The other day we thought that 2008 was going to be the year of the GPS, with Garmin, SatMap and others launching new, compact, outdoorsy navigational gizmos. But today 2008 is clearly going to be the year of the self-contained helmetcam.
Interbike had early signs, with VIO launching its high-end, solid-state recording POV1 (although that's not really self-contained, there's a wire between the camera bit and the recorder) and GoPro flooding the world with bijou Digital Hero cameras. And now helmetcam specialists Twenty20 have stepped up with a solution that fits neatly between those two in capability and price.
Behold, then, the curiously-named VholdR "wearable camcorder". Unlike its previous products, the VholdR has no wires and doesn't rely on an external recording device. Instead, packed inside the camera body is a bunch of trickery that compresses your video on the fly and records it to an SD card slotted in the back. The result is a cardload of MPEG-4 files that you can immediately replay on a computer, post to YouTube or whatever. VholdR anticipates you'll get about an hour of footage per Gb of card.
Obviously this is a highly convenient approach, although we suspect that if you're into substantial editing then DV tapes might yield higher quality. These days, though, most people seem to be shooting video to share over the net rather than to spend hours editing into a directorial tour de force and distributing on DVD, so the solid-state solution looks like it's a better fit with most of the market.
It's all housed in an aluminium and ABS casing, hermetically-sealed, splash-proof, shock resistant and able to cope with wide temperature and humidity ranges. There's a versatile (and ambidextrous) quick-release mounting system, too. They're $350 in the US, while UK distributor Madison is expecting stock in the new year at £299.99.
Find out more at www.vholdr.com.