For some of you, sport is an inseparable part of your life, and sometimes you just want to film those action and show-off the extremeness to your friends. Shooting a video with your phone is definitely inconvenient and weird, not to even mention the trouble to keep it safe and sound while you defy gravity.
On the 2nd of March, Xiaomi launched a "lightweight" new product —— the Yi Action Camera. While it shares some similarities with the Yi Smart Camera, it should be noted that both serves very different purposes: the Yi Smart Camera is for surveillance and realtime video while the Yi Action Camera is for filming of outdoor sports and travelling.
For the field of action cameras, it has always been the empire of GoPro. From brand fame, product design to quality recognition, GoPro has always been the reigning champion. With the Yi Action Camera slowly threading into this new territory, how will it compete against the giant? Who will come out on top?
Ditching the white colour hue on the Yi Smart Camera, the Yi Action Camera adopts the traditional cardboard box design found on other Xiaomi devices. The packaging of the standard edition of Yi Action Camera is no bigger than that of the MiBand, only thinner.
This is the Forest Green version of the Yi Action Camera (a pure white version is also available). There was also a black pre-production unit, but heat absorption is the bane of the colouration, thus it might not go into mass production.
The Yi Action Camera is sold in either the standard edition or the travel edition. Both editions come with a Yi Action Camera, a Li-Po rechargeable battery, a data cable and a user manual/product information booklet, with the addition of a monopod for the Travel Edition and a 100 Yuan price increase.
The First Impression
The very first difference between the Yi Action Camera and the likes of GoPro and Sony is the choice of colour.
The Yi Action Camera sports a striking and bold colour hue, especially the Forest Green edition which mixes chartreuse with turqoise. The splash of striking colours not only appeals to the younger generation but also to some of elders.
Pre-launch adverts mentioned a lightweight product with the size of a matchbox, and after handling the real deal, it truely lives up to it's name. With a 60.4 X 42.0 X 21.2mm dimension and a mere 72g weight, it is really portable.
Using polycarbornate as the material of production, the only difference between front face and the rest of the camera is the surface treatment of matte or gloss. Also up front are the power button and the optics, with a ring of LED around the power button that indicates the power left in the battery: blue indicates 50 - 100% charge, purple for 15 - 49% and red for 0-14%.
A Record/Capture button sits on the top, again with a LED light to indicate operations, together with a microphone. The matte and pattern of the camera body allows for better grip when you hold it to film your action.
A screwhole at the bottom allows for attaching the camera to a tripod or monopod, besides the presence of a buzzer on the right.
The Yi Action Camera comes with a removable 1010mAH Li-Po battery. User only have to remove the back cover and stuff the battery in then you're good to go. There's also a USB port, HDMI output and TF card slot with a maximum of 64GB of storage supported.
While the Yi Action Camera supports direct filming or photographing, an app is needed should the users want to view or extract the files from the camera. A QR Code is included in the supplied booklet or users can head to the Mi Market app to download the app.
The app is currently in Chinese, but a translated version is available here
The Yi Action Camera connects to the phone via a hotspot created with it's built-in WiFi module. Just press on the WiFi button on the right side of the Yi Action Camera, wait till the indication light blinks blue then connect to the camera via the phone app.
The Yi Action Camera supports still shots, 10 continuous quick snaps and a video recording mode which users can change easily using the phone app. Also supported are time lapse, delayed shooting and trajectory shooting etc.
The optics is a combination of a 16MP Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor with a F2.8 155° wideangle lens. The video supports Full HD 60p shooting or HD 120p shooting and a maximum still photo resolution to 16MP.
Conclusion: Is the Yi Action Camera Worth the Money?
Scrolling through the photos especially those under bright day light, it is clear that the Yi Action Camera deserves some respect. Packing hardware that matches, if not supersede, action cameras by rival companies, the Yi Action Camera is surely making a statement. Besides, action cameras aren't meant to be standalone cameras, a wide range of accessories are bound to be released for the Yi Action Camera besides the monopod from the Travel Edition. Waterproof cases, bluetooth remote, head gear and pet gear etcetra will be released in the future, taking action camera fun to the whole new level.
To be honest, the Yi Action Camere still lacks behind in terms of image quality and consumer professionalism as compared to the industrial leading GoPro. However, the Yi Action Camera will still be a hit in the market with the strong brand reputation of Xiaomi and it's wide user base. With only a starting price of 399 Yuan (Approx. USD 64) at one-seventh of the price of a GoPro, will you buy one?