JVC ADIXXION GC-XA2 review: Very versatile waterproof action cam with excellent video

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The JVC Adixxion GC-XA2 is a small, lightweight action cam that's water-, shock-, freeze-, and dustproof without a housing. It uses full-size SDHC/SDXC memory cards; has a removable, rechargeable battery; has built-in Wi-Fi for remote control and livestreaming; and has a 1.5-inch LCD. Video quality is overall excellent.

The Bad Some of the controls are mushy and difficult to press and the battery and SD card compartment is difficult to open; heavy vibration causes some Jell-O-ey video; battery life can be brief, especially if you're using Wi-Fi; and only one mount is included.

The Bottom Line After making several improvements and adding a list of new features to its first action cam, JVC's Adixxion GC-XA2 is easily one of the best options for capturing your thrills and spills.

8.2 Overall
  • Design 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 8.0

In a category largely occupied by smaller brands like iOn, Drift, Liquid Image, and Contour, JVC is one of the few large electronics brands to produce an action cam.

Its first attempt, the Adixxion GC-XA1, made a bit of a splash, so to speak, because it was waterproof to 16.4 feet (5 meters), shockproof to 6.5 feet (2 meters), dustproof, and freezeproof -- without the need for an additional housing. It also had both a 1.5-inch LCD and Wi-Fi built in.

The follow-up, the Adixxion GC-XA2, uses the same rugged all-in-one design and makes some much-needed improvements to stay competitive in the POV category.

jvcadixxionxa2wood2right.jpg
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Joshua Goldman/CNET

With an 8-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, the XA2 can record in 1080p at 60 frames per second as well as 720p at 120fps for slow-motion playback. It gets a new f2.4 lens with a 137-degree angle of view when recording at 1080p, 720p, or WVGA resolutions and 152 degrees at 960p and for photos. Also, a gyro sensor has been added to improve the camera's digital image stabilization (though it doesn't make a huge difference if the camera is really shaking).

JVC improved the camera's built-in Wi-Fi, too, and the camera can be used as an access point for streaming live video to a smartphone or to Ustream. You can also upload to YouTube or transfer pictures (but not video) to your device. The Adixxion app -- available for iOS and Android -- was updated, too, and has a Quad View feature that lets you simultaneously view streams from up to four Adixxion cameras.

Basically, though the camera looks the same, JVC overhauled it inside, making it a much better action cam than its predecessor and one of the best currently available for its $300 (£280) price.

Design and features

Again, without the need for an additional housing, the XA2 is waterproof to 16.4 feet (5 meters), shockproof to 6.5 feet (2 meters), dustproof, and freezeproof. That's a big advantage when you just want to go out and shoot and not worry about a small tumble or rain or snow.

The camera weighs 4.8 ounces (135g) and measures 2.9 inches deep by 2.1 inches high by 1.4 inches wide (74mm deep by 53mm high by 35mm wide) making it very compact and lightweight for the category.

There are two 1/4-20 tripod mounts: one on the left and one on the bottom. That means you have plenty of options when it comes to mounting -- including GoPro accessories -- and you can attach it horizontally or vertically. (There's a setting to flip the image 180 degrees, too, should you need to mount it upside down.)

jvcadixxionxa2helmetleft.jpg
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Joshua Goldman/CNET

This flexibility could be why JVC only includes one adhesive mount with the Adixxion, though it does sell a few additional mounts and other accessories such as a dive housing good down to 130 feet (40 meters) and a lens protector.

Controls are a bit spongy, likely because of the camera's waterproofing, but are pretty straightforward and accessible even when mounted. There are power and record buttons; zoom buttons for the 5x digital zoom; and playback and menu buttons. The zoom controls are also used for menu navigation and shuttling through videos in playback.

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