A budget device for recording various action sport antics, the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is waterproof up to 3m, and comes supplied with all the attachments required to mount the camera in a variety of locations.

The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera features a wider angle lens than that of its predecessor, the ATC 2K, is capable of recording up to two hours of footage on one 4GB SD card, sports an improved CMOS sensor that promises better quality recordings, and can now be used as a webcam. A promising package for the price.

Being a self-contained unit, setting up and configuring the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is quick and simple. Unscrew the back, put in two AA batteries, insert your SD card, screw the back on, and you're ready to go.

All that's left is to decide upon a mounting position for the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera and to select one of two recording resolution settings. The screen display used to achieve this is extremely hard to read and we had to clarify if we had the correct settings by cross-referencing where the little pictures appeared on the screen with those in the diagrams in the manual.

Secondly, the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera itself is big and relatively heavy (about 200g). Therefore we decided not to mount the camera on a helmet, and instead opted for the handlebar-mounting option.

The brackets are well designed, and allow you not only to quickly mount the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera securely, but also to rotate the camera to the desired recording angle whilst in situ.

The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera itself lacks a viewing screen, and therefore it is a little tricky to select the optimum recording angle without first downloading your attempts to your computer. However, future set-up and 'out-the-door' times are extremely quick. This would not be the case with a set-up requiring a separate recording device, where a secure home must be found for your recording device, and cables must be tidied so as not to hinder your movement. A self-contained, wireless unit such as the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is far more convenient.

Downloading a recording is a simple case of squeezing the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera out of it's bracket, and connecting the supplied USB cable from your camera to your computer. The USB 1.1 interface built into the ATC3K however is slow, and you will have to wait quite some time for even an average length recording to download.

NEXT PAGE: video quality, sound and our expert verdict

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A budget device for recording various action sport antics, the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is waterproof up to 3m, and comes supplied with all the attachments required to mount the camera in a variety of locations.

Once downloaded, we found that the quality of the recordings was adequate using the highest resolution of 640x480 at 30fps, but showed only slight improvement over that produced by the ATC2K.

Despite the new CMOS sensor, resolution is poor and the camera is extremely slow reacting to changes in lighting conditions. Going into areas of shade, or filming directly into sunlight severely affected the cameras ability to perform.

Worst still was that the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera still suffers from a continuously 'wobbly' picture on all but the smoothest of ground. In an attempt to simulate the constant barrage of bumps and jolts we would expect to encounter throughout a mountain biking trail, we took the bike down some steps (relatively slowly, as it had been very wet). Despite an expensive full-suspension bike that would absorb most of the shock, we encountered the main issue with the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera, a complete inability to handle vibrations. The result being a streaky, indistinguishable image, unable to capture the terrain, and indeed the 'action' that would be the main purpose for owning the device.

Couple this with the absolutely appalling sound quality due to the requirement to waterproof the device, and we feel that the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is not fit for the purposes of mountain biking.

That said, there are a wealth of uses for which the Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera would be suitable. We've seen example videos of this camera being used for rowing, parachuting, paintballing and diving, along with several others. We think its main usages would be for those activities where a high degree of movement, vibration, and changing lighting conditions are not the norm.

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Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera: Specs

  • 640x480 VGA resolution at 30 frames per second
  • waterproof up to 10ft and shock-resistant for extreme conditions
  • mounting grips and straps of different length included
  • 48 degree FOV
  • USB and RCA cables included for easy playback on PC or TV (NTSC)
  • SD card expansion up to 4GB – onboard memory is 32MB
  • compatible with operation system Windows 2000/XP/Vista and Apple Mac X 10.3/10.4
  • operates with 2 AA batteries, not included
  • 108x44x57mm
  • 200g
  • 640x480 VGA resolution at 30 frames per second
  • waterproof up to 10ft and shock-resistant for extreme conditions
  • mounting grips and straps of different length included
  • 48 degree FOV
  • USB and RCA cables included for easy playback on PC or TV (NTSC)
  • SD card expansion up to 4GB – onboard memory is 32MB
  • compatible with operation system Windows 2000/XP/Vista and Apple Mac X 10.3/10.4
  • operates with 2 AA batteries, not included
  • 108x44x57mm
  • 200g

OUR VERDICT

The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera is well priced, waterproof, can be used as a webcam (although not with Vista 64), offers adequate resolution for most purposes, is solidly built, and comes with all the attachments you need to mount it for a variety of uses. There are several self-contained competitors out there for similar prices, but for recording certain activities on a budget, you cannot go far wrong with the ATC3K. Owners of existing digital cameras, or portable video recorders with an 'AV IN' option who are after higher quality recordings for a little more money (£85-£170) may want to consider a higher quality standalone bullet cam however. The decision will ultimately come down to whether cabling (and to a certain extent, weight) is an issue.

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