Sports cameras are like dandelions these days. There are a ton of them on the market, and new ones seem to pop up overnight. A small, mobile camera is a great tool for recording your off-road adventures. For the average consumer, though, it can be pretty tough to decide based on specs alone, as most of the cameras are quite similar in design and features. If you’ve read any of our camera reviews in the past, you have probably figured out that we don’t like to bore you with every minute detail and specification you could read right from the manufacturer’s website or literature. Instead, we take the products out and use them just like YOU would, and give you an honest evaluation from a real user’s perspective rather than a bunch of tech geek jargon. Lately, we’ve had the opportunity to use two cameras from Liquid Image: The Torque HD video goggles and the Ego Xtreme Sports camera.
According to the numbers, the Torque HD video goggles are just like many other cameras on the market. You can choose from 1080p@30fps, 720p@60fps, or 12mp still photos, but the lens is slightly different than those found in many other cameras. The Torque HD uses a 135 degree lens; which narrows the field of view and is more sensitive to “shake” but doesn’t distort distance like a 170 degree lens, and gives much less fisheye effect. When it comes to “POV” cameras, you can’t get a better point-of-view than the Torque HD… right between the eyes! If you’re looking for a true view of what it looks like to be on the saddle of a bike or ATV or behind the wheel of a vehicle, you can’t get any truer than what you’ll get with the Torque HD.
Controlling the camera is extremely simple. The control module tucks neatly inside the left side of the strap, and the power/mode and shutter buttons are simple to find even while wearing gloves. And just in case you’re not sure if you pushed the button firmly enough, there is an audible peep and a multi-colored LED just inside the lens that lets you know if the camera is recording and which mode you have selected. The rechargeable lithium battery tucks inside the right side of the strap. Liquid Image claims 1.5-2 hours of battery life on full HD video mode, but we never got quite that long. However, most of our testing was in cold temperatures, which can significantly decrease battery life.
Some people question the logic of installing a high-end camera in a pair of goggles, considering the lifespan of the average pair. Rest assured, these aren’t your ordinary pair of goggles. Not only is the lens replaceable, but you can also remove and replace the strap and the foam; something that you won’t find with any other brand. Also, the Liquid Image Torque HD goggles eliminate the need for a bag full of assorted camera mounts that will inevitably end up lost in your gear bag. Being strapped right to your helmet and face has a natural vibration dampening effect, and the camera can be tilted within a 30 degree range to keep your viewers from having to stare at your front fender or your helmet visor for the length of your video. One area which could use some improvement, however, is the foam on the goggle vents. The media is overly coarse and can allow fine sand, dust, or snow dust to get inside of the goggle frame. Denser foam would likely take care of this issue. Visibility though the goggles is very good, and we found that they fit very well in a wide variety of helmets.
Considering that you’re getting a high-end HD sports camera and a high quality pair of goggles all in the same package, the $299 retail price ($399 with WIFI) is pretty reasonable.
The tech specs for the tough Ego Xtreme Sports camera are pretty much identical to the Torque HD, except that it comes standard with WIFI capabilities so that you can live stream your videos and use your iPhone or Droid to view and control your camera. All that aside, what we found to be our favorite qualities of the Ego camera are that it is very compact and has an absolutely AMAZING amount of mounting options available. The Ego can be mounted to your chest or wrist, helmets, hoods, roll cages, bumpers, handlebars, flat surfaces, round surfaces, etc… This camera can be mounted pretty much anywhere. Your imagination is far more limited than the physical mounting options! Speaking of mounting options, we found that with a nail file and a couple minutes of time, the Ego Extreme can be attached to mounts from another manufacturer (GoPro) that may already be mounted to your helmet or other surfaces!
The Ego’s controls are the same easy-to-use buttons found on the Torque HD goggles, one for power/function and the other for the shutter. Plus, they are easy to find and operate with your gloves on. Also shared is the LED function indicator and audible peeps to let you know what’s happening with your camera. The Ego comes with a clear shield that helps to protect it from the elements, but there is also a full waterproof housing available that allows you to use your camera at depths up to 140 feet! As versatile as the Ego is when it’s in use, keeping it stowed is also easier than most sports camera. Its compact size and ergonomic shape make it easy to slip into your pocket or a pouch in your bag when not in use.
For function, size, and versatility, the Ego is tough to beat. For a very reasonable $199, it is quite possibly the best value in the market.
Torque HD and Ego Xtreme HITS:
- Multiple video/photo setting options!
- Ego is extremely versatile!
- Torque HD point-of-view is unmatched!
- Color saturation is excellent!
- Quickly adjusts to varying light conditions!
Torque HD and Ego Extreme MISSES:
- Torque HD needs denser vent foam.
- Battery life drastically decreased in cold weather.