Is the new TomTom Bandit Action Camera worth buying for your travels? After testing it out here’s my full review and how it compares to the GoPro Hero…
I love capturing my travels and sharing all the awesome things I get up to on the road – whether its something simple like a group selfie on the beach at sunset and the epicness of swimming with wild dolphins or something a bit more extreme like white water rafting and paragliding I’m always keen to capture the chaos!
So when TomTom approached me to test out their new TomTom Bandit Action camera I was stoked to see if it would withstand the battering my adventure filled travels would put it through and if it would become a solid addition to my kit list.
But I was even more intrigued by the promise that it would make capturing an editing video a breeze – something I’ve never really explored due to the time constraints of working on the move.
So I bundled it into my bag for my recent trip to the Philippines to give it a thorough review.
Here’s how I got on with the TomTom Bandit after a week of island hopping, activities and blogger fuelled fun…
I first laid eyes on the TomTom Bandit amongst a fellow group of bloggers and the resounding impression was that it looked sleek and kind of like a light sabre!
Clean, white and with red detailing it certainly looked the part!
The tubular design makes it easy to hold and to shoot with and its heavy enough to feel steady and robust, whilst still light enough to chuck in your pocket or mount it.
So yeah, first impressions were pretty solid!
The User Experience
I’m always a keen advocate of trying not to read a user manual before playing with a new bit of tech – it’s the best way to test out how intuitive a device is and how much effort has been put into the user experience.
The TomTom Bandit is a pretty simple setup so it wasn’t hard to figure out – in fact there are only 2 buttons, a set of directional arrows, a release on the front lens and a release on the back…there’s not much room to get lost!
After switching it on the first thing that struck me was how easy and simple the main menu is to navigate and figure out. The black and white screen has 4 icons for the major modes – still image, movie, slow motion and time-lapse. Select one and your good to start shooting straight away.
Once you’ve selected a mode you can easily explore the other options and creativity within them – such as shooting specs, frame rates, image faming etc.
It’s quick and easy to switch between modes too using the directional arrows, so it was dead easy to mix up shooting still and video without any hassle.
TomTom have also made the decision to make a dedicated start and a dedicated stop button for recording video – which is awesome as you don’t accidentally stop recording. Perfect if your shooting in some slightly more action packed situations or aren’t sure if you hit record!
No More Cables
Alongside the ease of use on the user menu is the fact TomTom have opted to ditch the cables – for both recharging and downloading your images. They’ve done this through the use of a USB stick which is easily removed and inserted from the camera body – complete with micro SD slot and battery light indicators.
Your can then charge it via the computer, a USB socket (I actually used my iPhone charger!), in car USB charger or one of those awesome power sticks, which were a great variety of options on the move and allowed me to shoot even more footage on top of the 3 hours of shooting time on a full charge.
It’s simply a case of plug in and play!
For me this is one of the best features of the TomTom Bandit though is the highlight button.
This red star is positioned on the end of the camera and as well as acting as the start recording button you can also use it to “tag” highlights during filming.
Basically if something really cool happens you click it and it manually makes a note of the footage 6 seconds before it for ease of use in the editing process…which I’ll get to in a moment!
Not only that though but the built in sensors on the TomTom Bandit also make additional highlights too based on movement and even speed, so if you quickly pan to capture the action or find yourself accelerating (as was the case whilst zip lining and quad biking) when you come to editing it has already made a note of it!
How epic is that?!
The App & Shake To Edit
Ok so the highlighting thing is cool in theory but how does it work in practice?
Well after connecting your TomTom Bandit to your smartphone via the inbuilt wifi (which is quickly activated via a single navigation button in any mode) you boot up the Bandit App.
This allows you to live preview what you’re currently shooting, switch modes on the camera, start/stop recording and of course review and download the footage you have already taken – both videos and photos.
However the real magic lies within the “shake to edit” feature.
Clicking on “Create A Story” you have two options – “Shake To Edit” and “Add Highlights”
If you shake your smartphone on this screen the TomTom Bandit app automatically grabs some of your highlights and puts together a quick edit for you – in a matter of seconds! You can then instantly watch it back, reshake for a new edit, add some music from your phones library or delve in an edit it a bit more.
Seriously within seconds of shooting you can have a video of all your highlights set to music and ready to share on Facebook, YouTube or ready to email to your friends or show on your phone!
Now for anyone with little or no experience with video editing that’s AMAZING!
If you have some more time on your hands, creativity or video know how then you can also manually select from your library or highlight reel and put together your own edit or add to the shake to edit selection.
This is easily done and you can then rearrange them with a simple drop and drag format.
Sure it’s a fairly raw edit and relies on your ability to highlight things at the right moment – but for most people that’s more than enough and for those who have some video editing knowledge it also means you can quickly create a basic edit from which to from on your computer later on.
It’s so quick and easy that on my first day in the Philippines – in fact my first day with the TomTom Bandit – I spent the morning shooting heaps of footage, tagging merrily away and whilst sipping a casual beer before heading back to the boat I edited up the footage from the day…and here are the results…
Perfect for sharing your travels whilst on the move and without the needs for a laptop or any additional editing software!
