Drift HD170 Initial helmet camera Review

Jul 20, 2010
by Matt Fitzhardinge  
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



More info on their website - driftinnovation.com


65 Comments

  • + 9
 It looks like the stability on that camera is amazing, that video practically had no shaking. Although, it did look like it ran at a low framerate and didn't look too high definition...although that may just be the pinkbike player. Good review and awesome helmet cam.
  • + 1
 as it is said... this is a compressed format...when i upload stuff from gopro HD it gives a regular quality
  • + 1
 my bad dude, i noticed that on pinkbike with the gopro hd also
  • + 5
 Video looks shaky and really unstable, just look at the mountains and compare them to trees... Compared to GoPro, this is definitely a fail..
  • + 5
 You sir fail !!!! Quote from above "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)"
  • + 4
 majik0mike, I'm not talking about video encoding artifacts (that would arrive after the video has been compressed), I'm talking about rolling shutter effect that causes mountains and trees in upper part of video to become 'jelly'.

of course, gopro and contourhd has the exact same problem; though they seem to do a nicer job (better CMOS?)

looking forward for a new generation of wearable cameras, those would probably be faster and better.
  • + 2
 ah ok i fail Facepalm ,i didnt quite understand what you was getting at, now i can see what you mean Salute
  • + 5
 Counter-fail?
  • + 2
 I must say that after looking at many HD vids from all different Helmetcams so far this one must be the worse. Raw must a be a bit better but since Pinkbike dosent publish raw footage im comparing apple to apple. It just lag , It is not smooth at all. Makes me feel like im on on Acid ! The concept is there. It just needs tweaking !
  • + 1
 im with thresh. i own the standard version of the gopro and the video is soooooo much smoother. and this things just looks like its gonna break if you fall. the remote is alright but i think a little too far
  • + 4
 Whatever you guys. I'm still a fan of some duct tape and a camcorder...
  • + 7
 How much does it cost?
  • + 1
 i hope its cheaper than go pro and vholdr
  • + 1
 $329.99 US....
  • + 1
 got my goproHD for 200 bones, No Regrets!!
  • + 1
 same for the contourdh, i only wish it had a chest mount like the gopro because thats a great angle
  • + 1
 very nice features such as the colour screen and the remote control. great price for that too. however, true waterproofness is not given. 0.5 metres isn't enough for serious water appliance.
  • + 1
 how much does it cost?
  • + 1
 $329.99 US.........
  • + 1
 that thing has great picture quality for its size, all the others are huge compared to this thing, plus its so small it can be place in such cool places, gonna have to get me one
  • + 1
 Vholdr isn't larger then that?
  • + 1
 Here a Camcorder called Extreme HD119 that similar as Drift HD170 but more smaller size on this site, the picture quality is very nice in the demo video area, www.hdcatcher.com/product_Extreme%20HD119.html .
  • + 2
 Pinkbike should review the new Oregon Scientific ATC9K, it looks promising, and it measures all kind of stuff's like gforces.
  • + 0
 Heres a link to some 720p on Vimeo, looks alot smoother than the PB vid to be fair.
vimeo.com/12404376 - TT Motorbike vid
vimeo.com/12398044 - Singletrack MTB(riding sucks)
  • + 1
 @bike4boy gopro hero is bad but gopro hd hero is amazing way better then any othe helmet cam
  • + 1
 OMFG thats is awesome and itas been compressed too, I want one NOW , Nice vid too man awesome effort
  • + 1
 Anybody know a pretty good helmet cam thats a bit cheaper than this or a GoPro?
  • + 1
 Thats sick! I want one of those!


