TomTom Bandit 4K Waterproof WiFi GPS Action Camera Long-Term Review @ ModSynergy.com
Ask just about anyone in tech about the action camera, and they will tell you of GoPro, the one who popularized the market segment. GoPro is seen as the de facto standard when it comes to action cameras, however, those at the top fall sooner or later due to inactivity, failure to innovate, or others simply come along with something better. All good things must come to an end.
TomTom, a Dutch company that is synonymous around the world with GPS Navigation, have entered the action camera market, and is doing so in an innovative way with their newest Bandit action camera. The TomTom Bandit is uniquely designed and very much different from the conventional standard. TomTom is promising to streamline the way users edit their video footage, suggesting it's possible with the Bandit Studio software to reduce 2.5 hours of raw video footage editing down to 2.5 minutes with a mere shake of your smartphone. This reduction of video editing time is quite a bold statement, and if it's as simple as TomTom says it is, it'll definitely change the way users spend long periods of time editing their video footage, especially for beginners.
And what is a TomTom product without GPS functionality? Bandit integrates GPS functionality to record speed (great for cyclist), along with different in-camera sensors such as G-force, altitude, rotation, and heartbeat, marking big moments in video, so you can find them again easily. An optional TomTom heart rate monitor purchase will allow users to pair with Bandit and tag heart rate data to moments in their video through overlays of information.
TomTom is incorporating years of experience into their Bandit action camera, leaving no stones unturned in their conquest of the lucrative action camera market. Bandit can film in typical 1080p standard utilizing both 60 and 30 FPS, along with capability to record in UHD 4K and QHD 2K through its cinematic modes. Bandit sports a 16MP CCD image sensor meaning it can take 16-megapixel still images, and Bandit introduces a Night Lapse mode to broaden its skill set, allowing users to capture a unique perspective of night brought to life.
If you thought that was all, make no mistake, there's more to the TomTom Bandit. It's got an innovative design, telemetric data capability, unique waterproof body, wireless integration...on paper in sounds like a sure winner, but how does Bandit perform in real life?
ModSynergy will put the TomTom Bandit through the paces, and see if the first generation Bandit 4K waterproof WiFi action camera is something really worth purchasing. Should GoPro be scared? Read on to find out!
TomTom empowers movement. Every day millions of people around the world depend on TomTom to make smarter decisions. We design and develop innovative products that make it easy for people to keep moving towards their goals. Best known for being a global leader in navigation and mapping products, TomTom also creates GPS sports watches, as well as state-of-the-art fleet management solutions and industry-leading location-based products. Our business consists of four customer-facing business units: Consumer, Automotive, Licensing and Telematics.
TomTom Bandit Product Description
TomTom launches the all new TomTom Bandit Action Camera which makes editing and sharing videos quick and easy. Instead of spending hours downloading and sorting through footage, users can now create an exciting edit and share it within moments of the action. Now every hero can share his or her skills.
The TomTom Bandit is the first ever camera to come with a built-in media server, eliminating the need to download footage before being able to edit it. The camera works with a companion app, making it possible to create and share videos in a matter of minutes, simply by shaking a smartphone.
The TomTom Bandit Action Camera is equipped with in-camera motion and GPS sensors to automatically find and tag exciting moments based on speed, altitude, G-force, acceleration and heart rate*. Highlights can also be tagged manually with a tagging button on the camera or the remote control*.
The TomTom Bandit works with a smartphone app, which includes a superfast viewfinder. Footage can be reviewed instantly with the smartphone app thanks to the built-in media server. In editing mode, a simple shake of the smartphone instantly creates an exciting movie. Users can then easily make changes, add music and add overlays of favourite metrics, such as speed, before sharing with friends.
The TomTom Bandit Action Camera produces great quality video. It has a wide angle lens, high-end 16 MP CCD sensor and a powerful processor. It is also completely waterproof, eliminating the need for an additional bulky case. ** The steel ring mounting system has a quick release mechanism and the low profile of the TomTom Bandit looks great on a helmet.
The uniquely designed Batt-Stick combines the long lasting battery, microSD card and SuperSpeed USB 3.0. It plugs directly into a computer via USB to charge and download footage, removing the need for additional cables or adaptors.
