Review: Inventio-HD 720P video Sunglasses camera

invetioI recently picked up a pair of  Inventio-HD 720P Video & Audio Recording Sunglasses (referred herein as Sunglasses video cams) you can find them on Amazon for about $130.  I’m a big fan of recording video during activities, trips, and especially sport such as running/ cycling etc. Of course I can use my smartphone for most impromptu stuff, or a dedicated helmet cam, but for sports or action video where I need to keep my hands and eyes on the road and a helmet cam would be to bulky then this guy fits the bill.

Tried other options before…

Me with my head mounted Countour HD..

Me with my head mounted Countour HD..

I have used something like the contour and mounted it to my caps, but frankly helmet cams are just too big, obtrusive or impractical if your doing action sports like running, swimming, or anything where there’s a lof of head movement or your have limited mounting options. My Contour pro is a great little camera for cycling and other sports where I can mount it to a fixed area, but otherwise it’s challenging.

Quality video Sunglass cameras .. small selection.

Sadly the market for quality, I stress QUALITY video sunglass cameras,  there are very few good ones. There are A LOT OF CHEAP CRAPPY , Chinese made Sunglass Cams you can see them here on Ebay or Amazon but don’t even bother, the quality is horrible, the file size ridiculously large  (1 min= 250mb ) and the battery life is poor ( ~1 – 1.5 hrs) , yes, I’m talking from experience.  So as I see it there are really only 2-3 practical choices, among the dozens of cheap clones.

Sunglass Cam Make/Model Cost Link
PivotHead Aurora $300  pivothead.com
Inventio-HD 720P Video $130 Amazon
CAMSPORTS Coach Digital Camera HD $360 Amazon

The Inventio-hd 720P

First off here are the main specs.

  • 720P HD Video & Audio Recording
  • 5.1 MP Video Images
  • 16-Bit Digital Audio Recording
  • 8GB of Class 10 Internal Memory
  • 600 Mah battery

The sunglasses come with a standard sunglasses hard case, basic instructions and  a combination usb/rca cable that allows charging and download the camera video to your computer. Not sure who still uses RCA to output video, why not an HDMI cable instead?  Once you crack open the box and read the basic pamphlet instructions  its off to charge the sunglasses.

The first surprising thing I encountered was as I was looking for the slot for the microSD card.. I could seem to find one, All I found was the cover to the usb connector.. At first I thought it must be somewhere, but the more I searched  I realized there is NO MICROSD card, that’s right the memory for this camera is built-in to the Camera (8GB) so that’s a good thing (no need to remember to put in the card) and a bad thing 8GB is kind of limiting for video, but when you consider you only have about two hours of recording time, it should work out fine.

Style and Fit

The Sunglasses style is basically a typical sports sunglasses style, a poly-carbonate black frame with yellow highlights. The fit is outstanding, it features a soft rubber nose piece  and it fits very comfortably around the face, just like a nice pair or sports shades. I was really impressed by the fit, considering how awful the first pair of cheap Chinese sunglasses cameras fit. So its very comfortable and light to wear. Because of the black frame its hard to make out the pinhole camera in the center above the nose, so it could make a useful spy cam. These lenses are also interchangeable, although I’m not sure where to get additional lenses.

Operation and Video Performance.

After fully charging the camera, my first real use was running with them in the NYC Half ’13 Marathon. Below are some stills take from the camera, and the video will be posted shortly. As you can see most of these stills are pretty good, there is some motion blur during fast head movement, but overall the camera did a decent job of capturing all the action. It a mediocre job of compensating for exposure, so when I was running in and out of shadowy areas, it tended to hold the old exposure setting to long , before finally adjusting. It should handle more stable lighting conditions better.

Just outside the tunnel, Brooklyn Bridge in background

Just outside the tunnel, Brooklyn Bridge in background, Nice and sunny everything well lit.

About to head into the Battery tunnel

About to head into the Battery tunnel; building shadows causing video to be underexposed

  • The audio quality is pretty good, it can be susceptible to wind noise (if you use it while riding your bike), but you can minimize that by covering the mic with a small piece of electrical table. Overall though you should be able to hear quite well what is being said or the environment around you.

Battery performance is decent but not stellar, I have yet to get the full 2+ hours promised, but I typically get close 1:55min, 1:49 minutes, so  it’s pretty reasonable.

  •  8GB Memory storage  More troubling is the 8GB it often fills up quickly and it’s very dependent on how much compression happens on the video, for action sports where the scene is constantly moving, you may only get 1 to 1.5 hours of usable capacity, this is because the codec doesn’t do the greatest job compressing heavy action scenes.
  • Camera Lens Angled high: The first real  annoying issue, is that the video recording lens is angled a bit upward, which means when looking straight ahead the camera is recording from eye level to the sky, so you need to either angle the camera lower, or look more towards the ground or below whatever object your trying to film.
  • No Audible Indicator: the second annoying issue, is that there is no audible indicator (no beep) of when you start or stop recording, only blinking red/green indicator lamp on the inside left temple frame. So you need to peek at that indicator to see if it’s working. A beep would be very helpful here..

Overall , minus a few annoying issues, the camera does record decent 720P video, its not Go Pro or Contour HD quality (it simply doesn’t have the space for the optics or processing of the video) , but it is very usable video in a convenient design.

..until Google glass gets released.

I think these video sunglasses are all but a stepping stone to the real killer-app for sunglasses video recording comes out and it will soon, I’m talking about  Google Glass. Besides being a  much more polished and practical product , it should offer improved video quality, battery life and other capabilities.

Conclusion

Pro's Cons
Comfortable Fit No audible feedback on start/stop recording
Stylish design Vidoe lens is angled high- need to look down for better recordings
Decent ~2hr battery 8GB internal memory could be limiting
Reasonable  price

These are definitely decent sunglasses video camera for the price, they actually do a pretty decent job of capturing video ( and sound) at a decent resolution 720p and typically  have  enough memory and battery to last close to  two hours, very comfortable to wear, they could use some audio feedback to indicate recording it on/off but otherwise works as expected.

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