If you’re looking for a cheap version of the Hero5 that can also shoot in 4K then you might want to continue reading through my ThiEye i60e review.
GoPro’s flagship models took the world by storm a few years ago. Since then, GoPro have only scaled newer heights with better, smarter, more reliable cameras in the market. The demand for action cameras have soared in the last few years with more and more people willing to spend a generous amount of money on specialized cameras that permit them to capture the entirety of the experience.
If you are an action-hungry person, you probably find yourself in extreme climates far too often than you would like to admit. Till a few years ago, cameras used to be delicate objects of passion which rarely fared well in such climates. With action cameras, you no longer have to worry about natural adversities, for these are meant to withstand the harshest of environments and offer breathtaking performance.
It is understandable why GoPro sells so widely despite being so expensive. Performance and reliability are issues that few like to compromise with, and given the consistency with which GoPro has doled out top of the line products, one would naturally be inclined to put his trust in the brand name.
However, for those who cannot afford GoPro’s premium products, there remain several alternatives in the market that may not be able to brag about brand value, but provide almost similar specifications to GoPro models at less than half the price.
The ThiEye i60e is one such product. It is a Chinese sports camera that may seem to be a direct copy of the GoPro Hero series with regards to the specifications, but come at a far affordable price, farther than you might imagine, at less than a 100$! It has been in the market for quite some time now, and is gradually beginning to get popular among photographers who want the best features at cheap prices.
Let’s Jump to the Review!
Product Name: ThiEye i60e
My rating: 9/10
Best place to buy: Amazon.com
If you have previously used GoPro Hero line of products, you are sure to notice a striking similarity in design between the GoPro series and the ThiEye i60e camera. It has a compact, minimalistic design, and looks more or less like a standard action camera. The dimensions are neither too big, nor too small; so the ThiEye i60e fits in the palm of your hand as perfectly as you would hope for.
The textured black rubber coat ensures it doesn’t come across as a cheap product. Moreover, the rubber texture helps in gripping the camera comfortably. The camera has a wide angle lens at the front and a 2 inch LCD display on the back.
The power button is located on the front face just beside the lens. It is versatile in function, and allows you to scroll through various modes as well. There is a single button at the top that is used to record videos and click pictures. There are two more buttons on the camera for navigating the menu and enabling Wi-Fi.
On the side, there are three slots – a micro SD card slot for storage, a micro USB port for charging and transferring files easily, and a mini HDMI port to connect your camera to the big screen or maybe use it as a webcam or a security cam.
Navigation and Controls
The LCD display is a major drawback of the ThiEye i60e. If you have used the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and above models, you must be aware of their convenient touch-based control. The ThiEye i60e, however, doesn’t offer a touch screen display; so you are back to using buttons for navigating the different modes.
It is not at all user-friendly, and navigation may, in fact, appear to be quite a bit confusing when you are using it for the first time. In comparison, the Hero 5 Black’s intuitive touch screen interface seems much more lucrative, but once you factor in the price difference, you can appreciate the reason why the ThiEye i60e fails to go to such extents.
The camera does not come with any internal storage memory; so make sure you have a memory card ready before unpacking the product. It is wise to invest in an external memory of higher capacity in order to store all your photos and videos, especially if you are willing to record most of your adventures in 4K resolution.
Wireless connectivity over Wi-Fi is a viable option, but there are glitches, and it’s easier to transfer your files in the traditional fashion – via USB cable. This is not very convenient, but once again, this is the best you can hope for with this kind of pricing.
Video and Photo Quality
The specifications for the ThiEye i60 are almost similar to those of Hero 5 Black on paper. The real difference lies in the performance when put to test.
On paper, the ThiEye i60e offers 1080p video recording at 60 fps, 720p at 120 fps, and 2.7K at 30 fps. It also promises to deliver 4K recording at 30 fps. To put that into perspective, the Hero 5 Black offers the same on paper. It promises to capture 4K videos at 30 fps, 1080p at 120 fps, and 720p at 240 fps and it does its job perfectly.
Practically, the ThiEye i60e does a decent job in 1080p. The colors are accurate, and the camera adjusts well to changing lighting conditions. The clarity decreases as one goes farther away from the object, but it never gets too bad anyway.
The real issue, however, lies in the 4K resolution bit. Like many manufacturers, ThiEye fails to live up to its promise of delivering true 4K videos to its customers. It falls short on hardware capabilities and tries to compromise and compensate in several ways, ultimately ending up with a video quality that is no better than 1080p but shot at a very high bitrate.
It claims to have a 12 MP sensor for photos in 4K resolution, but clearly, this is not the true 4K resolution as seen in Hero 5 Black. Moreover, the Hero 5 Black comes with an interesting feature known as electronic image stabilization (EIS) which eliminates camera shakes and delivers smooth recordings.
The RAW support, in addition to the Wide Dynamic Range mode, further allows the photographer to customize his images and enjoy complete authority during the post-production process.
It can take up to 128GB microSD card and it’s sold separately.
The ThiEye i60e provides a significantly better sound quality that all other cameras at this price range. The microphones work great and pick up clear, crisp sound. However, once you mount the camera on your helmet or windshield, the casing interferes with the audio capture and affects the audio performance negatively.
The same thing happens when you put the camera inside the waterproof case and take to record clips underwater. This loss in performance is unavoidable, and is hardly a deal breaker in this scenario.
One of the most notable features of the GoPro Hero 5 Black is that the camera is waterproof in itself up to a depth of 10 meters, and does not require a waterproof case as long as you are playing around with it in shallow waters. Doing away with the waterproofing case makes the camera lighter, and significantly boosts the audio capture performance of the Hero 5 Black simply because the microphones are not encased by the covering.
On the other hand, the ThiEye i60e is not waterproof by design, and therefore, comes with IP68 waterproof case. It fits the camera immaculately and offers waterproofing up to a depth of 60 meters. Not only does that make it perfect for photography on rainy days, but also allows you to capture your underwater experience without any worry.
The i60e also comes with a lot of other useful accessories. Along with a standard USB cable, a small carrying bag, and a cleaning cloth, it also comes with a number of mounts and joints to satisfy your action needs. No longer do you have to worry about buying the extra stuff when you need to mount the camera on the windshield or on your helmet.
Here’s a video shot with the ThiEye i60e:
It is fair to say that the GoPro Hero 5 Black is undoubtedly the best action camera in the market currently. It combines the best features from its predecessors into a single product, and introduces several new features in order to make it an enriching experience for the user.
Despite trying hard to match up to the Hero 5 Black’s credentials, the ThiEye i60e falls through on several accounts, the foremost of them being the 4K resolution issue. While it is understandable that the company had to sacrifice top-of-the-line resolution quality for a budget product, the fact that it over-promises and under performs, makes the brand a lot less reliable in the eyes of the average customer.
Granted that the ThiEye i60e costs nearly one-third of what the Hero 5 Black does, but if you are not looking to compromise on quality of your videos and photos, turning to it should not be an option. Each person has his own list of priorities, and it is important to understand what you are willing to give up on at the end of the day, and whether an upgrade to a Hero series model is worth it or not.
There you have it folks! What do you think of the ThiEye i60e? Let me know in the comments section below:)