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Drift Innovation HD170 Action Cam Review

The Drift HD170 is the latest and greatest camera from Drift Innovation, the company who previously brought us the X170. This time around Drift Innovation's camera is packing full HD 1080p video! Other upgrades include a lithium ion battery pack as opposed to AA batteries and support for up to 32GB SDHC Cards.Read Below for a full review of this awesome new camera from Drift Innovation.
X170 action cam

Highlights of the Drift HD170

  • The HD170 delivers full 1080p HD 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 32Gb on an SDHC card
  • Wide angle lens of 127° in 1080p and170° in 720p & WVGA
  • All the mounts that you need are provided, plus it has a metal 8mm mount
  • HDTV component out cable included

Table of Contents for Review of the Drift Innovation X170

What You Get

Included in the box, you will find the following:

• HD170 Action Camera
• Remote Control
• Handlebar Grip
• Goggle Mount
• Head Strap
• Helmet Grip
• Universal Clip
• Velcro Strap
• Component Cable for playing back on HDTV
• USB Cable for downloading to your computer
• Lithium-ion Battery Pack
• Quick Guide to get you started
• Industrial strength sticky pads
• Industrial strength velcro adhesive pad

The Drift HD170 Action Camera
One of the first features that you’ll notice when taking your new HD170 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! Drift HD170
Drift HD170 Lens 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 downloadingvideos to your computer and charging the battery. The component output allows you to play your videos straight onto your HDTV. The SD card slot accepts SD and SDHC cards up to a maximum of 32Gb. You will also find a door which houses the lithium-ion battery pack.

On the underside of the HD170 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 HD170 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 handlebars of motorcycles, bicycles 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 tough to remove but you don’t have to worry about 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 HD170 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.

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


The first thing we noticed about the HD 170 is it's build quality. It seems more solid and well built than it's predecessor. They layout and design is pretty much identical otherwise. The screen is still there with all the same controls, making it easy to adjust settings and review footage. We said it in the review for the X170 as well, but the screen really does make things that much easier.

The most outstanding feature about the HD170 is without a doubt it's video quality. It is incredibly high quality! Colors are well saturated, details are nice and sharp, and the contrast is nice and high. This is clearly a huge step up from the X170, there's just no comparison. It shoots video at full 1080p (1920x1080), and it shows. I hooked this badboy up to my 50 inch plasma via the included component cables and it simply blew me away! 720p footage also looked very good. Rolling shutter, an effect often plaguing cameras with CMOS sensors, is kept to a minimum. Rolling shutter is the effect you may have seen that causing things to look wobbly and elastic when there's a lot of motion in a video. The video format is h.264 compressed .mov files so it should be very easy to work with.

Another pro is the battery. Where as we could rarely get 2 hours out of the X170 with AA batteries, the HD170's 1100mAh battery pack lasted just over 4 hours! Not only that but we've heard that Drift Innovation will be releasing a 1700mAh battery sometime in the future, so you could be looking at some serious battery life.

Audio quality is also much improved over it's predecessor and we really like the fact that it has an external microphone jack, which can be very handy when trying to capture great audio, especially in a high wind situation.

Having an LCD screen is an absolute life saver. It makes it a dream to change menu settings and camera functions it also enables to set up your mounts correctly without trial and error and to review your footage on the spot, without needing a computer or external monitor.

Like the X170 before it, one issue with the Drift HD170 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 (it's pretty thin). 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's pretty light, so it's bulk is in volume, not weight.

It would be nice if the HD170 was able to record 60FPS in 720p, it really is a neat feature and the competition does include it. 60FPS footage can be turned in to some sweet slow-mo. It's definitely not a deal breakter though.

The only other issue we have with the camera is the fact that the remote is not waterproof. Which isn't a huge deal considering the competition doesn't even have a remote to begin with. Still, it would be nice to be able to take the remote anywhere you can take the camera.


HD170 Documentation

A quick start guide is included with the HD170.
Download a PDF Version of the manual here

Video Codec Settings

Video format: h.264 MOV Files

Frames per second: 30 fps

Video resolution: 1080p (1920x1080) 720p (1280x720) or WVGA (720x480)

Sample Video - Compressed for the Web

Fixed Gear Bike, Drift HD170 from Drift Innovation on Vimeo.

Paragliding Drift HD170 from Drift Innovation on Vimeo.

Image Gallery









Recording Capacity

The Drift HD170 is SD/SDHC compatible. You can expect to record around 15 minutes for every gigabyte of storage space on your memory card.

Battery Time

The HD170 runs on a new 1100mAh battery which can provide more than 4 hours of record time under the right conditions.

Warranty and Support

The Drift HD170 has a 1 year manufacturers warranty

Summary and Recommendation

We can't recommend the HD170 enough, build quality, video quality, waterproof, remote control, it has it all! This is absolutely one of the best helmet cams available on the market today. Video quality is un-matched.

If you're looking for a camera that records in stunning HD, has an LCD screen and a remote, and has amazing battery life, look no further. The Drift HD170 is a clear winner and we have no qualms recommending it anyone.

Drift HD170 Buying Options


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
07/29/10 / Erik Linden / Version 1.0
** First Draft.
07/29/10 / Erik Linden / Version 1.1
** Added image gallery.
07/29/10 / Erik Linden / Version 1.2
** Fixed spelling and grammar errors.

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