Drift Stealth 2 review: Tiny, lightweight action cam keeps a low profile

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The Good The Drift Stealth 2 is a very compact, lightweight splash-proof action camera with a rotating lens that makes it possible to mount just about anywhere. On-board controls and a small LCD let you change modes and settings without connecting to a second device.

The Bad While the battery lasts fairly long, it is built-in, so no swapping in a fresh pack to keep shooting. Its screen won't let you preview or review your shots.

The Bottom Line A low-profile, weather-resistant full-HD action camera, the Drift Stealth 2 isn't without compromises, but makes up for them in size and usability.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Image quality 7

Making a small action camera comes with compromises. To shrink them, manufacturers have to do things like get rid of screens and onboard controls, use a built-in battery instead of a removable one, and use image sensors and video processors that don't produce too much heat or at least limit what the camera can do so the processors don't melt.

For the Stealth 2, Drift was able to keep its onboard controls as well as a screen for setting and mode changes, but it doesn't have a removable battery like the Ghost-S camera and the Stealth 2 isn't capable of that camera's faster frame rates or its video quality.

The Stealth 2 is half the size of the Ghost-S, though, measuring 3.2x1.7x1.1 inches (80x42x27mm) and 40 percent lighter 3.4 ounces (97 grams). Mounted on a helmet, you won't even feel it. And although it isn't fully waterproof without a housing, it is weather resistant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Compared to models like the Polaroid Cube, the Stealth is easier to mount and since it has a screen and a couple more buttons, you don't need to connect to another device to change modes or settings. It has this advantage over the GoPro Hero4 Session, too, and it's half the price.

Pricing is a bit of an issue for the Stealth 2, though. At $200 (£150, AU$330) or less it's a fair price for what you're getting, but Sony at the moment has its Action Cam Mini AZ1 selling for $220 (£215, AU$350). The splash-proof AZ1 is about the same size as the Stealth 2, but has a removable battery; comes with a waterproof housing; and has better video or photo quality and recording options too, for that matter. And for $100 more, you can get Sony's wireless LCD remote for previewing and reviewing video and camera control.

The Stealth 2's design gives you a little more flexibility when it comes to mounting, however. The camera has a standard 1/4-20 tripod mount on the side opposite its screen, so you have a wide selection of mounting options in addition to those designed for use with Drift's included universal clip. And if you want to use GoPro's mounts, for a few bucks you can buy a simple adapter that uses the camera's tripod mount.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Plus with its 300-degree rotating lens, it can be horizontally or vertically placed, or even at an angle, and all you need to do to level your video is twist the lens into position. Included with the camera are flat and curved adhesive tray mounts, as well as a goggle mount to use with the universal clip. The Stealth 2 can handle getting some rain or snow on it, while a waterproof housing can keep it protected down to 131 feet (40m).

A removable cap on back protects the camera's microSD card slot (supports cards up to 32GB; not included) and Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports. Again, the battery isn't removable, but it did last a long time. In my tests, it was able to continuously record at 1080p resolution for 2 hours and 37 minutes. That's shy of the 2 hours and 50 minutes Drift quotes on its site, but not drastically. Keep in mind, too, that the camera records two video files, one at full resolution and another thumbnail version to make transfers or uploading from your phone easier.

The highest video resolution available on the camera is 1080p at 30 frames per second with a bitrate of 18Mbps. It can also do 960p at 30fps (4:3 aspect ratio), 720p at 60fps and WVGA at 120fps. Photo options include 3-megapixel single shots, bursts of up to three pictures per second, and time-lapse photos at .5-, 1-, 2-, 3-, 5-, 10-, 30-, 60-second intervals. The camera can also be set to record in a continuous loop, so you can use the Stealth 2 as a dash cam in your car.