Zeblaze ishot1 Waterproof WiFi HD Action Camera Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

 


The action camera market is fierce competition.  But in North America, aside from the company that started the trend, GoPro, there's really only a small handful of legitimate action camera options to choose from, and their all somewhat similar in price, with the top models reaching upwards of $500USD.  Not everyone can afford the top models, and not everyone wants a stripped down model.

I just recently reviewed the Polaroid CUBE HD action camera and that drove the price down to only $99USD, but that was not in a similar package of a sports action camera.  It had no bundled accessories, no waterproof casing, a small battery because of its miniature size, the CUBE is targeted to a different crowd.  That's not to say it was bad, because it was still very fun to use.

Well across the other side of the world in China, the story is a bit different.  There's tons of action cameras in China, from companies you've never heard of, there must be hundreds upon hundreds of companies popping up so often you cannot count.  And who can blame them when there's a market of over 1.3 billion in their doorstep. But because there are so many, you never know what you're really getting there because there are action cameras that look like a GoPro, but surely don't perform as one.

Today I have the chance at sharing with you about one company in China who's released a waterproof action camera that is inexpensive compared to the competition (about 1/4th the price of a top end GoPro), but isn't stripped down in terms of its features.  It's called the Zeblaze ishot1 and it sells for $115USD (listed price on Zeblaze website) from various online Chinese electronic gadget etailers and on Amazon.

In fact as you'll soon read, when observing the whole package, the Zeblaze ishot1 delivers a surplus of high end features such as a 170° ultra wide angle lens, WiFi connectivity so you can video record and photo capture from your iPhone or Android device, a 2.4GHz remote control wrist watch that allows you one touch video record or photo capture from a remote location, it's fully waterproof up to 60 meters without additional housing, it contains a 1.5" LCD screen so you can see what is being filmed, it offers a removable 1050 mAh battery that can record up to 120 minutes at 1080p/30fps, and last of all it contains an integrated dual LED flashlight that allows you to film even in pitch black lighting.  This feature alone sets the Zeblaze ishot1 apart from all other action cameras on the market.  The most expensive action cameras from GoPro, Sony, Drift Innovation, Contour, JVC, Polaroid, don't have a built-in LED flashlights, which makes the Zeblaze ishot1 waterproof WiFi HD action camera I am reviewing today even more noteworthy.  

Our in-depth review of the Zeblaze ishot1 is one of the longest reviews ever completed on ModSynergy.

Without further ado, let's get this review started! 

About Zeblaze

Zeblaze

Zeblaze operates from Shenzhen, China.

Zeblaze is a company dedicated to the design of Waterproof sport action camera for variety of extreme sports enthusiasts.  Our company is a pioneer vendor in the industry, and continually enables customer to better their lifestyle through innovative and functional products.  Since it's established, Zeblaze has sustained rapid and steady growth, cooperated with a number of key strategic partners and distributors, and developed a worldwide presence. 

Zeblaze mainly focuses and develop in sport camera, providing multi-specific action products on basis of the different condition.  If you enjoy your lifestyle and want to record your exciting moment, Zeblaze will offer the best resolution for you to remember the experience.

With Zeblaze sport action cameras, Explore more than deeper.

Editors Note: The description of Zeblaze above is directly from their website.  I find it a bit funny that they used the word pioneer and mentioned rapid and steady growth, when they are a new company and have only a single SKU.  Just thought I'd point this out because it seems from their company description that they've been in the industry for a number of years, but they clearly haven't.  But let's see now what they can offer with their Zeblaze ishot1 Waterproof WiFi HD Action Camera.

Zeblaze ishot1 Product Overview & Features

  • Fully Waterproof up to 60 meters without additional housing (IP68)
  • 1080p HD sensor (12MP) & 170° ultra wide angle lens
  • Supports 802.11b/g/n WiFi Connection: Apple/Android
  • 2.4GHz Remote Control Wrist Watch: Remote One-Touch Operation
  • Powerful 1050 mAh removable battery: 120 minutes in 1080p/30fps
  • Powerful dual LED lights (3-mode; High - Low - SOS Flash
  • Micro SD card slot
  • Integrated microphone
  • LED indicator
  • Accessories: Zeblaze ishot1 comes with various mounting accessories & carrying case keeps your camera safe, protected, and organized from any potential outside dangers

First Impressions


I've never heard of Zeblaze before so I had no clue what to expect.

The Zeblaze ishot1 comes packaged in a relatively large and simply designed 2-piece box with the Zeblaze logo smack center and with a sticker on the backside covering the product name and some features.  The box has a nice feel to it, its rigid and doesn't feel cheap.

Opening up the 2-piece box reveals the carrying case.  Immediately I was impressed, I thought it would be a simple cheap carrying case but this one is clearly premium in every sense of the word, it's a hard case with great materials throughout.  The case has nice quality zippers, stitching, and an extra loop to attach to something else.  The Zeblaze logo also sits at the center of the carrying case for that extra style.

