When it comes to action cameras, GoPro has a commanding lead that's still growing — just yesterday we learned that GoPro started 2015 with its second-highest sales quarter ever. But as GoPro starts turning its attention toward virtual reality and broadcast television, other companies — many of them not typically associated with photography — are trying to come up with unique ways to bite off small parts of the action camera market. For example, Garmin has ruggedized cameras, the Flir is a combination action camera and home security device, and the HTC Re is... something. Now another company is entering the mix: TomTom.
This morning, TomTom announced the Bandit, a tubular action camera with a few unique features of its own. For one, the Bandit acts as a media server, letting users edit videos on their phone without needing to transfer files. It will let you mark exciting moments with a press of a button while you're recording so you don't have to sift through hours of footage on your computer. Or if you like to be more hands-off, TomTom says the camera can analyze the data it captures (things like speed, location, and altitude) to pick highlight clips on its own. And, much like Garmin's VIRB X and XE cameras, the Bandit will capture and let you overlay that information on your videos.
The strangest feature is what TomTom calls "shake to edit," which works exactly as it sounds. As you're reviewing your footage with the companion app, you can quickly create a supercut of your footage with just the flick of a wrist. TomTom's lead engineer calls it a "radical approach to solving the editing problem," which is a bombastic way of saying that it removes some fine levels of control so that you can get videos online more quickly.
If you're looking for high-quality recording options, look elsewhere
The Bandit also features a 1900 mAh battery, which the company says will offer up to three hours of battery life. That's much longer than even GoPro's best camera, the Hero 4 Black, can last. But if you're looking for the kind of high-resolution recording quality that GoPro offers, you won't find it here. While the Bandit can technically shoot 4K, it can only do so at 15 frames per second — well under the frame-rate that our eyes and brain can interpret as smooth video. Otherwise you're left choosing between fewer resolution and frame rate options than you find on cameras made by Sony and GoPro — you can shoot 2.7k footage at 30 frames per second, 1080p footage at 60 frames per second, or 720p footage at 120 frames per second.
The Bandit won't be cheap — the basic package will cost €429 ($479) when it's released in Europe next month, and a premium package with accessories, mounts, and a remote that will cost even more. TomTom says the camera won't make it to the United States until later this summer.