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JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION “Quad Proof” Action Camera


Product details: Small video camera for action use with ‘Quad-Proof Design’: 5m Waterproof/2m Shockproof/Dustproof/Freezeproof
Manufacturer: JVC
Phone: 0845 310 8000
Website: http://www.jvc.co.uk/article.php?id=100552&catid=21&lg=en
Typical Selling price: £249.99 (less on line)


In a Nutshell
A serious contender for the action cam market, with tested-to-four-gravities-by-us shockproofing, proper waterproofing and a truly excellent set of options for the resolution of recordings, up to 60 frames per second and with full 1922x1080 HD at 30 fps. You need to have a PC to get the fullest useage of all the features as well as to perform the intial set up. We didn’t deep freeze it… yet.


SCORES
Overall 8.8
Sound & Vision Quality 9
Appearance/Display 8
Ease Of Use/HMI 8
Features 9
Value For Money 10









Scoring Sufficiently well to garner a Talk Audio Recommended Flag:







Long-term test by Simon King


JVC are still one of the big players in the camcorder market. They were the first to bring 3D recording to the consumer market and further back in the past they were the standard-bearers for the VHS-C system (if you can remember that long ago!). But the camcorder market is evolving – millions of people every day shoot ‘from the hip’ with their smartphone and the traditional handheld camcorder is under threat.

One of the few growth areas is action cameras. GoPro have enjoyed enormous success in this area with their ‘Hero’ product – a small ruggedisable (with the right options) camera that has gained significant mindshare with the extreme sports crowd. The problem is, to get all the accessories you need pretty much doubles the base cost of the product, and they’re not cheap to start with.

Enter JVC. While not their first rugged camera, it certainly seems part of a new market focus for them. Out of the box, they call it ‘Quad Proof’ – shock, water, dust and freeze. So now, to the elephant in the room – why the hell are we reviewing this on Talk Audio?

Well, quite a few of you drive a fair amount, either for pleasure or business. And trip recorders are becoming a popular purchase what with the rise of accident scams. So, rather than spending around a ton on a single purpose device, is it worth doubling your money for a multi-purpose one?

(Editor’s note: PLENTY of Talk Audio readers will be gripped by this…. Adam!)

To begin at the beginning – the setup. I’ll be honest, this is probably the weakest element of the XA1. JVC are apparently blissfully unaware of this ‘post PC world’ where a ‘full’ computer isn’t required to get your gadgets set up and working. If you want to use the remote viewfinder or uStream functionality you’re going to need a Windows PC. Despite the screen and enough buttons to do text input (OK, it wouldn’t be pleasant but it’s a one off deal), you’re unable to setup your wifi access points from the device, even though the menus might give you the impression that you can. Worse still, the WiVideo software has two modes – USB and Wifi. USB mode allows you to configure the Wifi networks and accounts the camera can use. Wifi mode allows you to use the camera with your computer as a remote webcam. So you end up toggling between the two modes to utilise the full functionality of the device. Who thought this was a good idea?

Thankfully, getting out and about with the device shows it in a much better light. Button count is minimal at six and while the left/right/play/menu buttons are a little vague through their rubber seals, the power and most importantly rec/stop buttons are firm and satisfying. Rec/stop in particular has noticeable physical click and is accompanied by a digital chirp to let you know that recording has started – reassuring if the thing is strapped to the side of your head and you can’t see the flashing light on the front. Although the screen is on the ‘side’ of the device and therefore not a lot of use in framing the shot, it is exceptionally useful for navigating through the menus and choosing the recording resolution.






So how does it fare doing the fun stuff? Well to very well would be the answer. The bitrate is high enough to keep up with the fast range of motion and the sound is surprisingly good at up to about 60mph, especially when you consider the microphone is on the top. You can choose to record in 60 frames per second for smoother motion and less blurring at high speed but only in 720p – 1080p is limited to the more common 30 frames per second. On the bike and rollercoasters 720/60 was my favourite setting – you really get a sense of the pace that you’re going! As a trip recorder 720/30 gave a respectably small 1.2gb file for a 75 minute drive to Evesham. The biggest drawback is a tendancy to ‘blow out’ lighter sky detail and a slightly sluggish adjustment when going from dark to light but it’s acceptable given the size of the device

The 1050mAh battery may seem low by camcorder or smartphone standards, but it is removable and gives the device some respectable legs. That 75 minute trip used a third of the battery according to the three segment meter (but I suspect it was nearer half). Freshly charged, I managed to shoot a mornings’ Airsofting (in reality, about two and a half hours of actual game time) before the battery gave out. If you were out boarding for a day you’d probably want a couple of extra batteries if you were filming all the time. The drawback is you can’t record while the camera is on charge – the USB socket is behind the watertight door with the battery and memory card which is understandable but a shame. It would be nice if there was an option in the menus to enable this.






