GoPro-like Rollei Actioncam gets Wi-Fi remote control, live view


posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM EDT

Over the last year, the action camera market has really come alight, with several big names in the consumer electronics space attempting to muscle in on the turf of dominant player Woodman Labs, creator of the GoPro. At the entry level, too, a mass of lesser-known companies are vying for a piece of the pie. For a while now, historic German camera brand Rollei -- these days a property of Hamburg-based RCP-Technik GmbH & Co. KG -- has been among those offering simpler, more affordable alternatives to the GoPro. Faced with more competition, Woodman radically overhauled the GoPro late last year, but a new product launch from Rollei aims to catch up somewhat, if only to the previous-generation GoPro.

Among the changes Woodman made to the smaller, lighter GoPro Hero3, one of the more interesting was built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking connectivity, allowing remote camera control and monitoring -- a pretty useful feature when you consider that action cameras are often mounted in some rather awkward places for a unique perspective. Now Rollei, too, offers Wi-Fi with its new Actioncam 5S WiFi, although it opts to take the same route as Woodman's earlier GoPro Hero2, using an external accessory to provide this wireless connectivity.

The Rollei Actioncam 5S WiFi is near-exactly the same size as was GoPro's Hero2.

Interestingly, Rollei's camera also bears a pretty striking resemblance to the earlier GoPro. Size and weight with the display or Wi-Fi accessory mounted looks to be near-identical, and either accessory mounts directly to the rear of the camera body in a very similar fashion to the Hero2. The accessory offers a claimed 50 meter working range, and offers both live view and remote control functionality.

Rollei does best both the Hero2 and Hero3 in one metric, though. In terms of raw sensor resolution, the 14-megapixel CMOS chip of the Rollei 5S WiFi wins. Unfortunately Rollei provides no information on sensor size, so we can't draw any conclusions as to how overall image quality might compare. Nor, for that matter, does the German manufacturer state the focal length of its lens, noting only that it has an f/2.8 aperture, and that the camera offers a 10x digital zoom function.

The Actioncam 5S WiFi has an interchangeable backplate, just like the GoPro.

As well as stills, the Rollei Actioncam 5S WiFi can capture Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video, with a rate of either 25/30 frames or 50/60 fields per second, depending on the video mode. Like the GoPro, dropping the resolution significantly can yield much higher frame rates. At a resolution of 848x480 pixels, it's possible to shoot at rates as high as 120 frames per second.

The Rollei 5S WiFi stores images and movies on MicroSD cards, and offers both USB and HDMI connectivity, along with an external microphone jack. Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack.

The included Wi-Fi backplate functions similarly to the GoPro Wi-Fi BacPac.

Two variants will be offered, differing only in their choice of bundled mounts. The Outdoor Edition includes items such as a head strap and self-portrait mount, while the Motorbike Edition provides a frame / fork mount. Available from June 2013, pricing is set at €350 for either edition. No information is available on plans for sale outside of the European market.