There's a new player in the action camera market - the iOn Air Pro is set to arrive in the UK in April and we've got our hands on one of the first samples to give you the lowdown on the latest high-definition helmet cam.
iOn may be an unfamiliar name but it's one which comes with nearly 20 years experience in the electronics business, developing and distributing cameras from their Hong Kong HQ - this, however, is the company's first product to be launched directly under the iOn brand. Let's take a closer look...
Build, picture quality and controls
The iOn Air Pro is a sleek, cylindrical shape with a striking yet somewhat understated blue and matt black finish. Pick it up and there's little too it; with a headline weight of 123g the iOn is significantly lighter than its main rivals, but the build quality is excellent and it feels sturdy in your hand.
The camera records in full 1080p high-definition through a wide angle lens at 30 frames per second. You can also snap five megapixel photographs (one at a time or in a burst of ten) and by keeping that figure relatively low the company's managing director Giovanni Tomaselli, who talked us through the product, say the camera's ability to film in low light conditions is improved.
The iOn's casing is waterproof down to 10m - so need need for a separate case - while the built-in microphone is also fully waterproof, plus the octagonal base means it won't roll away if you put it down.
The camera uses an intuitive control system, with only two buttons. The first is a sliding button - push it forwards and the camera turns on and starts recording, pull it back and it stops recording. Press the button at the front of the camera (while it is recording) and it'll take a picture, while this also doubles as the on/off button.
As for battery life; the iOn Air Pro, charged via USB or using the mains socket provided, offers two hours of power as standard, while this can be increased to four hours by using one of iOn's detachable Wi-Fi Podz (available separately, more on that later).
Shoot and share
What sets the iOn Air Pro apart from its rivals is its shoot and share capability. This runs in conjunction with iOn's iPhone app (available now on the iTunes store in beta version, with an iPad and Android version to follow) and allows the user to directly upload their footage and photographs to Facebook and Twitter, or you can stream it via the app. It also means you can attach the camera to your helmet then, using your smartphone, make sure you're filming what you want to film before setting off down the trail. iOn also give you 8GB of cloud storage through mimedia.com so you can access your content from anywhere with an Internet connection.
To take advantage of the camera's wi-fi capability you need one of iOn's Wi-Fi Podz. This slots into the back of the camera and increases battery life to four hours without adding any mass to the unit. You can buy one of the Wi-Fi Podz separately for £79.99, or it comes as standard with the most expensive bundle. The Wi-Fi Podz won't ship until May so we'll have to wait until then to find out how easy it is to use - sounds like it could be fun, though.
Price and availability
So how much does this all cost? Well, the iOn Air Pro is a competitively priced package, with three bundles set to go on sale through Amazon in a couple of weeks.
The standard package comes with just the camera and charger for £199, while for £249 a range of mounts (including helmet and handlebar mounts, and a mini tripod) are included, while the £299 bundle also includes one of iOn's Wi-Fi Podz.
So that's the iOn Air Pro. It looks an impressive package but, now we've got the bare facts out of the way, we'll put it through its paces before reporting back with a full review.