iOn Air Pro 3 review: Ready to shoot and share in or out of the water

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.

Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

There are apps available for iOS and Android, and with them you can view battery level (important because the camera won't warn you until it drops below 29 percent), change camera settings, 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. Neither app is much to look at, but they both worked well enough on the iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4 I used for testing.

Shooting options
Out of the box the camera is set to record at either 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60fps; the back of the camera has a switch for picking the one you want to use.

The Air Pro 2 maxed out at a recording resolution of 1080p at 30fps with a bit rate around 12Mbps. The Pro 3 can do full HD at 30fps or 60fps and 720p at 120fps, 60fps, or 30fps at up to about 22Mbps. When recording at 1080p or 720p at 30fps, the camera will record a secondary thumbnail video at 432x240-pixel resolution (WQVGA), which makes for faster playback and uploading from mobile devices (frame rates are 15fps for 1080p and 30fps for 720p). Also, if you use the app to start a recording, it will only record at 1080p30 or 720p30, depending on what the resolution switch on the camera is set to.

Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

Similarly, the camera's auto-rotation feature, which rights the picture if you start recording with the camera upside down, only works when recording at 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps, or 720p at 30fps.

In addition to the video, it'll capture 5- or 12-megapixel photos (they're in 4:3 aspect ratio, though, so you might want to do some cropping if you want to drop them in your videos). You can shoot them one at a time or as a 10-shot high-speed burst or as a time-lapse at intervals of 2, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.

A desktop application is used for changing camera settings. Just connect to a Mac or Windows computer via USB and you launch the software directly from the camera's storage. Like the mobile app, it's not the prettiest interface, but it gets the job done.

Video quality

The full-HD video from the Air Pro 3 is very good, but not a huge jump from the Air Pro 2. It's better, most notably in low light, but probably not reason enough alone to upgrade. Upgraders will benefit from the faster frame rates, on the other hand, for smoothing out video of fast-moving subjects as well as slow-motion clips.

Colors remain bright and pleasing and changes in exposure are handled smoothly and relatively quickly. If I had one complaint it's that scene just look soft when viewed at large screen sizes. It's something that might not be an issue for everyone, especially if you're considering this camera for Web videos. For viewing on smartphones and tablets or on a monitor at small sizes, the results are excellent.

With lots of shake, video looks a bit Jello-y, which is typical for the category, but it's not bad. Low-light videos don't seem as noisy as those from the Air Pro 2, though the noise reduction seems to be making scenes very soft.

The camera does have a built-in mono mic, but it's only really good enough for clearly capturing audio that's very close to the camera. For the best audio, you'll want to use an external mic.

Conclusion
I really liked the Air Pro 2 for its ease of use and video quality and those remain intact for the iOn Air Pro 3. The added frame rate options are appreciated as is the increased waterproofing. Unfortunately, using the 1080p60 and 720p120 settings do restrict a couple of the other camera features including auto-rotation and dual-stream capture. And they don't help battery life, that's for sure. Still, if you're looking for a camera to quickly strap on and go shoot, regardless of weather or location, it's an excellent choice.

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