TomTom Bandit Features
TomTom Bandit Technical Specifications
SIZE & WEIGHT
SLOW MOTION SPECS
TIME-LAPSE AND NIGHT-LAPSE SPECS
FIELD OF VIEW
TomTom doesn't give specific information relating to the DSP and image sensor combination inside the Bandit, they only mention that it utilizes a 16MP CCD image sensor. Going by the specifications of 4K @ 15FPS and 2.7K @ 30FPS, and what I know to be on the market, I'd guess that the 16MP CCD image sensor could be a Sony variant, but this is pure speculation on my part. Whether or not it's good can only be determined by looking at the video footage.
I was supplied a demo unit for review, therefore the Bandit I'm reviewing did not come in its proper retail attire and with all of the accessories.
On store shelves the Bandit will come in a compact plastic shell, with the camera being shown right in the center of the package. Two versions are available for purchase and differ in bundled items depending on the region you live. Bandit is sold either as Base Pack or Adventure Pack, and secondly as Premium Pack or Bike Pack.
Since I reside in North America, I'll list the contents you receive with the Premium Pack.
What's included? A list of all items you get...
TomTom Bandit comes with more than enough accessories to get started. The fact that it comes with a GoPro Mount Adapter makes the Bandit all the more flexible considering the plethora of GoPro accessories on the market and how accessible they are. The accessories that are bundled with the Bandit are of excellent quality and don't feel cheap. It feels tough and should be able to withstand extended wear and abuse.
Additional accessories and sensors are able to be purchased and include a tripod mount, wrist mount, backpack mount, pole mount, (surf) board mount, vented helmet mount, floating protection cover, microfiber bags, external microphone cable, extra Batt-stick, and TomTom heart rate monitor.
Visual Overview & Build Quality
TomTom Bandit is uniquely designed and very much different from the conventional standard rectangular design of other action cameras on the market. TomTom decided to give the Bandit an enclosed waterproof cylindrical design and reminds me of a miniature gun scope. A clever mounting system on the Bandit allows users to rotate the camera approximately 180-degrees left or right from wherever its mounted, especially handy when on a helmet or something at an odd angle. This rotatable mounting system allows you to have footage straight at all times and saves time compared to the normal mounting system from GoPro. I have to mention that on the sample I am reviewing, the rotating mechanism is noticeably tighter when the camera is rotated clockwise than if it's rotated counter-clockwise. So this means the rotation is kept steady and tight one direction, but has some play and movement in the other direction. I don't know if that is by design or something just happening on my sample.
TomTom Bandit is sold in a single color scheme of white, red, and black, marking the signature TomTom colors. Bandit measures about 3.72" L x 1.45" W x 2.00" H (including mounting system), and weighs 192 grams making it the heaviest action camera that ModSynergy has tested thus far.
Bandit action camera feels like a tank, the cylindrical body is the strongest I've felt of any action camera that I've come across. Definitely not a good option for those wanting to mount on Drones, this one is just too heavy and will ruin flight performance, unless you have a powerful and large brushless motor Drone with greater payload capability. The tough body is great for everything else you'd use such a camera for, especially for sports, I don't see why it won't handle any impact thrown its way. ABS plastic is the choice of material for Bandit's body, I could feel no flex whatsoever throughout the body and fit and finish is excellent. Build quality is truly impressive. The only part of the Bandit that is probably able to break with some impact would be the LCD display because it sits flush with the body and is not recessed.
Since Bandit's shape is unconventional, it doesn't have an LCD viewfinder typical of some other action cameras. The only LCD is situated up top of Bandit and is used navigating, changing, and viewing in-camera menus, settings, and telemetric data. Bandit is designed to be paired through WiFi with a smartphone or tablet allowing it to act as the cameras viewfinder with TomTom Bandit app. You may use the Bandit without any smartphone or tablet; you'd just have to guess the general direction it should be shot to get everything you want into view. Since the lens is a wide angle unit, more often than not even when 'blind' you will be able to catch everything in frame. No specific data is mentioned regarding the FOV (field of view) of the camera lens, but I'd guess Bandit has got between 150-170 degrees FOV.
