I’ve now been using my “Crosstour 4K” Action Camera for a couple of weeks, and have just uploaded my 3rd video to Youtube of my adventures, so I’m now in a good position to be more thorough in reviewing my purchase, even though I’ve already talked about it here, here, here and here.
I’ll be covering the following points:
- Image Stabilisation
- MicroSD Card Support
- Battery Life and the ToHLo option
For the price (available under £35 here in the UK), the Crosstour 4K is good, and I’ve had swift communication with Crosstour when I needed to contact them, but there are some caveats. The first is that it’s not a true 4K camera.
I noticed this when I was comparing various settings on the camera itself for my previous post about MicroSD card compatibility. The next setting down from 4K@25fps is 2.7K@30fps, and the resulting file size is the same, therefore the 4K mode is simply upscaled from 2.7K.
Both 4K(25fps) and 2.7K(30fps) will eat up 64GB in = 2hrs 18 minutes.
For my usage (typically fixing the camera to a chest harness and going out on bicycle rides) the issue over 4K would not have swayed my buying decision, mainly because it would take me about a week to upload video to Youtube in 4K, not to mention the file sizes to be dealt with. I’m aware that some people are uploading content to Youtube in “4K” but my views about this are that it’s mostly polony since viewers are unlikely to be watching stuff in 4K, and/or probably wouldn’t notice the difference with such content when compared to 1080p (and with the Crosstour 4K you have the choice of this in either 30fps or 60fps).
The second caveat with the Crosstour 4K is the lack of built-in image stabilisation. This can be a problem depending on your intended use, although there seems to be quite a jump in price to an action camera with this feature; there are comparison videos available on Youtube comparing different cameras including ones with and without image stabilisation so I was aware of this limitation with the Crosstour and can say it is the main thing that limits the quality of my videos (although in fairness I’m still learning a lot when it comes to video editing!)
The Campark 4K is one action camera that includes image stabilisation and is the cheapest one I can find, currently available for around £80. Aside from this the kit is similar to that of the Crosstour so upgrading to this at a later date (as I may well do) will mean any extra accessories I’ve purchased will be compatible. In the mean time I’ve been stabilising my videos in Windows Movie Maker as per my other previous post. In summary of that topic, the output from Movie Maker is limited to 1080p (again negating the need for 4K or even 2.7K), and while I’ve now switched over to DaVinci Resolve for video editing, the image stabilisation process in that results in too heavily cropped video.
Moving on, and the Crosstour specs state MicroSD card support is limited to 32GB but the good news is that I am using mine with a 64GB Samsung EvoPlus rated at Class10/U3, but I have found that I am unable to transfer files from the camera with this card, instead I have to use a card reader (which is quicker anyway since that is USB 3.0 compatible and the camera isn’t). You can read more about the topic of Memory Cards here.
Battery life is probably comparable with other such cameras. It is stated as being “up to 90 minutes” but realistically 80 minutes per included battery is the limit; expect an hour and you wont be let down. Unless you’re a ninja when swapping the batteries the camera will forget the date and the time, and I haven’t been thus far. It takes two hours to then charge each battery in the camera.
This leads me onto why I’ve included the ‘ToHLo Portable Battery’ in the title of this post – it made sense to combine these two reviews since I’ve also now invested in this separate external battery pack.
I had been using the Crosstour for a couple of weeks with its two included batteries, swapping them round and trying to keep them fully charged, but this was quickly proving to be a hassle. In fact, the very day before my portable battery pack arrived I was out for much of the day on my bike and while I had planned to charge the batteries mid-way, things didn’t work out as planned and I failed to record the final portion of my trip due to two depleted batteries.
With the ToHLo Battery I’ve been able to mostly forget about the issue of battery life. I pop the battery pack in a ‘bum-bag’ and run the Crosstour’s USB cable to it from above, looping it round the harness to help prevent snagging, and being careful not to damage the camera’s Micro USB socket.
Choosing a portable battery was quite a minefield. There are a lot of these such batteries listed on ebay (my go to place for searching out and purchasing such tech*) but it was obvious to me that many of the titles, specifications, and claims, were blatant nonsense, and if I couldn’t trust the stated capacity, then I sure-as-hell couldn’t trust the safety of such a piece of kit; more on this in a moment.
The Crosstour’s batteries are each rated at 1,050mAh and I had first considered either more of the same, or some higher capacity ones rated at 1,350mAh (all available with standalone charger). In fact, I almost purchased these with my camera but at the last minute decided to hold off until I had got used to using what I had already spent good money on.
I’m glad I did this because then an epiphany struck; why not get an external, and higher capacity, battery pack such as people use for charging their mobile phone?