Unzipping the premium hard carrying case reveals even more goodies inside.  There's a hard foam insert that organizes all the main items and there's an upper pouch carrying the rest of the accessories and user's manual. At this point my first impressions were extremely positive and I haven't even seen the camera yet.

The Zeblaze ishot1 sits in the center of the foam insert and is again protected with another foam insert at the very top.  This ensures more than enough protection during shipping and I'm glad to see Zeblaze has paid attention to detail.  It shows that they care and it shows that this is not your typical $115 product, they made it feel worth more.

So what's included?  Here's the list of all items that are included for $115USD...

  • Zeblaze ishot1 Waterproof WiFi HD Action Camera
  • 2.4GHz Remote Control Wrist Watch
  • 5V/1A USB Wall Charger
  • Micro USB Charge/Data Cable
  • Vertical Quick Release Buckle
  • Quick Release Buckle
  • Handlebar/Seatpost/Pole Mount
  • Roll Bar Mount
  • Tripod Mount
  • Head Strap Mount
  • 3M Double Sided Adhesive
  • Thumb Screw for mounts
  • User's Manual

For $115USD, the Zeblaze ishot1 comes with more than enough to get started, the bundle is very generous whereas other competing action cameras don't nearly provide as much accessories as they are sold as optional.  It has to be said that the Zeblaze ishot1 makes use of the GoPro style mounting hardware, so they appear to be interchangeable between original and aftermarket mounts.  Should you need other mounting hardware, they are readily available on the Internet.  The accessories that are bundled with the ishot1 feel solid and not cheap, they feel tough and not fragile that they will break.

The user's manual that is included could have been much better.  Admittedly there is broken English in this user's manual but for the most part you can decipher what the original meaning is intended to mean. But there are other times when reading that I felt I was reading something meant for another product entirely, it was strange.  The manual needs to be more simpler to understand for the international customer.  Because of the broken English, whoever wrote the manual should have offered less writing, but more photos and more diagrams to combat the language barrier.  This would have been the best way to go.  There were some things I just didn't understand in the manual and I ended up having to play around with the camera or wrist watch myself and figure out what it did.

Visual Overview

 

Zeblaze ishot1

The Zeblaze ishot1 looks eye-catching and it looks like its own unique design.  The style that emanates from it simply looks fantastic, it again feels like a quality product worth more than $115USD.  The styling looks very well done, I honestly don't know if visually they could have made anything significantly better than it already is. 

The first thing I noticed are the dual LED lights, because they appear yellowish when not being used.  This tells me that these LEDs are high power SMD emitters and not the cheap clear simple white LED types.  The lens in front of the LEDs are also semi frosted to diffuse the light being emitted.  It looks like they know what they are doing because the attention to detail is evident.

The second thing I noticed is the front panel material being different from the rest of the camera body.  Zeblaze decided to ditch using all plastic with the ishot1 and elected to use a more expensive one piece aluminum alloy front panel design!  Wow call me impressed because for $115USD, I wouldn't have blamed them if they used all plastic construction throughout, but Zeblaze is clearly pushing the limits here with the ishot1, and it's so refreshing to see.  Everything from where the front lens protrudes out, to the back panel where the ishot1 and WiFi symbols are, is a single slab of aluminum alloy.  The piece is very cool to the touch.  For even more protection and durability, the aluminum piece is powder coated so it can withstand harsh environmental conditions.

The Zeblaze ishot1 measures at the maximum (with parts sticking out) approximately 6.5 x 5.5 x 4.5cm or 2.56 x 2.17 x 1.77 inches.  So it's no Polaroid CUBE being 35mm (1.4") in all three dimensions, however, it's a different type of action camera, considerably more extreme than the  CUBE.  

According to my digital scale, the Zeblaze ishot1 with the battery inside and no mounts attached at the bottom, weighs 116 grams or 0.257 lbs, making it lightweight considering you don't need an extra housing to make it waterproof and considering the front panel is constructed out of aluminum alloy.  For comparison sake, a GoPro Hero4 Black with the waterproof housing on and battery inside is still heavier weighing in at 151 grams or 0.332 lbs despite having no aluminum on its body.

Construction wise, the Zeblaze ishot1 is formed with three different materials. Making up the ishot1 is the already mentioned aluminum alloy front panel, while the sides of the camera are made from hard matte plastic, and the rear door a fusion of hard plastic and soft touch textured rubber to provide impact protection and water seal for the buttons and LCD on the backside.  Workmanship as far as I can tell is excellent, everything feels solid and tough with no flex. 

The only slight drawbacks that you will end up living with, because of the black color and rubberized backing, is lint and dust.  The matte plastic construction can as well show visible markings over a period of time. 

Focusing on the very front, we find a big lens offering a 170° ultra wide angle field of view.  Zeblaze ishot1 records video at a resolution of 1080p at 30fps.  A protective blue film covers the lens during shipping, and once removed shows the front lens that appears to be plastic and not glass when I tap on it.  The front lens is protected from that aluminum alloy front panel if you were to drop it accidentally.

