By Don Lindich
Week 7, 2020
Q. I am going to Italy in October and plan on taking a tour of Rome on a Segway. I thought an action camera attached to my helmet would be a great way to record the tour as well as to get video of my companions zooming along with me. I remember in the past you wrote about a good action camera that was well under $100. What is the model, is it still available and is it still a good buy?
-J.I., New York, NY
A. The action camera is the SJCAM SJ4000. It looks almost exactly like a GoPro, but features a rear screen for composing and reviewing. The SJ4000 sells for $69 and includes quite a few accessories in the package, such as a watertight housing and several mounts.
I still recommend the SJ4000 and its very appealing combination of simplicity, affordability and excellent image quality. The SJ4000 is compatible with the GoPro mounting system and records sharp, colorful 1080p video at 30 frames per second. The frame rate is a bit slow if you want to do high-speed action shots or editing in slow motion, but if you just want nice-looking videos of your adventures, it works fine. I’ve taken mine everywhere from airplane cockpits to the surf and sand of Cancun’s beaches and have never been disappointed, especially given how little I paid for it.
A Wi-Fi version of the SJ4000 is available for an extra $30, but I do not recommend it. The battery life is reduced significantly and when you start adding extra features and complexity as well as dollars to the price, the camera and the value equation suffer as a result. This is a case where less is definitely more.
If you buy an SJ4000 I strongly recommend you buy it only from authorized dealer bhphotovideo.com. The camera has been so successful that counterfeits now litter Amazon and eBay, and these fake SJ4000s don’t perform anything like the real deal.
By the way, I have done that Segway tour of Rome. You are in for a treat! Have fun.
Q. I read your article about the ZVOX SB380 soundbar. I went to their website and they have many models. Is the SB380 the one you think is best?
A. To say which is best would be impossible. It reminds me of the film camera days when people would ask me what the best camera is, adding, “Is it Hasselblad or Leica?” Both are premium cameras, however a Hasselblad would not be useful for shooting high speed sports indoors, and a 35mm Leica would not be appropriate for billboard-sized enlargements. It depends on the application, and the same applies when choosing a sound bar. You don’t want to get one that is too big or too small for the room or the television.
The ZVOX SB380 is a midsized sound bar that works well with televisions 32 to 70 inches in size. It sounds great with its integrated subwoofer and six levels of AccuVoice adjustment for making voices easier to understand. It is normally $299 but until March 3 using the code SAVE120 on zvox.com brings the price down to $179. While it may not be the absolute best soundbar for every situation, right now it is probably the very best value to be found anywhere.
ZVOX started two more special offers recently with $50 off the AV50 headphones and $100 off their rechargeable battery hearing aids. If you are in the market it is worth a visit to their website to see if they are a fit for you.