The HD170 is brought to us by Drift Innovations, which gives it the "designed in UK" quality badge of honour. The HD170 is the high definition big brother to the popular X170. Although the X170 is a standard def helmet cam, all the features which it provided at a relatively low price, lead it to become known worldwide as the best value for money action cam available. Now that the HD170 has been released and is delivering the same features (and more) together with top quality HD video; it'll be interesting to see how this one is perceived by users across all extreme sports....
After already having done a detailed review of the X170, we'll quickly highlight the features which are explained in more depth in that review. Following this we'll review the great new features seen in the HD170 never before seen in other helmet cameras. The "pros" seen in both the X170 and now in the HD170 include:
The built in 1.5" LCD screen gives two great benefits; firstly it allows you to align your shot before filming (a shortfall in comparable cameras) so you don't film the wrong angle all day. And secondly, it lets you instantly play your videos back or browse through your photos - right there on the spot. No more waiting till you back at your PC for this.
The Drift cameras come standard with a 170 degrees wide-angle lens. This captures more of the action in the shot and gives terrific perspective of the speed at which you're going.
This lens on the front of the camera can be rotated through 300 degrees meaning that no matter which position you place the camera you can always simply twist the lens around to keep the horizon flat (and use the LCD to ensure this).
A wireless remote control is a neat feature for hands-free operation of your X170 or HD170. It works on radio frequency technology so it can work up to 5 meters away from the cam and doesn't require line-if-sight to work.
The customisable menu settings allows you to adjust just about every setting on the camera to help get the shot that you want to capture.
The Drift cameras come with an array of mounts already in the box. This includes a helmet mount, goggle mount, handlebar mount, head strap & short velcro strap. These mounts can be used as is or they can be combined with the industrial strength adhesive pads which are also in the box.
With all these mounts already provided you shouldn't need any after market mounts... but if you do want to get more creative angles then you'll be pleased to know that the X170 & HD170 come with a standard tri-pod camera thread on the camera body. This opens up your options to using suction mounts, clamp mounts, roll-bar mounts, or any other camera mount.
Drift cameras are great for taking video but they can also take still photos (also operated via the remote if you want). A newer addition to the video and photo combination is the ability to take continuous photos - one every 3 seconds after pushing the button once. A great feature for capturing in-action point-of-view photographs.
The power save option lets you save battery life by setting the LCD screen to power down after a seconds of not being used. This is very helpful in prolonging your battery life during use.
Those motorsports enthusiasts out there will be pleased to know that the X170 and HD170 can be powered by an external 12V power supply plugged into your 12V adapter.
HD170 Helmet mount HD170 Goggle Mount HD170 Vented Helmet Mount HD170 Handlebar mount
These points listed above are all the benefits which the HD170 shares with the X170 and lets be honest, that's not a bad start to the list of benefits which we're going to see from the HD version. Now lets review the features new and exclusive to the HD170:
The first benefit which needs to be highlighted here is the fact that the HD170 shoots in beautiful 1080p high definition video. At this top level HD video, the lens field of view drops down to 127° but of course you still have the option of filming in 720p HD or even WVGA for slightly lower quality video that will capture in 170° wide angle video.
This HD helmet cam from from Drift Innovation is the first helmet camera to offer a zoom feature. You can use this when filming in 720p or WVGA to zoom in up to 4x with the digital zoom. This is terrific for closing in the wide angle field of view or to get closer in on your video/ photo subject.
Another first from the HD170 is the night mode option for filming better shots in the lower light of dawn or dusk or even in the darkness of night. (See a sample video of this lower down in this HD170 review).
The ability to plug in an external microphone is a feature that users have often asked for. Well it is now a standard feature of the HD170 so you can plug in your intercom bike systems or a regular external mic. Note that as soon as you do this, the external microphone will over-ride the normal mic on the camera itself.
A terrific feature of the Drift cameras is the wireless remote control as mentioned above. The HD170 has taken this one step further to make it even better because each user can now pair their remote with their camera. This will avoid a situation of your mate starting your camera with his remote. Now you have complete control over your HD170.
A further upgrade of the X170 is that the HD170 now takes up to a 32Gb SD memory card, therefore extending your filming time even further. This is complemented by the rechargeable lithium-ion battery of the HD170 which replaces the AA batteries needed to power the X170. The lith-ion battery comes standard with the HD170 but you also have the option of getting a larger battery as an accessory which will fit inside the HD170 similarly to the standard one but will power your camera for twice the time.
The Not so Good:
The X170 is larger in size then other helmet cams at 133(l) x 33(b) x 51(w)mm. For having the screen on the camera itself this is a necessity.
The waterproofing of the HD170 is only rated to 0.5 meters so this camera is more for the user who wants it for biking or other land sports and doesn't want to have to worry about rain storms or mud.
If filming in 1080p HD the files are pretty large and may slow down older computers making it difficult to edit. In this case the 720p HD would be the better option to use.
The Action Cameras Bottom Line:
Some of the features of the HD170 are shared with other helmet cameras in the market but the two main unique selling features that makes this one stand out above the rest is the fact that the screen allows for instant replaying of your videos and photos . And the remote control means that you can operate the camera without having to reach up to your helmet to fiddle around with the camera unit.
High definition has now become the standard so - if your budget allows - a HD helmet camera is terrific option. Beyond the video quality you need to look at the features offered to figure out which one is best for you... And no other camera of this sort delivers more features then the HD170.
* Action Cameras has been selected by Drift Innovation to host the exclusive launch of the HD170 in South Africa.
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Below, for your viewing pleasure, there are more sample videos from various extreme sports, there's a night time video showing the night-mode, a photo time-lapse and an example of an actual photo captured by the HD170 in action, but to kick off the video section is our unboxing review showing you exactly what to expect in the HD170 box. Enjoy
Bike Park test of the HD170
HD170 Skiing test
Paragliding with the HD170
Skateboarding HD170 style
Off-roading on the Baja Test track with the HD170
Mountain Helicopter HD170 test
HD170 for Stand up paddleboarding
HD170 Night Mode Test
Graffiti Time-Lapse with the HD170 continuous photo mode