Action Camera

Two LED flashlights are located just above the lens in opposite sides of the camera and provide 3 modes of lighting, high, low, and what Zeblaze calls SOS, but in reality it's more of a strobe than SOS function.  As I stated before, the integrated dual LED lights alone sets the Zeblaze ishot1 apart from all other action cameras on the market.  You can use them to great effect in pitch black dark situations and because there is a SOS strobe function, you can use it in an event of an emergency.  Or you can use the strobe lighting effect if you're filming a scary movie. 

On the right hand side of the camera is a twist lock cover that protects the micro USB port and micro HDMI output port.  You need a coin to open and close this cover as it's a tight fit because there's a rubber seal to make it waterproof.

Coming to the very top of the ishot1 we find the Zeblaze logo, labeled power on/off button, labeled shutter button, and an unlabeled latch mechanism that allows access to the battery and micro SD card compartment.  I have a small nitpick about the latch mechanism, I thought it should have been more clearer for the user if it had either a directional arrow, number, or symbol that specified which way and which latch to open. But you figure how it all works very quickly and remember the process going forward.  The latch does requires great force when closing, which I suppose is a good thing as it provides a sense of assurance that it's tightly sealed. 

Another downfall of the latch mechanism, is that if not careful when closing everything back up, the latch can accidentally nip at the rubberized backside trim and rip it off.  This is partly due to the fact that the backside doesn't freely shut as there's some resistance because of the rubber o-ring. To prevent this from happening you have to consciously make sure the latch locks onto the grooves (prongs) on the backside before applying pressure closing the camera.  Sometimes if not done correctly, the latch slips off the prong.  This means you should be doing this with two hands instead of just one.  Either the prongs can be longer or the design of the rubber trim shouldn't stick out as much.  This can be improved upon on future products from Zeblaze.

TFT LCD

Now we come to backside and find that this is where all the fun begins.  In total there are six buttons and 2 LED indicator lights located back here.  After using the ishot1 for a while, I would have liked it if the buttons were a little bit larger, but it is what it is.  From the top left side going downward counterclockwise we find the MODE button, menu symbol button, red charge LED indicator, OK button, right/down button, green/blue battery status and memory access LED, left/up button, and flashlight button enabling the dual 3-mode LEDs up front.  And right in the center is the 1.5" LCD screen allowing you to see what you're filming. 

I have to mention that the way the Zeblaze ishot1 is designed, with the front lens in the center, shutter button at the top, screen at the back, rubberized backside with surrounding buttons, it closely resembles that of a regular camera when you hold it in that manner, and it feels really good ergonomically.  It's like a mini digital camera or mini DSLR, you can hold it with both hands wrapped around the same way.  There's plenty of grip on the front aluminum panel and rubberized backside, it just feels really comfortable to use with both hands, more so than if the lens were positioned against one corner forcing you to hold it single handed if that position.

To get access to the battery and microSD card slot compartment we must undo the latch on top of the ishot1.  Undoing the latch allows the backside to flip downward.  Once opened you can see the rubber o-ring surrounding the LCD back panel to prevent water from entering into the camera when shut tight. 

The battery used in the Zeblaze ishot1 is a lithium polymer type with 1050mAh capacity.  Zeblaze says that it can record up to 120 minutes of footage in 1080p/30fps mode.  

Funny enough, when I looked at the Zeblaze rechargeable battery up close, something in me said, why does this battery looks familiar? I said, hey this looks kind of like the battery in my old Samsung digital camera..but can it really be?  I head over to my older Samsung WB550 digital camera, grab the battery, and lo and behold, its exactly the same battery! 

My old original Samsung SLB-10A battery, looks the same physically, has the same polarity, lines up the same, fits the same, works the same!  The SLB-10A has the same 1050mAh capacity rating, the only minor difference is that the Zeblaze overrates the Watt-hours unit of measure by 0.1, but that's really nothing significant. So now you know what replacement battery to get for the Zeblaze ishot1 waterproof WiFi HD action camera!  You can find aftermarket replacement Samsung SLB-10A batteries on eBay for around $10USD, so they are really cheap to purchase.  Awesome.

The microSD card slot is behind the battery and just below the battery contact prongs.  Remove the battery and find an usual looking microSD card slot used in the Zeblaze ishot1, this is the one where you can see the contact pins on the PCB.  This microSD card slot mechanism is rarely used on devices on the market, I've rarely seen these types before, and I'm not the biggest fan of them because it has a door that you must slide to unlock and slide to lock into place.  It's a bit tedious and has potential to break if you are too rough.  What I suggest to combat the possibility of breaking this mechanism is to not regularly swap out microSD cards out of the camera.  Ideally you should purchase the biggest capacity card you can afford, and leave it permanently in the camera forever.  Slide the top cover directionally to the right to open, raise the door, and you can lay down the microSD card down  the way it is presented.  The card fits only one way and you line up the contacts of the card with the contacts on the PCB.  Simply close the door, and slide it directionally to the left to lock the door into place.  The way the card slot is positioned poses a slight problem, because its located too much to the edge, leaving little room for your fingers to navigate.

