iOn Air Pro 3 review: Ready to shoot and share in or out of the water

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MSRP: $349.00

The Good The iOn Air Pro 3 is a simple-to-operate 1080p action cam that's waterproof without needing a housing; has very good video quality; and a nice feature set and accessory options for easily adding Wi-Fi or wireless remote control. Its 60fps and 120fps settings allow for smoother fast-moving video or slow motion.

The Bad Taking advantage of its high-frame-rate video capture and Wi-Fi will shorten battery life, which wouldn't be so bad if the battery wasn't built in. Using the higher frame rates also limits a couple of the camera's other features.

The Bottom Line A fun, flexible action cam, the iOn Air Pro 3 keeps things simple without sacrificing video or build quality, making it an excellent option for those who just want to go out and shoot -- in or out of the water.

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8.1 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 7

Review Sections

What sets the iOn Air Pro 3 apart from much of its competition is its design.

The aluminum clad, bullet-shaped body makes it less cumbersome for mounting on a helmet or really anywhere compared to boxy models like the GoPro. It doesn't need a housing to be waterproof. A big slider on top gets you recording fast and also means it's easier to operate with gloves or in the water.

Basically, if you want a low-profile, lightweight action cam that's easy to operate and mount without concern for weather or water, this is a fine choice. Oh, and the video quality is really good, too.

In the box
Though it might look like there is a lot that comes with the camera, there really isn't. The $349.99 package includes the camera and Wi-Fi module, a mini tripod, a helmet mount and an adhesive pad, a universal power adapter (which makes up most of the included bits and pieces), and a Micro-USB cable. Assuming you have a microSDHC card -- it supports cards up to 64GB -- you can get started right away.

One extra that you will find is 8GB of cloud storage space powered by MiMedia that you can use for backup or sharing your clips and photos online (though, really, that's only 1GB more than you get from MiMedia for free anyway).

Design and features
The Air Pro 3 is not a complete redesign -- it's still the same cylindrical shape as previous models -- but the body looks and feels more durable while still being compact and lightweight, at just less than 5 ounces. Its waterproofing is improved, so you can dive down 49 feet with it, whereas the Pro 2 is limited to 30 feet. This is without an additional housing, so you can go straight from land to water without additional equipment.

Out in front is some new glass: a 16mm f2.8 fog-free lens, giving your videos a 160-degree angle of view. But if that's a little too wide for your needs, you can make it a tighter 140- or 150-degree angle. The fixed-focus lens is good from 3.3 feet to infinity, so you'll definitely need some space between the camera and subject (check out the underwater clip in the sample video later in this review to see what I mean).

Joshua Goldman/CNET

Behind the lens is a fast Sony-made 12-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and, judging by the recording capabilities of the Air Pro 3, the sensor is joined by a powerful processor.

Controls remain the same as on prior models. There's a big switch on top that you slide forward to quickly start and stop recordings, and the body vibrates to let you know what's going on. There's also a power/shutter release button in front of the switch.

There's a metal tripod mount in the bottom, but iOn has its own CamLock system that uses a little quick-connect clip that slides into several different mounts, including new ones for rollbars, boards of all kinds, and goggles. It's also the same system Monoprice uses for its MHD action cam, so you can also use its mounts with this camera, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A key differentiator of iOn's Air Pro cameras is its Podz system of exchangeable rear caps. The cap covers the camera's microSD card slot, Micro-USB and Mini-HDMI (for live view or playback) ports, and external mic jack, but also allows you to add things like Wi-Fi to the camera for a wireless connection to a computer or smartphone or tablet. Along with the Wi-Fi Podz, there's a wireless remote that can control up to eight cameras from up to 60 feet away and a basic cap just for protection.

Wi-Fi and apps
Connecting to the Wi-Fi Podz is pretty straightforward: turn on the device and the Wi-Fi Podz, go to the Wi-Fi settings on your smartphone or tablet, select the Podz as your network, put in a password, and you're done.

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