Race Video Camera Comparison Review Roundup

By Tom Martin

August 07, 2013

This is the Master Landing Page for our reviews of race video cameras. As we continue this series, we’ll update this page with summaries and links to the full reviews.
 
GoPro Hero3 Black
 
Read full review here.
 
We would say that the Hero3 Black feels like a product whose basic interface was designed 10 years ago (pre-iPhone). Then GoPro got feedback from a variety of users and added flexibility to do various things these users wanted. That seems reasonable, but the result for racers is a complex camera with a primitive interface that is harder than it should be to use. That difficulty in use leads to missed, incomplete, sub-optimal recordings. Couple that with a racing environment where the user is restricted in some ways, and you have a product that doesn’t suit the need very well. That’s all moot, though, if no one has designed something better. Fortunately, many have tried, and some have succeeded.
 
Requirement GoPro Hero3 Black Comments
Clear how to turn camera on ** Power button labled "mode"
Easy to turn camera on ***
Button on front hard to reach with right side windshield mounting
Remote control ***
Small and light, same controls as camera; has connection and power issues
Camera clearly indicates if power "on"
*
Same light used for "power" and "record." Light on front
One step power + record *** One Button Mode can be set up. Recording is started with "power" button
Easy to turn off to preserve battery **** Must hold power button for 2 sec to turn off
Setting resolution and FOV easy ** Must dive into complex menus
Easy to mount *** Many options, but multiple fiddly parts often needed
Mountable almost anywhere on car ***** Mount variety plus wireless remote help
Easy to align **** Square chassis and continuous adjustments
Mechanically rigid mount *** Depends somewhat on which system you use
Ample battery life ** Base battery not great, with BacPac requires two chargers, self-drain high
Replaceable batteries *** Yes, but two types needed
Standard USB charging **** Yes, except for remote
Accepts large memory cards ***** Micro SDXC (up to 64 GB)
Controls work consistently and smoothly ***
Logic is good, but two buttons to control complex menu leads to some confusion
Lights and displays easy to read ** Small monochrome display uses icons extensively, manual often needed
     
Overall *** You pay a price when mixing flexibility and a decade-old interface
 
Replay XD1080
 
Read full review here.
 
 
Our detailed analysis of the Replay XD1080 may cover up how different the experience of using the camera is compared to the GoPro Hero3 Black. Where the Hero3 is complex, the XD1080 is simple. Where the Hero3 is flexible, the XD1080 is limited.
 
If you mostly take videos with one camera, mounted inside your car where the driver can reach it, the XD1080 is likely to be a welcome relief from the frustrations you may have had with GoPro, or would have if you bought one. If you need to mount the camera or cameras away from the driver, we don’t think either camera is ideal. The GoPro remote is pretty sketchy, so really in this scenario both cameras have to be dealt with manually (before you get in or with a crew assist). If you run endurance races or run in multiple classes, we also don’t think the Replay is for you because of its battery design.
 
But for straightforward recording, the Replay XD1080 is easy to use and increases that chance (compared with the GoPro Hero3 Black) that you get workable videos.
 
Requirement Replay XD1080 Comments
Clear how to turn camera on *** Power button and Record button same color/shape, labels low contrast
Easy to turn camera on **** Buttons easy to access
Remote control * Not available
Camera clearly indicates if power "on" *** Vibration confirmation works for racing; lights useless
One step power + record ** No instructions
Easy to turn off to preserve battery *** Must stop recording before powering down
Setting resolution and FOV easy **** Dedicated buttons, must use chart
Easy to mount **** Many options, small adjustments a challenge
Mountable almost anywhere on car **** Mount variety is good
Easy to align **** Rotates in mount, but angle somewhat hard to judge
Mechanically rigid mount **** Generally very solid
Ample battery life *** Base battery works well for sprint races
Replaceable batteries * No
Standard USB charging **** Yes, Micro-B connector
Accepts large memory cards **** Micro SD up to 32 GB
Controls work consistently and smoothly **** Most controls do one or two things only, operation feels responsive
Lights and displays easy to read ** Lights color-coded but not ideal for race car interior
     
Overall *** Good, simple solution for single-cam in-car use