When the backside is unlatched, you can see the visible LCD flex cable that moves freely when the back door is open and closed.  You want to be mindful of this so you don't accidentally hit.  The 1.5" LCD screen is enclosed behind this door and there's a foam pad that ensures once everything is closed that the battery doesn't shift about and that everything is snug.

 


The Zeblaze ishot1 - Any good?

The firmware version of the Zeblaze ishot1 I am testing is: Ver:2.0/20150103

After using the Zeblaze ishot1 extensively for the whole of February (28 days), taking into account of everything I've experienced with its performance, its features, and along with everything that accompanies the ishot1, I have to say the Zeblaze ishot1 waterproof WiFi HD action camera is easily best action camera that has been featured on ModSynergy. 

But as with any product, there are some downfalls.  But let's start with the positives. 

The Zeblaze ishot1 presents a tremendous value for what you get in return for $115USD, it's just incredible what Zeblaze managed to deliver for the price.  They've executed and given an action camera that has its own unique look with an aluminum alloy front panel, a 170° ultra wide angle lens, WiFi connectivity with Apple and Android app, 2.4GHz remote control wrist watch, 1.5" LCD screen, dual LED flashlights, 1050mAh lithium polymer battery that provides up to 120 minutes at 1080p/30fps, waterproofing without use of an extra housing, a generous bundle of accessories and mounts, and a premium hard carrying case.  All of this for $115 is simply astonishing.    

In terms of durability and toughness, the Zeblaze ishot1 is strong. I had the unfortunate accident of dropping the camera about 3 times on its head (latch side down) while it was mounted on my car windshield in frigid winter temperature with a suction cup I own.  It dropped head first into my cup holder.  This suction cup alone weighs 166 grams or 0.366 lbs. The reason why I think it fell down was because the suction cup mount was mounted on a cold windshield that still had some moisture.  Right now it's still winter in Canada.  So the camera fell down about 30 inches with the extra weight of the suction cup on it.  The ishot1 came out unscathed all 3 times so far. 

Zeblaze ishot1 Software

The Zeblaze app can be found on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for Android devices.  Today we'll look at the Android version.

Zeblaze ishot1

Even at $115USD, Zeblaze offers a wireless capability mode built into the ishot1 where you can connect remotely to the action camera via Smartphone or tablet.  The app is easy to use and the process of setting it up is also very simple.
To connect wirelessly to the ishot1 simply follow these steps...

  • Download and install Zeblaze app in your respective device
  • Turn on WiFi on the Zeblaze ishot1 action camera.  A WiFi symbol appears on the LCD screen and then the SSID and Password is given to you on the screen.
  • On your Android or Apple device, head into wireless settings, and connect to SSID ZeblazeCam.  Enter password, default is 12345678, as shown in the ishot1.  Connect.
  • Once connected, the ishot1's LCD will turn blue and indicate that its connected.
  • Open Zeblaze app on device.  A live video feed will now be shown along with the indication of what resolution is currently selected.   That's all to it!

As you can see, connecting wirelessly to the Zeblaze ishot1 is super easy and honestly takes less than a minute if you input everything fast enough. 

The app is a simple one that allows you with a live video feed on your device, to do the following...

  • Record Video
  • Take Still Photo
  • Change in-camera settings
  • Playback mode to view videos and photos taken with the ishot1 on your respective device
  • Download video and photo from ishot1 to your respective device.  Your device now has a local copy of that file.
  • Playback mode to view videos and photos downloaded on your respective device (local copy)

It has to be said that the app does contain some Chinese language characters in the in-camera settings menu, however, the titles are in English so you have an idea of what each setting change does. 

The Zeblaze app does everything it says it will do.

The live video feed delay is about one second.  Whenever you move that camera, you'll see that change reflected on video feed in about a second after it happens.

The app is not without fault though.  Zeblaze can make the app more clearer since there's no manual or sometimes clarity on what a certain symbol or box does until you press it to find out.  There's a period of time that you need to simply fool around with everything and see what it actually does. 

For example in playback mode, there's a down arrow symbol. You press it and sometimes nothing happens.  It's like the press isn't being registered.  So you end up pressing it twice or three times and you realize in between those presses that a notice at the top stating Download success appears.Other times the press is registered and the notice states Begin download, which is self explanatory. 

The Zeblaze app crashes on regular occurrence for me after I view a video and press the back button.  It always ends up saying "Unfortunately, Zeblaze has stopped" and then pressing OK will automatically restart the app again. I just end up viewing the videos on another different video app to prevent the crashes from happening.  The app does not crash on me for doing anything else.

Zeblaze 2.4GHz Wrist Watch

The Zeblaze ishot1 action camera comes with a 2.4GHz wrist watch so you can have the ability to record video and capture photos with the watch.  This is great for times that you have the ishot1 action camera mounted somewhere out of your reach but want to have the ability to control it at whatever distance.  Zeblaze says that the watch can reach the camera at a distance of up to 70 meters, but I cannot verify that claim.

