- Glass lens captures wide, beautiful footage
- Onboard LCD for reviewing footage
- Plenty of mounting options
- Most mounts are somewhat clumsy
- Bulky recording unit
- Tools required
It's powered by four whole AA batteries that fit in there too, hiding behind a somewhat clumsy to remove door on the back. The memory card is tucked away beneath another door at the base, which is difficult to dislodge without a screwdriver or a coin or something equally capable of prying. If that's not enough, there's a screw you can thread in to make sure that little door isn't going anywhere.
The whole assembly is impressively durable feeling and waterproof, but it's also rather bulky. For that bulk you get a postage stamp sized LCD which is just big enough to see where the camera is pointed and to do a quick review of the footage you've gathered. You won't be able to tell if the exposure settings are correct, sadly, but you can probably tell if you've mounted things upside down.
Exposure settings are just one of the many options you can tweak through the menu, including recording resolution, recording quality, volume levels, and even what file format to encode the footage in. Sure, you only have two choices, MP4 or Quicktime, but that's better than being stuck with whatever the manufacturer liked best.
The POV.HD comes in a big, zippered case with room for lots of different mounts and zip-ties and double-sided tape, a big mess of stuff that should cover you in just about any situation. But, in most cases, will do so in rather less graceful way than the mounting solutions for the more consumer-friendly GoPro or Contour offerings.
This is a more professional-oriented camera, and so most of the mounts here require some sort of tools. A Phillips screwdriver, mostly, which sadly V.I.O. didn't see fit to include in that giant case. There are lots of fiddly screws and nuts that you'll probably lose on your first trip to the park, so you'd best spend a few minutes at home setting up whatever mounts you need.
The most common is the helmet mount, which attaches using either double-sided tape or, interestingly, some curiously strong magnets -- which themselves must mount to the helmet using a bracket and some double-sided tape. There's also a standard threaded receiver that lets you use a variety of standard mounts, including the conveniently protracted an bendy RAM suction mount we used to capture the footage you see here.
But, if you can find a place to stuff it, it sure captures some great footage. The lens is super wide, 142 degrees approaching fisheye territory here, gobbling up your surroundings and doing so with impressive clarity. We did notice a little excessive dithering in high-contrast areas, and there's a bit of jelly-vision to contend with if the lens will be vibrating from left-to-right a lot, but ultimately the POV.HD video quality easily out-paces the more consumer-friendly competition. Battery life, just short of three and a half hours at maximum resolution and quality on a fresh set of Eneloops, is solid, too.
But, though though the footage they capture may contain the same number of pixels, it won't look this good, won't be this wide, and won't be this clear, especially in lower light. They won't manage three and a half hours to a charge, either. If you have a suitable cushion in your shooting budget and can live with the bulk the POV.HD is a good choice -- just make sure you pack a screwdriver.