Drift X170 - Helmet and Bike Camera - Review

May 20, 2010 at 11:55
by Ian Harvey  

The Drift X170 is an interesting package with some features that make it stand out from other cameras. For example, packing a 170 degree wide angle lens that has 360 degree rotation. This allows you to always have the image the right way up when filming which is important with the camera's 16:9 wide screen filming mode. Two video file types are supported, MP4 or MJEG AVI at 30 FPS. The body is wrapped in protective rubber outer making it waterproof to 0.5 meters.

Let's see how it worked out inside,

The camera also boasts a viewing screen unlike many helmet cameras which can used to set your filming angle and allow limited off the bike filming. The screen also gives clip playback and access to the settings such as 16:9 or 4:3 ratio and file type selection.

Another unusual feature which I certainly have not seen before is the remote control worn on the wrist which can be used to start and stop recording without having to take off your helmet or hunt around for the on / off switch. I found this very easy to use and with a 10 meter range works wherever the camera is mounted.

The camera has a very small internal memory and needs to have an SD card inserted in the back of the camera above the batteries. I used a 4GB SDHC class 2 card in the camera and after several runs down the Fort William track it still had plenty of room for more recording. The unit is powered by 2 AA batteries which certainly need to be lithium batteries as normal alkaline ones went flat within an hour.

You can either mount the camera on the bike via a supplied clamp or to a helmet. For the helmet 2 clamps are provided which can be attached by supplied extra strong velcro or mounted on your goggle strap. It was found that you needed to have the goggle strap very tight to support the camera as it is not the lightest out there.

Now for the most important section, how well did it perform. The camera is not HD, but does offer a reasonable quality of image in either 16:9 or 4:3 format. Mounted on the handlebars the camera works well on an XC bike, but suffers from the movement of the forks on a DH bike. Best results were from the camera mounted on a full face helmet and a reverse angle mounted on a seatpost. It seemed to cope well with the usual movement, but did jump a little on rockier sections of the Fort William track. The camera copes reasonably well when the light changes, but you do get a white glare with sudden changes of dark to light. Image quality is better in open spaces where more light can get into the lens.

Helmet mounted on the Fort William World Cup track

Views: 9,968    Faves: 36    Comments: 13

Seatpost mounted reverse angle on the Fort William World Cup track

Views: 4,124    Faves: 15    Comments: 9

Bar mounted on downhill bike and XC bike at Cannock Chase

Views: 2,754    Faves: 0    Comments: 1

In all I was pretty impressed with the Drift X170 considering it costs a reasonable amount less than some other cameras on the market (UK price £199 GBP). I would certainly say if they could produce an HD version of this camera with the extras like the screen, remote and rotating lens it could give all the current crop of HD helmet cameras something to think about.

Thanks to Sam Maddison of Team Mountain High Orange for testing the camera. In the UK they are available through www.actioncameras.co.uk or Drift Innovation's site will have a listing of all world wide distribution.
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  • + 16
 why would you pay £200 for this when i can get a go pro hd off here for the same price?
  • + 5
 Totally agree, I got a ContourHD 1080p for £240, given the choice of this thing, a ContourHD or a GoPro I know which one I wouldn't be getting!
And the camera itself looks shite if you ask me. Not bothered to watch the video's as I couldn't really care any less what the quality is like, if it ain't HD I ain't interested.
  • + 1
 Either way, GoPro will be coming out with an on-camera LCD screen soon for playback in the field...
  • + 4
 Well tomboulter, why would you get a chevy, if you can get a ford for the same price. think about it man. If something is not for you.. don't buy it. Don't say, o well, something else is cheaper. Of course there are always better options for every little thing around. It doesn't mean it's pointless buying it. Someone like me who doesn't like the go pro and think's it's a piece of crap would probably give one of these a try. Sure, it won't compete with the contour reliability wise, but it's nice to see another product on the market. You guys do realize, that the more options and alternatives there are to things like this, the cheaper the technology will come and allow more riders to use it. So in the end, don't bitch about the price... be thankful that another company is producing another camera, which in end will turn more heat on go pro and contour to keep their prices low and technology progressing. The lack of general economics and business understanding on this site is insane.
  • + 3
 Definately nice to see an other option out there but I seriously can't see this in itself effecting the price of GoPro's or ContourHD's. Its only competition if it can actually compete with its rivals and I can't see this doing it. Its not like its massively cheaper to the others whilst its spec is a mile off the likes of ContourHD and GoPro.
  • + 2
 Look at it this way wollis, remember how much the go pro's or contourHD's cost when they came out?

