Technology Tuesday: Amazing Action Camera For Less Than $100 + A Chance To Win One

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It’s exhilarating capturing video from action sports or adventures like mountain biking, white water rafting, scuba diving, skydiving and other intense sports. Sometimes it is also fun to capture footage on a stroll around a festival site, a leisurely hike through a mountain pass or even a back-road trip on a 4×4, snow mobile or a Jeep. Yet unless one was willing to drop a couple hundred dollars, there really has not been an affordable action camera for the occasional user. Until now.

Monoprice’s MHD Action Camera is one of the most affordable POV camera yet. Opening up action videography to a huge market (that may only be a sporadic user and unwilling to spend $200-$400 on offerings from GoPro, Sony and others) the Monoprice camera doesn’t skimp on quality, durability, or ease of use. Offering 1080p HD video in a fully waterproof body with good battery life and a compact, lightweight form factor, this camera is quite amazing for a little less than $100. Read on the view examples of videos and learn more about this camera.

In A Nutshell: This is a bullet-style action camera weighing less than four ounces and able to record three hours of video at up to 1920×1080 resolution on a single charge. Fully waterproof to 30′ deep along with being shock, dust and freeze proof allow you to record practically anywhere your adventures take you. An intuitively designed recording slider switch allows for quick recording on the fly even under intense conditions. The video quality is very good at 30 frames/sec. and 24-bit color depth. An included handle-bar or pole mount coupled with the standard 1/4″ threaded mount allow for many mounting options. Optional helmet, suction and board mounts are sold separately.

Use: Charge the camera with the included USB cable and insert a micro-SD card (not included) into the slot and you’ll be ready to shoot three hours of video on a single charge. The top slider initiates recording and is accompanied by a relatively strong vibration so you can be sure you are recording if you can’t look at the recording LED indicator (say, if mounted on your bike helmet). All the settings are accessed through a utility program when connected to your computer. Barring a toggle switch that changes between 720p and 1080p, there are no settings or switches on the camera to be accidentally bumped or switched to ruin your recordings. An HDMI output allows for viewing on any monitor you want. You can also simply mount your camera as an external storage device to your computer and drag your files over and do what you want with them like any other digital camera. Likewise, you can of course remove the micro-SD and insert into anything else you want. The quality switch, USB port and HDMI port as well as the SD card slot are all located behind a small cover that twists on and off and locks into place.

[Back of camera with locking cap in place and attached to quick release mounting adapter]

Video & Sound Quality The video is surprisingly high quality for a video camera of this price and size. The 1080p HD resolution provides not only great detail but also fantastic colors with great saturation. Filming outdoors with plenty of light provides the best results offering bright blue skies, lush green grass and intricate detail with no digital noise or other aberrations. Filming under low light situations, the quality becomes less pristine but still acceptable. The frame rate is only 30 frames per second, so with extremely quick movement or jarring camera movements, you’ll get some wobble effects. Likewise, there is no anti-shake built into the camera, so if you have excessive shakiness, you may need to use a video editing program to take care of that. Below, is an example of video when driving with the camera attached to the front bumper of a Jeep with the included bar mount and then hand carried for last minute or so. You’ll notice great colors, nice detail and minor shakiness here and there. The field of view is about 120 degrees which is relatively wide but not quite as wide as more expensive competitors. (No post processing has been done to any of the video files embedded in this column except for adding a music track.)

[Attached to bumper of Jeep]

The audio quality is acceptable and what you would expect from a waterproof camera or mobile phone. The microphone is very sensitive and can pick up dialogue and other quiet sounds relatively clearly. Even loud sounds like boat motors come across clearly and not blown out. Don’t expect stereo recordings that you’ll want to listen to solely for the audio quality. In other words, the mic is great for capturing your action event but not for archiving concert audio.

[Underwater yields great results also – rich colors and fine details]

Build Quality and Design: I love the design of this camera. A simple slider for recording with great form factor and lightweight. The included bar mount and the other optional mounts all click into place with a satisfyingly loud ‘click’ to give you the assurance your hardware is mounted properly. The design of the mounts allow you to quickly change from mount to mount if needed without any hassle. While the camera feels sturdy with it’s one piece design, much of the body is made from plastic. Tough to test a device for longevity in a short time, but the limited amount of abuse I was able to direct towards the camera was all taken in stride. Only time will tell how much abuse the camera can take, but early indicators are quite good.