One Camera, Many Options
One of the most clever things TomTom have done with the Bandit Camera is include an adaptor which allows you to use GoPro accessories – which opens up a HUGE variety of add ons!
The TomTom Bandit itself has a easy to use mounting system which even allows you to rotate the camera sideways whilst attached, it’s simple to remove and reposition but stable enough to handle action sports.
This compatibility with so many accessories means you can either switch from your existing GoPro without wasting heaps of money or if the TomTom Bandit is your first action camera you have access to all manner of mounts to get really creative with your shooting – from surf mounts and helmet mounts to panoramic timers and floating snorkel grips.
TomTom also have a wide range of dedicated Bandit accessories launching soon too including selfie sticks, floating housings, wrist mounts and even a remote control to make tagging highlights even more convenient.
And Vs The GoPro?!
The big questions though is how does the TomTom Bandit compares against the GoPro?
Out of all the camera kit I travel with on the road there’s two devices I use to capture most of my adventures are my iPhone and my GoPro Hero4.
So when TomTom approached me to test out the TomTom Bandit I knew they’d have a tough time convincing me to ditch the GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition I’ve been using for the past 8 months!
Especially given the fact the TomTom Bandit Base Pack retails at £299 – the same as the RRP of the GoPro Hero 4.
I’ve shot thousands of still images over the years with a variety of GoPro cameras and also heaps of video too, however the video remains stagnant on my hard drive as I’ve never had the patience or time to edit them into a semi decent clip!
The fact that in the last week I’ve created 4 video clips and started my YouTube channel is a huge high five to the TomTom team for opening up a new creative avenue!
The video quality is almost identical to the GoPro Hero 4 too – shooting at 1080 30fps – and the built in time-lapse and slow mo modes give you even more creativity.
Photo wise the TomTom Bandit has a 16MP camera with wide or narrow angle options.
…and of course the directional menu selection means switching between modes on the TomTom Bandit is much easier the with the GoPros rather clunky and fiddly menu system!
Now my biggest issue with the TomTom Bandit in regards to it’s limitation against the GoPro is the fact the photo options are rather limited.
The GoPro Hero 4 has a variety of burst modes – including continuous shots every .5secs which is a mode I use heaps for adventure activities and selfies and options to capture a set amount of images in a variety of quick bursts which is perfect when things are moving quickly and you need to capture an exact moment!
The TomTom Bandit on the other hand has 2 options to take 10 images either over 1 or 2 seconds, which is pretty limiting sometimes.
I hope this is something TomTom will address in a software update soon, it’s really the only downside to shooting with the Bandit over the GoPro!
The other key difference to point out is the waterproofing.
Whilst the GoPro Hero 4 (and indeed all the GoPro range bar the new GoPro Session) are waterproof to 40m in a standard housing the TomTom Bandit is splash proof and you’ll need to opt for the Premium Pack or purchase the dive lens cover add on to allow you to go diving and waterproof it to 50m.
Even so this upgrade is super easy to install (took me less than 30 seconds!) and this also means there’s no fiddly case to unlock and seal to access and use the camera like the GoPro.
Also, despite the TomTom Bandit lacking a preview screen (unlike my GoPro Hero 4 Silver) I didn’t actually find this an issue and you can still live preview what you’re shooting via the Bandit App on your smartphone, which is actually much easy to use and with less lag time that its GoPro counterpart.
So Should I Get One?!
On my first day shooting with the TomTom Bandit I also took my GoPro along for the ride as a backup – not wanting to miss capturing any of the cool stuff I was getting up to.
I didn’t turn the GoPro on all day and it never left my backpack for the remainder of the trip!
With the TomTom Bandit Base Pack (including 2 sticky mounts and GoPro adaptor mount) at £299 and the Premium Pack (with the addition of the remote control, dive lens, 360 pitch mount and handle bar mount) at £379 it’s very much in the same price bracket as the GoPro range – especially with the GoPro Hero 4.
If you’re torn between the two for I’d say it comes down to video vs photos.
If you want to shoot video and have little to no editing knowledge the TomTom Bandit is a no brainer. Actually even if you have editing knowledge it’s a solid piece of kit that will make life heaps easier.
If you want more options and creative control over still images though until TomTom expand the Bandits shooting options the GoPro is the better option – however the TomTom Bandit still shoots incredible stills, all be it with a few limitations!
So would I recommend one?
Well simply put – yes!
Although this is TomToms first step into the action camera market and despite a few limitations on the shooting modes the TomTom Bandit is a freaking epic piece of kit and has totally changed my view on creating and sharing video.
For me I’m converted and I’m massively stoked to keep using the TomTom Bandit to document my adventures and hopefully give you even more inspiration to go explore the world!
…so make sure you subscribe to my new YouTube Channel for heaps more video goodness!
**PLEASE NOTE – I received a free TomTom Bandit to review, but rest assure all opinion are honest and my own**