Last updated: 09:11 AM ET, Wed December 23 2015

Gear Review: ActiveOn CX Action Camera

Travel Technology | Janeen Christoff | December 22, 2015

Gear Review: ActiveOn CX Action Camera

PHOTO: Timelapse photos are easy to shoot on the ActiveOn CX Gold. (Photo by Janeen Christoff)

This year, action cameras have adorned many a wish list – and for good reason. These go-anywhere, do anything cameras take stellar pictures and videos and also have a range of functions such as time-lapse photography, additional color filters and Wi-Fi connectivity. The best part of these cameras, though, is that you can take them or mount them just about anywhere to get the action footage that you want.

GoPro may have put these types of cameras on the map, but new companies are taking these tiny devices to the next level. ActiveOn is one of those. The ActiveOn CX and the new ActiveOn CX Gold is a compact and easy-to-use action camera. It resembles a GoPro in many ways but, in comparison, we noticed a few standout features that made it appear easier to use. We road tested the ActiveOn CX Gold in Death Valley National Park to see if this was true – here is what we found.

Overall assessment. This is a cool little camera. I have always struggled to shoot with the GoPro and felt like, if the shots came out, it was just the luck of the draw. The two-inch touchscreen on the ActiveOn CX Gold makes it so easy to see what mode you are in, what you are shooting and to make changes and adjustments quickly so that you don’t miss anything. To me, this was one of the best features because, instead of having to remember all of the commands to control the camera – you could see what was going on and were less likely to miss the shot you were trying to get.

User interface. One of the best features of this camera is its streamlined user interface. You can tell this was designed with input from people who shoot frequently with an action camera. It’s simple to figure out which buttons to push. The touchscreen on the back allows you to see what type of images you are capturing. The commands are pretty straightforward and it doesn’t take hours pouring over a manual to figure out what each button does.

Touchscreen. The touchscreen on the back allows you to see what type of images you are capturing. This is super handy for a number of reasons but we found it the most beneficial for shooting timelapse photography because of the amount of time (and battery life) that you are devoting to capturing these images. It is a total bummer when you spend an hour capturing a sunset only to find out your camera wasn’t pointing in the exact right direction. The screen alleviates this all together.

While there are two buttons on the top of the camera that can navigate the controls, the touchscreen also allows you to control everything from the back of the camera. And because you can see what you are shooting, you never miss a shot.

There is also a playback mode and the touchscreen allows you to view camera playback without connecting to your phone’s Wi-Fi or your computer.      

Battery life. Another awesome feature is that you can swap out the battery. Having an extra battery with us when we were not using it in the car (where you can charge while driving) and, for example, using it on a long hike, was awesome and gave us a lot of extra time to use the camera.

The batteries are compact and slip easily into a pocket, not taking up much space at all – they are also not terribly expensive. ActiveOn sells extra batteries on its site for just $17.99, so you could buy a few and be able to use the camera all day long without stopping to recharge.

Shooting modes. The ActiveOn CX Gold offered a range of shooting options and comes with a 16 megapixel Pro-grade CMOS sensor and an F/2.4 super wide angle lens. The image quality of both videos and pictures is beautiful. There are four FOV options to avoid the fish-eye look of videos. Users can adjust the angle of capture between narrow, medium, wide and super-wide modes and there are four levels of digital zoom. This gives the camera some breadth in terms of functionality when it comes to taking photos.

There are also some shooting modes to assist the novice action-camera user (e.g. me), such as the automatic timelapse video mode, the quick record feature, slow motion recording and digital image stabilizing.

Wi-Fi app. Similar to other action cameras, the ActiveOn has an app that works with your phone. You can connect the camera to the app via Wi-Fi and transfer what you captured to your smartphone. We mostly used this to share images on social media but you can also record video and control the camera from your smartphone.

Value. No matter which version of this camera you buy, you are getting a great deal for your money. The regular CX version is currently selling for around $100. The higher-end CX Gold retails for approximately $250. But each camera packs a lot of punch for the money. For all of the user-friendly features and the high-quality images as well as a wide range of compatible accessories that are extremely reasonably priced, you are getting a high-end piece of equipment without having to invest a vast sum of money – a smart move for the casual action-cam user who probably won’t be using these cameras on a day-to-day basis, although you could with zero problems. I will definitely look forward to being able to use this camera on my future adventures.

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