It seems mini video cameras are two a penny these days, and the latest to arrive at road.cc is the Chilli Technology Mini Cam Pro HD 720p camera. It takes decent video, and is very keenly priced if you're happy to lose a few features of pricier action cams.
Chilli make a whole raft of cameras, this one follows the GoPro styling lines, with a rectangular camera housed in a clear plastic case. The case ensures it's well protected from the elements, and it's compact and pretty light too.
On the front of the camera is a 120 degree wide angle lens and around the back is a 2in LCD screen, which makes it really easy to review video footage. That's something the similar looking GoPro doesn't offer, so that's a bonus straight away. However, while you can turn the screen off when the camera is out of the clear waterproof case, operating it inside the case doesn't allow the screen to be switched off. This clearly impacts on the battery life.
Despite its diminutive size, the lens provides good quality video with a reasonably crisp and well saturated appearance, at least on a par with the GoPro. However, as the test video shows, the camera is slow to adapt to rapidly changing light levels, such as those you find riding down country lanes. See for yourself:
It records at a maximum of 720p (1280 X 720 pixels) at 30 frames per second, meaning smooth video playback. Those wanting 1080p video will want to look elsewhere, but in reality you're probably only uploading to Youtube or Vimeo and the quality is plenty high enough. It'll also take photos at 5MP resolution (2592x1944 pixels), but I found this a less useful function, especially considering my smartphone has a 8MP camera.
Included in the box is a head strap, curved helmet mount and a flat helmet mount, so a few options for mounting. The mounting system looks similar to GoPro, but it isn't. That's a shame. A handlebar clamp would be a nice addition in the box from the start.
The supplied mounts work well, though; the curved helmet mount is easy to fix to a regular helmet. On the helmet the camera adds quite a bit of weight, and I found it pushed the front of the helmet down, forcing the front section into my forehead. I had to dial in the retention system on my helmet to stop the helmet bouncing over bumpy roads, an action exaggerated by the weight of the helmet.
The battery life isn't as good as the GoPro, at a claimed 1.5hrs compared to the GoPro's 2.5hrs. In testing I got close to the claimed time, which I found plentiful for short bursts of filming when out riding. The battery can slide out and be replaced by spare if you want to film for longer. If you want a video camera for commuting, as is popular these days, then it should be more than enough for a round trip.
As with most compact cameras like this one, the audio capture is the achilles heel - it really isn't all that great. It's no worse than other cameras like this though.
At £120 (though I've seen it cheaper on the internet) it's nearly half the price of the GoPro HD, but the later does offer higher quality 1080p filming. It comes supplied with an 8GB SD card, with capacity for a 32GB card.
Comparable to a GoPro but at nearly half the price, the Chilli Technology Mini Cam Pro HD 720p is a good, easy to use camera.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Chilli Technology Mini Cam Pro HD 720p Sports Action Camera
Size tested: One
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Mini Action Cam Pro from Chilli Technology is the video and audio recording device that allows you to capture the adrenaline-fuelled moments of your life, as they happen. Durable and weather-proof - the helmet camera is perfect for skiers, wakeboarders, drivers, cyclists, bikers and more. Whether off-piste or navigating through tricky terrain on your mountain bike, the Mini Action Cam Pro is with you all the way, recording every turn and every bump. A helmet strap and fastener is included, to allow for complete hands-free operation.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A 720p HD Action Camera with waterproof case.
* 5 Megapixel Lens
* 120 degree lens
* 2" LCD screen to view the video footage
* Uses Micro SD Card up to 32GB
* 1.5hrs battery life (battery can be swapped for additional charged battery anytime)
* Accessories include: Head strap, curved helmet mount, flat helmet mount
Solid construction and withstands being dropping and chucked about.
I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the recorded video, it's on a par with most cameras of this size and price.
Yup very good.
Mount it to your helmet and you will notice it after a while.
Nearly half the price of the GoPro but nearly as good, aside from the obvious drop in video resolution.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really impressed with how easy and quick it was to get up and running, and the screen is a bonus for reviewing footage mid-ride before you get home and plug it into your computer.
However you can't turn the screen off so this has an obvious impact on the battery life
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The compact size and decent quality video recording.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a bit heavy and there's no 1080p option.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.