The helmet cam has been one of the biggest things to ever hit the action sports market. These relatively inexpensive, easy-to-use cameras have made it both affordable and easy to capture action sports film, enabling everyone from beginners to pros to film their greatest (and worst) exploits. Helmet cams have been so popular, in fact, that GoPro founder Nicholas Woodman recently made the ranks of billionaire.
Helmet cams aren't without their flaws, however. When mounted on a helmet, cameras like the GoPro Hero line sit square on top of the head, where they can be awkward and difficult to control. Wearers also run the risk of having the camera get smacked or entangled with tree branches, rocks, ropes, etc.
The new Video Head camera helmet pulls the action camera off its Teletubby-like perch on top of the helmet and slides it inside, where it's easier to access and less likely to get caught on a tree branch, parachute cord and the like.
Video Head helmets integrate the lens and electronics into the helmet itself, pulling the camera out of the way and making it easier to control. The lens is built into the front of the helmet and can be adjusted into four different positions. The large power and record buttons are located on the lower right side of the helmet, making them very easy to access. A red LED light located on the rim turns on with the camera and flashes to let the filmer know it's recording. The helmet also beeps as an audio cue.
Video Head will hit the market with three different models, beginning next month. The VX1 is an entry level model that offers VGA resolution (30 fps) and a 60-degree lens. It's designed for beginners, those looking for something more affordable and/or those that don't need the highest-resolution footage. It will retail for US$55. The VX3 offers 720p (30 fps) footage through a 120-degree lens and will retail for $120. The top-end VX5 is a 1080p (60 fps) model with a 127-degree lens that will retail for $200. The VX5 will be launched exclusively through REI, while the lower models will be sold through a variety of sports retailers.
All Video Head helmets have a mini mic for audio recording, and the VX3 and VX5 take still photos at 5 megapixels and 10 megapixels, respectively. The VX1 has 2 GB of storage, good for about 30 minutes of footage, and the VX3 and VX5 have 8 GB of storage, good for about 60 minutes of footage. The lithium-polymer battery of each model delivers enough life to fulfill those 30- or 60-minute footage capabilities. A USB 2.0 port makes for easy uploading and charging.
The Video Head prices look well cheaper than other action cameras, particularly when you consider that you're getting both camera and helmet. Assuming they offer quality footage, Video Head helmets seem like a compelling alternative to GoPros, Contours and other standalone action cams.
Video Head's parent company C-Preme is a helmet manufacturer that has several lines of children's helmets, so it has experience in the space. The Video Head helmets use an ABS shell and EPS foam interior. The company's initial materials don't specify the safety certifications that the Video Head helmets meet, but they are clearly marketed at skaters and BMX riders. The rep we spoke to also mentioned that they're working on designs for mountain biking and other sports. While Video Head's first generation of camera hardware is a step behind the action-cam competition in terms of features like Wi-Fi, Video Head has plans to offer more features in future models.