TomTom Bandit action camera is completely waterproof in combination with the dive lens cover (IPX8) down to 40 meters. With the standard splash-proof lens cover (IPX7), the Bandit is not fully waterproof, and therefore should not be used in or under water. The standard lens cover has two holes underneath to allow audio to be recorded; the dive lens cover is fully sealed so almost non-existent sound can be had with this combination underwater.
Okay let’s have a look around the camera...
1. Batt-Stick 1900 mAh.
2. Battery power indicator. With the Batt-Stick removed, press the ON button to see the battery
3. USB 3.0 connector for charging and data transfer.
4. ON, START and manual highlighting button.
5. Connector with cap for optional power cable and external audio cable.
6. Attachment for a lanyard.
7. Control button to move up, down, left or right to other screens on the TomTom Bandit display:
9. STOP and OFF button.
10. Lens cover.
11. Rotatable mount rings with quick-release.
12. Lens (a lens cover must always be fitted to protect the lens).
The front of the TomTom Bandit sports a fixed focus f/2.4 EFL 3.1mm wide angle lens. TomTom recommends that you protect and cover this lens at all times, with whichever lens cover of your choosing. A release button is situated above the lens to remove the lens cover, to put it back on simply screw it on clockwise until you hear an audible click meaning a tight seal has been formed. This lens has been coated with anti-reflective coating, among others, as evidenced when pointing towards sunlight. AR coating is used to filter out unwanted glares and reflections. When the lens cover is removed, you can see two holes underneath the lens which is the microphone pickup hole.
Both sides of Bandit's body are curved downward compared to the top portion having a wider stance, helping it give style and also acting as a grip when hand holding the Bandit. Styling is minimalistic throughout, yet sporty at the same time with a red accented trim piece that wraps around the top and having the TomTom name on it. You can see the grey mounting system at base of the camera along with its circular arms sandwiched in between the lens in the front and Batt-stick in the rear allowing the system to rotate.
A single black square with red star is the only button in the rear of the Bandit. This button is the power on button (hold the button for 2 seconds to power on) along with being the highlight button. The highlight button is an integral part of the TomTom Bandit ecosystem, and is used for "highlighting" those meaningful moments that happen while recording video. Simply press the button once to tag and effectively 'highlight' a moment in the video that is memorable to you. Later on these 'highlights' will be used in TomTom Bandit Studio software (mobile & PC) to (automatically or manually) create video stories of those memorable 'highlight' moments.
A white rubberized flap is below and reveals four gold pins when removed. This connector is used for the optional power cable, so you can recharge the Bandit without taking the 1900mAh "Batt-Stick" out of the camera. The connector can also be used for the optional external microphone cable, so you can use a better microphone with the Bandit if you choose.
Speaking about the Batt-Stick (TomTom's name for its battery stick), it's unlike anything I've seen before on an action camera. What it is, is a combination of 1900mAh battery and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 micro SD card reader, which can be swapped out with other Batt-Sticks for more recording time. USB 3.0 makes transferring files very brisk as seen in one of my quick test with the Batt-Stick. Additionally, if the Batt-Stick is already removed, you can press the power on button once and the four LEDs on the Batt-Stick will illuminate to tell you of its current charge status.
The design of the Batt-stick means there's no use for cables. Its design is great, one simply has to unlock by simply pushing in the Batt-stick removal button at the top of the battery, twist counter-clockwise, and pull out.
Bandit's high capacity 1900mAh Lithium-Ion battery allows it to trump any GoPro on the market in regards to its battery life performance. TomTom states Bandit can record 3 hours of 1080p 30 fps video footage on a single charge, which would make Bandit surpass any action camera we've tested thus far. Battery life performance will be verified later on in the review.
At the very top of the Bandit action camera we find an LCD display, a dedicated stop button, four way directional pad to navigate through the menus, and two red LED activity lights, one up front, and one in the rear. Six tamper resistant Torx screws secure the top portion to the body. The LCD display is very easy to navigate with the four way directional pad, TomTom has designed it very logically and straightforward along with creating large easy to see and read text and icons. The LCD screen is very easy to see indoors and outdoors, a slight backlight is used to illuminate the screen in dark conditions. The background is black and the text is white, almost reminds me of an Amazon Kindle display.
