Ease of Use: / 5
Pricing: / 5
Video Quality: / 5
Photo Quality: / 5
Features: / 100
- 5 Megapixel CMOS Sensor
- HD Video – 720p at 30 Frames Per Second
- Waterproof – IP68
- Laser Pointer For Position Tracking
- 120 Degree 5G All Glass Lens
- Pricing: R1499, exclusively at Kalahari.com
Kalahari.com has started selling the Gobii brand quite recently and is the sole distributor of this brand. This Action Camera from Gobii is another product that Kalahari.com is hoping will do well.
The action camera genre has not been one that has had a lot of competition. It has only been inhabited by a handful of hopefuls to the crown, which has been held by the GoPro Hero camera, and rightly so. The GoPro Hero has done everything it promised well. So is the Gobii Action Camera a worthy challenger to the GoPro Hero? Let’s see:
On the Outside:
The Action Camera looks well designed from the outside and seemed quite rugged. There have been two main designs when it comes to action cameras – the pencil shape, or the stocky camera, a la Hero. The Gobii Action Camera is built in the pencil shape, and it worked quite well for stability at high speeds.
Gobii claims that the Action Camera is underwater and has an IP68 certification. This does not actually say how deep the camera can go underwater, and I did not test this capability. Although, having put the camera through some other punishments, I’m sure that it would do fine underwater.
Button operation worked very well was well thought out. The buttons were clearly marked and the little display showed all the right info. In fact, it was much easier to operate than the GoPro Hero.
Stopping and starting the recording went off without a hitch and the camera even has a remote control, which also worked really well.
The camera has all the connectivity that you could want. It has TV Out and HDMI out to hook it up to your television and USB, to transfer files to your computer. The battery has its own charger and it charged quite rapidly. The camera shoots to SD card, which is good.
The mounting accessories that came with the Action Camera worked fantastically and seemed rugged enough to take quite a beating. The head /bike strap was solid and the suction cup mount was a breeze to work. The suction mount design is actually quite brilliant in its simplicity and usability, with you being able to position the camera just the way you want.
There were two major drawbacks on the outside though. Firstly, there is no screen. Yes it has a laser pointer, but in real life it just didn’t work very well. The laser points to the mid-point of where you are aiming, but that does not help in order to figure out where the footage stops. So you are actually guessing where you are pointing the camera at. This I found a huge issue. The other drawback might come with time. Unlike other cameras, like the Hero, the lens is exposed to all the elements you decide to take it into. It’s a small lens and one scratch or ding could make for a forced repair, as the lens is not replaceable.
On the inside:
Looking at the design and outer workings of the Gobii Action Camera, I was quite impressed. It is a really easy camera to use. But that is where the good news ends.
As I said, the camera does not have a screen, so I had no idea what was shot with the camera. Now, not being able to exactly aim where you want to shoot would be okay if the camera shot if full HD, 1080p. But this camera only shoots 720p. That already puts the camera at a huge disadvantage to the other action cameras.
Upon opening up the footage on my computer, I saw that everything I shot had a date-stamp on it. Are you serious Gobii?!? Honestly, who puts a date stamp on a video camera? The date stamp was also so far down the screen, that it was impossible to try to crop it out. I couldn’t figure out where or how to disable it.
This was shocking, but what was even more shocking was the actual video quality the Gobii Action Camera produced.
Firstly, the video itself is terrible. This camera shoots MP4 files in an AVI wrapper with an Xvid codec. The video looks over-compressed, with no real sharp detail produced. A four minute video came to only 200MB. Great if you want to save space on the memory card, terrible if you want good quality video. And the audio is recorded in Mono channel at a measly 64kb/s. MP3s nowadays are compressed at triple/quadruple that bitrate.
As if the video itself wasn’t bad enough, the metering on the camera was TERRIBLE. Have a look at the video below. I hooked up a GoPro Hero next to the Gobii Action Camera, to be able to compare the footage, and the results speak for themselves. Although that was the old Hero 1, the footage is still well exposed, the white balance good and much more details in the footage, minus that nasty artifacting. The Hero 1 has already been replaced last year, which should tell you just how far behind the Gobii Action Camera is behind its competition.
I must say that the image stabilization of the Action Camera was quite good, and the car setup for instance, seemed more solid than the Hero camera.
Also, if you have a look at the main video link below, at one point in the video, the car turns and a bit of the sun is visible in shot. As that happens, everything just goes white. The metering system chokes and doesn’t manage to recover for a full 10-15seconds. Absolutely terrible.
The white-balance also kept being too cold/blue and the lens showed nasty chromatic aberrations. Look out for the trees in the top left, on the Gobii vs. Hero video above.
After having handled the camera and found how easy it was to operate, I had quite high hopes for this camera. Could this be the product that Gobii actually got right? It sure felt so.
But as soon as the first clip started playing, all my hopes got dashed by nasty quality footage and the worst metering I’ve seen in a camera. How could this camera be so half thought out? The design and use is great, trumping many of the other cameras, yet the internals are atrocious.
I simply cannot recommend that anybody buy this camera. It cannot do the basics right, and although it handles nicely, the end result is appalling. This one has to be re-thought and re-worked by Gobii.
Don’t take this one home!
The video of the Gobii Action camera: