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The television-broadcast world is nearing the end of its HDTV revolution. Almost every show on TV is now broadcast in HD. It’s time for consumer video gear to catch up. While most consumer-grade camcorders record in HD, many of the niche-type video recorders, such as those you can wear, are not yet capturing HD. But the Drift HD170 is.
I recently wrote about Drift Innovation’s X170 Action Camera, a rugged, waterproof video camera that you can mount on the front of a kayak, a helmet, the handlebars of a bike, and so on. It’s a great product, but it doesn’t capture HD footage. Because of high consumer demand for HD gadgetry, Drift Innovation has just announced the HD170. It’s almost identical to the X170 except that it can record in HD.
In an overview post on June 30, Moshe Lehrer mentioned the HD170 and some of its features. I'll explore a bit more in depth in this post.
The Drift HD170 can record 1080p, 720p and WVGA video in the H.264 format at 30 frames per second. Everything is automatic, but a manual exposure mode is provided for advanced users. A 4x digital zoom that works in the 720p and WVGA modes lets you close in on the action. In addition to video, the HD170 can capture 5-megapixel still photos. A photo burst mode can be set to take pictures every few seconds until your memory card is full. The camera has an SD/SDHC slot that supports memory cards up to 32 GB.
A remote control with a 5-meter range lets you choose the best mounting position for the camera even if it would normally be out of reach, say, on the front bumper of an off-road vehicle. The remote lets you pause and resume recording when appropriate, rather than simply allowing the camera to run continuously. The remote control is matched to the camera to prevent you from inadvertently controlling your friend’s camera in case they have the same model.
Once you capture some footage, you can review it immediately on the 1.5" color LCD; a built-in speaker lets you hear the audio. An external microphone input lets you record clear audio at times when wind noise and other distractions might be picked up by the HD170’s built-in microphone.
Various mounts are included with the HD170, allowing you to attach the camera to anything you can think of. You get a handlebar mount, a goggle mount, a head strap, a helmet grip, a universal clip, a hook and loop fastener and an industrial-strength adhesive pad. A rotating lens lets you mount the camera at any angle and still get shots that are properly oriented. And there’s no need to worry if the camera gets wet, because it’s waterproof to half a meter (1.6 feet).
The camera is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. A USB 2.0 port lets you download content to a computer, and an HDMI port lets you play back content on an HDTV. USB and HDMI cables are included with the camera. Relatively small in size, the HD170 measures 5.24 x 1.97 x 1.30 inches and weighs 4.87 ounces. Not small enough to be stealthy, the HD170 nonetheless can help you capture action footage that would otherwise require a daredevil film crew.