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Drift Innovation X170 Helmet Cam Review

X170The Drift X170 Action Camera provides a tremendous value to the adventure sports enthusiast. If you are not looking for HD resolution, have a budget below current HD systems, or you want HD but your computer can't deal - then the X170 is a great choice.  It comes with everything you need to mount, record, and review footage and is very easy to use.  With DVD Quality video and a built in LCD screen for review it is a great value. Read below to see how much is packed into this small cam..

Highlights of the Drift X170

  • The X170 delivers DVD quality video and 5Mp photographs
  • Functions can be controlled by a wireless RF remote control
  • A 1.5" screen helps you to line up the perfect shot and to show off your video right away
  • Memory expansion up to 8Gb on SD card
  • With a wide angle lens of 170º you will get all the action in your shot
  • All the mounts that you need are provided, plus it has a metal 8mm mount
  • The price tag for all of this is incredible!

Table of Contents for Review of the Drift Innovation X170

What You Get

Included in the box, you will find the following:

• X170 Action Camera
• Remote Control
• Handlebar Grip
• Goggle Mount
• Head Strap
• Helmet Grip
• Universal Clip
• Velcro Strap
• AV Cable for playing back TV
• USB Cable for downloading to your computer
• 2x AA "Try-Out" Batteries which will last approx 30mins
• Quick Guide to get you started
• Industrial strength sticky pads
• Industrial strength velcro adhesive pad

The Drift X170 Action Camera


One of the first features that you’ll notice when taking your new X170 out of the box is the 1.5" screen. We found that having a screen on the camera itself is a seriously useful function to have for two main reasons; firstly you can line up the best angle when mounting the camera so that you don’t get home after a long day out expecting to see brilliant videos only to find that you have been filming blue sky all day. Secondly, and more importantly is watching your videos on the screen straight after you’ve come off the slope, track, or water with your mates!NG_AC_X170IMG_0140

On the front of the camera it’s easy to see how wide the 170º lens is. With previous narrower angle cameras it was difficult to gain perspective of the speed that you were going because the lens only saw the track in front of you. With 170º field of view you won’t only see the what’s in front of you but also the scenery around you or any other sports people around you. This truly puts the speed in perspective and is the way forward for point-of-view cameras.

The rear of the camera houses the back hatch which, when opened exposes the USB slot for downloading videos to your computer. The AV output allows you to play your videos straight onto your TV. The SD card slot accepts SD and HCSD cards up to a maximum of 8Gb. You will also find a door which holds two AA batteries. In your box you’ll find a set of two try-me batteries to get you going.
Charging a helmet camera with AA batteries may seem a little backwards these days as some new cameras are being charged with rechargeable lith-ion batteries. But considering all extreme sports are outdoors would you like batteries that can be quickly replaced or to have to find a wall socket to recharge your battery? We prefer to simply carry a spare set of batteries if we’re heading out for a long time, the guys at Drift Innovation seem to have thought this one though and have delivered the best solution for us.

On the underside of the X170 there is a built-in steel quarter inch thread (8mm thread) which is the standard thread on most cameras. Having this thread on the camera opens up a world of opportunities for mounting as you can attach it to suction mounts and roll bar mounts. However you don’t really need to look further then your X170 box for all the mounts that you might need.
The mount adapter inserts into the quarter inch thread securely. This adapter is a quick release adapter which is used to attach the camera to each of the mounting options in the box.

The handlebar mount fits onto handleNG_AC_X170IMG_0201bars of motorbikes, push bikes and mountain bikes. There is a rubber pad on the inside of the mount to keep it steady and it can be tightened into place with the lock-screw.
The helmet mount is designed to fit onto a helmet or smooth surface such as a bikes fairing. To fasten this on there are some industrial strength adhesive pads provided. There is no need to doubt the strength of these sticky pads, just make sure that you have them in the correct place before sticking them down as it’s really touch to remove but don’t worry about your paintwork - we’ve tested it a couple times on different paintworks and helmets to make sure that it won’t pull off your paint.
The goggle mount is a simple but really easy mount to use. Simply put your goggles strap into mount and you’re ready to go. The headstrap can also be used together with the goggle mount whenever you don’t have a helmet with you.

