It has pretty much been settled that the way to go for a premium action-cam these days is the GoPro Hero3. But not everyone has that kind of cash to throw around. The Monoprice MHD offers a simple and cheap alternative for capturing your adventures.
A $100 action cam.
Budget-conscious thrill-seekers who want a basic wåy to take hands-free video and photos.
The MHD looks a lot like the Contour+ camera with it's gray barrel-like shape. It is light and made entirely of cheap-feeling plastic, yet waterproof without having to add bulky housing (up to 10 meters).
Higher end action cams pack a lot of features, which is great, but can make for a convoluted user experience. The MHD is ultra-simple. Flip the switch to record, press the button to take a picture. The rest is hidden behind a lockable lid on the back where you'll find a USB and HDMI port, microSD card slot, and a switch to toggle between 1080p and 720p recording. That is all there is to it.
Even with a low price, you want durability in an action-cam. The MHD claims to be shock proof as well as waterproof. We submerged it completely in water while recording, and it came out unscathed, footage intact.
The mounting hardware involves a plethora of plastic hinges, screws, and sticky pads. The simplicity of the MHD deteriorates here, as nothing is more detracting than trying to make sense of this pile of pieces (mostly straps and surface mounts with adhesive pads). Though it must be said that mounting-hardware for all action cams is a chore doing business with.
And what about image quality? Well, as you might expect, the MHD can't match the detail and dynamic range you get from a GoPro Hero3. But that said, it's not terrible. It does the job just fine—much better than we expected for $100. The biggest limitation is the field-of-view, which is 120 degrees, about equal to the GoPro's "narrow" setting. This will accentuate shakiness and make it harder to achieve perfectly framed shots.
The ultra low $100 price tag.
The MHD suffers from simply being a cut-rate product with a limited eco-system. There aren't many features, there aren't many mounts.
You have to question the durability of this device. It has held up to our tests so far, but it is hard to put stock into the longevity of such a plasticy, cheap feeling object that is supposed to endure rugged conditions.
- We dropped and kicked around the cam a bunch to test durability. It occasionally decided to not respond to the record button afterwords, but it always recovered and seemed fine overall.
- The MHD's photos are of better quality than the video, but are only 5 megapixels.
- Battery life is better than other higher-end action cams, at around 3 hours of use.
- The lens is dual-axis, meaning if you mount the MHD upside down, the image will flip itself so it is right side up when you look at it later.
- The rear cap can be an utter pain in the ass to put back on.
- Audio is never great on action-cams, but the MHD's audio is just bad. You can hear it compared to the GoPro's audio in our test video.
If you have a desperate need to throw down right now for a basic, no frills camera, we have no qualms with recommending the Monoprice MHD. Go for it. But tread lightly. If you take longevity and versatility into account, it might be worth saving up for a GoPro Hero3—the White edition is only $199.
Monoprice MHD Action Cam
• Lens Field of View: 120 degrees
• Water Proof: up to 10 meters
• Video: 1920 x 1080 / 1280 x 720 @ 30p
• Photo: 5 megapixels
• Price: $99
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