Other Things to Know: 

  • The Action Cam can also be used as a regular camera with a shutter release button right in front of the recording slider. A press of the button snaps a picture of relatively good quality and 5 megapixels. (Example below)
  • The lens has a sensor and will automatically adjust your video 180 degrees if you have to mount it upside-down so playback is orientated properly. If you have to mount your camera at 90 or 270 degrees, you’ll have to edit your video in post-production.
  • You can use the Action Camera as a web-cam but only for 32-bit Windows systems.
  • Besides the mount, other included accessories consist of a wrist strap, neoprene carry case, and USB cable.
  • The optional suction mount is extremely powerful and offers quite strong suction power.

[Sample Picture taken with camera]

Drawbacks: In addition to the framerate, which is good, but not great, and camera shake and rolling that can happen in some circumstances, there’s a few other things to be aware of as well. The battery is internal (like an iPhone) and can’t be changed. This obviously could be an issue if you wanted to take it into the field for a multi-day event or hike. You’ll need to bring an external power supply (like Monoprice’s very own external charger) as you can’t merely bring along a few extra batteries. Also, talking about the battery, there’s no battery life indicator. The LED will start flashing if your battery is low, but other than that, there’s no way of knowing how much life you have left in your battery which can be disconcerting when heading out for a shot and not knowing how long you’ll be able to shoot for.

Finally, I found the various mounts (board, helmet and suction) a bit confusing. The parts come in a small box with no instructions or even pictures of how the parts are supposed to work and they are not intuitive in the least.

Bottom Line: The Monoprice Action Camera is a great choice for a POV camera for people not needing more expensive offerings and looking for an outstanding value. HD video quality is impressive and will allow you to relive your adventures without breaking the bank. No additional enclosure is needed for waterproofing so you can take it underwater or to the top of a frozen mountain.

MHD Action Camera $98.88

— WIN! — Interested in shooting some great action footage with your very own Monorprice Action Camera? The rules are simple. Just leave a comment here to be entered and promise to send us some of your video if you win. Tweeting or “Liking” the column is not necessary to enter, but as always, very much appreciated.


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63 thoughts on “Technology Tuesday: Amazing Action Camera For Less Than $100 + A Chance To Win One

  1. marshmeli Reply

    Nice little device i’d like to give a try sometime.

  2. Val Pletnev Reply

    Looks like a good toy. Good review.

  3. Tyler Reply

    Ziplined with a GoPro but don’t want to spend the cash for something I won’t use very often. This seems like a good alternative for the occasional video taker such as myself.

  4. Mark Reply

    I have an older gopro that has been fun, but would love to try one of these.

  5. Pierce Hans Reply

    I’d love to win this and try it out! I’ll be sure to send you guys some footage!

  6. tfletch2 Reply

    This would be great to have once I finally get my bike in a couple weeks! Nice review!

  7. Ben Reply

    Looks sweet! Would love to shoot some cool stuff with this. Thanks parker!

  8. todmandu Reply

    Looks like a nice little camera to carry around. I would send you some footage!

  9. MJ Reply

    always look forward to tech tuesdays – would love to try this little guy out – been looking for something that can shoot underwater.

  10. Bob Bernstein Reply

    Looks like a gas, I want me one!

  11. vince pugliese Reply

    would love to give this a go for some live music, perhaps a trombone slide cam with my friends the Hornitz, formerly a George Clinton Horn Section

  12. Nate H Reply

    I love Monoprice, and would love to attach this guy to my KLR650 for some off-roading in Az, or to capture some of WSP’s summer tour!

  13. Eck Reply

    Cool, thanks for chance to win!

  14. Cristie Reply

    Looks like a great camera! I want!

  15. DR Reply

    Wow. Cool. Never had heard of this, so at the very least great PR/exposure for Monprice. Been spec-ing out GoPro’s so this is super timely for me…. Thx for the review, headsup AND contest!

  16. Brian Reply

    Looks great! Count me in as someone who could definitely use one of these!

  17. Bryan Reply

    would love to have one

  18. Russ Reply

    wow! looks cool! had no idea Monoprice sold anything other than cables and stuff. I’d love to shoot video with this. I’m going to get one for sure if I don’t win. Add me!

  19. Tara Christie Reply

    My Son would love this!

  20. Stacey Reply

    I would love to win this! I work for an air medical program and would like to attach this to the helicopter pilot’s helmet to capture footage of landings and lift offs. This great product.

