YI M1 Field Test Part I

It's amazingly affordable, but are its quirks worth the money you'll save?

by Mike Tomkins |

"Made in China": It's a label which often comes in for derision, but that's largely unfair. Truth be told, China is just as capable of producing a quality product as any other major manufacturing center, if not more so. We've reviewed many excellent Chinese-manufactured cameras over the years. And every day, quality products such as Apple's incredibly popular iPhone series are shipped from Chinese factories, yet nobody suggests those to be somehow subpar.

Truth be told, China's unwelcome reputation for subpar quality has more to do with companies aiming to manufacture their products at a bargain-basement pricetag than it has to do with the factories turning them out. Spend enough on getting the right design and production processes in place, and "Made in China" can be a mark of quality. Skimp and cut corners, and your product would likely have been a disappointment even were it made in a country with a better reputation like Japan, Germany or the United States. (It's just that companies choosing to build products in those countries are already paying more than they would to do so in China, and so cutting corners likely isn't in their nature.)

YI M1 Field Test Part II

Can firmware updates fix the Yi Camera's frustrating user experience?

by Mike Tomkins |

It's been quite a while since I posted my first field test of XiaoYi's eponymously-named Yi M1, also known as the Yi Camera. The initial reason for the delay in returning with my second field test was that I was waiting on the arrival of updated firmware, which the company's booth staff had told me was on the way back at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. And as time rolled on, other, newer cameras ended up being a higher priority for review, leaving our Yi M1 review awaiting the remainder of its writeup. I don't like to leave things half done, though, and so I'm now returning to wrap up with my second field test!

A quick recap of my first Yi Camera field test
In my first test, I noted that while the fact that it's made in China is not really that unusual these days, the Yi M1 is definitely noteworthy for the fact that it was also designed in China. But while its extremely affordable pricetag impresses -- it can be picked up new and with a zoom lens for under $300, another $50 cheaper than at the time of my last field test -- I wasn't such a fan of its ergonomics and user interface.

The Yi Camera's build is pretty solid, admittedly, and it looks reasonably attractive too. But it's uncomfortable in-hand, and I had concerns with its controls as well. (And I've continued to do so in shooting my second field test, frequently bumping the too-easily-turned exposure compensation dial by mistake, in particular.)

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