EE takes aim at Periscope with livestreaming 4GEE Action Cam

The camera broadcasts from your head to the Web and comes with a viewfinder watch.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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The UK phone network is going after GoPro and putting Periscope in its sights with the 4GEE Action Camera, a new camera for active types to stream video of their adventures live over 4G.

EE was the UK's first 4G mobile network. After only a couple of years in operation, it reckons its 4G network covers 90 percent of the population. To tempt more people to use 4G, the company sells own-branded devices such as 4G dongles, an in-car 4G dongle and the EE Kestrel. Following on from those, EE says the 4GEE Action Cam will be the first in a range of 4G-connected devices this year. The camera is on sale from 16 June, or you can pre-order now.

The 4GEE Action Cam straps on your person and then, when you press play, either records what you see or beams it over the 4G network to be viewed by friends and family, wherever they are. You can broadcast for up to ten minutes at a time.

The 4GEE Action Camera takes on industry leader GoPro. Rich Trenholm / CNET

The camera records full high definition 1080p video at 30 frames per second, or you can drop the resolution for smoother 60fps footage. Live streaming is restricted to 720p at 24 or 30 fps. Front and centre is a 1/2.3-inch, F2.8 fixed focus lens.

The battery lasts for three hours of recording. It has 2.5GB of internal memory and a memory card slot to take you up to 64GB.

The Action Cam links to an app on your phone to control settings and do admin like topping up your data. The app works on the iPhone and Android devices.

It also comes with a special watch. The watch is a remote control and viewfinder, enabling you to see what the camera is pointing at, capture 13-megapixel photographs and start or stop recording.

The 4GEE Action Camera comes with a watch that acts as a viewfinder and remote control. Rich Trenholm / CNET

The camera streams live video to EE's own live-streaming website, called Skeegle. It doesn't work with Periscope or any other existing live-streaming options; if you want to share on other sites such as YouTube, record the footage and upload it as a video file.

Skeegle doesn't automatically broadcast to the whole world. Open the app and choose to stream live or use a fingertip to drag the video into different circles, each of which contains a list of friends and family you've grouped together. The specified group can then watch the video live. The ten-minute broadcasts are also recorded and saved, so the rest of the world can watch after the live show if you choose.

If you lose signal when transmitting over 4G, the camera falls back to broadcasting a lower resolution over 3G.

As well as the watch, the camera comes with a waterproof case for exploring underwater up to 60m down. It also comes with an adaptor to attach to GoPro mounts. Other accessories on the way include bike, surfboard and vehicle mounts, a selfie stick and a helmet mount.

In the app, you share your livestreams to specified circles of friends. You also use your smartphone to top up data credit for the camera. Rich Trenholm / CNET

You can buy the 4GEE Action Cam on a range of data plans on contract, shared plans and pay-as-you-go. It's on sale direct from EE or at Selfridges, Carphone Warehouse, Jessops and Amazon.

If you snag one in the first month after launch and you're on a shared tariff, the camera itself is free and costs £10 per month. That launch offer will then go up to £15 per month in mid-July.

Alternatively, you can buy it outright for £100 and the price will stay at £10 for the length of the two-year contract. On PAYG, the camera costs £300 up-front and comes with a single month of 2GB data -- handy if you're going on holiday and rarely take trips away. If you travel more often, a twelve-month deal with 24GB of data to use whenever you want can be all yours for £400 up-front.

If you're travelling abroad, you need to buy a separate roaming deal as you would when travelling with your smartphone.