Bandit has a simple internal speaker which allows it to give off audible tones upon start-up, around the menu, when recording, and when shutting down. The audible tone can be turned off in the menu, but the tone volume is mild to begin with.
The TomTom Bandit - Is It Any Good?
Version Firmware: 1.57.500
(YouTube compresses video uploads even further to maximize efficiency on their end. Original raw source files are substantially cleaner and sharper than what you're going to see on YouTube. Take any sample videos you see in this review as a general idea of what you can expect. There's nothing that one can do to avoid YouTube's higher compression rate...)
Short Summary - For those of you who don’t want to read the full review and want the short answer to whether or not the TomTom Bandit is any good, well the answer is a resounding yes. TomTom Bandit is a must buy in my opinion, it's just a first-rate camera in just about all aspects. There's little downside, one being the lack of optical or digital stabilization, second being that the 16MP still images showcasing some compression, and the third being the odd decision to have 4K resolution but at 15 FPS rendering it almost useless. But factor in an equally impressive first version of TomTom Bandit Studio video editing software for both mobile and PC interfaces, it makes for a great ecosystem to delve into.
It's not out of the question that both Bandit action camera and Bandit Studio software will get better over time. I've already noticed consistent firmware upgrades to Bandit action camera and updates to Bandit Studio software during my time of testing, which shows TomTom is focused in improving the Bandit for the foreseeable future until its lifecycle ends. The still images that I can are somewhat compressed can definitely be improved to remove this compression and offer an even better picture. Fantastic job TomTom, especially for a first generation product. Bandit action camera has little downside and that means they can definitely improve on an already fantastic product.
TomTom Bandit is on a totally different planet compared to any of the previous Chinese action cameras I've tested. There's an obvious difference in every facet of the product, you can really spot the differences between what a huge company such as TomTom can do, compared to the much smaller Chinese action camera makers, and TomTom Bandit leaves all of them in the dust.
4K = Fantastic Picture; FPS Lacking
You can record in glorious UHD 4K with the TomTom Bandit. 4K is shot in 16:9 aspect ratio making for 3840 x 2160 dimensions. The video looks fantastic at this resolution, a testament of a quality DSP being used in the Bandit paired with a great image sensor. Ultimately the whole 4K resolution is thrown off by the odd implementation at 15 FPS. This is no oversight though, and must be a limitation of the DSP inside the Bandit. This is the same odd behavior seen with the past action camera I've reviewed, where it shot (fake) 4K at a worse 10 FPS. Bandit does slightly better at 15 FPS, but the difference of its picture quality is night and day difference because of the extra boost in video bitrate to achieve great looking video. The image looks fantastic, natural looking, clean throughout, and very sharp.
At the end of the day, 4K 15 FPS will be simply ineffective for most people. I don't want to say its waste of time to use, but you'd be hard pressed to find times where you can get away with using 15 FPS. I'd think the only times you'd get good use out of 4K 15 FPS would be for those times where your scenery, subject or object is stationary or at least somewhat motionless. The only other times you'd want to use 4K 15 FPS is for times when you need the absolute best quality because this mode has the sharpest and cleanest picture. I'd envision filming would work at 4K 15 FPS for filming of a beautiful lake, waterfall, and mountain, something that doesn't involve extreme motion. Anything that involves motion and speed, you'd be better of shooting at 2K (2.7K) 30 FPS or 1080p 60 FPS on the Bandit. Another way you can make use of 4K 15 FPS is by taking a screen grab of the 4K video.
I'd like to point out that while Bandit films at 4K 15 FPS, it's a bit odd that it can record time-lapse and night-lapse videos at 4K 30 FPS.
Night-lapse mode on the Bandit is without a doubt one of my favorite modes on the Bandit because it works so darn well making night almost look like day time! The reason why Night-Lapse is so fantastic on Bandit is the extra boost in video bitrate and a longer shutter interval. The difference is staggering.
