iON Air Pro 2 Wi-Fi review: Good design and features for price

The camera can record at 1080p or 720p, each at 30 frames per second; 720p at 60fps; and 960p at 30fps. For photos, the camera can take single shots at 3-, 5-, 14-, and 16-megapixel resolutions (though the last one is interpolated) and a 10-shot burst at 5 megapixels. You can also take time-lapse photos at 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. Also, the camera stores two versions of your movies: one at full resolution and another at a reduced resolution to make uploading and sharing online faster and easier.

A small application for Windows (a Mac version is available for download from iON's site) is stored on your microSD card (cards of up to 32GB are supported) when inserted in the camera. Launch it when the camera is turned on and connected to a computer and you can make changes to the camera's video and photo settings. In the software you can also turn on and off the camera's auto orientation feature. This will automatically rotate your video 180 degrees if you start a recording with the camera upside down.

These settings can also be changed using the iON iOS and Android apps when the camera is wirelessly connected to a smartphone or tablet.

Wi-Fi and apps
Connecting to the Wi-Fi Podz is pretty straightforward: turn on the device and the Wi-Fi Podz, go to the Wi-Fi settings on your smartphone or tablet, select the Podz as your network, put in a password, and you're done. There are apps available for iOS and Android and with them you can view battery level (important since there's no battery indicator on the camera itself), change settings on the device, view and download recordings or photos, and remotely start and stop recordings as well as get a live view before you start recording so you can set up your shot.

The iOS app works very well. The Android app, on the other hand, is a bit of a work in progress. It was originally developed more than a year ago, so if you have an older device with a pre-Jelly Bean version of Android, it might work fine. But, an iON representative said that because of the multiple variations of the Android OS, getting the app to work across a wide spectrum of smartphones is a challenge for iON and all app developers. It continues to update the app regularly and a recent update has it working on devices with Android 4.0.3 or above.

If you can't get the Android app fully working, there is a bit of a workaround using the Web browser on your smartphone or tablet. Once you've created the wireless connection between the camera and device, you can open your device's browser and enter 192.168.1.2 or wifi.podz. That will give you access to your recordings as well as a live stream of what the camera is seeing. You can't start a recording with it, but at least you'll be able to see if your shot is framed right.

Lastly, the Wi-Fi Podz puts a serious dent in your battery life (which probably why iON pairs it with a battery booster when sold separately). You'll want to use the Wi-Fi sparingly and use the standard Podz cap whenever possible.

Video quality
Most people should be pleased with the video results from Air Pro 2. The 180-degree angle of view really lets you see your surroundings and although you get a fair amount of lens flare, it's pretty much expected -- and desired -- for this camera category. The camera can focus on subjects as close as 1.3 feet to infinity, so anything closer than that (such as the underwater clip in the video above) will appear out of focus.

Colors are bright and pleasing and changes in exposure are handled smoothly and relatively quickly. Like most of the category, video is best viewed at small sizes, especially if you're sitting close to your display. Viewed at larger sizes, you'll want to distance yourself from the screen or you'll be able to see plenty of artifacts, particularly in video shot traveling at high speeds. The camera's 1080p30 video averaged about 12Mbps, which is on the bottom end of midrange for action cams.

There is no electronic image stabilization. With lots of shake, video looks a bit Jello-y, which is typical for the category, but it's not too bad. Low-light videos are noisy and soft, so you'll want to have as much light as possible when recording.

The camera does have a built-in mic, but the audio quality isn't great. Everything sounds a bit muffled mixed with some compression artifacts, which is usually the case with cameras that are fully waterproof without a housing (you can hear some sample audio at the very end of the video clip above). The fact is you'll probably put music with all your action videos anyway, and for those times when you need really good audio there's the jack for connecting an external mic.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Photo quality is good, especially if you're just looking to throw some action shots into your videos. They're nothing you'd probably want to make poster-size prints with, but for sharing on Facebook and Twitter or, again, slipping into your movie clips, they're fine.

Conclusion
The iON Air Pro 2 Wi-Fi is one of the better action cam options available. Video quality could always be improved and, if you need the best in the category, you'll have to go with the pricier highest-end GoPro . The Air Pro 2's advantages are in its simple operation, its waterproof body without a housing, and accessory options. Considering all that it can do, it's well priced, too.

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