The Drift HD Action Camera offers a decent alternative in the highly competitive POV market. Featuring a slender 4-inch design, similar to a Contour-like camera, it mounts well to most helmets for mountain biking and skiing. I tested both the sticky mount for mountain biking and side-goggle mount for skiing.
Out of the box the camera has a soft rubbery feel, which I found pleasing over the typical hard plastic of other cameras. Sealed buttons provide good tactile feedback as you push them, which compared to the GoPro2’s hard-to-push buttons, is a nice change. I was unable to get the included remote to work after about 5 minutes of tinkering, so I proceeded without it. Surprisingly, the combination of easy-to-find record button and audio feedback, it was easy to start and stop recording while mounted and out of view. My only complaint operating this way was there is no audio feedback when you turn the camera off. If you’re trying to conserve battery power, this could be make or break it if you jump on the chairlift for 15 minutes and the camera is still on.
The Drift’s side-mounted screen is a nice addition over your standard GoPro2 or Contour camera. Its side position, however, makes it a little awkward when trying to frame a shot, since you are not looking down the camera. The screen is relatively low quality, so don’t expect a high level of detail when reviewing shots, but it does come in handy navigating the menu and making sure clips are being recorded. During my testing skiing, I ran into a issue where the camera would record clips but I could not review them on the screen. I am not sure if this was a card formatting issue, I was using the same Micro SD card in a different camera the day before, but it could be a little nerve racking on a deep powder day or if you plan on dropping that big cliff and you’re not sure if you are getting the shot.
Both times tested, the Drift was able to shoot pretty much continually through out the day skiing or during a two-hour mountain bike ride with out any battery issues. Using a larger Miro SD card file size, you should have no problem recording all day. A five-minute clip is roughly 500 mbs, to give you a sense of the file size. As seen below in the example videos, the picture quality is actually quite good. The camera shoots your standard POV frame rates and does offer 60fps in 720p, for slow motion style shooting. Offering up a 170-degree shooting angle and 300 degrees of lens rotation, the Drift HD is easy to mount in various places around your helmet. The one down side of such a convex lens is that on super sunny days, you have a tendency to capture some lens flare. Color balance was accurate based on the two situations I tested it in and there was a little exposure shifting when moving in and out of lighter and darker areas, but nothing that ruined the shots.
Overall, the camera was easy to use and shoots good-looking images. However, in comparison to some of the competition, the Drift HD has some catching up to do. One of its biggest faults, in my opinion, is the menu system. For me it just wasn’t that user friendly and easy to navigate. Additionally, at $299 as of writing this review, it will be a hard sell compared with the guerrilla of the POV market, GoPro.