Give it time bud, it will come down in price. Remember, think if you were in the shoes of the mfg and coming out with a new product for the first time. The R&D, the overhead costs etc. Basically, it is a lesser quality product that costs more, but, if it sells and they make some money, or even if it doesn't, they then have the base to create a new better model. As production and sales go up, price comes down.

People just gotta give new releases to stuff a chance. Think of it this way, look at how much people paid for first gen i phones that barely worked. Now look at the price to what you get ordeal. Every company just needs a bit of time then they will catch up. In this case, they really do have to catch up being they are new into a market that already has set companies dominating.

Only product I can think that wouldn't fit this theory is a company similar to Scion for cars... but then again, they had MASSIVE amounts of money to make sure the car came out great for next to no cost. If they didn't have that finincal backing, they probably would be similar in how this camcorder company is doing it. (sorry, trying to give real world analogies so the younger crowd can more easily understant)
  • + 2
 rffr i read your whole comment ha! u served his ass
  • + 2
 It's cool to see the entire Fort Billy course. Fast and rough. Dude was cooking -- I guess, when one is on camera, one ought to light the after-burners. It was fun to watch his shadow. Still, GoPro is the way to go, based on all I hear.
  • + 1
 Nice package for the pice.
Would not trade it for my GoproHD though.
I think that the screen for playback is nice, but having been there with the whole screen and camera setup, I would say that quality is the most important feature, as you are playing the tracks back on a PC then there is no need for the screen for over 99% of the use of the recorded video.
  • + 1
 199 pounds!!! holy shyite! that camera weighs more than me! seriously mate, put the price in a language the rest of the world understands - now don't all you jolly ol blokes get yer knickers in a knot...just avin you on eh wot! anyway, rather ride than record my latest endo on the shore :-)
  • + 5
 this is sick! and they look good aswell!
  • + 1
 loooks awsome, they should of tested it in deeper woodland to see how the camera responsed to the patches of light, good job Smile
  • + 2
 the watch idea is a really nice feature, but 2x AA batteries? why!
  • + 6
 play the two top vids at the same time, and you get a pretty good veiw of the entire track.
  • + 1
 i really like the watch strap idea, really! good!
  • + 1
 its needs work for the light adjustment there were parts of the videos that I couldn't see parts of the tracks because the contrast wouldn't adjust fast enough, They shake quite a bit more than a go pro does as well so for 200 i would get the GOPRO. Lots of neat little things though that bring the price up and with hd and a little bit of a sturdier mount 275 wouldn't be out of the question.
  • + 1
 My phone taped to my bars is aroud the same quality. if i were to buy a helmet cam i'd probly go for either a GoproHD co ContourHD. But hey, thats my opinion.
  • + 1
 good stuff, you got the day on the monkey, quality was better at your not so 'mad' pace, was it Sam at Fort Bill or was that Andy?
  • + 1
 Sam for both runs
  • + 1
 I think the idea of the wrist band and play back is pretty good, but they need to make some adjustments, such as HD, to be up in the league with gopro.
  • + 1
 Great review Ian - from seeing it in real life it seems a great piece of kit - and for a non hd system at this price - it seems to have some great features for £199 - however does the price include all of these fittings and mounts though?
  • + 1
 Yep for £199 you get the camera, helmet mount, bar mount, a couple of elastic straps,Extra strong velcro, two batteries, USB cable and TV viewing cable. The only thing missing is the SD card and it has no internal memory to speak of so you have to have one.
  • + 1
 Saw this camera in Moab 2 days ago and it was pretty nice. Looked like it could take a hit and be ok. They guy who had it said the recorded quality was good for not HD. He was super excited to have bought it.
  • + 2
 For Non HD that looks fantastic!
  • + 1
 that is soooo awesome! i need to get one of these
  • + 1
 yo they look so bad ill stick with gopro
  • + 1
 Skip it n get a tachyon xc! indestructible and waterproof!
  • + 1
 Resolution? Non HD i presume Frown
  • + 5
 Non HD, if they made a HD one it wouls be fantastic I think.
  • + 1
 Id rather buy JVC Picsio or Kodak Zx
  • + 1
 SWEET!!!!!!!Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin

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