So what if you want to mount the camera on it’s side or upside down? No worries as the lens rotates 180º from one side to the other. This gives you the flexibility to mount the camera on either side of your helmet and on top while still being able to have an upright image by simply twisting the lens around. There are breaks at the main positions that will hold the lens steady once you have found the angle that you want.

One of our favorite parts of the X170 kit is the radio frequency wireless remote control. It comes with a strap to put it around your wrist, on handlebars or wherever else you may want it. The buttons are large enough to be used with any ski or bike gloves on and it couldn’t be simpler; the only two buttons are start and stop; this way you won’t confuse yourself half way through a ski run. Because it works radio frequency (as opposed to infra-red) it doesn’t need line-of-sight to operate which just make life all that much easier. The remote will work up to three meters (10 feet) from the camera.NG_AC_X170IMG_0099

Just in case you’ve managed to read this far down the review without being able to understand English, you would be pleased to know that the instruction manual and the cameras menus are multilingual. The manual with six languages already on it and the language on the camera can be changed easily in the menu settings. Choose between:
- English
- Spanish
- French
- Italian
- German, or
- Portuguese

One issue with the Drift x170 is it's size. It's a little on the large size, and while it does look pretty bulky in pictures, it's not quite as big as it looks. Drift Innovation claims it's because of the added screen size, which is understandable, but it still seems like it could have been a bit smaller. However it only weighs in at 128 grams, so it's bulk is in volume, not weight.

Video quality is good but not amazing, but for a budget priced camera it's really quite good. With all these HD cameras out there today it's got it's work cut out for it, but really makes up for it in price, ease of use, included mounts and LCD screen. The microphone is also a little sensitive, resulting in wind noise that kicks in at slightly lower speeds than the competitors.


x170 Documentation

A quick start guide is included with the x170.
Download a PDF Version of the manual here

Video Codec Settings

Video format: MP4 or MJPEG AVI (user selectable)

Frames per second: 30 fps

Video format: 4:3 or 16:9 (user selectable)

Video resolution: 720 x 480

Sample Video Clips, RAW and Unaltered

Download a sample RAW video clip from the X170 (11MB)

Sample Video - Compressed for the Web

Sample Video Frame Grabs

Recording Capacity

The Drift X170 is SD/SDHC compatible (includes 2GB). You can expect to record around 1 hour for every gigabyte of storage space on your memory card.

Battery Time

The x170 runs on two AA batteries, lithium ion batteries are highly recommended.

Battery Life=4 hours with lithium-ion batteries or 2-3 hours with rechargeable batteries

Warranty and Support

The Drift X170 has a 1 year manufacturers warranty

Summary and Recommendation

Extremely ruggedized, good image quality and brilliant value for money! The X170 Action Camera comes highly recommended by the specialists in this field. If you're looking for a complete system on a budget this is definitely the camera for you!


Check our Drift product pages for availability and current pricing.

We Review and Sell Helmet Camera Systems

Helmet Camera Central was born as a result of our helmet cam experiences from our video consulting business, Two Brothers Video. Helmet Camera Central is a resource designed to help people find objective and pertinent information about helmet camera systems. Since 2005, we have reviewed numerous helmet camera systems with an unbiased and objective point of view. Our reviews focus on the functional and usability aspects of helmet camera systems. Since we use helmet camera systems in addition to selling them, our reviews result from actual day-to-day experiences with the products. Ease of use, reliability, and quality are our top priority. Rest assured, the helmet camera systems that we recommend and sell at HelmetCameraCentral.com were chosen for good reason: they rock! There are many systems out there, but the ones we recommend provide exceptional quality and services for the best return on your investment.

We are also here to answer your questions and help you choose a helmet camera system that meets your needs. If one of our recommended systems is a fit for you, you can find it at HelmetCameraCentral.com. And if our recommended systems do not fit your needs, we will put you in contact with the right vendor to find the best solution.

Change Log
10/22/09 / Erik / Version 1.0
** First Draft.

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