Oregon Scientific ATC Chameleon review:

Fun but flawed dual-camera action cam

Again, there is just a single setting to consider with this camera. Recording video side by side horizontally, the camera captured clips with a 1,920x720-pixel resolution (960x720 per camera) with a variable bit rate from 9Mbps up to about 14Mbps. The vertically stacked video came out of my test camera at 1,280x1,440-pixel resolution, so each camera was recording at 1,280x720. However, instead of 30fps with a bit rate of 9Mbps like the horizontal split screen, it recorded at 22.5fps with around a 6Mbps bit rate.

The results are OK. The side-by-side 1,920x720-pixel-resolution video does look better than the vertically stacked video; the former looks a bit more detailed, sharper, and, to me, visually more interesting. Regardless of what you pick, though, movies look soft, especially off to the sides, at anything larger than YouTube dimensions. If you do view them at large sizes, you'll be treated to blocky compression artifacts and smeared details.

Color is good, but changes in exposure aren't handled all that smoothly and just about any amount of camera shake causes wobble from rolling shutter. Low-light video is loaded with noise, so you'll definitely want to stick to bright outdoor conditions with this camera.

As for audio quality, well, even light breezes get picked up by the mono mic, so you'll probably want to put music over your final video.

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Screenshot by Joshua Goldman/CNET

Oregon Scientific includes software with the camera, but that's disappointing, too. It allows you to open and view the videos and actually do some cool things like picture-in-picture, switch between the two cameras, or watch just one camera. Unfortunately, there are no editing features, so you can't export with picture-in-picture or have only the video from a single camera. It seems like a missed opportunity.

Between the mediocre video quality and overall lack of features, if the Oregon Scientific ATC Chameleon were still priced at $199.99, it probably would not be worth getting for most people. At $99.99 direct from Oregon Scientific (the price was $80, but jumped $20 during the course of writing this review), its shortcomings are certainly easier to swallow. The fun here is in having one camera for easily recording the action from two different angles. Otherwise, if you want to do a multiple camera setup on the cheap, I recommend checking out the Monoprice MHD.

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