GoPro might rule the action cam market, but it's certainly not the only brand in the category you'll find on store shelves or online this year.
Action cams coming for 2014
Wearables might have been the big buzz word at CES 2014, but there was no shortage of mountable cameras -- aka action cams -- at the show. From top names in the category to brands you might only see browsing the aisles of discount big-box retailers, it looks like there will be plenty of options this year regardless of your budget.
The AS100V is competing with the high-end pro features of GoPro's Hero3+ Black Edition. Along with having a lighter, splashproof body than Sony's Action Cam AS30V, the AS100V can record in 1080p at 60 frames per second in MP4 as well as in Sony's XAVC-S format for 1080p60 movies with bit rates up to 50Mbps. The AS100V also supports shooting at 1080p24 and high-speed 720p video at 120fps and 240fps shooting with sound.
For advanced users who want to do more than just point, shoot, and share, the camera has neutral and vivid color modes, with the former allowing greater post-production flexibility. When recording in XAVC-S and working in Vegas Pro you'll be able see time code and user bit data to make editing video from multiple cameras easier.
The Ego LS is the first action cam I've seen that can live-stream video over a 4G LTE network. It does it in WQVGA at 30fps, which is good enough for viewing on mobile devices and at small sizes on a computer. The stream can pass through a cloud service directly to a Web site or out to sharing sites.
The Ego LS can also connect to iOS or Android devices via Wi-Fi to live stream to a mobile device, view recorded files, trim video clips, transfer files to a mobile device, adjust camera settings, and act as a remote control.
The camera has Bluetooth, too, for use with an included remote control and a low-frequency RF wireless feature allowing the camera to be in standby mode for more than 24 hours without draining the battery.
Though iOn didn't introduce a new camera at the show (it was announced in October), the company announced a partnership with High Gear Specialties, maker of Techmount mounting systems and accessories, to create high-impact mounts for using iOn Air Pro, Speed Pro, and Adventure cameras in performance motorsports. The aluminum mounts are highly impact-resistant and durable, designed to withstand the rigors of off-road, circle track, and road racing for both pros and amateurs.
Before Kodak ended its digital camera business, it had one of the best waterproof mini camcorders available in the PlaySport. Action cams have basically taken over that market, though, so JK Imaging, which makes cameras under the Kodak PixPro brand, has announced the SP1.
The tiny, lightweight camera features an f2.8 16.8mm lens (35mm equivalent) that's waterproof to 32 feet, shockproof to 6.5 feet, dustproof, and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit -- all without an additional housing. A 1.5-inch LCD makes it easy to see what you're shooting and change settings (it can record at up to 1080p at 30fps, but also does 720p at 60fps and 480p at 120fps). It even has built-in Wi-Fi for connecting to your smartphone or tablet.
The Kodak PixPro SP1 is expected to sell for $169 to $229 depending on the accessory pack you get it with. The company is also working on a very small 360-degree action cam, the SP360, for later this year.
Kodak's not the only brand name being used for action cams. C&A Marketing, the licensee for Polaroid cameras, showed one updated and two new action cams at CES 2014. The XS1000i is a Wi-Fi-enabled camera with an ultrawide-angle lens that can record at 1080p at 30fps, 960p at 30fps, and 720 at 60fps. It's waterproof to 30 feet and shockproof -- without a housing -- and has a unique ball mount that allows you to quickly, but securely mount the camera when it's time to shoot.
It's expected to be available for $159 this summer.
The XS100i is an update to last year's XS100, but adds Wi-Fi with iOS and Android apps to remotely control the camera, and view and share photos and videos as well as adjust its settings. The lens and shooting options are similar to the XS1000i and it too is waterproof to 30 feet. It's available now for $179.99.
The Polaroid C³ is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, action cams I've seen. It's 1.4 inches square and has a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor for capturing 720p or 480p video at 30fps as well as 5-megapixel photos. Its lens is narrower than you see on larger models, covering a 120-degree angle of view, but it is waterproof up to 6.5 feet. The cameras also have magnets under their skin, so you can mount them on metal surfaces or attach them to another magnet, or to each other. Look for them this summer for around $100 each.
This weather-resistant camera has three, f2.8 ultrawide-angle lenses on top, each with an 8-megapixel CMOS sensor. It combines the video or photos shot with each lens to create an almost complete 360-degree spherical field of view (it covers 360 degrees horizontal and 150 degrees vertical, to be exact). Desktop software and mobile apps let you view, edit, and share the results, and it's compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset, letting you explore the spherical video just by moving your head around. It'll be available later in 2014 for $499.