W8 Action Camera Review

Action cams have become an ubiquitous part of vacations in the past few years, having earned its place amongĀ  sunscreens and sunglasses as summer must-haves. For a long time, the scene was dominated by pricey GoPros, and those without the kind of money a GoPro demands had to be content with snapping up cellphone pictures, minus the fancy wide-angle awesomeness.

That had largely changed with the inevitable arrival of affordable devices from various manufacturers, among them the W8 action camera. What does it bring to the table, and is it a worthwhile buy at Php1,499.00? Let’s find out.

Out of the box

The W8 camera comes with a boatload of accessories. Aside from the camera, there’s a waterproof case, charger, and a myriad of accessories to connect your camera to your car’s dashboard, your bike’s handlebars, your motorcycle helmet, heck you can tie it to a tree with the cable ties if you so fancy doing so!

You can download the EZ iCam app from the iOS app store/Google Play store for additional functionality, but it’s not really essential. You can pretty much use the camera out of the box. You just have to slap in a microSD card for storage and you’re good to go.

Photos

The camera is equipped with a fixed 140 degree wide angle lens. Photo resolution is set at a default of 12MP (4608×2592). You can also choose from resolutions ranging from 8MP (3760×2120), 5MP (2976×1672), down to 2MP (1920×1080) in the settings. The photos come out OK: although photo quality is nothing to write home about, the camera gets the job done. In low light situations it’s not that great, but for use in day time it’s quite good. Definition is quite clear, albeit edges are a bit smudgy when zoomed in, and colors are a bit muted for my taste but a quick pass in Lightroom or Photoshop will take care of this issue.

Video

Video is set to a default of 1080p at 30 fps. There are options for 720p at 60 fps. It’s also advertised to record 4K video, but with a frame rate of 10 fps, it’s not really worthwhile to record videos in this format. 1080p is adequate enough. The videos taken with this camera are smooth, clear and bright, with no noticeable lag. You can also set the video to loop, if you want to use it as a dash cam.

Display

The camera has a 2-inch LCD display and User Interface that seem to come straight from a late 1990’s digital camera. It’s that bad. You can actually seeĀ  the individual pixels. The menu’s UI is cumbersome: you have to press buttons endlessly just to even exit the settings. You miss it and you have to go back again. But for quick reference, I guess it does the job. It’s just annoying as hell. Having the EZ iCam app somehow alleviates this, as you can go and set the resolution and whatnot from your phone. It just becomes a problem when you don’t have this option, say you’re in the pool or a situation where you don’t have your phone with you.

Battery Life and Connectivity

The battery is a 900maH Li-ion battery. It lasts about an hour and a half on a single charge. Charging time is about an hour or so.

There is also Wi-Fi connectivity but it’s a bit misleading. The camera connects to your phone through Wi-Fi. It doesn’t connect directly to Wi-Fi and you can’t upload pictures directly from the camera to your Facebook.

There’s an HMDI port you can use to connect the camera directly to your TV, and a microUSB port for data transfer and charging.

Verdict

For something that I’d only use sparingly, as in very rarely, this is an awesome buy. I have used it about twice now, once during a family outing and once to film my kids dancing in the rain when a sudden rainstorm came. I have since kept it in a drawer somewhere, where I could just grab it when needed: maybe strap it to a cymbal stand or stick it in a guitar’s headstock to get music video-like footage, or whatever. The lack of a remote shutter button is a shame, but at just Php1,499.00 it does not feel like that much of a big deal. If you are planning to use an action cam frequently, though, investing in a higher end camera might be a better option for you. For the occasional weekend warrior, this is perfect.

 

Atmos Fit Elite Review

The Elite is the followup to the Atmos Fit, upgraded with the addition of a heart rate monitor and revamped aesthetics.

Out of the box

Included in the box is the unit, charger and manual. Unlike the previous Atmos Fit, you can’t use just any ordinary charger because the Elite’s charger is a three-pronged proprietary one which clips to the unit. So be careful not to lose it.

Charging the Elite for a couple of hours will give you a week of juice.

To fully utilize the Elite out of the box, you first have to download the companion app (Atmos Fit) from the iOS App store or Google Play. The app is well designed, streamlined and easy to use with a clean, intuitive UI. Just set your profile and you’re good to go.

Display

The Elite’s display is an OLED monochrome display that’s nothing to write home about, but it does have a certain retro 8-bit charm to the interface. A touch sensor is indicated by a simple circle in the Elite’s face. One tap will display the date and time which is automatically synced to your phone, together with the battery level and Bluetooth indicator. Another tap will bring you to the number of steps you have taken. Tap it once more and it displays the distance you have travelled. Another tap will display the heart rate. You have a couple of options on how to activate the heart rate sensor: one is by pressing and holding the touch sensor on the Elite until the heart icon beats, and another is through the app.

Sensor accuracy

The pedometer is fairly accurate when walking but it does get wrong readings in certain situations: For instance, I walked a short distance from the door to my car and drove around for about an hour, but the sensor indicated that I have walked 3 kilometers. I also woke up one morning and the sensor had already registered 200 steps while I was asleep (and I am fairly certain I don’t sleepwalk). But walking from the office to the house is reflected accurately (a distance of about 1 kilometer).

The sleep monitor is also fairly accurate. It does get the hours of sleep close to reality as far as I can tell. But I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the quality of sleep (deep sleep and light sleep) which is indicated in the app.

The heart rate monitor is where it gets a little bit iffy. It utilizes an optical sensor that shines light onto your skin to ostensibly measure blood flow. But I tried to measure my heart rate while I had the Elite taken off, and it still returned a reading. Thinking the ambient light is affecting it, I put it inside a dark drawer, and it still returned a normal heart rate reading. So I would not really put my trust in these things for returning an accurate heart rate. But in fairness to Atmos Fit, the science of measuring heart rate through optical sensors is not really an exact science just yet.

Notification and Alarm

The Elite, when connected through Bluetooth to your smartphone, can also notify you of a text message/call. Sadly you can’t preview a message, but it can be useful when you have your phone in your bag and is likely to miss a call.

You can also set a silent alarm through the app. I find this useful when I want to wake up early and doesn’t want to disturb others in the room with me.

Another feature is called the Safety Feature, in which your phone’s alarm will sound off when it gets beyond range of the Elite when connected through Bluetooth.

Verdict

Although limited and not as feature-packed as a FitBit or other higher end fitness bands, the Atmos Fit Elite is a good buy at just Php 890.00 (www.kimstore.com) which is just a fraction of the price. For comparison, you can buy 10 of these things for the price of one FitBit Charge 2. The pedometer , notification and silent alarm feature alone made it worth the price tag for me. Add in the watch features and the price more than justifies itself.