Such batteries boast greater mAh figures, or may say how many times you can charge a typical phone or tablet, but often these mAh figures are blatantly bloated, with extra 0s added on the end. In looking through various offerings I began to learn what I needed to look out for; not only mAhs, but recharging time and weight; if a “20,000mAh” battery weighed in at the same amount of a “10,000mAh” battery, and weighed as much, I knew the “20,000mAh” one wasn’t going to be worth the extra paper, and if it was listed as a “100,000mAh” battery, well…
I settled on a ToHLo 10,000mAh (Model: A-1)…
And I wasn’t let down.
It’s currently available on Amazon for little over £10, and this price was another of those comparison points; if a battery boasted an extra 0 in the stated capacity for a similar price, then I knew it was bogus.
I followed the instructions included with the ToHLo to the T by fully charging it before use, and I then tested it with my Crosstour. I equated 1,000mAh to approximately 1 hour of recording time based on the tests I had done with the included batteries, and therefore settled on an expected recording time withf the ToHLo to be around 10 hours (choosing a suitable video setting that would allow me to record for this long), and this proved to be accurate.
The only caveat with the “10,000mAh” of the ToHLo, and this is stated in the included literature, is that it should not be run down to less than 20%, therefore you’re technically paying for 10,000mAh, but can only use it for 8,000mAh. However, I still got around 10 hours out of it before I had noticed its indicating LEDs had dropped to this point.
Recharging the ToHLo could be said to be a slow process, although by comparison with the Crosstour’s batteries, not as slow (and comparable with other similar (and honest) battery packs) and for my first recharge I made sure I didn’t leave it unattended; there are too many horror stories of cheap batteries exploding (another reason why I didn’t buy anything boasting extra 0s in the title). The ToHLo didn’t even get warm, however I always avoid leaving things on charge overnight (with the exception of car batteries).
Having a battery recharge slowly rather than expecting a super fast charge is not such a bad thing; it can likely prolong the life of the battery and with this in mind it’s always worth being mindful of how often we recharge, or worse, top-up such batteries because each time we do this we are shortening the life of the cells.
Running the battery down to the stated minimum (in this case 20%) and then giving it a full recharge is better than persistently topping it up after each short bit of use, although real world situations can make this less than ideal, such as when we know we’re going to need a fully charged battery but have already used it a little.
Back to the Crosstour 4K
The array of included accessories make this a good kit and other compatible pieces are widely available.
I had opted for a chest harness which was one thing not included, but these are available for as little as £5, and are widely available since the fitments are the same for similar action cameras, as well as the GoPro itself. The chest harness I purchased came with no other attachments, but the Crosstour included enough other clips to make attachment possible. It took me a little trial-and-error to perfect me setup since the camera needed to tilt up by more than I had appreciated, due to how I lean forward on the bike. Attaching the camera to ones’ cycle helmet could probably be achieved with the included accessories, and since the head acts as a natural “gimbal” might result in more stable recordings, but I don’t like the idea of my camera protruding up so high and being so noticeable, although it’s something I might try.
Remember I mentioned I had contacted Crosstour at some point? This was because I had managed to break one of those attachments when unclipping the camera from my harness, but they were more than obliging, sending out replacements promptly from China… providing I leave them feedback on Amazon, and provide proof of this feedback. I happily did this, leaving them seller feedback, but it wasn’t until I received these replacement clips and I came to leave some product feedback that Amazon stated the following:
“Don’t include promotional content of any kind or reviews written in exchange for compensation.”
I chuckled. I knew Crosstour were being a bit cheeky asking for feedback in exchange for sending a replacement part but I had been happy with my use of the product and my dealings with them; breaking a clip was neither here-nor-there and I had since discovered how cheap and widely available they are on ebay (again, if you’re prepared to wait for them to come from China) and I have ordered myself a handful of spares for 99p (although yet to arrive).
The Crosstour is supplied in a waterproof case and includes a replacement back. This allows more sound in to the microphone but not a great deal, and sound quality (as with most action cameras) isn’t great, again not too much of an issue for me. I’ve also switched to an open case/housing/holder, purchased for only a couple of quid; the waterproof case’s size meant I was at the limit of how far back I could tilt it, and it was also prone to misting up (although not completely over the lens).
The Crosstour 4K also boasts WiFi connectivity, apparently allowing for communication with an app on compatible devices in addition to use with the included WiFi controller, but other than confirming it works, I have no need for it with the way I currently use the camera. You can also take photos with the Crosstour, although other than resolution, options are limited aka non-existent.
If you’ve read this far then I hope this post has been informative, or at least a good read. Now onto Episode 3 of Brian Goes Biking!