PRODUCT EVALUATION OPTRIX iPHONE HELMET CAM A different approach to a POV cam
q Helmet cams are currently all the rage, and we use the term “helmet” cam a little too loosely. If you check out our videos on www.dirtwheelsmag
.com, the camera is only mounted on the helmet one out of five shots or so; the rest is all done with extendable booms, tripods, chest mounts or being stuck on other surfaces. The GoPro, V.I.O. and Contour cams we have used lately are all spectacular and each have their own advantages and drawbacks, but the drawback to all three is their price. While not incredibly expensive, even the utilitarian GoPro HD2 with its stellar video quality will set you back $300. But what if you like shooting video with your iPhone or iPod Touch? Not everyone has one, but a good number of us do, and we often use our iPhone 4S to shoot video footage for the website; it takes beautiful footage with clear sound. But you can’t just duct tape your iPhone to your helmet, so then what?
Optrix has released a new product that may be of interest to you. The Optrix HD iPhone case and mount system basically turns your smartphone into GoPro helmet cam via a water-resistant, anti-vibration ballistic case. It’s strong, well-made and closes tight, but trusting it with your expensive iPhone will always be this product’s biggest drawback. We slid our iPhone into the red “sled” card and stuffed it into the clear plastic case, closing the top double latch. The iPhone is quite a bit larger than a GoPro and heavier too, so the adhesive base mount is larger in size to produce more gripping power. Optrix is also developing a bolt-on anti-vibration mount, which we would much rather use.
The back side of the case has a clear membrane that allows you to take full advantage of the iPhone’s touchscreen and home button, allowing you to watch, shoot or edit video with the phone still in the case, or even use the phone like you normally would to text or call—although it’s a little difficult to hear the phone when it’s locked in the case. The high-quality case and mount system will set you back $89.99, which is just a fraction of the price of a new helmet cam. However, as we stated before, trusting the case to save your expensive phone from destruction in the event of a crash or it falling off your helmet is scary, especially on the soft membrane side of the case. With a GoPro, we routinely have ATVs hit them, run them over and send them flying while filming, and we haven’t broken one yet.
Regardless, the video quality produced by the iPhone is incredible when used with the Optrix case, and Optrix even has its own line of apps to make your video experience easier and more enjoyable. Their free app, Optrix Videosport, adds anti-wave and focus lock to the camera app, so the iPhone doesn’t focus-hunt when you’re shooting. It also allows you to cut down the resolution and frame rate for faster uploads. Their Pro app will set you back $9.99, but adds on-screen telemetry, GPS location and more to the video. It’s seriously cool and works well with the camera.
We’re going to say it again: we were scared to lock our iPhone in the little plastic box. During testing, the phone never fell off the helmet, and the case did keep water out. Video quality is excellent, especially with the iPhone 4S. Currently, the Optrix case only works for the iPod Touch and iPhone 4/4S, but we have heard rumors of more cases in development. For more information, visit www.optrixhd.com! q
Here’s what the kit comes with, minus one of the sleds: The red “sleds” are what clip around the iPhone/iPod before you slide it into the case.
The Optrix case sticks onto your helmet like a GoPro, but weighs more and has the aerodynamic profile of a cinder block.
Sliding the sled into the case eliminates vibration inside and aligns the phone with the touchscreen membrane perfectly.