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Hands-on review: 3SIXT HD Sport Action Camera
Thu, 8th Oct 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

It's difficult to look at any of the recent wave of action cameras without comparing them to the industry's gold standard - the GoPro. There are dozens of less cost-prohibitive options out there though, with 3SIXT's HD Sport Action Camera one of the most affordable alternatives available.

Out of the box you're obviously provided with the camera itself, along with a waterproof casing, a car-mount casing for connecting to your dashboard, and two additional mounts - one for bike handlebars and one for a helmet.

The camera itself is surprisingly lightweight, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. For a sports action camera intended to be attached to your equipment or body the weight can be a dealbreaker, and in comparison with the standard GoPro the 3SIXT is light as a feather.

Personally though, I found that lack of heft translated more to flimsiness than portability. Yes, there are times when the heavy hunk of a GoPro can feel like a hindrance, but the 3SIXT's fragility just feels low quality. That said, if you're paying less than quarter of the price of even the cheapest GoPro available, you have to be willing to sacrifice some quality.

And sacrifice some quality you will, not just in the build of the device but the functionality. There are three modes to the 3SIXT HD Sport Camera - photo (up to 5MP), video (up to 720p HD) and a ‘vehicle mode', which is poorly explained in the user manual but is essentially a fixed 5-minute time lapse function. Why you'd only need that in a vehicle is beyond me, but it seems to work pretty much as advertised.

The feature set may be sparse, but it actually gives a good indication of who the 3SIXT might be aimed at. Those who are after a true action cam experience to capture their various extreme endeavours are likely to look elsewhere for a solution, but for those who simply want a cheap option to mount in their car and forget about, the 3SIXT is a decent choice on a budget. In reasonable light the image quality is good enough, but trying to capture anything in low light or at night will result in unfocused, noisy images.

There are a wealth of options out there for budget action cameras, and the prices seem to be falling all the time. It won't deliver extreme footage worthy of the X-Games, but if you simply need something easy or expendable with a low investment, the 3SIXT HD Sport Action Camera will likely meet your basic needs.

Mounts and accessories The included mounts (helmet, handlebars and car) all seem to function as you'd expect they would, however it takes a little creative thinking to get the helmet strap to work - another problem that could have been addressed with a better user manual. It would have been nice if there was an adhesive pad included for attaching the car mount to your dashboard, but I'm sure you can pick one up for a decent price.

I also had the opportunity to test a couple of 3SIXT's separately sold accessories, including a chest harness and a wacky-looking but useful head mount. The chest harness is a little cumbersome to adjust once you have it on, but works really well coupled with the lightness of the HD Sport Action Camera - you genuinely forget you're wearing it after a little time has passed.

The head mount is similarly effective if a little less comfortable, doing its job just like it should. Also available (but not tested) is a surfboard mount, which if it's anything like 3SIXT's other accessories probably works well.

Perhaps the best news about 3SIXT's accessories though is the fact that they are fully GoPro compatible, so if you are an existing GoPro user looking for some alternatives to the pricey official gear, you're covered. Again they may not have the longevity of the real deal, but the reduced price is a real sweetener.