Having 4K is huge nowadays, especially for marketing. Ultra HD 4K is increasingly popular and will continue to ramp up sales in 2016 as prices continue to become more affordable. More and more customers are upgrading their old 720p and 1080p HDTV's to 4K. And you have more broadcasters (in Canada, for example) who have been shooting and broadcasting in 4K.
Comparing the specifications of the TomTom Bandit to the GoPro lineup, the Bandit is comparable to the GoPro HERO 4 Silver. Both cameras do 4K at 15 FPS and both do 2K at 30 FPS.
Well the GoPro does 4K @ 30/24 FPS 3840 x 2160 and 2.7K @ up to 60 FPS 2704 x 1520. So while the GoPro HERO4 Black has more usable 4K and 2K, the TomTom Bandit isn't too far behind in paper specs comparison. And the TomTom Bandit has features and functionality that the GoPro does not have.
2.7K Saves The Day!
While 4K is not the most usable format on the TomTom Bandit because of its 15 FPS limitation, 2K on the other hand performs virtually indistinguishable to 4K on the Bandit, and does so at the 30 FPS standard making it the best to use on a regular basis. Footage looks fantastic on the HDTV. The only way to spot the differences between the two resolutions is by zooming in to spot the differences, and they are minor differences at best not drastic ones. So technically 4K is the sharpest and cleanest image, but 2.7K on the Bandit is seriously not far behind. You still enjoy the benefits of increased pixel count and bitrate. It's still sharp and still clean throughout, I use this 99% of the time.
TomTom Bandit utilizes the 16:9 aspect ratio for 2K resolution, so technically it's considered 2.7K on the Bandit for a resolution of 2704 x 1520.
Adjustable FOV (Field of View)
TomTom Bandit sports a fixed focus f/2.4 EFL 3.1mm wide angle lens. No specific data is mentioned regarding the FOV (field of view) of the camera lens, but I'd estimate Bandit has got between 150-170 degrees FOV.
Fish-eye effect for the most part is mild when focal distance is far, but becomes more noticeable the closer the focal distance becomes. Bandit has the ability to adjust the field of view only in resolutions of 1080p and under (not 2K/4K), you can choose between wide and normal, which lessens the amount of fish-eye effect.
From what I've seen in and outside of ModSynergy's testing of action cameras, the TomTom Bandit is a grand and successful first attempt. Considering the GPS maker has no prior experience with cameras, this is remarkable. From a performance standpoint, I feel the Bandit is very good overall, and when you factor in the ease of operation, GPS sensor tagging, the TomTom Bandit mobile app and TomTom Bandit Studio PC software, the whole experience is brilliant. The TomTom Bandit does most things right and makes everything easy in the process. 'Easy' is the theme throughout the Bandit.
The video image quality in both 4K and 2.7K is a cut above anything I've tested and what I'd consider excellent. The extra resolution over 1080p is very much noticeable and in a positive way. The image is clean and sharp throughout, colors are rendered with a natural look, there's very little noise present which tells me that Bandit uses a quality image sensor and DSP combination, and the Bandit performs beautifully when pointed directly at the sun or around any reflections. The anti-reflective coating on the fixed focus f/2.4 EFL 3.1mm wide angle lens does a fantastic job.
I think the most impressive aspect, an aspect in which I've noticed a huge difference compared to past action cameras tested on ModSynergy, is the Bandits dynamic range and automatic exposure. Again this is due to the image sensor and DSP combination in the Bandit. Exposure is usually spot on, and it doesn't matter the scenery, overexposure and therefore blown highlights on the subject are kept to a minimum. I find the automatic exposure is mostly accurate and rarely does it thrown off to a great degree. The theme of 'easy' is present in this Bandit because the exposure and great dynamic range is all being done automatically inside the camera without any user intervention being needed or possible. Bandit does very well when transitioning between bright to dark lighting, the Bandit will adjust exposure accordingly and ramp up or down smoothly instead of abruptly like other cameras. In terms of low light performance, the Bandit is fantastic in my opinion, blows any action cam I've previously tested out of the water, especially if 4K or 2K resolutions are used to take advantage of the extra increase in video bitrate and increased pixel count. Add to the already very capable low light performance, Bandit has a night mode that actually works (!) and it makes a visible difference. All of the other action cams I've previously tested had a night mode that did pretty much nothing and had no visible impact.
