throwing money away.


This thing is absolutely huge! If you mount this on a helmet, you\'ll have a neck-ache in less than 10 minutes! And for the casual user, 300 bones is a bit much. I picked up a small camera that weighs .5 grams, 2.0mp cmos, with a microsd slot for under $25 at Geeks.com...no brainer in my book!


How the hell is this 1080p??? The website CLEARLY states 1280x720. Why give a false impression of a product? 1920x1080 is referred to as 1080p due to the number of lines of vertical resolution.


Further to my last post, I just watched an online sample of their so called HD camera. The quality is deplorable- way below anything I\'ve seen with a supposed \"HD\" resolution. It\'s crap.


@ paulgo

While their website does list 720p as a lower-resolution option, it also indicates 1080p as the maximum resolution. Also, to phill, \"Waterproof up to 0.5 m.\" technically means that it\'s splashproof - kind of a confusing system, I know!

Ben C.

Paulgo, Ed- I am thinking you guys woke up on the wrong side of the bed today or you have never actually used a helmet camera.

GoPro HD is $299 Contour HD is $329

Both have very good video quality.

Drift HD is $329 has as good if not better video quality. See sample video here http://vimeo.com/channels/110998

and is waterproof to .5 M and has remote control, built in LCD screen, easy to use menu and great mounts included.

It is slightly heavier but the form factor more than makes up for it and not having it stick off the top of your helmet catching tree branches or looking silly is worth a lot.

So what am I missing here? I have used a lot of POV cameras and this looks to be the best combination of features yet.

I can\'t wait for them to be available in USA. I will be trading in my Contour HD and GoPro HD for this bad boy.


Like many people who comment paulgo has no clue what he says. I refer to this spew: \"How the hell is this 1080p??? The website CLEARLY states 1280x720. Why give a false impression of a product? 1920x1080 is referred to as 1080p due to the number of lines of vertical resolution.\"

The Drift HD I have used for the past couple of months has 1080p video.

Lee Lau
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