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Back in 2013 when Monoprice started selling its waterproof 1080p MHD Action Camera , there was no notable competition that offered its features at its sub-$100 price. The $90 MHD 2.0, however, is up against cameras like the $99 Polaroid Cube (£89, AU$149), the $129 GoPro Hero (£100, AU$169) and the $99 Xiaomi Yi (about £65, AU$120).
The MHD 2.0 has an edge on each of those cameras, though, in one way or another. For one, the price frequently drops to as low as $75, so it bests them all there. It has better video quality than the Cube and it's waterproof without a housing, which is something the Cube and Yi can't claim. The Hero is actually built into its housing, which could potentially limit how it is mounted.
The MHD 2.0, on the other hand, is waterproof down to 30 feet (10 meters) and is shock-, dust- and freeze-proof. It has a standard quarter-inch tripod mount, so there are plenty of mounting options available and its bullet-shaped design gives it a lower profile than the Hero.
The camera comes with a clip that screws into the tripod mount, so it can be quickly snapped into the included handlebar/pole mount and removed just as fast. This mount uses a ball joint too, which could be used with third-party mounts like those from RAM. Monoprice also sells suction cup, helmet and board mounts that use the same quick-connect clip.
Along with the handlebar mount, you'll find a carrying pouch, a Mini-USB cable for charging and transfers, a screw key for the clip mount, and a small security strap that loops into the various mounts. What you won't find is a microSDHC card for storage, so be sure to factor that into your purchase price.
Sliding the big switch on top is all you need to do to start recording. If you want to take a picture instead, just press and hold the shutter release to turn the camera on and press again to shoot. The body of the MHD vibrates to let you know when you've started and stopped recordings or taken a photo.
Behind a locking twist-off cap on back you'll find a Mini-HDMI and a Mini-USB port, a microSDHC card slot, a switch for changing video resolution (1080p or 720p) and a reset button.
Shooting options include Full HD 1080p and Tall HD 960p at 30 frames per second, and 720p HD at 30 and 60fps. Recorded with every HD video is a second 432x240-resolution thumbnail video -- whether you want it or not -- that can be used for quick uploads to social networks. The camera can also capture 5-megapixel stills one at a time, at 5-, 10-, 30- or 60-second intervals and in bursts of 10.
In order to make these changes though, you have to hook up the camera to a computer and run a small application stored on your microSD card (cards of up to 32GB are supported). The Windows version is automatically saved to your card when you insert it; the Mac version needs to be downloaded and dragged onto your card.
The MHD 2.0 also has a built-in gyroscopic sensor that detects the camera's orientation and will automatically rotate it at 90, 180 or 270 degrees so that it's right-side up. Note, though that it will only be at full resolution when positioned at 0 and 180 degress; at 90 and 270 degrees the resolution drops to 608x1080 at 1080p and 416x720 at 720p.
Charging the built-in battery is done via USB -- plugged into either a computer or wall adapter (not included) -- and takes about 2 hours to get a full charge. You can record up to 2.5 hours of 1080p video on a single charge, which is pretty good, but once it's empty, it's empty; the battery cannot be removed or replaced.
With the exception of the Xiaomi Yi, the MHD 2.0's video quality is typical of a sub-$100 action cam. It is improved from the MHD, but that just moves the needle from mediocre to good. Scenes look sharper and more detailed and color is not as oversaturated.
Compression artifacts aren't nearly as bad, either. Complex scenes or fast movement still result in some blockiness and softness, but you can still make out some fine details. What is more of an issue is the Jell-O effect when the camera vibrates. In the clip above, you can see just what happens when using the handlebar mount when riding on rough surfaces. You're better off mounting the camera to your body or helmet or handheld pole. (By the way, the rattling you hear in the video is caused by the bike and mount.)
Low-light video is decent, though the artifacts are joined by noise. The audio, when not being blasted by wind, is passable. The mic is sensitive enough to pick up voices at normal speaking levels (not shouting or whispering) close to the camera. It sounds somewhat muffled, however, likely because of waterproofing.
Like its video, as long as you have plenty of light the MHD 2.0's photos look pretty good. Probably nothing you'd want to make large prints of, but for posting to Facebook, they're fine.
The Monoprice MHD 2.0 is a solid point-and-shoot action cam for the money. If you want the best video quality for around $100, check out the GoPro Hero and Xiaomi Yi . If you want something super-small for a dashcam, try the Polaroid Cube . But if you want just a simple, straightforward mountable video camera for YouTube clips, this is a safe bet. Monoprice also has excellent customer service and gives you a full 30 days to test it out and return it.