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By 17 September 2015 | Categories: news

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The world of action cameras is certainly a burgeoning one. Leading the charge in the market is GoPro, with its Hero range being a coveted device. TomTom however aims to disrupt the status quo with its own action camera, the Bandit. TechSmart was on hand for the device's official South African launch in Cape Town today, and got the chance to put it through its paces.

Ready for action

There are a few form factors when it comes to action cameras, TomTom has settled on a cylindrical one. Whether or not TomTom actually designed it to look like the scope on sniper rifle is up for debate, what isn't however is the Bandit's sturdy shape and lightweight feel. It measures roughly 94 mm long and 38 mm wide, and as such seems like quite a stealthy piece of tech. It can be easily packed away, and weighing just 190 g means that one's pocket or bag is not burdened.

As far as setup goes, there are a few things you need to be aware of. First is the downloading of the Bandit companion smartphone app (Android and iOS only), as the action camera's footage cannot on one's smartphone otherwise. Those setting up a Bandit will be prompted to connect to it via Wi-Fi (although we would have preferred a direct Bluetooth link). After a connection is established, you can enter the Bandit app. Once inside, the app is initially used as a viewfinder, to assist when placing the Bandit and readying it for recording.

Shooting range

For recording, TomTom has integrated a separate start and stop button, found atop and on the rear of the Bandit respectively. These buttons, when pressed for five or so seconds will also shut down and turn on the Bandit. In terms of recording quality, you have four different shooting options, starting at 720p at 120 fps and topping out at 1080p at 30 fps. For the latter, video looks sharp and crisp, capturing light well. The view is also quite clear, and does not feature the slight fisheye look of some other action cameras.

Added to this is the ability to shoot images with a 16 MP camera, as well as record video in 4k quality, while in cinema mode. Furthermore, TomTom has integrated a time lapse and slo-mo mode for users to record to their heart's delight.

Shake it up

While the Bandit's video capabilities are on par with most high end action cameras, its true calling card is the editing speed it touts. In fact, TomTom says it can significantly trim the usual 2.5 hours of editing time down to 2.5 minutes. This lofty claim is made possible through the Bandit's Shake To Edit feature. This allows users to quickly create a video, with a range of highlights that the app itself chooses.

Shake to edit works relatively well, but like any new product, does require a bit of time to get accustomed to. In our experience, it yielded mixed results, especially as we tried to filter through multiple video clips in order to create highlights. Given a bit more time however, we're pretty sure that shake to edit will be far easier to use.

Worth it?

Is the Bandit a worthwhile investment? Given our few hours with it, the early answer is yes. At the moment, the Bandit will retail for R5 800 for the standard edition and R6 800 for the premium model (which has a few accessories). When compared to other high end action cameras, the Bandit is undoubtedly on par with its competitors offerings. 

It also performs on par from a recording perspective. It's major selling point however, is the speed at which it can facilitate editing on the fly, which in the hands of a seasoned pro, would be a welcome asset and advantage. The Bandit may be billed as an action camera, but it can be fitted into one's car as a dash cam as well, which means that it's not simply confined to being strapped to one's helmet.

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