The Gadget:A small waterproof sports camera with mounts for handlebars, helmets, chests, surfboards, snowboards/skis, cars — almost anything. This cam has a 170-degree wide-angle lens. And it's cheap and amazing.
The Price: $US200
The Verdict:This is the best sports cam I've ever used. The various mounts allow it to be strapped to a helmet, a chest, a rollbar in a car, or on the glass or metal of an auto's flat surfaces via suction cup. There's a plug mount and 3M mount for surfboards, or a 3M mount for ski/snowboards. There are even bicycle mounts for facing rear and forward. And I could see the chest mount being applicable to almost any sport, from martial arts, to kayaking, to hockey. (The mounts are sold separately.) It's cheap enough you shouldn't worry about it too much either, at $US200. Although I did still worry about it a little bit: The mounts worked, but I've popped the 3M mount off a snowboard on a hard day of riding, and since then have depended on the large suction cup and a tether for safety.
It's housed in a tough plastic case, that locks tight, which makes it waterproof enough to submerge it 30 metres. The camera takes SD cards, and between the 2xAAA battery life and 2GB of storage, you end up with about 1 hour of footage and life in the cold. Buy rechargeable batteries. (The camera is noted to have shorter battery life in colder weather and using lithium or NiMH you can get 2-3 hours in regular climates.) Video quality comes in at 512x384, and works well on cloudy days, but in bright environments it shines. The Hero also has a 5MP still mode which can record stills continuously at 2 or 5 second intervals. (I've included some samples in the gallery.)
The f/2.8 lens has 170-degree field of vision which allows for not only better light sensitivity, but the full context of whatever maneuvers you're pulling, and reduced jitter from vibrations. But it also has the effect of reducing the visual impact of what you're doing. A small jump will look small. Don't take this the wrong way — I prefer this wide angle lens to the alternative, which is having a zoomed-in, shakey cam shot. One other gripe I have is that the camera's group delete icon looks like the multiple still shot mode icon. I deleted a batch of great videos one day, by accident. I swear, I jumped over a house that day. Really.
Of course, your videos might not be as cool. At the lower end of the spectrum, I've compiled a few shots of me mostly falling.
*That song is a Hey Jude cover by Rico & the Rudies, from a Trojan Beatles Reggae box set.
As for the falls, don't worry. If you get this camera and use it to capture your adventures away from the computer, you'll likely look much better! I highly recommend this thing.
[GoPro will be bringing some Hero Wide cameras to Snowmodo.]