Drift Innovations HD170 Review

Cameras Pro Reviews

Camera Usage
To turn the camera on, just press and hold the Select button on the top of the camera, and the LCD screen comes on and the LED light (embedded on the Select button) turns green. The LCD screen will eventually go into the Live Preview Mode, displaying a live image of whatever the camera is pointing towards, and icons on the outer edge of the image, which indicate recording mode, current memory and battery levels. To level the camera, just point the camera at a stationary object that has a good horizontal or vertical orientation, like a tree, log or your finger held in front of the camera, and then watching the LCD screen, rotate the lens until the object matches up with the proper horizon. It can be tough to get things exactly right, due to the small screen and 170 degree lens causing skewing at its outer circumference. To turn the camera off, press and hold the Select button for 3 seconds, and then it will shut down. The camera also has a zoom capability in photo, and video modes (not in 1080p), and it can be engaged by pressing and holding the Up button, with an indicator bar on the screen, and it can be reversed with the Down.

Drift HD170 Camera Zoom Usage

Drift HD170 Camera Zoom Usage

To begin the video recording, just push Select button on the camera or the Start button on the remote, and it beeps once, and the indicator LED turns from green to red. To stop recording, push the Select button again or the Stop button on the remote, and it beeps again. When taking photos, pressing the Select button or the Remote’s Start takes a picture, and the camera beeps and the indicator turns red, and once the LED returns to green another picture can be taken.

The menu system for the camera is highly intuitive and a joy to use, and has a normal camera feel to its interface.

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

Press the Menu button to get to the main menu screen, and you’ll see four icons, for the Video, Photo, Video Configuration and Setup sub menu’s. The icons are browsed using the up and down buttons, and once highlighted, using the Select button brings you to the chosen sub menu. Pressing the Menu button again, returns it up one level in the Menu tree or back to the Live Preview mode. If there is a number next to the Video or Photo icon on the main menu, that is the number of recorded files that reside on the SD Card for those formats.

If the Video or Photo sub menu is selected you will get a picture of the initial recording or photo, the current file being viewed vs the total number of files, and the video length (in video view mode). You can browse through the recorded files (videos or photos) using the up and down buttons, and then press the Select button, and you’ll get three choices, view, delete and delete all. In the video view mode, you can use the Down button for fast forward, the Up for rewind and the Select for play. In the Photo view mode, it will go into a slideshow mode, and change pictures every few seconds, and can be paused and restarted by using the Select button. It can be hooked up to a TV monitor via the HDMI cable for a big screen experience, and is controlled using the same button sequences.

Drift HD170 Camera Main Menu and Video View Mode

Drift HD170 Camera Main Menu and Video View Mode

The Video Configuration sub menu lets you set the camera to record in video, single photo or timed photo modes. Once any of those modes is chosen, different options will be displayed on the configuration screen, only the video mode has a resolution setting, while the time photo has a sequence entry. The video resolutions are 1080p, 720p (default) and SD, while in timed photo the sequence interval is 3 (default), 5, 10 and 30 seconds. All the modes share the ability to change exposure setting or light sensitivity (-2, -1, 0, +1 and +2), and a night mode setting which is either off or on, which enhances darker recording conditions.

The Setup menu is very deep, with three pages of settings, so I will only touch on some useful items, such as microphone sensitivity, remote control and remote pairing, and LCD and Camera auto turn off. The camera comes paired by default with the remote, and can be controlled by any remote within a 5 meter range, so if other remotes are near by, you can pair it again to prevent interference. Another unique feature is that you can control multiple cameras to work off one remote by pairing them all together.

Drift HD170 Camera Video Config and Setup

Drift HD170 Camera Menu Video Config and Setup

Memory and Battery
The rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery fits very snugly into the back of the camera, and there is a latch to hold it securely in the position, which greatly helps the jarring vibrations that mountain biking places on the battery. A loose connection means loss of footage, data corruption, and anomalies can be introduced. Although the battery slot has a spring for easier extraction, the battery was so securely in the camera, that it was difficult to pry it out. The 3.7 volt and 1110 milliampere-hour battery, gave me anywhere from 2-2.5 hour of usage, and its limit varied on the video resolution used, and the number times that I cycled on/off and stop/start recording, and in addition the ambient air temperature. They have recently released a 1700 mAh battery, which should bring it up towards the 4 hour usage, which will work ideally with a 16 or 32GB SD card.

The camera can use a maximum 32 GB SD card, although I found a 8 GB card ideal for most mountain biking rides, giving around 2 hours of footage, which also blends well with the battery usage limit. Depending on the chosen resolution setting, you get around 12-15 minutes of recorded data per GB.

Interfacing and Charging with the Computer
To download or view the videos or photos you recorded, open up the back door of the camera, and connect the mini USB to the camera, and then the other end of the connector to a computer USB port. The unit will appear as a Removable Disk, and just navigate down to the appropriate directory (example: F:\Removable Disk\DCIM\100DRIFT) and either download or view the video straight from the camera. For faster downloads, use a standalone SD card reader, and bypass the camera as the downloading interface.

Whoa, baby, I’m a back door man
The men don’t know
But the little girls understand

To charge the camera, turn it off, open the back door, plug in the USB cable to the computer and then the camera USB port, push and hold Select button for 3 seconds, and the LED turns blue until it’s done, which can take a couple of hours depending on how much video was recorded.

Drift HD170 Camera Handlebar Mount

Drift HD170 Camera Handlebar Mount

Next » Video and Impressions

About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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