It's a simple watch with a rubber strap and only two buttons with one multi color LED above them. The buttons don't have any wording on them so there's only symbols, one appearing to be stop and the other record.  But in real world testing, the buttons have multiple functions, and turn out to be horribly mapped.

The wrist watch cannot turn on or turn off the camera.  The camera must be powered on if you want the wrist watch to work.

To begin, you must pair the wrist watch to the ishot1 action camera by doing the following:

  • Enter setup menu. Enter setting called Remote Control
  • Remote Control setting has three options (Off, On, Remote Match)   
  • Select Remote Match.  A message of Wait Remote match appears across the screen and the right LED will become solid blue. 
  • Press and hold both two buttons on the watch at the same time to pair with the ishot1 action camera.  The watch LED will turn purple.  Once successful, a message reading Remote Match OK appears on the LCD screen.

Now at this point under operation, everything gets a little dumb to be honest with how the wrist watch buttons are mapped with the camera.  Zeblaze made using this wrist watch significantly harder than it needs to be.  Unfortunately there's no way to manually map the keys in the camera settings menu. 

I am puzzled why it is designed this way.  That's not to say it doesn't work, because it does.  But it's a massive headache and makes no logical sense. 

Honestly, I must advise Zeblaze to create a firmware update to fix the wrist watch key mapping as it makes no sense.

The wrist watch serves only to 1) record video and 2) take pictures, it doesn't need to be hard.  This means at one point you need to cycle between modes to get to video and or photo modes.

On the wrist watch, there appears to be two universally known symbols for video record and for stop recording.  Taken into account how one wears this watch...

  • The internationally known symbol for stop recording is going to be a solid square.  In this case, it's the upper button, just below the LED
  • The internationally known symbol for video record is going to be a solid circle.  In this case, it's the bottom button, with a 0 beneath it.

You would think it would be as simple as pressing the record button to start recording. 

You would think it would be as simple as pressing the stop button to stop recording.

But alas, you would be so wrong.

How it is mapped right now is very frustrating and makes no sense...

  • Pressing the solid square button once when under video recording mode, the camera automatically enters picture mode and automatically takes a photo. 
  • If in picture mode, pressing the stop button once on the watch actually takes a photo 
  • To escape picture mode and to enter video recording mode, you must hold the stop button on the watch for 3-4 seconds
  • Now under video recording mode, you must press and hold the stop button on the watch for 3-4 seconds for it to start video recording
  • To stop video recording, you must press and hold the stop button on the watch for 3-4 seconds
  • To escape video recording mode and to enter picture mode, you must press the stop button on the watch once

As you can see above, the sequences to get take a photo, to record video, and to switch among the two modes, is highly frustrating and simply stupid.  Everything is mapped to one button (the top button that appears to be the STOP button) which means the bottom button (the one that appears to be the record symbol button) is useless and serves no purpose.  I for the life of me cannot understand what Zeblaze were thinking when mapping the wrist watch controls to the action camera, it makes absolutely no sense to me.  While the wrist watch does work, it's the most frustrating part of everything that has been solid up this point with the Zeblaze ishot1.

I advise Zeblaze to follow this key mapping image I created, it'll make everything simpler and it also takes advantage of all the buttons on this wrist watch.  Mapping all functions to one button , when there are two, is the worst idea.

Wrist Watch

Picture Quality

Zeblaze advertises that the ishot1 can take 12MP still photos, however, the true native resolution is only 5MP.  The ishot1 achieves 12MP still photos by interpolating the 5MP image.  Resolution options in the menu are 5MP (2592 x 1944), 8MP (3264 x 2448), and 12MP (4032 x 3024).

The still photo settings menu lets you change the following...

  • Capture Mode: Single, 3S Timer, 10S Timer, 30S Timer
  • Resolution: 5MP (2592 x 1944), 8MP (3264 x 2448), 12MP (4032 x 3024)
  • Sequence: Off or On
  • Quality: Fine, Normal, Economy
  • Sharpness: Strong, Normal, Soft
  • White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Underwater
  • Color: Color, B&W, Sepia
  • ISO: Auto, 100, 200, 400
  • Exposure: -2.0, -3/2, -1.0, -/1/2, +0.0, +1/2, +1.0, +3/2, +2.0
  • Quick Review: Off, 2 Seconds, 5 Seconds

Compared to the Polaroid CUBE HD action camera that I reviewed, the photos from the Zeblaze ishot1 are considerably better.  Whereas the Polaroid CUBE captures photos in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, the Zeblaze ishot1 captures in 4:3, meaning the Zeblaze photos capture the lost vertical portion exhibited with the Polaroid.  Furthermore, when standing at the same distance, the Zeblaze ends up capturing photos with a wider field of view than the Polaroid (170 vs. 124 degree wide angle lens). 