  21. Fred Reilly Reply

    Hey guys ill be shooting this weekend with a POV cam. Friday at a great live music club downtown and Saturday at an all day music festival!

  22. Jake Benrubi Reply

    definitely could use this as a digital filmmaking major for some extra angles.

  23. Drew Reply

    I’ll send you POV footage of me looking at the site! I want it!

  24. JohnR. Reply

    Count me in for a chance to win!

  25. zappafrank Reply

    I promise promise promise to send you video from this camera. Warning: video might be NSFW!

  26. jelleyhead Reply

    This would be a welcome addition to my artistic repertoire.

  27. KDouglas Reply

    Would love one to shoot video at shows!

  28. Ouish Reply

    Would love a new toy like that. Looking forward to sending you some footage from Summer Tour.

  29. MIghtyIcculus Reply

    Love to capture my summer and share!

  30. Ben Reply

    Awesome camera!!

  31. Shane Reply

    Would love to win this camera. Either take it to shows and put it on my head to relive the night, or let my buddy who rides dirt bikes to capture one of his rides with it. Awesome lookin camera though.

  32. Mario Reply

    Another great tech Tuesday! Thanks Parker.

  33. Yesgoz Reply

    Sounds very cool. Would love to capture and share my summer travels with this amazing camera.

  34. tallboycan Reply

    I haven’t been able to justify spending the dough on a GoPro, so this sounds good. For me the smaller range of viewing is a plus, as the Gopro often seems too fisheyed for me.

  35. Drew Hitz Reply

    I’d love to see what I could do with this thing on my travels. Sign me up!

    Great column as always, Parker.

  36. Mike Reply

    Really love Technology Tuesdays. Would love to take one out to my first trip to the Gorge this summer!

  37. Admiral French Pockets Reply

    Would love it! Will shoot outdoor adventures this summer if I win.

  38. Brent F. Reply

    Looks like a great product!

  39. Chris L. Reply

    Monoprice bringing it once again. I love these folks!

  40. Ryan Reply

    I would love to get one of these for skiing, biking and the underwater stuff looks amazing

  41. Chris Reply

    Great write-up. Amazing how Monoprice is changing the hardware market one device at a time. Thanks for the opportunity to win one!

  42. Quincey S Reply

    I would love to win one of these and would totally share my footage! Thanks!

  43. evan Reply

    looking Forward To capturing All My Underwater adventures

  44. Chris Reply

    I’d love one!

  45. Andy N Reply

    Sounds great & I would love to record and share video of my summer adventures road tripping the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Phish at The Gorge and the crazy mountain roads and beaches of St. John USVI!

  46. TMIS Reply

    This would be pretty kick a$$

  47. noah_s Reply

    would love to run a head to head competition with this and a GoPro that my company uses sometimes on shoots!

  48. Eric Reply

    here goes nothing. good luck everyone

  49. Laurel Reply

    This would make an excellent addition to my photography equipment bag!

  50. Andrew Rich Reply

    I’d love to try this on my next marathon!

  51. Alayne Reply

    I would happily share video if I won this! Good luck to everyone!

  52. Dean Reply

    The video of this baby looks great! For the price it seems like you can’t go wrong.

  53. Rick M Reply

    Heck yeah! Would love to attach this to my 8 y/o son’s helmet.

    – Rick

  54. Scott Ramsey Reply

    I’ve been waiting on some reviews of this camera. Thanks.

  55. futurecode Reply

    Would totally use this puppy for work (body modification) and play (driving/hiking/dog sports). Thanks for the chance to win!


  56. Chris Reply

    I would love to use this surfing or kayaking!

  57. Dave Reply

    I didn’t realize my favorite cable company monoprice also has action video cameras! awesome!

  58. Hugh Reply

    This would be perfect on my road bike for doing the trip down from the top of Haleakalā.

    • Parker Harrington Reply

      Hugh- LOL, that’s what I planned on doing with this! Then, after staying out until 2:30am, I didn’t think I’d be in the right state of mind for a 4:00am departure to bike down. I’m glad at least I was able to get to the top via Jeep to check it out. Was beautiful and surreal at the same time.

  59. Joseph Reply

    I’d like to shoot some biking videos with this and I would definitely send some in.

  60. KernelForbin Reply

    Great stuff! Would love to get my hands on one of these (and will gladly send in some videos!)

  61. adam Reply

    Another great product.

  62. Mike a Reply

    Nice. Would be interesting to put this on my quadcopter and fly it around.

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