PROS / Special sensors flag the most interesting parts of your footage for later use with an automatic editing application.
CONS / This camera requires extra parts to be dive capable.
VERDICT / The TomTom has its problems like sub-par waterproofing, an unusual battery design and increased size and weight, but it provides solid framerate/resolution options, a useful design and a unique auto-editing method. Although it's not for everyone, it's hard to be displeased with its overall performance.
The first thing you'll notice about the TomTom Bandit is its unusual barrel shape. While it isn't the first action camera to take such an approach, it's one of few. Its design allows you to mount the camera on top, on the side or on the underside of something, and then swivel the camera on its mount to film in the correct orientation. While its design can be useful in certain situations, the camera is also one of the largest and heaviest we've seen.
The TomTom makes good use of its increased size by including a preview screen and twice as many buttons as you'd find on a GoPro. This makes navigating menus and reviewing footage easier, although we did find the actual menu to be somewhat clunky. The interface is just not immediately easy to understand. With time, that issue fades.
Perhaps the most unique design choice, however, is the inclusion of what TomTom calls the Batt-Stick. The Batt-Stick is essentially a battery pack with a built-in USB plug, a recording/highlight marking button and an SD port that slides into the rear of the camera. The Batt-Stick seeks to take cables out of the action camera equation by providing a simple, integrated way to charge your battery and transfer files. You just have to remove it from your camera and plug it into any USB port.
The downside to this is that in order to buy a replacement battery for your camera, you also have to buy a replacement SD slot, recording button and USB plug. At around $60, it makes extending the battery life of your camera significantly more expensive than it would be if the battery were separate. And because of its unique design, there aren't any cheaper third-party options. On the upside, the Bandit's single battery lasts about as long as two GoPro batteries, which helps to offset the increased cost.
Waterproofing is traditionally an integral part of any action camera, and yet the Bandit, in its standard form, makes no claims to be waterproof to any depth. While its water resistance is sufficient to keep rain and snow out, those looking to dive or swim with their camera will need to invest a further $40 in a dive lens cover.
For image quality, however, the Bandit does quite well, ranking among the best action cameras. Its top resolution is 4K – the highest yet achieved by any action camera. Unlike the GoPro HERO4 Black, however, the Bandit can't shoot at this resolution at the standard 30 frames per second. But with a max of 2.7K at 30 frames per second, it's still a formidable shooter.
Framerate options are also solid, giving you the ability to create varying degrees of slow motion video. When shooting in standard definition, the lowest resolution available, the Bandit can capture up to 240 frames per second – again on par with the best action cams. As resolution increases to 720p, the maximum framerate dips to 120 frames per second, and again to 60 frames per second at 1080p.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Bandit is the inclusion of sensors that measure G-force, speed, acceleration and altitude. Using these features, you can map every facet of your chosen activity. The camcorder also uses this information to flag moments in your footage that are likely to be the most exciting. Later, you can connect the camera to an app on your smartphone and use it to automatically edit your footage, using these markers as a guide. You can also set markers manually while filming by pressing a button on the backside of the Batt-stick.
The Bandit is an action camera that provides some of the best shooting options in the industry. For that reason alone, it is a solid option to capture all your favorite activities and events. In addition to this, it also has some cool features like its cylindrical, rotating design or its built-in action-flagging sensors. Despite being heavier and larger than most, it's a great option for those looking to capture and share interesting footage as easily as possible.