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TomTom Bandit review: An action cam that takes you from shoot to share in a shake

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TomTom Bandit

(Part #: 1LB0.001.00)
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The Good TomTom's Bandit action camera uses built-in sensors to tag all the potential highlights in your clips to make editing easier. Its mobile app lets you quickly create a highlight reel just by shaking your smartphone. Charging and video/photo transfers can be done without a cable. Unique rotating mounting system makes getting the camera horizontal simple.

The Bad Though video quality is very good from the Bandit, you'll get better results for your $400 from GoPro's Hero4 Silver or Sony's Action Cam X1000V. Mounting plate doesn't securely lock. GPS and other sensor information is only used for tagging. No digital image stabilization.

The Bottom Line The TomTom Bandit ably addresses several pain points with other action cams thanks to its quick mobile editing, versatile mounting system and removable battery.

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

At this point, the action-camera market is pretty crowded. So what do you do if you want to get noticed? Well, other than coming in at a really low price , you go after user pain points. Perhaps the biggest one for most people is what to do with all the video you capture if you don't want to sit down at a computer and start editing.

TomTom, the company best known for its GPS navigation systems, came up with a solution in the Bandit, a camera that can handle both capturing your adventures and editing the best moments together into a movie you can share straight from a phone or tablet. The Bandit addresses a few other shortcomings you might find in competing cameras and has very good video quality, too, but the easy on-camera editing is the star attraction.

Priced at $400/£300/AU$580 for the camera, two adhesive mounts and an adapter to use the Bandit's quick-release mount with GoPro accessories, it's definitely an investment. A Premium bundle packs in a wrist remote control, handle bar mount, a dive lens cover good down to 50 meters (about 164 feet), a 360-degree tilt mount and a power cable for $500/£380/$700. The dive lens alone is $40/£30/AU$50, so if you need that immediately, you might dig around your couch cushions for the extra cash and get the bundle.

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The TomTom Bandit can handle both capturing your adventures andediting the best moments together.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The Bandit is splashproof with the included lens cover, though, so a little rain or snow shouldn't hurt it. It feels like it can take a beating, which is good because there is no housing option for more protection. There are plenty of other accessories including several mounts that take advantage of the camera's quick-release clip.

The clip system actually addresses two problems. First, it makes it easy to attach the camera to a mount by simply squeezing in a couple tabs, and removing the camera is just as easy (though the latter could be seen as a negative since there's no way to lock the tabs, keeping the camera from accidentally coming off a mount). Second, the whole clip system rotates around the camera to the left and right, so getting the camera into a horizontal position isn't an issue however it's mounted.

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The Bandit's clip system makes it easy to attach the camera to a mount by simply squeezing in a couple tabs.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

The system adds some height to the camera, but because of how the clip mechanism works, the mounts are fairly flat so it's really not an issue. The exception would be when using the included GoPro adapter, which does significantly add to the height.

If you're counting, so far the Bandit's design doesn't need an additional bulky housing to make it waterproof -- just a different lens cap -- and its unique mounting bracket makes it easy to attach and remove the camera from its mounts, keeps the camera's profile low and you can rotate it until it's horizontal.

Next, there's the Batt-Stick. With a twist of the back of the camera you pull out the battery and the microSD slot. This is the Batt-Stick and at the front is a standard USB 3.0 connector, so to charge up the battery you don't need a cable, you just plug it into any standard USB port. The same goes for transferring photos and videos to a computer and since it's USB 3.0, transfers are fast. And since the battery isn't built in, you can just swap in for another Batt-Stick ($60/£45/AU$80) to keep recording when you run low on power.

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This is the Batt-Stick and at the front is a standard USB 3.0 connector that is used for charging the battery as well as transferring photos and videos.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

On the back of the Batt-Stick is a connector that can also be used with an optional cable to charge the camera. The same connector can also be used to attach a cable for an external mic; a built-in stereo mic is at the front of the camera.

Above this connector is a button that turns the camera on, starts it recording video or takes a picture and lets you tag something that happened as a highlight. The remaining controls are on top: a directional pad for navigating the menu system as well as a button to stop recording and turn the power off.

The small monochrome display on top is just for changing settings. That means there's no way to preview what you're shooting without turning on the camera's Wi-Fi and using the Bandit's app for iOS or Android to use a mobile device as a viewfinder. The app can also be used to change settings and as a remote control.

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