The GoXtreme Rebel is an affordably priced action camera that promises HD video footage for under £40.
It comes with a range of mounts in the box, and first impressions are of a decently made product. It's a very compact little device, about 6cm by 4cm and 3cm deep with a 2 inch LCD screen on the rear. You'll need a micro SD card to record on to: the GoXtreme accepts up to 32GB, and can record continuously for 12 minutes in the highest quality setting, 15 minutes at 720p and 22 minutes VGA.
The bike mount bundled with the camera allows you to fit it to your stem, but not your handlebars due to the orientation of the mount. This is fine, so long as a) you don't intend to mount your cycling computer there and b) you don't mind flaunting a wack "camerection" on your stem. To explain: while the camera itself is small, using the provided mount means it will sit nearly 10cm (3.5 inches) above the stem, sucking watts and style points from your rig.
I found a neater solution was to fit the camera underneath my computer mount. The excellent HideMyBell (see Joe's review) has mounting points which allow you to fit a mount, lending a much cleaner look to your cockpit.
(The 1/4 inch adapter is available separately, and costs under a fiver - look for something like this.)
With the camera mounted, I headed off for a test ride along the seafront. The Rebel has four video settings: 1080p HD, 720p, WVGA and VGA. All modes shoot at 30 frames per second (fps). I started off testing the highest quality setting, but found that whenever I transferred the footage to my computer it wouldn't play properly: a green band covered the lower third of the image, and the footage was choppy and unwatchable.
This is probably a compatibility issue with my Mac, and for someone with patience/technical skills could likely be resolved. Whatever the truth of it, all the other modes played without problem.
The image quality in 720p (the second highest quality setting) is decent for an entry-level camera. You can check it out for yourself in the video below, buckle in for a wild ride around Worthing pier:
(The camera does have a built-in microphone for audio, by the way - I just had it turned off in the video to spare you the seagull squawks.)
As for the hardware, I'm impressed. The unit feels robust and is easy to use. Adjusting the settings is fast and intuitive using the menu on the LCD screen. Most importantly, the record button is well placed on the top of the camera for easy operation while riding.
There's also the ability to take still photos using the GoXtreme Rebel, with image resolution up to 16 megapixels. It's a useful backup option, but if you have a smartphone you will perhaps find the camera on that delivers better results.
The Rebel also has a WiFi mode that allows you to control the camera through your smartphone - all you have to do is download the GoXtreme app. This sounds quite neat, and means you can use the camera as a webcam or to record yourself doing a "piece to camera" at the summit of Alpe d'Huez, for example. However the app is not entirely flawless: I have occasionally had the camera freeze when paired to my phone, requiring the battery to be removed in order to reset it.
Speaking of the battery, claimed battery life is 80 minutes shooting at 1080p.
This should be plenty if you just want to record footage of your commute. An increasing number of cycle commuters seem to be running action cameras to record their rides, and I would suggest this is the ideal use for the Rebel. The video footage is maybe not high enough quality to satisfy anyone looking to produce a slick edit of their epic ride, but if you want peace of mind (or video evidence) in the event of a close pass or road rage encounter, the Rebel has your back.
One handy feature is the ability to record on loop. This means the camera will record continuously, over-writing older footage when it reaches the memory limit. If you're buying a camera to record your commute then this feature will be pretty useful, avoiding the risk of memory running out and stopping the camera before the critical incident.
The Rebel is bundled with a waterproof case which attaches to the bike mount, so should see you through even the wettest winter commutes.
If you aspire to YouTube stardom or are looking to shoot documentary-quality footage, I'd suggest looking elsewhere in the GoXtreme range of cameras. But if you want a cheap and cheerful camera to record your commutes and training rides "just in case", then the GoXtreme Rebel is solidly made, works well and offers excellent value for money.