Another big difference between the two action camera still photos are that the ishot1 does not compress its photos as aggressive as the CUBE.  Comparatively speaking, the photos shot in the ishot1 are at least double the size of the photos shot with the CUBE.  If you select one of the interpolated resolutions, the file size becomes even greater.  But I suggest sticking with the native 5MP resolution for still photos on the ishot1 because the interpolated photos end up with worse detail, slightly worse color, slightly more blur, than what the native resolution provides.    

What it comes down to the Zeblaze ishot1 has the better image sensor and lens combination than the Polaroid CUBE.  The ishot1 has a sharper image from end to end, the image stays sharp even when close to objects, it has better dynamic range resulting in less blown highlights, and it captures a wider field of view.

The only negatives that the Zeblaze ishot1 exhibits are inconsistent white balance and a slightly harsher contrast.  The Polaroid CUBE on the other hand, excels in these two areas and ends up being the superior of the two in this regard.  These two downfalls, inconsistent white balance and slightly harsh contrast, ends up being not only evident in the still photos, but also is exhibited in the video recordings as well. 

The Zeblaze ishot1 consistently gets the white balance wrong.  It always seems to pick a colder color cast (bluish tint) than what my eyes see on a particular day, or it'll pick too much of a yellow color cast when under incandescent lighting conditions.  This is more of an annoyance than anything.

If I were to suggest anything for Zeblaze to add in the still photo settings menu, it would have to be options to change the following...

Zeblaze should add these options in the still photo settings menu...

  • Color saturation levels
  • Contrast levels
  • Ability to select custom Kelvin temperatures
  • HDR mode

Video Quality

If you read my Polaroid CUBE HD action camera review, you would recall that its video quality suffered not only because of the lens causing general softness in the video, but as well because of the decision to record at low bit rate (8 Mbps).  This meant that the recorded video was compressed and suffered because of it in many different ways including blocky pixels when you recorded windy leaves for example.

Lack of sharpness on the Polaroid CUBE HD was a big problem. An example I gave in that review was that of examining a brick house across the street.  With the CUBE's low bit rate and lack of sharpness, the video revealed that you could not make out the lines separating the individual bricks and more importantly, you could not make out and distinguish what the house number across the street was.  Thankfully, the Zeblaze ishot1 does not exhibit these clear to see issues and is far superior overall. With that said, this isn't to say that video produced from the Zeblaze is perfect, because it isn't and things can be further improved with a firmware update.

The Zeblaze ishot1 records video in H.264 AVC 1080p/30fps with a video bit rate of 12.0 Mbps.  While this is still a ways off from my HTX 8X Windows Smartphone recording video at a bit rate of 20 Mbps, it's still much better than the 8 Mbps seen with the Polaroid CUBE and the video quality mostly proves it.  Can bit rate be higher?  Most certainly it can with a firmware update.

Higher bit rate means that more data (more detail) is being recorded to video.  Recording at higher bit rate means cleaner video (less artifacts and grain), better detail, better sharpness, better video when it comes to fast moving scenes.  These are only a few positives to come with higher bit rate video recordings. More video bit rate also means file size increases and therefore this affects battery life as well.  There's always a compromise to play with.

A 5 minute video file recorded on the Zeblaze ishot1 equals 469MB, compared to only 290MB on the Polaroid CUBE.

Zeblaze says the ishot1 offers 170° vision with its ultra wide-angle lens and I have no reason not the believe them, the frame is very wide, even wider than the 124° Polaroid CUBE.  You end up getting everything you in the video. 

The lens is extremely wide so at normal to longer distances, objects and lines have a slight curvature to them.  It's only if you film close to an object that you get that fish eye effect where the frame looks like its wrapping around. In all honestly I was expecting more of a curvature than what the ishot1 actually outputting, so I was a bit impressed.

With the Polaroid CUBE, I was having a hard time gauging the distance and framing when shooting video because it has no screen.  With the Zeblaze ishot1 I have none of these problems because it has a convenient 1.5" TFT LCD screen allowing you to see and frame everything accordingly.  Screen quality is decent, if I had to guess I would say the resolution of this screen is around 480x240 pixel resolution. Not the highest quality LCD out there, but it doesn't need to be on a small action camera.  It could be brighter in sunny conditions, I find myself having to sometimes shield the screen in the sun to be able to see what is being displayed on the screen, but it's still all decent and definitely gets the job done.  Action cameras more expensive than the ishot1 do not have a screen, so this is a generous bonus considering the $115USD price point. 

Video quality coming from the Zeblaze ishot1 is good overall.  I am especially impressed with the fact that the video is sharp from end to end, a clear positive with the ishot1.  This attribute comes from the high quality lens unit on the camera, and along with it having a bit more bit rate to record with.

In bright lighting conditions, the ishot1 does a good job.  Color rendition is fair, contrast is fair, and brightness is good.  And compared to the Polaroid CUBE, standing at the same distance offers more FOV.  With the ishot1, you can get closer to objects and it will still be in focus, this is something you couldn't do with the Polaroid CUBE as objects end up being blurry if too close to its lens.  Again this comes down to a clearly better lens unit. 