Sometimes in past action camera reviews, you'd find me complaining about a camera having no in-camera option for changing 'metering modes', for example, matrix, center, or spot metering. Another time you'll find me pointing out about having no EV compensation on a camera that is too basic. TomTom Bandit has neither option, which usually would end up being a bad thing, yet I've found no reason to need these adjustable settings because the TomTom Bandit handles exposure and changing of scenery without major issue. Again, this is the type of angle TomTom is going for when you evaluate the whole package including software. TomTom is making things almost foolproof and automating things for the user so they can just focus on shooting footage and not having to tweak this and tweak that. This is why they have indeed omitted some of the more common or the more technical settings a camera could have. Nevertheless it turns out you don't need it on the Bandit because TomTom has clearly optimized and tweaked the Bandit's image quality algorithm to a high degree. Just turn it on, hit record, and the footage more often than not turns out pleasing to the eye.
Another positive attribute to the Bandit's video image quality that I've clearly noticed is that it's as if Bandit has some type of low-pass filter. The image as a whole has very little noise. I think there has to be a low-pass filter on the Bandit because I've seen very little moiré effect and those aliasing issues that affect and are present in other cheaper cameras. These problems of moiré and aliasing issues are not present, or at the very least, hard to spot on the TomTom Bandit's video footage. The performance coming from the fixed focus f/2.4 EFL 3.1mm wide angle lens is superb.
The only downside that I can find with the TomTom Bandit's performance is the omission of any type of video stabilization, digital or optical, therefore footage contains the usual shake that most other action cameras have to deal with. I suppose we can wish for video stabilization to be included in a future Bandit 2 action camera release? One workaround to the lack of video stabilization with the Bandit is filming in 2.7K (or 4K) and then using 'warp stabilization' in a video editing package to have smooth looking video. The extra amount of resolution Bandit has to its disposal will help make this workaround possible and to achieve smoothed out video footage.
Low Light Performance Sample Screen Grabs
What I'm showing below are 100% cropped JPG screen grabs of ZOOMED IN Bandit low light performance material. All of them have a single light source in the same position (a single 8W LED light bulb). You can see the differences between AUTO mode and Night Mode, along with how great that Night Lapse mode really is.
Sample Operation Videos
Remaining Video Footage Samples
Here's an example of two (there's more such as G-Force, etc) overlays you can put over your video with the Bandit mobile and PC applications, in this example a speed overlay is placed (thanks to integrated GPS) to display your speed, and with the optional heart rate monitor, you can have a heart rate overlay. The video below is from the official TomTom YouTube Channel.
The TomTom Bandit is capable of shooting 16-megapixel still images. The images produced by the Bandit are easily the best we've seen from an action camera that has been reviewed on ModSynergy, by a country mile, they actually look like real photos instead of noisy digital interpolated images. I attribute the quality looking still images to the fine image sensor and DSP combination that Bandit utilizes. Again we see less noise, less artifacts, less pixel blockiness, and just a cleaner overall image than anything we've seen before.
The Bandit does not snap DSLR like still images, that's just impossible with the size of sensor much smaller than APS-C sized sensors on DSLRs, and I can tell that the images still are still somewhat compressed, but overall the still images are very much usable and very pleasant. The fact that they are not interpolated, digitally and artificially enlarged, such as we've seen before is a very positive thing.
16MP Photo Samples
The TomTom Bandit has the following in-camera settings you can change for Photo mode...
The TomTom Bandit has the following in-camera settings you can change for Burst mode...
The TomTom Bandit has the following in-camera settings you can change for Continuous shooting mode...
TomTom should add these options in the still photo settings menu to round out their product in a better way...
The TomTom Bandit will not record audio with the waterproof lens cover as it's sealed. For everything else, you'd want to use the standard non-waterproof lens cover which has two holes underneath for audio to be picked up. That or simply remove any lens covers and use the Bandit out in the open.
The TomTom Bandit has decent audio overall, it's no different than most other cameras on the market. There's only an internal Omni-directional microphone and as such you can't really expect much from it. It does its job without much fuss. One difference though from other action cameras, is that the Bandit's audio is only mono and not stereo.
