Oregon Scientific ATC3K Waterproof Action Camera review: Oregon Scientific ATC3K Waterproof Action Camera

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2 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The ATC3K's waterproof, shockproof design takes bumps and splashes in stride. The Webcam and live monitor functions enhance the usefulness of the camera.

The Bad The unit only captures VGA video, which is fairly low resolution by today's standards. Front-heavy design makes the unit difficult to mount stably. Low light performance is abysmal. The ATC3K does not feature a still photography mode.

The Bottom Line The ATC3K Action Camera is rugged enough to take the knocks of extreme sports; however, it falls flat when it comes to video and photo quality.

4.8 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Features 5.0
  • Performance 4.0
  • Image quality 3.0

The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is a bit like the Jeep Wrangler of digital camcorders. On paper, the bare-bones digital camera is only capable of capturing VGA video. In a civilized world filled with pocket HD camcorders, that's not a particularly impressive feat.

However, take the ATC3K into the rough and tumble great outdoors and you'll find that its rugged construction, waterproof design, and compact size allow it to be used in conditions that would instantly void the warranty of more complex and more delicate pocket cameras.

Design
The ATC3K is a tapering tube style camera. Measuring 4.25 inches long and 2.25 inches thick at its thickest end, the camera is quite portable. With a rubberized bumper surrounding the lens and solid, waterproof construction (up to 10 feet), it's also quite rugged.

At the business end, the ATC3K's small recessed lens is tucked behind a raised rubber ridge and a plastic shield. Along the top are a monochromatic LCD screen and three rubberized buttons for record, power, and menu. To prevent accidental presses, the buttons must be held for a second or so to register an input.

At the rear end of the device is a twist-off cap sealed with a pair of rubber o-rings that covers the battery door for the two AA batteries that power the device, as well as the SD card slot, video out port, and a Mini-USB port.

Included with the ATC3K is a plastic mounting ring and base grip that the camera can be inserted into to connect to any of the included mounting options. The ATC3K kit includes a handlebar grip, a Webcam stand, and a helmet grip that can be used with one of the two Velcro straps or the silicon rubber head strap the unit ships with.

Also included is a CD with Windows drivers, a carry bag, an AV cable with RCA connections for video and monaural audio, a USB cable to interface with a PC, and a pair of AA batteries.

Features
The ATC3K's main feature is its capability to record video at up to 640x480 pixels and 30 frames per second in an AVI format. Video recording is triggered using the record button on the top of the unit for 2 seconds to start the capture and again to stop. People are given the choice of VGA (640x480 pixels) or QVGA (32 0x240 pixels) resolutions using the devices menu.

A 32MB internal memory will hold up to 47 seconds of VGA video or 1.5 minutes of QVGA video, if you're in a pinch and forget your SD card. However, to get the best use of the device you'll want to pick up an SD memory card (not included). The device will store up to 120 minutes of VGA video on a 4GB SD card (the largest readable size).

The menu system of the ATC3K lets users adjust capture resolution; delete unwanted files; enable/disable audible button confirmation (beeping); adjust the audio recording level between low; high, and off; and set the date and time for file time stamps.

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