Sony Crashes GoPro/Contour Party
Well, we knew it was coming; the only question was when. Sony has announced a helmet cam to be available fall 2012. The design appears to hybridize both GoPro and Contour concepts: the camera chassis is upright, ala Contour, and comes with a (presumably) waterproof housing. Note that it has a Zeiss lens, and image stabilization. So, how is Sony's new helmet cam likely to compare to a GoPro or Contour?
I'll put on my speculation hat and say with 98.7% confidence that this is going to be a body blow at least to both companies. With its 2012 consumer cameras, Sony has demonstrated the ability and willingness to offer formidable imaging tools at end-user prices. It's not necessarily going to be an either-or as far as quality versus price here—Sony may well be offering vastly better image quality at a highly competitive price.
GoPro seems to me to be best positioned to weather the storm, due to inherent advantages in their design, particularly concerning mount options. Contour, which currently offers the best picture quality in HD helmet cams, looks the most vulnerable. The combination of a stabilized Zeiss lens and a modern Sony sensor plus Sony's vast professional imaging experience should have would-be POV stars salivating across the globe.
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Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents
Robert K June 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm
Sadly Sony has lost a lot of consumer confidence in recent years. The way in which they've handled scandals like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal and http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/27/playstation-users-identity-theft-data-leak has been very disappointing. They also have a long history of adding DRM / anti-piracy features to their consumer electronics, which sends a pretty clear message about whose interests they're looking after. Personally I just haven't had great luck with anything Sony has made, despite how good it may appear on the surface. Even though none of this directly speaks to their ability to produce a great helmetcam, at a visceral level I find I simply don't trust them to build something that aligns with who I am as a consumer. ... which is too bad, because a high-quality, affordable helmet cam would be awesome. But not from Sony.
Andy June 28, 2012 at 3:52 pm
You should go read the Sony Vegas Pro forums. Sony has seen catastrophic infighting between engineering and software, and in many ways that's the story of the company these days. That said, some of Sony's imaging products (like the NEX cameras) are simply dazzling--enough so that I'll buy them, even if I know I'll be dealing with other issues.