Heads Up

 Occasionally I contribute to The New York Times’  Thursday Styles section and its Physical Culture column. Here’s the latest. In short, want to document your hair-raising two-wheeled morning commute? Or attempts at extreme mountain biking, Mister and Missus Weekend Warrior? Now you can, more easily than ever. RELATED: Joanne Colan of Rocketboom threads Manhattan in this cool video. And here’s another insane look at Manhattan through the eye of a helmet camera, thanks YouTube. 

Physical Culture | Gear Test, Helmet-Mounted Video Cameras

May 1, 2008

THE boldest of adventure-sports mavens are the most enthusiastic consumers of a new generation of helmet-mounted video cameras — once prohibitively expensive, or clunky, or both — because they free the wearer’s hands for maneuvers like pulling a parachute cord or steering a bike or kayak out of harm’s way. Thanks to recent advances in miniaturization, durability and resolution, the cameras, which can also be mounted on handlebars, are finding favor with weekend warriors who like to share their adventures online. Three new battery-powered systems combine a helmet-mounted lens with electronic storage for later downloading. One model, the Twenty20 VholdR, encases the lens and memory in one unit; the other two use cables to link the lens to a flash or hard drive. (A fourth model on loan for this test, the Helmet Hero by GoPro, had memory-chip related failures in two identical cameras and was omitted; a company spokesman said both units had been tested before shipping and couldn’t explain the malfunction, nor could the tester.) James Bogner, a founder of the New York City Mountain Bike Association and an avid helmet-camera user, tested three systems around his home in Long Island City, Queens, and in Highbridge Park, in Upper Manhattan. CHRISTIAN DEBENEDETTI

VIO POV.1 $679.95, http://www.vio-pov.com for information; helmetcameracentral.com to buy. Mr. Bogner praised the waterproof, shock-resistant and dustproof POV.1, left, saying it “inspired confidence” by being both “easiest to set up” and “painless to use.” He favored its design and the included software, with a “quick” boot time. He said its videos, stored on an SD card, were “natural and appealing,” but there was a trade-off: using four AA batteries, this was the “heaviest of the bunch by far.”

VIO POV.1 $679.95, http://www.vio-pov.com for information; helmetcameracentral.com to buy. Mr. Bogner praised the waterproof, shock-resistant and dustproof POV.1, left, saying it “inspired confidence” by being both “easiest to set up” and “painless to use.” He favored its design and the included software, with a “quick” boot time. He said its videos, stored on an SD card, were “natural and appealing,” but there was a trade-off: using four AA batteries, this was the “heaviest of the bunch by far.”

ARCHOS HELMET CAMCORDER AND 405 PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER(sold separately; $149.99 each) http://www.archos.com. With the 405’s larger screen, left, Mr. Bogner found the “small and lightweight” Archos combo promising at first. Boot-up time was “unusually quick,” but the cable and its connection were “not as robust” as the POV.1’s, and he disliked the “frustrating” elastic-strap mounting system. He found downloading footage “quick” and “easy” but deemed the video quality “disappointing.” Despite its shortcomings, Mr. Bogner said, the Archos would be good “for someone who can’t afford a single-purpose machine and might like to shoot some occasional helmet-cam footage.”

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