The Vievu2 is a body-worn camera aimed at professionals (police, emergency responders, security, etc.) that promises a lot of features that traditional body worn cameras don’t. I’ve had one of these cameras in my pocket or on me for about three months now as I worked on a review and have gotten to know the thing pretty well at this point.
First off, the main difference between this and most flip-on cameras comes in the ability to control the recording from another device. In my case, I can connect my HTC One M8 with the Vievu2 and see a preview of what the camera sees, which is useful for lining up the shots as with most personal cameras you just have to aim and pray.
Secondly, you can view and delete videos that are on the camera from a connected phone, or you can simply copy them off via a USB cable.
The Vievu2 reports to work with Android and iOS, but at the moment the iOS software is still not showing in the app store and evidently unhappy iOS users have reviewed it negatively at Amazon for not having the support yet. Not having an iOS device on me today, I’m not sure if this has finally been remedied, but my belief is at the moment the device only works in the Android ecosystem. My rep believes the iOS software is 7-10 days out.
Warning: all videos I took are terribly boring
The camera itself is a 1080p full HD recording camera that can record at full tilt for about an hour and a half according to specs, and significantly longer at lower resolutions. The longest recording I’ve done so far was an ill-aimed motorcycle ride, which if you’re into watching the street blow by my knee by at a whopping 55-65, it might be your video (extremely boring, camera was aimed down and to the right, can’t see much other than pavement).
The camera does a pretty good job grabbing high speed texture changes, and it’s decent in low light conditions, but it’s not particularly great in fluorescent lighting from what I can tell. Either that or I am a sickly mummified IT manager.
Another video – long walk in the Tomato Arts Festival parade in Nashville (also boring, but shows you what it does in daylight).
The main idea behind this camera when I got it was it was for professionals. A couple of months into the use of the thing the message on the website has changed to “Made by cops for cops. Prove the truth.” I noticed this change within a couple of days one way or the other of Ferguson, so I’m not sure if the message was in response to that or foreshadowing it or I just managed to miss it before, but I noticed it then.
Above: Video outdoors full daylight bouncy house with no babies really bouncing.
Listening to a public radio segment seemed to suggest these types of cameras tend to make everyone’s life better as you have the wearers who know they’re being monitored, and also know they’re absolved if video shows they’re not to blame in altercations. Unfortunately I can’t find a good study on that as of this writing, but judging by a Hendersonville police officer I talked to and borrowed a spare bullet proof vest to tag this on, it’s probably a good thing for everyone.
Above: Screenshot in Vievu2 software of the camera preview video looking at me taking a screenshot.
However, whatever your feelings about monitoring and police activities, this was made pretty tough to handle what a police officer, bouncer, or construction working might get thrown at them. It handled three months in my pocket with keys and one horrible unrecorded encounter with an angry baby without a scratch.
The Vievu2 in action
You may have noticed the long review period. I’ll sum it up with there were problems that were fixed by firmware and software updates. I was also hoping for the motorcycle/bike mounts to be ready so I could have some nice riding video as opposed to what I managed to capture above. The device wasn’t quite ready for primetime when I got it, it is now (except for iOS folk who will need to wait a week or so before that software is released).
The Vievu2 works as a WiFi device. Your phone or tablet connects to its WiFi and transfers data that way. This is faster than Bluetooth, but it comes with the drawback of while you’re connected to the Vievu2 you’re not connected to the internet unless you have a cool piece of software that allows you to route out via the 3G/LTE while you’re connected to a non-internet WiFi access point.
This means if you want to share a video you just recorded you’ll need to transfer it to the phone, disconnect the Vievu2, then upload it somewhere. Not a deal breaker, but as there’s no way to queue up a share later it does become an annoyance.
I had a lot of problems in the early days of the software. I’ll skip all but one as the others appear resolved and you can expect some issues on pre-release/early release software. The one issue that remains last I checked was the Windows firmware updater. You can get new firmware from Vievu’s site, the file is called something like NK2888FD.BRN. The firmware updater software copies this to the root of the Vievu2, and when the device reboots, it applies the new firmware.
As I got this early on, there have been a few firmware updates I applied. It’s generally my way to keep a few of anything I download, firmware, ROMs, etc so that if something goes wrong I can revert, so I ended up with files called NK2888FD.BRN, NK2888FD (2).BRN, etc. I noticed when I applied the firwmare update on the second or third version of the firmware I downloaded it did not take.
This was because all the firmware updater appears to do is copy the file you choose to update to the root directory of the device. If you choose to update the firmware with a file called “my name is Bob.nrn” that would sit in the root directory of the Vievu2 and never be picked up by it.
That problem can be bypassed by simply downloading the firmware file, copying it to the root of the Vievu2, and making sure the filename is NK2888FD.BRN. You can simply rename the thing. It’s just a file that’s copied to the root of the device. Nothing special to see there.
Ease of use
It should be emphasized that you do not require a smartphone to use this device. You can simply turn it on, flip the lens cover up, and it’s recording with the default settings (1080p, timestamp, etc.) The smartphone software is useful, but at the moment it’s just a very neat extension of the camera.
Above: Back of Vievu2, loops on a police vest
The clothes mounting clip that it comes with doesn’t work for most non-professional style clothing. You’ll need to get a separate mount if you want to wear it anywhere other than say a shirt pocket or on a thin belt. Police garb did pretty well in my test, a bulletproof vest however didn’t as the loops were too small for the clothing clip.
The Vievu2 did sit nicely on the grab-me handle (pictured on the right,) but you really shouldn’t have anything there.
The camera can take a daily use beating and is designed to. The power button reflects that ruggedness and at first I thought the device was broken when I received it, but no, it just requires a firm press to power on, and won’t accidentally power on when thrown into a pocket.
The rubberized sliding lens protector serves as a record on/off switch and the device’s antenna. Months of use and the thing feels as firm and solid moving as it did the day I received the unit.
The removable clothes clip is ok, but it’s too tight for a belt, and I’ve managed to pop it off a couple of times by accident (once when I was rigging it up to a motorcycle mount I fashioned and then abandoned).
This is a difficult product to decide on. Hardware-wise it’s an extremely compact, durable, and neat device that I would say jump on. Software-wise I feel it’s still in its infancy, although it’s pretty useful what it can do so far.
As far as accessories go, there are a few offered through the manufacturer – vehicle mounts, clothing clips, etc. But not much for the casual motorcycle enthusiast or self-filming stick cameras that you see many using with devices like the GoPro.
The price is less than some of the higher end body worn cameras. But I can’t speak to the recording quality of those.
This is targeted at your professional looking to avoid liability lawsuits even though it feels like you should attach it to a motorcycle and go wild.
I like the camera, I like the current iteration of software and firmware that’s making it a pleasure to use, I’m evidently not its target demographic however so I can’t quite say if it’s worth it. If it had a RAM motorcycle mount, or a nice handlebar mount, I might be very interested in taking this on the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee.
My rating currently is based on video quality, software in its current state for Android, and three months of use. I can’t rate this against other body worn cameras as I don’t have others to compare it to (feel free to send me some.)
The Vievu2 is available from Amazon for $314. If I can get some mounts for it I’ll end up posting follow-up videos that aren’t boring.