I notice that the ishot1 does a better job with blown highlights than the Polaroid CUBE, meaning that it has higher dynamic range.  Blown highlights are the really bright areas in the video where most if not all detail is lost because the camera captures them as too bright of a color than they really are.  For example, the clouds are white, but they have different shades of white. When a camera has poor dynamic range, there is no differentiations of white in that cloud, it is processed as all white.  With the Zeblaze ishot1 having good dynamic range, it captures and processes the whites with different varying shades. 

However, the ishot1 is not perfect.  It has some downfalls that can be improved upon with a future firmware update.  The good thing is that these downfalls I experienced are in no way severely detrimental to the ishot1's video performance.  I would classify these downfalls as minor ones.  In my opinion, these downfalls can be fixed rather easily with a few more user changeable options in the camera.

As stated in the picture quality portion of this review, the same downfalls affect the videos.  The Zeblaze ishot1 exhibits the same inconsistent white balance and slightly harsh contrast levels. 

The Zeblaze ishot1 consistently gets the white balance wrong.  It always seems to pick a colder color cast (bluish tint) than what my eyes see on a particular day, or it'll pick too much of a yellow color cast when under incandescent lighting conditions.  This is more of an annoyance than anything. This unfortunately means that color rendition is affected.  While the color rendition is fair, it is not truly representative of what is seen in reality.  Colors aren't as natural, vibrant or as saturated than that of the Polaroid CUBE, and sometimes the color being portrayed by the ishot1 is a different shade than what you're own eyes see.  The CUBE excels in these two areas where the Zeblaze ishot1 struggles.

In regards to contrast levels, the setting is too high out of the box for the ishot1.  Too high of a contrast level affects how the video is seen by making it at times appear harsher than it really is in reality.  Too high of a contrast means the video appears darker than it really is because it is crushing the shadowy areas of the video.  The shadowy areas portrayed in the ishot1 is too dark, too black at times.  Too high of a contrast setting means the video is more dreary at times than it really is, the contrast also affects the color rendition by affecting the shades of color it will select.  Again, the Polaroid CUBE excels in this area by offering more brightness in the shadows and in general.

Moreover, the contrast issue with the ishot1 affects its low lighting performance.  It makes its low lighting performance suffer by being darker than it needs to be.  Yes there is the ability of increasing exposure compensation in the video, but no ability of changing contrast.  So brightness may be better, but shadowy areas are still too dark and in poor lighting conditions it certainly doesn't help.  I do have to say because of this, the Polaroid CUBE action camera has better low lighting performance than the Zeblaze ishot1.  I rated the CUBE's low lighting performance as above average, therefore I rate the ishot1 having average low lighting performance.

The video settings menu on the ishot1 offers admittedly less user changeable options than what the still photo menu provides which I find a bit funny.  The only options you can change in the video settings menu that affects video quality is exposure compensation and white balance. How come settings such as sharpness and color effects weren't transferred to the video settings menu?

To combat these problems (white balance, colors, contrast) affecting the ishot1's video performance, there must be more options in the video settings menu.

Zeblaze should add these options in the video settings menu...

  • Color saturation levels
  • Contrast levels
  • Ability to select custom Kelvin temperatures
  • HDR mode

These four additions would help combat the inconsistent white balance, harsher contrast, and color rendition issues.

Miscellaneous Info

  • A neat feature of the Zeblaze ishot1 is the automatic recording feature once powered on.  The camera begins recording right away once turned on, simply turn it off when you finish driving.  This is essentially an auto-start feature, a convenient thing to have for car dash cam use.  However, at the same time it's not very convenient because there's no way to turn this off!  So every time you turn it on, you must wait until it records for one second before you can stop recording by pressing the shutter button.  It is a convenience and annoyance at the same time.  Zeblaze, please have an option to turn off the auto-start record feature.
  • I love the fact that the Zeblaze ishot1 as an Image Rotation setting in the OSD.  This feature not only changes the rotation of the LCD image on the 1.5" TFT LCD, it actually rotates the video file.  So if you record with the ishot1 action camera upside down and turn this feature on, the video once played back on a computer or media player is the right way up. Would have been cool if the camera adjusted itself automatically, but this is the next best thing. You just have to remember enable this option before recording.
  • The dual LED lights work very well in poor lighting conditions and in the dark.  The dual LEDs end up being very useful.  This to me is one of the best features of this action camera.

Sound Quality

The Zeblaze ishot1 does a better job at recording sound than the Polaroid CUBE.  The CUBE had a problem at sounding muffled and unclear.  With the ishot1, audio quality is much clearer and less muffled. 

Even though the ishot1 only records in mono and not stereo, it records in PCM format with an audio bit rate of 512kbps at 32,000 KHz sampling rate.

I would have liked an external microphone option but it wasn't the case.      

Is It Waterproof?

Though I didn't have a way to test if the Zeblaze ishot1 could be submerged 60 meters, I did manage to drop it into a bathroom sink filled with water to test its waterproofing.  It passed with flying colors and no water ever entered inside the action camera.  I could turn on the dual LED lights and play with settings and nothing bad happened.