BTW. Someone know name of the song? Thanks!
  • + 1
 Song is Danko Jones - Wait a Minute.
  • + 1
 Thanks m8! Smile
  • + 1
 im looking for a new helmit cam. i have a gopro hero. i hate it. any one used a tachyon xc?
  • + 1
 When you first get the GOProHD, They can seem to be finicky. Once you get used to the "How long to hold the button for" timing, they are great. Till then.... They piss you off for sure. Nothing like your best run ever is just a still at the drop in because you accidentally changed the setting. Take your time with the button pushing and you'll be gold and you'll be stoked on the best helmet cam out there.
Ken
  • + 1
 this is so legit! finally, a HD helmet cam where you can review footage on trail and use a remote control!
  • + 1
 I think I'll wait for 60fps and a little better video processing. Like the fact that it has an lcd screen though
  • + 1
 it kind of looks like its just taking pictures
  • + 1
 hey what cam should i get the GoPro HD or contour or even this one
  • + 3
 We used the Contour HD last year and the Go Pro HD at The Camp of Champions this year. You can argue either way about picture quality for either of them, everyone has an opinion, you like what you like (or what you bought)sort of thing, we think the GoPro sensor is the best but that is just our personal opinion. What we really like best about the GoPro is the insane amount of ways you can mount the camera. You get a couple of mounts with the Contour which work great but as soon as you want to get creative, you are building mounts yourself. We've kicked the living sh*t our of our GoPro's this summer and the sheer durability of the camera to have no damage after getting kicked off a bike onto concrete at 30MPH in "The Compound" or kicked off a bike into the side of Freight Train at a higher speed and just picking the camera up and it being totally fine is amazing. Sure we broke the mount but that was our fault for mounting it too close to a riders foot or not checking clearances etc, but the durability and the selection of mounts you can get are the best thing about the GoProHD.
Ken
  • + 1
 i use the contourhd and love it. again thats just my opinion(probably would love the gopro if i had bought that). but as campofchampions said the gopro has many more ways to mount it and get ceative, thats where the contourhd is lacking. otherwise great camera
  • + 1
 thanks,but i still dont witch to get they both seem super good
  • + 1
 well id recoment the contourhd, but find someone who's owned both
  • + 1
 Avalible in south africa by any chance?? Price in Rand??
  • - 2
 wow, best helmet camera yet. Quality is just amazing, and the shier size of it also a plus! remote control, screen, and video playback?! Man, this thing keeps getting better and better
  • + 1
 wow, almost better than the gopro!
  • + 1
 This is just the beginning..
  • + 1
 wow this cam is shity quality gopro is waaaaaaaaaay better
  • + 1
 is it waterproof?
  • + 1
 .5m
  • + 0
 The remotel is awsome but the the rest... not as good as the GoPro..
  • + 0
 it's way better than the GoPro !! Lithium batteries instead of AAA, lighter, better quality, better vibration proof-ness. And a screen
  • + 0
 Go pro HD does not have AAA batteries.
  • + 1
 the first gen does. and i have one. its unreliable
  • + 1
 I had the old one. I never had any problems with it being unreliable.
  • + 1
 its nice, how much?
  • + 0
 GOPRO HD HERO IS WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY BETTER
  • + 1
 nat Wink i like these more
  • - 1
 looks sick
  • + 10
 just buy a GoPro
  • + 1
 or contour
  • + 5
 This thing looks a lot easier to wear, a lot more user friendly and a lot less likely to get twatted off a tree than GoProHD. The GoProHD is beginning to seem a bit like iPod's to me... clever marketing and hype to disquise an otherwise mediocre product. (iPod/Apple products life span and sound quality are horrendous, if you didnt already catch my drift).

Disagree if you want though, this is just my opinion after all.
  • + 4
 ughhhh i had my ipod for the last 4 years....idk what your talkin bout and as for gopro al though the ergonomics of the camra are a bit iff unless its mounted on the bar they are literally bomb proof and have much and i mean much better quality then what i just saw ive had mine for a year and put it through hell but i do like the remote and you are right about this one being a bit user friendly
  • + 4
 vimeo.com/12773953 Better quality video from the HD170.

The GoPro does look a lot smoother, but seems to have more chromatic abberation compared to the HD170 from what I've seen.

As for the iPod rant lol... Go try a proper mp3 player like a Cowon J3 and you'll see what I mean. Even my Creative beats the iPod's sound quality - and creative has gone very much down hill over the past 3 or 4 years (my WESC headphones at max volume with the Creative X-Fi sound super crisp, where as they distort at the same volume from the iPod with the same 360kbps .mp3 audio files). Buuut... this isnt an article about mp3 players so lets stop there.
  • + 2
 I just won a contour hd and its image quality might be a little bit better, but this thing has a remote and a viewing screen. BITCHIN!!!
  • + 1
 i should have waited for the HD170 instead of getting the x170 X( well whatever the image quality is about the same Smile and the veiwing screen i think kicks ass Wink
  • + 1
 Right, riders want a water proof contour VoldR HD with remote and viewing screen. That would take over the market! Smile Take note contour tup
  • + 1
 for water proofing ur contour just buy this case
www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=50781

i still think gopros are more versatile

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