Joycam Sports Sunglasses Camera
Yes, you see it right, this product doesn't seem to have a name besides the brand name. I have found it by pure chance. I was simply looking at Google Images for something completely unrelated when I spotted these glasses. I happened to be looking for a pair of sunglasses at that time. I thought - wow, this sci-fi design is really magnificent. The picture was linked from Amazon, so I checked it out. After reading the description, I realised they also had a camera. I hesitated before buying them and when I made up my mind, they were out of stock on German Amazon. I had to google the image to find who else sells them. I have found them on Spanish Amazon, with a discount. The delivery was free, so I went for it.
Unpacking wasn't a pleasant experience either. They came with a case whose zip was either damaged or I damaged it very early, but in any case the zip is very low-quality. The sunglasses looked as cool as described, but didn't work properly out of the box. They came with a manual written in Chinese and barely understandable English that omitted a lot of essential information. They also needed a microSD card for operation and I didn't have a spare one. I bought a 32 GiB one the next day (32 GiB was the maximum supported size). The videos it produced contained time, which was set wrong and the way to remove it was written only in the Q&A section on the Amazon website. After getting through all of this, they were very usable.
Once set up, I found the sunglasses very useful for cycling. There are many interesting roads in the hills around my hometown and they are worth recording. The camera has quite a wide angle and records almost everything I see except when I look down (when cycling, there's nothing interesting anyway). If I look at hills around me, they are all well visible. The recording is activated by pressing a button that is alone almost impossible to notice, but can be easily found by touch if you know what you are looking for. The start and end of recording are announced by bleeps that are audible even at higher speeds when the wind is loud, but not too loud to hurt. The recording itself is shown only with a small LED that is not within the wearer's view.
Data can be read by inserting the microSD card into a laptop and reading it. It is charged though an USB charger, but its own wire has to be used because the connector on the sunglasses is not the usual microUSB connector. There connection seems to be for charging only. Battery life is decent, 80 minutes of recording according to the manufacturer and it is probably true. There doesn't seem to be a way to check the battery state.
They work well as sunglasses, I have problems with UV radiation and my eyes never hurt if I wear them, even at noon under clear skies. They are also polarised. They weigh more than usual sunglasses, but it doesn't hurt even after several hours of wearing. The camera isn't too obvious, I don't know of anybody who spotted it before being told about it or suspecting it.
I have not tested how resilient the sunglasses are, but I have not managed to break anything yet. The charger socket and master switch (which is used rarely because it can be turned on for months) are covered by a rubber flap that doesn't hold well in the closed position, but it does not open if not touched or touched only lightly.
It is easy to forget the microSD card in a laptop after checking the video. In that case, the glasses don't alert about the problem immediately, but make the stop recording sound after a half minute.
Its position is an advantage compared to similar devices in most cases, because it really records from the angle of eyes and doesn't need to be held in hand or attached to something. This has a small problem that long hair can get into the view.
The recorded video is in FullHD format, 30 FPS. It doesn't have the same quality as a professional video, but it's definitely not bad. See for yourself below, though the original quality before editing and encoding was slightly better. The wide angle causes distant objects to be quite small on the video, even if a healthy eye can see them clearly.
Video size is 133 megabytes per minute in the .mov format, but I haven't found a way to convert it to a format that would take significantly less space without a significant quality loss, so the size might be appropriate. This has an unfortunate implication that videos longer than 15 minutes cannot be saved on a microSD card because the files would be too large for that type of file system. If the recording time exceeds this limit, it beeps and starts recording into a new file after a delay of roughly one second. The largest microSD card allowed is 32 GiB, so the maximum total length of stored videos is 4 hours.
The sound is recorded too. Its quality is comparable to a regular smartphone or a laptop microphone. Nearby voices can be heard and understood even if there's a lot of noise from wind.
The description says that the camera resolution is 12 MPix, but that's irrelevant because it can only record video.
The camera doesn't adjust fast to changing light conditions and starts at default settings, so starting to record in a bright day causes the first video's first couple of seconds to be too bright. If it's brought to stand-by mode afterwards, it won't happen until turned off and turned on again. Directly looking at the sun causes large portions of the image to white out.
The view space is a spherical section rather than a plane, which makes the straight lines of large objects slightly deformed, which so far prevented me from using any filters to remove shaking. It does not look disturbing on the video itself and could be corrected by a geometric transformation, but I failed to google any and I am lazy to implement one.
Here is a video I recorded during a recent cycling trip. I was learning to edit videos while doing it, so I probably added more footnote comments about the ride than necessary. Please don't take me for a GoPro fanatic, the video is even unlisted and available only from here:
For a price tag around 45€, I did not expect anything comparable to a GoPro camera. But the video quality is surprisingly good, definitely better than a camera on a typical phone that costs much more.
It definitely isn't a solution to all recording tasks, but it fills well its niche of a cheap, concealed and easy-to-use alternative to a GoPro camera. Because of all the small problems it has, my rating is 4/5.