Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Test driving the 2011 Tachyon XC HD Helmet Cam

About a week ago, I received my 2011 Tachyon XC HD Helmet Cam that I posted about here. Basic shipping was fairly quick. It delivered within 5 days and that was just fine for me as I had no immediate plans/ideas on what to do with it. I think I mentioned it was a WAY spontaneous purchase.

It delivered in a pretty standard smallish corrugated box. It had the ballooned plastic bag packaging that secured another smaller box which was the actual camera box. So, they were already leaps and bounds ahead of how Walmart ships computer/electronic products.

I opened the box to reveal the camera, two mounts (one for everything/anything or the top of a helmet and one for the side of a helmet), a 12" strip of velcro tape, USB cable, HDMI cable, remote control, and 2 lens covers for paintballing protection. I think that was about it. Oh yeah, there is a glossy 3x5 paper that says something like, "To save the universe, we have put the manual online and is available at blah blah blah." Not that I'm knocking their attempt at saving trees but a quick-start 3x5 paper could have sufficed versus what they decided to do.

Anyhow...I was eager to jump in and just shoot some quick video to see how it worked/looked. I borrowed the 8GB SD Class 6 card from my Canon point-and-shoot camera for saving. I put in some AA batteries that I know are newish—they were bought about two weeks ago but haven't been used and have been kept in a dry room-temperature cabinet. I turned the camera on and hit the START/STOP button. I recorded about 10 seconds of my desk area and the camera battery status bar showed very low. I was like, "WTF?" because I just put the "new" batteries in. I thought maybe I got a bad two or had some older batteries than I thought. So I picked two more and it did the same thing.

Now I have to confess that these batteries were the Sunbeam brand from the 99-Cent store...come on, I can get 4 for $1 and sometimes 8 for $1. After reading a bit in the manual, I find that it recommends some of the most expensive fucking batteries known to man. The manual suggests Energizer Ultimate Lithium suggesting it will last 6-8 hours of recording. It also recommended some high-end Duracel batteries but I don't recall the exact name and it only expected 4-6 hours of battery juice.

I finally got some of the Energizer Ultimate Lithiums. Damn things are like $8.99 for four at Fry's but I've seen some for $10-$12 at other places like Kroger. These damn things better provide much better and longer juice than the Sunbeam bitches!

Turns out they do. Now I don't know if they get the 6-8 hours the Tachyon manual suggested but I have gotten about 2- 2 1/2 hours...so far.

Here is a slightly over two minute video of my driving and testing the Tachyon XC HD camera. I upped the speed to 2x for the video and added Alphaville's Forever Young because there is absolutely no sound or any good sounds picked up by this camera. I can tell you four kids were in the vehicle talking, yelling, singing and the radio was up pretty high but yet the camera plays it back like they were whispering. I knew this going in so it's not an issue for me as I'm not exactly wanting to use this to record my kids' activities.

Without further ado...

The video is pretty damn clear. Amazingly so. It also didn't pick up the jitter or bounce of the camera. I think it may have image stabilization but I'm not sure. There were times when the car vibrated due to rough pavement and you could hear the camera rattle because I only taped down one side of the mount. It was a test run so I wasn't making a more secure fixture as I just needed quick and temporary.

I still have another 58 minutes of driving but it's not much different than this 2 minutes. I like it because it is cool for me to see all the different places I drive and may or may not see because of having to pay attention to driving. Also, it would be cool for historical purposes (personally) to see how the highways, streets and structures have/will change.

So, stay tuned for hopefully some more video sharing.

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