Waterproof

 

Battery Life

Zeblaze claims that the ishot1 action camera can record up to 120 minutes in the highest setting of 1080p/30fps

I tested the battery life at this highest resolution setting and with the TFT LCD on.  You can turn the TFT off so that will likely improve battery life times, though to what extent I have no clue.

I verified the results of the Zeblaze branded battery to that of the original Samsung SLB-10A lithium polymer that I found out works on the ishot1.  You can but the SLB-10A as an extra replacement battery. 

I can verify that the Zeblaze branded battery offers the same exact battery life to that of the  Samsung SLB-10A battery, so you know that Zeblaze is giving you a high quality battery that is not inferior in any way.  Here are the results below...

Battery Life Testing Results

  • Test 1 (Zeblaze battery):         1 hour, 57 minutes
  • Test 2 (Zeblaze battery):          1 hour, 56 minutes
  • Test 3 (Zeblaze battery):         2 hours, 1 minute
  • Test 4 (Zeblaze battery):          1 hour, 58 minutes
  • Test 5 (Samsung SLB-10A):   1 hour, 56 minutes
  • Test 6 (Samsung SLB-10A):   1 hour, 54 minutes
  • Test 7 (Samsung SLB-10A):   2 hour, 5 minutes

Zeblaze's claim of 120 minutes battery life is verified to be true. 

Test Images (With Comparison to Polaroid CUBE)

1080p Samples (Uploaded to YouTube)

(Keep in mind the original ishot1 video files are better than what YouTube showcases.  YouTube likes to compress video uploads even further to maximize efficiency on their end.  Original ishot1 video files are cleaner and don't have blocky pixels you might see on YouTube.  Let this be a general idea of what you can expect.)


Where Can I Buy One? And for How Much?

The Zeblaze ishot1 HD Action Camera can be purchased right now through Amazon for $110.99 USD with free shipping!  This is below the normal cost of $115 and makes the Zeblaze ishot1 even greater than it already was at regular price!  But beware there is only 5 left in stock at this price!

 

Why do I like Amazon?  They are fast, reliable, honest, and return policy is great.  I actually got money refunded back to my account after Amazon overcharged me on duty costs, talk about being an honest company, most others would keep the money and not say anything!

If you are thinking of purchasing the Zeblaze ishot1 HD Action Camera, or anything else for that matter, please use our Amazon link above, it will help us out greatly.

Editor's Note: If you want to purchase the Zeblaze ishot1 for $105.99 USD, you may do so with coupon code ZEBLAZE1 to save an additional $16 through online Chinese electronic gadget sites such as Antelife, Efox, and Coolicool. Use our coupon code to bring the price down to $105.99 USD! Shipping is free worldwide.

Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!

Conclusion

170 degree wide angle lens

Despite all the negatives that I've talked about, and there's not really one problem that is severely detrimental to the overall product, I am completely impressed with the Zeblaze ishot1 waterproof WiFi HD action camera.  It is easily the best HD action camera that has been tested on ModSynergy thus far!  The Zeblaze ishot1 is a must buy action camera!

The Zeblaze ishot1 provides an incredible value here folks.  To be honest, I cannot believe this is priced at $115USD for all the things you get in return.  This is a high quality product starting from the quality hard carrying case, to the front aluminum alloy panel, to the quality construction, to the WiFi capabilities, to the 2.4GHz wrist watch (despite being mapped incorrectly), to the waterproofing, to the sharp video performance and to its good dynamic range.  I also dropped the camera three times and it came out unscathed making the ishot1 very strong.

For the price, the Zeblaze ishot1 is simply outstanding and I cannot envision anything that comes close to the Zeblaze ishot1.  I would be shocked to find anything comparable to this HD action camera for a comparable price.  The Zeblaze ishot1 packs high end features and performance that of an action camera costing $200-250 more than it is being sold for!

ModSynergy either gives products our Recommended Rating or Editor's Choice Award Rating.  I'm inclined to give the Zeblaze ishot1 a silver award as it currently stands right now, but we don't have such an award. 

If Zeblaze can fix the issues and add some options that I've described in this review, I will definitely consider awarding the ishot1 with our Editor's Choice Award rating.  But for now, and how it currently performs with its current firmware revision of Ver:2.0/20150103, I can still highly recommend the Zeblaze ishot1 Waterproof WiFi HD Action Camera.  Great job Zeblaze!

What I recommend Zeblaze to fix with the ishot1 are the following...

Zeblaze should add these options in the video settings and still photo settings menu...

  • Color saturation levels
  • Contrast levels
  • Ability to select custom Kelvin temperatures
  • HDR mode
  • Tweak the automatic white balance and its white balance presets for better performance

Zeblaze should also...

  • Give option to turn off the auto-start record feature
  • Follow my recommended wrist watch key mapping image to make watch more easier to control and to take advantage of both buttons
  • More diagrams and photos in the user's manual to combat the language barrier
  • Label the latch mechanism flap to ensure the correct one is opened and in the right way by the user

ModSynergy