Pete’s TomTom Bandit Review

Satnav giants TomTom are the latest to enter the super competitive market with this new Bandit action sports camera.

Pete spent a month with the TomTom Bandit strapped to his head to see how it fared against the competition.

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Going up against GoPro is never going to be easy, but we like the look of this unit that seems to blend features from other cameras like the output sensor data of the Garmin Verb with the usual bells and whistles of the globe-conquering Hero series.

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The unique selling point of this camera, however, is the instant editing and sharing ability via the Bandit App. Not only does this allow you to edit while out on the hill, but you can share the thrills and spills of your latest gallop around your favourite trails before you’ve even got back to the car. Assuming you have the app, you can also use your phone to make sure the camera is aligned correctly with your helmet before you start recording. Editing is made easier by the addition of being able to select highlights manually, or failing that, the camera will select highlights automatically. It remains to be seen how easy it will be to select these highlights yourself should you need both your hands on the bars.

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The camera is compact and light enough and comes with two mounts (one flat and one curved) plus a GoPro mount adaptor. We’ll need to wait and see if this is going to work with the ever-popular chest mount. That said, this shouldn’t be any reason to not consider the Bandit over the competition as the feature list is pretty much everything you could need from this type of camera.

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Features:

Shoots in full 4K/15fps
16 Megapixels
3 Hours Non-Stop Filming Battery Life
Speed, G-Force, Altitude, Rotation and Heart Rate* (*with a compatible HR monitor, not supplied)
Micro SD card
Waterproof to 50m
Full 4K video, Slow Mo, Timelapse and Stills modes
Wireless charging
Instant Playback with Viewfinder in Bandit App
Rotatable on the mount
Multi-language screen

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So after a month of use and a trip to the Alps, the Megavalanche and beyond, our staffer Pete has had a chance to see if the Bandit lived up to the hype.

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Overall, I was very impressed with the TomTom Bandit. From the off, this camera was easy to use and produce some quality footage from a great trip to the Alps. I ran the Bandit at 1080p/60fps throughout to get the best footage possible, although there are several other options available.

A wide angle lens gives you a massive focal spread, image stability is excellent and the camera can handle rapid light changes very well. The helmet mount stayed solid throughout courtesy of some 3M sticky stuff and there was no mount/camera interface noise like you get on a GoPro, just the usual wind noise. There is a solid ‘click’ when the camera is locked into place which is reassuring and the buttons are easy to use even with gloves on.

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The app makes the camera great for using to film yourself on or off the helmet, as well as editing the footage afterwards without needing to upload the footage to a computer first. TomTom clearly haven’t rushed into making this camera. The basics have all been done very well indeed. That is of producing a camera that fits the helmet well, stays put and takes some great footage. The app makes it very easy to edit and share what you’ve captured as well.

There were a few niggles, though, nothing major, but the difference between a good product and a great one nonetheless. The shape doesn’t lend itself awfully well to a high variety of mount locations, specifically, there was only one place on my full-face helmet, and nowhere on my half face where the mounts would fit. Once you’ve the mount in place, there is no way of changing the vertical angle.

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The battery takes a long old time to charge, only via a USB port, and doesn’t last the 3 hours quoted when run at 1080p/60fps. The app does not allow you access to the stills taken on the ‘Photo’ mode, which seems like an odd oversight.

The app ‘Soundtrack’ options cannot be listened to prior to adding them to your ‘Story’, which led to some interesting 90s Euro trance being added to my first effort. On my Megavalanche race run, the camera broke the 45 minutes it did film for, into three 15-minute segments. Not the end of the world, but the segments don’t overlap and it missed me almost going out the front door between the 2nd and 3rd.

The GoPro mount didn’t get a showing as it didn’t reall work with the chest mount I had. Finally, the nice idea of the ‘highlights’ button to choose your highlights on the move is rendered obscolete when you’re struggling to hold onto the bars through a set of Alpine braking bumps.


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