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  • December 23, 2011
  • Dirck Edge
  • Chris Rubino
  • 9 Comments

MD Product Review: Drift HD170 Stealth POV Camera

As many of our readers know by now, when MD decided to produce its own videos, we wanted nothing but the best equipment to provide quality HD (1080P) footage, including on-board POV footage that helped our readers feel that they were part of the riding experience.

We looked at all the options available in POV action, sports cameras.  After viewing footage and comparisons available on the Internet, as well as features, we asked Drift Innovations if we could sample the Drift HD170 Stealth camera. Why?  Because it combined several extremely important features to us that we could only find in this camera, including:

  1. An LCD screen that allows us to line-up and preview our shots.
  2. A rotating lens element that allowed us to set the perfect horizon for our shots regardless of the orientation of the camera when mounted on motorcycle or helmet.
  3. A simple remote control that we could wear on our wrist or place on the handlebar, for instance, that allowed us to turn the camera on and off, rather than being forced to record tons of video that we would later throw away.
  4. An integrated jack for an external microphone that I could place within my helmet, and set volume levels on the unit’s menu.

In addition, the video comparisons I saw told me that the Drift cameras had the most pleasing looking HD footage, beating the competition in terms of color and clarity.

We have now used the Drift HD170 Stealth and its integrated external microphone in each of the three video bike reviews published to our YouTube channels, including the Moto Guzzi Norge GT 8V (which was shot at 60FPS in 720P), the Honda CBR250R (shot at 30FPS in 1080P) and the Kawasaki ZX-14R (also shot at 30FPS in 1080P). Each of these videos is embedded below if you haven’t seen them, yet.

We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the HD170 Stealth.  It has allowed us to produce the videos the way we wanted them produced, and avoid the trial-and-error hassle of lining up our video orientation without the aid of an LCD screen (which is lacking from most, if not all, of the competition).  The availability of an external microphone jack has allowed to us introduce an element (onboard, real time audio commentary by the rider) that we wanted to incorporate to improve the viewer’s experience.

Also important for motorcycle action videos is aerodynamics.  Rather than a mini-barn door, like some of the competition, the Drift HD170 Stealth has a sleek shape that has allowed us to ride at high speeds without even noticing  that the camera is mounted on our helmet.

As noted earlier, by shooting in 720P, you can select 60FPS for smoother action video that can even be turned into slow motion footage during edit.

The basic Drift HD170 Stealth camera is available at what we consider a bargain price of $229.00 at mypov360.com, and includes the following in the package:

  • HD170 Stealth Action Camera
  • Remote Control
  • Handlebar Grip
  • Goggle Mount
  • Head Strap
  • Helmet Grip
  • Universal Clip
  • Velcro Strap
  • Industrial strength velcro adhesive pad
  • AV Cable for play back on TV
  • USB Cable for downloading to a computer
  • Quick Guide to get started

You can purchase an external microphone for $19.95.  There are various options for mounting the camera on your motorcycle which we will discuss in a subsequent article.  The helmet mount we used (pictured) was accomplished with the items included in the package, plus the external mic.

Drift has a new, smaller model called simply Drift HD, which is pictured above in the small photo adjacent to the HD170 Stealth.  It is much smaller and lighter, and also incorporates some additional features that we will address in a future article on this model.

9 Comments

  1. Vroooom says:

    The main disadvantage I see to this vs. the Go Pro is the lack of waterproofing. Not an issue most of the time, unless you live in the Northwest. Still, a nice looking product with good looking video.

  2. vitesse says:

    Adding the video ride along to the test of the 2012 ZX-14R really made the review much more meaningful (and enjoyable) for me. And reviewing this camcorder used in the test was icing on the cake as recently I’ve been wondering if there were any alternatives to the product that seems most popular out there.

    The video certainly enhances the write up and hope it can continue with future articles.

