Friday, July 4, 2008

Q, My Spy Cam Please, Old Chap.

[Above] V.I.O. POV.1
[Below] Digital Hero 3

Just picked up the V.I.O. POV.1.
Had my eye on it for at least 6 months, but the summer riding season finally motivated me to order this military spec dv helment cam system. Up until now, I have been using a helmet/bike mounted Digital Hero 3 with mixed results. The biggest complaint I have with the Hero 3 is the lack of live preview or remote operation. The only indication that unit is recording is a faint beep when the shutter is depressed. There is really no way to know for sure if the unit is recording without taking off the helmet and checking the displays. The camera chews through batteries pretty quickly and shuts off without warning. This is highly problematic while shooting longer segments leaving the user with no way to ensure a hairball descent is being captured. Using the Hero 3 requires a lot of checking the unit with absolutely no way of knowing what you are recording, if anything, until you get to a laptop.

The Digital Hero 3 serves its purpose. It is an inexpensive, expendable camera that can go into harm's way. In my opinion, however, the unit is priced on the high side. While encased in the waterproof housing, the total package looks impressive. Removed from the housing, the camera unit itself is plastic and flimsy. The battery hatch, which has to be opened quite often, has a small, fragile tongue of plastic that secures it to the back of the unit. This is definitely not a high wear item. Even with a pro discount, the camera unit costs around $90 USD. All this seems a little pricey to shoot video of the same quality as good point and shoot digital camera.

If you held one in your hand, you wouldn't think it was worth $90, (with helmet mounting hardware, around $170.00 USD). If you want point of view (POV) cam you don't mind destroying, the Digital Hero 3 is for you. If you want something more substantial with live preview, high quality MPEG3 video, and remote operation, sell your old hardtail and go for the V.I.O. POV.1.

[Postscript: The Tour de France starts tomorrow in Brest. Good luck to Garmin-Chipolteand Team Columbia.]

Learn more about Garmin-Chipolte at
Learn more about Team Columbia at


Photos copyright of VIO (above) and Digial Hero (below).

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