Last updated: 10:30 AM ET, Mon August 01 2016

Test Driving Drift Compass, A Small But Powerful Wearable Camera

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | August 01, 2016

Test Driving Drift Compass, A Small But Powerful Wearable Camera

Photo courtesy Drift Innovation

Taking excellent footage on a camera doesn’t have to be a hands-on affair any longer.

Meet Drift Innovation’s Compass wearable camera, which I had the pleasure of taking out for a test drive in myriad environments.

Now for those not familiar with the new camera, it’s a tiny, extremely lightweight camera that shoots 1080p video.

It comes in a slick black box that opens to an adorable device that comes ready with lanyard, mounting clip, micro USB cable and, of course, the camera itself.

The following video is a nice way of illustrating the possibilities of a camera that can handle a great deal of things all on its own.

Of course, things are not as autonomous or smooth as the video promises. We will get to this in a second, but the biggest drawback to the camera comes when you don’t utilize the magnetic mounting.

But before we get into that, let’s dive into specifics.

The camera takes great video and is extremely easy to use. At Comic-Con, I was able to pop it out and begin shooting immediately.

Besides popping in an optional microSD you can also take advantage of the 10GB of cloud storage.

As for battery life, you will take clear video for about two hours of shooting mode (battery life listed as four hours), which is perfect if you are using it as the camera is intended – a turn on, shoot and forget solution to capturing a wealth of moments. It also takes 8MP pictures for those more interested in snapshots.

The free app also allows you to live stream that unbelievable experience you are enjoying in the moment for friends back at home.

The most important aspect of the camera is its wallet-friendly price of $129.99 with a mount pack coming in at $39.99.

Photo courtesy Drift Innovation

My initial takeaway from using the camera is it’s a more-than-worthy companion for those looking to capture great video without the rigmarole of holding a camera or remembering to turn it on when the moment strikes.

Now there are some caveats to a small but powerful camera.

I wasn’t afforded the magnetic backing, so I made use of the clip that comes with the standard box.

As you might realize, using just the clip would prove problematic considering the kind of clothes you are wearing. Even if you manage a pocket to clip it to, the camera may still hang forward if your shirt is too blousy.

A similar issue arises with the provided lanyard. That being said, I can imagine having this beauty clipped by magnet to your clothes would solve a lot of that conundrum.

With all of that said, it’s so easy to use the camera. You simply turn it on with the push of a button and then tap your way through a color-coded menu: Green denotes video mode; Purple indicates timelapse and yellow means you are about to shoot a photo.

It’s an easy and intuitive way to figure out how you are going to capture a memory without having a screen available – although you can certainly work the camera through Wi-Fi tethering through the app.

One thing to note is that on sunny days you will have some difficulty figuring out what color is being presented around the home button. A little shielding of the hand solves this quickly.

Pros – Wearable; Light; Affordable; Powerful; Amazingly Crisp Video and Images; Touch Sensitive Casing For Mode Selection; Double tap case to record; Wi-Fi Capability; Cloud Storage; 32GB micro SD slot; Timelapse availability; Easy to upload to social media accounts

Cons – Best with magnetic backing, which is extra; Light system can be difficult to see in sunlight; Wi-Fi tether can run the battery down

Of course, this isn’t going to replace your GoPro that’s available with waterproof casing. However, it’s an extremely intriguing choice for those who want a camera outside their phone that can sit comfortably from any tabletop, around your neck or on your lapel.

With the price as it is, it would be a wonderful gift for anyone doing a great deal of travel who wants to capture video but doesn’t care about things like framing.

You can just pop it on, go to dinner or that concert and forget you’re wearing it. When you come home you’ve found that you have a treasure trove of footage.

And that’s a marvelous thing.

Grade: B+


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