We recently got our hands on a pre-production model of the Drift Innovations HD170 to do some testing and capture some footage at the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.. Here is what we found from our initial tests:
Video The HD170 shoots in 3 different modes: 1080p, 720p and WVGA. In 1080 mode the field of view is reduced to 127 degrees. In 720p mode you can use the digital zoom, which we think will be a very handy feature. At 2x zoom the image was still very clear, although at 4x zoom the image starts to get quite grainy which is no surprise. Video quality in the 1080p and 720p modes appears to be comparable to the GoPro HD and ContourHD1080p cameras. One feature that these cameras offer that the HD170 doesn’t offer is shooting in 60 frames per second. We tested the night mode in a section with dense trees that was very dark and it certainly made a difference – the footage didn’t go grainy like other cameras and when we returned to bright light the video wasn’t over exposed.
Memory The HD170 will take up to a 32GB SD card. We found that the camera recorded about 15 minutes of footage per GB in the 1080p mode. Recording times were similar in 720p mode, getting about 17 minutes per GB
Battery We managed to get about 3 hours of recording out of the rechargeable battery and that was with the screen on the whole time (you can set the screen to go to sleep while recording) and using the camera to play back some clips. We expect that you will be able to get 3.5 hours plus out of the battery if you are careful, which puts it well ahead of the GoPro HD and ContourHD1080p helmet cameras. You recharge the battery by plugging the camera into USB (same as the GoPro and Contour cameras).
Controls The controls and the menu are very much the same as the X170, which is a good thing, because they work really well and are quite intuitive. The remote control for recording has excellent range (about 6 metres) and is easy to use. The camera also gives off a reasonably loud beep whenever you start and stop recording, although it would be nicer if it was a bit louder. There isn't any feedback to the remote to let you know when you are recording, however you can hit the record button a few times to make sure the signal gets through.
Mounts The mounts are the same as the X170 mounts. You get a good variety of mounting options and although they aren’t the most exciting or technical mounts out there, they do get the job done with minimal fuss. As with the X170, the HD170 has a ¼” tripod mount female thread in the camera which makes mounting with roll bar mounts or suction cup mounts a piece of cake.
Overall Our overall first impression was very positive. The HD170 has a more refined and more solid feel than the X170, even though it is quite light compared to other cameras (140g compared to 123g for the ContourHD1080p and 192g for the GoPro HD). The video quality is great, the battery life is excellent (plus there is talk of a long life battery being made available) and the remote control is awesome. It would be nice if it was a touch smaller, but the HD170 packs a lot of features in that other cameras don’t have.
Check out the results of this initial review from Whistler (this video has been compressed, if you'd like to see some raw footage to check the video quality please message me