A positive and premium feature of the TomTom Bandit is the ability to use an external microphone to improve audio recordings. This is really good. Most other action cameras do not have this feature. Unfortunately, to use an external microphone, you must purchase the optional and proprietary external microphone cable which connects to the backside of the Bandit's battery stick. The external mic cable costs $32.49 CAD directly from TomTom's website.
Musically speaking the Bandit's audio doesn't have the bassy low end and crispy high end that the Amkov AMK5000S action camera has, but that seems to be an anomaly, because most other cameras of any kind don't sound musically great, they all sound ok. The Bandit's sound is realistic enough and won't disappoint you in a major way, but it could have more punch and more liveliness and vibrancy. The recorded audio volume is typical of what you would expect from a camera, good thing it's not quiet. There's no option to increase the audio gain in the camera.
TomTom Bandit's audio stream is only mono and uses the lossy/compressed AAC (LC) audio codec. It records audio at 48,000 kHz with a constant bitrate of 64.0 kb/s. The bitrate alone is very likely the reason the sound quality isn't exactly vibrant, but rather just decent. I think TomTom wanted to save some space with file size, therefore they chose 64 kb/s. I think they should have chosen at least 128 kb/s, that would be a good compromise providing better audio quality and keeping file size to a minimum.
One slight drawback is that the audio has typical wind noise you hear at higher speeds, but I think in this case with the microphone located at the front, it makes it more prominent with the way it's going to be mounted. There's no wind noise filter present. Another slight drawback comes when filming at higher speeds, there's a slight rattling noise that comes through, and I believe this noise comes from the rotating clip mechanism because there's some play between rotations. The problem is, on the sample that I have been reviewing, the tension is noticeably tighter when the camera is rotated to the right (no rattling noise) than if it is rotated to the left (when I hear the rattling noise) so it could just be something on this sample so your mileage may vary on this. Maybe TomTom could have added a locking clip mechanism to prevent the camera from being accidentally rotated from high speed wind and general impact.
Bandit WiFi App & Bandit Studio for PC - Finally Something Great!
All prior (Chinese) action camera reviews posted by ModSynergy have had either unstable or faulty wireless mobile apps. Thankfully none of these issues exist for the TomTom Bandit. It's been only positive experiences since I've started testing and TomTom has updated the app along the way making it incrementally better each time.
The Bandit app is an integral part of the Bandit ecosystem, it not only acts as live viewfinder, it also performs video editing duties promising to shave off huge amounts of time and complexity when composing a video. The main selling point of this app is the ability to shake whichever device you have the Bandit app installed on and it will automatically create an exciting movie based on the highlights you have tagged in your recorded videos. Making it easy is the selling point of the app. You have the ability then to make changes to the duration of the highlights, add background music, add overlays of favorite metrics such as speed, G-force (thanks to integrated GPS), before compiling the video for offline or sharing with friends. Needless to say, you'd need a smartphone or tablet with the necessary amount of space to transfer videos and photos from the Bandit, and you'd ideally want a device fast enough to render and compile video in a reasonable amount of time. If your device doesn't meet those requirements, you'd want to use TomTom Bandit Studio for the PC.
If having a mobile app is not enough, TomTom has created the TomTom Bandit Studio (BETA) for the PC platform. TomTom Bandit Studio is pretty much the same application as the mobile app, minus the shake feature, so if you're mobile device isn't good enough, or you want faster processing times than your mobile device can provide, you have TomTom Bandit Studio to fall back on. Both apps are a huge part of what Bandit is and how it excels, I can't be more happy with what I've seen with both platform applications.
Both the mobile Bandit app and Bandit Studio for PC have performed flawlessly and without hiccups. I've experienced no crashes or major bugs throughout the time I've used them and I'm confident as I've already seen that both applications will continue to get even better over time.
In terms of live WiFi video feed performance on the TomTom Bandit, it's simply excellent. The delay or lag that I've experienced is virtually non-existent. Movement from reality to it being shown on the mobile device is nearly instantaneous. This is quite the accomplishment to have, something we've seen only once before with a different action camera that was tested.
Is It Waterproof?