  3. Ninou says:

    It might not be a “mini barn door” but it’s frankly huge compared to the competition. The smaller one has a more reasonable size.
    It seems to be a pretty good camera.
    It caught my attention when I saw that it had a replaceable lens. I thought that would allow for different POV angles with different lenses. Alas, this is only in case you break a lens. There’s only one lens available, the world distorting 170 wide angle. That’s my beef with all those cameras. They all have ridiculously wide POV angles. That’s fine if you want to film the scenery, but if you want to film your buddy in front of you, it looks like he is 1 mile down the road when you actually almost riding in his top case.
    They say you can use the 4X digital zoom to counter this effect. I wonder if it works and what the trade-off is…
    The new Go-Pro Hero 2 actually allow for 3 different POV angles, from 90º to 170º.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      It is pretty small. The top photo adds an inch or so for the external mic cover. The smaller cam is tiny. Size is not an issue for our use on the helmet or the bike.

      • Ninou says:

        The bulk was a common gripe about this camera compared to the competition. This is exactly why they came out with the smaller Drift HD. Smaller is better when it comes to cameras and motorcycles.
        I’m about to pull the trigger on one of those babies (Drift HD) but will probably wait for your review if it comes soon.
        It’s not perfect but it is actually pretty good. They all have their shortcomings.
        You have 2 main options really: the all in one, like the Drift, the GoPro, the Contour or the Replay XD
        Or there is the bullet cam + DVR combo, like the IOV POV, the 4Kam or HD-Pro Radcam.
        The second option is usually higher quality (separate DVR), letting you place the tiny bullet cam virtually anywhere on the bike or yourself. But you need to find a place for the DVR and run the cable from the cam to the DVR. It’s good if you are going to install it more or less permanently on one bike. It can be a pretty cool set up, with the DVR in full view on a handlebar mount, allowing you to check the live footage on the control screen and remotely operate the cam, with no doubt whatsoever as to whether the cam is recording or not.
        For portability and ease of use, the all-in-one is better. I’m between the Replay HD 1080 and the Drift HD in that segment. The replay has a lot going for it. The video quality, especially transitions from shadow to bright spaces, is better than the Drift HD, not to mention an absence of fish eye effect. It is tiny and has a really good haptic feedback that lets you with no doubt at to which action you are performing when pressing its buttons without looking. But here lies a contradiction for me: its tiny size lets you place it anywhere on the bike but it does not have a remote and its “interface” is geared towards the helmet cam paradigm: pressing buttons without looking. If you purposely make the cam small enough to be place anywhere on a bike, you would always include a wireless remote in my view.
        That wireless remote (with no need for a line of sight as it is HF and not IR) is a big plus of the Drift HD.
        It does however have a flaw: it does not come with a LED to let you know if the cam is really on or not. That would be great for when the cam is out of sight. Nothing more frustrating that you were not recording a the end of the ride…
        I know that there is an optional LED. But it is wired and you need to plug it at the back of the cam and run the cable to wherever you want to place the LED. It really strikes me as a cumbersome afterthought. On top of that, if you use that optional LED, you cannot power the cam from an external power pack since the mini USB port is taken by the LED. That’s too bad since the optional external power pack lets you run the cam for a full 20 hours! That’s a nice option I think.
        On the plus side again the 4X digital zoom goes a long way in alleviate the fish eye effect problem, although this comes at the expense of video quality unfortunately.
        The control screen is also a big plus obviously, as is the external mic input.
        Video quality let a little to be desired compared to the GoPro or Replay XD. It can clearly be seen on your ZX14R review in the transition from shade to bright. It really struggles to adjust to the bright conditions.

        It’s not perfect but it is the one I’m leaning towards at the moment after reviewing the various options. I’m curious to read your review of the Drift HD.

    • Aftermarket opportunity says:

      With a replaceable lens at least there is a chance for them or a 3rd party to come out with lenses and filters for it. Not even an option on most of the competition. Even better, if they start stealing market from the others maybe they’ll step up and make units with more optical versatility to get that market back.

  4. MGNorge says:

    I use a Kodak Zi8 “Barn Door” HD mini cam which I mount to a suction mount on my Norge’s tank. It is a pocket type cam with LCD and external mic input. It works very well except I have not yet devised a suitable helmet mount which would surely open up the variety of shots besides straight ahead. Also, because of its shape it is not very aerodynamic but I think I spent no more than $150 for it and a quality stereo external mic.

    This cam interests me because it combines the very features I saw in the Kodak with a more suitable form factor for bike recording.

  5. AndrewF says:

    I’m very interested in mounting this camera on the tank, I hope you’ll cover this subject in that promised next article!