It’s worth noting that the mounting solution is both sensibly standard and a bit of a curse. There are two standard tripod mounting threads – one on the ‘bottom’ and one on the ‘side’. The side mount is used by the included goggles mount which is so much of a faff it isn’t included in the newer version. The ‘pretty little screwdriver’ that Adam raved about is used to screw four tiny screws in to place to secure the strap mount once you’ve attached the first half of the mount to the camera. So to take the camera off the mount (or the mount off the strap) you need to fiddle with something more akin to mending your glasses. It’s not the world’s greatest design by a long stretch. Thankfully, due to the standard thread a dash mount cost me £4 from the bay of E and a chest harness £24 from Amazon (JVC don’t do an official one – a missed opportunity I think!). This really starts to prove the versatility of this little device. There’s umpteen and one places you can stick it (ooh err!) and even control it remotely!

The smartphone app is again called WiVideo and is somewhat better than the desktop version. It still feels unfinished and some of the functionality just doesn’t work very well. You can use your phone as a remote viewfinder, but you need to turn on Hotspot Mode, connect the camera to the phone’s hotspot (but you have to have put these credentials in via the desktop version of WiVideo) and then you can see what the camera sees and crucially start and stop the recording as well. You can also view your recordings but it takes ages to search through the video (about 30 seconds from when you move the scrub bar) and the video keeps pausing. This is doubly annoying as while you can play back your footage on the devices’ own screen you can’t fast forward.

In use, the JVC proved to be as sturdy as initial impressions suggested. While airsofting I made a cardboard screen cover and put one of the two provided clear lens protectors on but it got shot several times to no ill effect. ‘Big Scary Rides’ (Adam’s term!) Nemesis and The Smiler both pull over 4G’s which can cause cheaper cameras to skip and pack up – again it performed like a champ. (I’m sorry, Nutterboy, but at four gravities, have you ANY idea how MUCH I weigh? That IS scary. Proper scary! Ed.) Rolling shutter distortion was also kept to a minimum. Wanting to test the waterproofing I simply chucked it in the bath for a few minutes which, with a £250 review sample is quite nerve-wracking. “Yeah, Adam – can you get JVC to send another one…..? I busted this one. How? Well, ah errm, you see…. it’s a funny story…” was a phone call I was glad not to have to make.

After a couple of weeks living with the XA1 and subjecting it to my various hobbies I’m left with a positive impression. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination – chiefly the software needs quite a bit of work and it can be idiosyncratic at times. But the price/performance is bang on and now its newer and bigger brother is out it can be picked up for an even more bargainous price. If there’s ever been a situation where you were too scared to grab your camcorder or your smartphone and film for fear of damaging them then this Adixxion has got you covered. And you can mount it to the dash and pretend to your wife you bought it for ‘safety’. What’s not to like?



“Simon King, adrenaline addict, was SO the right man for this job…..”




Specifications

JVC ADIXXION GC-XA1 Primary Features

• Quad-Proof Design: 5m Waterproof / 2m Shockproof / Dustproof / Freezeproof
• Built-in WiFi (smartphone linking, streaming and remote control functions)
• 5M CMOS Sensor
• Super Wide Lens
• 1.5-inch LCD Monitor
• 5x Digital Zoom
• Digital Image Stabiliser (DIS)
• Full HD 1920x1080 30p Recording
• 5 Megapixel Stills
• SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slot
• Time-Lapse REC
• White Balance (Auto & Manual) / Exposure (Auto)
• Self-timer
• HDMI® Terminal (mini)
• USB Cable provided
• WiVideo PC Software provided



Provided Accessories

• Goggle Mount: Attaches to goggle strap with supplied screws.
• Flexible Mount: Adheres to flat or curved surface with supplied 3M double-sided tape.
• Lens Protector x2
• LCD Protection Film
• USB Cable
• Rechargeable Battery



Optional Accessories

• Roll Bar Mount MT-RB001: Fits pipes from 21mm to 40mm (7/8in – 1-5/8in) in diameter.
• Handle Bar Mount MT-HB001: Fits pipes from 21mm to 30mm (7/8in – 1-3/16in) in diameter.
• AC Adapter AC-V17UL / AC-V10L: Charges ADIXXION battery from outlet.
• Float Strap WA-FL001: To help the camera float while in water.
• Goggle Mount MT-GM001
• Flexible Mount MT-FM001
• Lens Protector GL-LP001
• Battery BN-VH105


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