The Bandit is definitely waterproof provided you mount the waterproof dive lens cover to the lens.
Here's the TomTom Bandit sitting in a splash and spray park.
Battery Life & Capacity Testing
TomTom decided to incorporate a high capacity 1900mAh Lithium-Ion battery within the Bandit, in which TomTom claims Bandit can record 3 hours of nonstop full HD footage. This is a huge battery capacity on an action camera! The previous action cameras I've reviewed only had battery capacities between 1050-1150 mAh and upon further investigation were in reality 950 mAh capacity. It'll be interesting to see if the TomTom Bandit is sporting a real 1900mAh battery.
Full HD is considered to be 1080p 30fps and though TomTom does not mention if GPS and WiFi is off to achieve 3 hours recording time, I'd make a educated assumption and say that both GPS and WiFi would need to be disabled in order to achieve 3 hours.
Here is my full results from my TomTom Bandit battery testing...
I can officially confirm that the TomTom Bandit does definitely meet and achieve the manufacture rated recording times of 3 hours at full HD resolution making it the action camera with the longest recording time ever in ModSynergy's hands. What is more surprising is that that I left GPS enabled and Bandit still could virtually make 3 hours recording time.
I can also confirm that the manufacture rated 1900mAh Lithium-Ion battery is indeed valid and has not been mislabeled or misrepresented like some other (Chinese) action cameras turned out to be.
Through a USB charge monitor, I've encountered during recharging phase that the TomTom Bandit has a maximum charge rate of 1.04A making it very speedy when recharging. I've confirmed that from a depleted battery state the Bandit's true battery is indeed 1900mAh. The battery capacity is not misrepresented, I actually saw a little more extra capacity over the 1900mAh rated capacity, which is always welcome.
Where Can I Buy One? And For How Much?
If purchased directly from the TomTom website, the Bandit Base Pack is sold for $399.99 USD, while the Premium Pack is sold for $499.99 USD.
Purchasing on Amazon (USA) is a better solution because right now on sale you can purchase the TomTom Bandit Premium Pack for 30% off retail or $349.99 USD saving $150 USD!
UPDATE: TomTom Bandit Premium Pack is now $269.99! Use the link below.
The TomTom Bandit Base Pack is also on sale right now for 25% off retail (save $100 USD), making it only $299.99 USD to purchase! Both versions are shipping out directly from Amazon, so you can have Amazon's protection and peace of mind.
UPDATE: TomTom Bandit Base Pack is now $149.00! Use the link below.
Why do I like Amazon? They are fast, reliable, honest, and their 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 TomTom Bandit Action Camera, or anything else for that matter, please use our Amazon link above, it will help us out greatly.
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
Considering TomTom specializes in GPS navigation and has no prior experience with cameras, what they've managed to achieve with their Bandit is simply astounding, especially for their first attempt. I really believe TomTom has hit a home run with the Bandit, it presents a serious threat in the action camera market doing everything at a very high level. After four months of using the Bandit day in and day out, I really cannot pin point an area or major flaw, it's just that good.
From what I've experienced with the Bandit action camera, and by factoring in the whole platform which includes the TomTom Bandit mobile app and Bandit Studio PC application, there's a lot to love. I love that the 1900mAh Lithium-Ion battery gives fantastic recording times, I love the clever 'highlight' tagging feature that TomTom has created, I love the almost instantaneous WiFi video feed to a mobile device, I love the super strong unique and versatile waterproof body, I love the integrated GPS and tagging abilities, I love the video picture quality, I love the Night-Lapse mode, I appreciate the ease of use TomTom has implemented, there's so much (more) that I adore and appreciate about Bandit. The best part is TomTom not leaving Bandit untouched, they have already, and will continue to improve upon an already formidable platform, with firmware updates to the camera and updates to Bandit apps for mobile and PC for the foreseeable future. I love that they are a company that is active in this regard.
The TomTom Bandit is by far, talking about by a country mile, the greatest action camera ModSynergy has ever tested (Aug. 2016), and without a doubt the one you should seriously consider once you're on the market for an action camera. The TomTom Bandit earns our highest Editor's Choice Award rating, brilliant job TomTom!