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Drift Camera HD170 review

Fri, 11 Mar 2011

I’ve been testing this Drift 170 camera for the past few days. I also took it on the recent Portimao Maxxis tyre launch where I managed to sneak it onto Gary Mason’s Kawasaki Superbike.

We’ve been using the GoPro HD set-up for over a year now with mixed results. Unless you’ve forked out for a remote colour monitor the only downside to the GoPro is that you don’t really know what the camera’s seeing until you download the results. This is fine if you’ve got unlimited time but this is not often the case on bike launches where time and machinery is limited.

So this Drift Cam with its built-in colour LCD monitor is pretty handy. You can position the camera, turn it on and see an image of what the lens is actually seeing before you commit with the double sided sticky mounting pads. The lens twists through 180 degrees, too so you can achieve more permutations from one mounting point.

Speaking of mounting points this in one downside to the Drift Cam’s design. It’s quite heavy (compared to the GoPro) and quite long with one threaded insert in the centre of the body to attach the mounting brackets. Really, it needs two threaded inserts to spread the weight and stop it bouncing around. You’ve got to be careful how you tighten the mounting brackets as well as we’ve seen other people sheer the plastic by overtightening the fixing screw. Put simply, the lower you can mount the camera the better as long mounts, like suction pads, exaggerate the wobble-effect.

The only other downside is the in-built microphone which is susceptible to wind noise. We ran a cheap auxiliary microphone (£19.99) and wrapped the end in tissue paper and gaffer tape to make out own low-gain mic’. It may not have looked very pretty but it worked a treat.

An obvious advantage of the Drift Cam over the GoPro is the rechargeable lithium battery which has enough juice for several hours of recording on a full charge. GoPros need expensive, disposable lithium batteries adding roughly a tenner to a full day’s usage. The Drift cam package doesn't come with a mains charger and handy car cigar lighter charger but these can be had for a penny under £30. Obviously, you'll need at least one of these so you can use it.

Uploading the video to your PC/Mac couldn’t be simpler. There are no drivers to upload, just connect the camera to your USB port and the footage uploads automatically. It’s that simple even I can do it. And trust me, I am a cretin when it comes to leads, cables and computer software.

Picture quality, though, is absolutely stunning in all light conditions. I’m really looking forward to see what we can achieve with this camera over the coming year…

The Drift 170HD is currently on a £50 off deal from at £279.98. The external microphone, a must-have, is £19.99. 

By mark forsyth

See also: Video: Riding the 2011 MSS Kawasaki ZX-10 Superbike racer, Schoolboy Heroes , Old boys up front and where are the new 600 Gixers?.