Cobra Adventure HD 5200 Action Camera

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I bought this camera in an effort to support Cobra since their CB radios have served me very well and when I get a good product from a particular company, I tend to try and give money to that company again for future needs.  Before I begin, I need to preface this review by saying that I absolutely love the Cobra CB radios I've purchased.  I even recently purchased one of the Cobra HH 38 WX ST hand-helds and it is an awesome product, and I gave a shining review to the Cobra 148 GTL on Cobra's website, so I don't have anything against Cobra as a company.  That being said, while I have found the Cobra Adventure HD 5200 action camera useful, I am less than impressed with it.


First the good


- The camera is very small and light weight, making it easy to pack for transport and easy to place in odd places for catching a good angle.

- It comes with a ton of accessories and is compatible with a lot of accessories that fit other action cameras such as the GoPro.  It didn't come with any instructions on how the various accessories were supposed to work, so the uses for one or two of them are still kind of a mystery to me, but it does come with lots of accessories,   The case that it comes with is indeed water proof, at least down to about 12 inches, because I tested it in my bathroom sink upon receiving it.  The waterproof case even comes with a replacement back door in case you crack the original one.

- Upon connecting it to your computer you have the option of either browsing the camera like a storage drive to retrieve your photos/videos, or connecting the camera as a webcam; you are presented with a choice on the camera itself when it detects a PC connection.

- It charges over mico-USB so you do not have to purchase any special cables to charge it (although it does come with a charger).

- It also has a mini or micro HDMI (I don't remember which one is which) output port for connecting it to your television for viewing your photos/videos there.

- The menu is easy enough to navigate allowing you to set resolutions, set the date and time, and other options.  The water-proof case even has sealed buttons on the outside allowing you to operate the camera under water without allowing water inside the case with the camera.

- The video picture quality is decent enough, particularly at higher resolutions.

- The included mounts made it super easy to attach to a tripod (not included).

- It does actually support loop recording, so you could use it as your adventure camera OR a dash cam on the way to your adventure.

- The videos are recorded in AVI format with JPEG video encoding and raw 16 bit PCM audio encoding at 32000 Hz, which means that just about anything will play the video files.  No special players or codecs required.


Now the bad


- It has no internal memory, which means that you have to buy a microSD card, however minimal, before you can use it.

- It just "feels" very light-weight and cheap, and on top of that the name "Cobra" is nowhere on it, even though this is supposed to be a Cobra product, which gives off a feeling of being generic.  It does have one label that reads "Adventure HD 1080p" (why the resolution instead of the model 5200?).  Also the website lists that it is capable of 640x480 @ 60 fps, but the box says it's locked at 30 fps when using 640x480.  I have not tested this resolution, but the whole package just feels "cheap".

- The sound is REALLY muffled even when it's not inside a case of any kind.  I've been forced to take videos I've recorded with this camera and edit the sound properties to try and bring my voice out of the background so that you can actually hear what's going on.

- The video and audio tracks eventually fall out of sync if your videos are very long at all, even when the SD card has tons of space still available.  I don't know if this is caused by the battery being low or what, but I will have to do some more experimentation to figure out what's going on, but at least half the time, without fail, if you are recording a video that's longer than a minute or two, your audio and video will suddenly fall out of sync.  It's not even an issue with the video or audio speed either because it's not like you notice them slowly drifting apart over the course of the video, they will be fine up to a certain point and then all of a sudden you'll notice it's out of sync by a whole second or more.  I don't know if the recording software is dropping frames to save battery life or what's going on, but I'm getting annoyed at having to re-record videos over and over and keep the individual clips under a minute in length so the audio and video don't fall out of sync.  Because they're not out of sync by a given amount, and it's hard to predict at what point in the videos they fall out of sync, I'm not sure I will be able to fix these videos with  normal video editing software, which means I either have to mute the audio altogether and narrate them separately, or just forget it and delete the whole thing.

- The photo resolution is actually a little over 4,000x3,000, but it doesn't show in the quality of the photos.  It's almost as if the photos are actually something like 640x480 and they're just being up-scaled to that higher resolution to give the illusion of quality so they can put those high numbers on the store page for the product.  The photos look like something that would come out of the pre-paid flip phone I carry around instead of a single purpose device.  Looking through my Facebook I was able to find photos I took with my old Samsung Galaxy S2 5 years ago that look incredible next to this Cobra adventure camera.

- The battery life is pretty bad, even with the video resolution set to 720p instead of 1080.  I don't know about you, but when I go on "adventures", they tend to last more than 20-30 minutes, which is about what I get out of the battery.  I've been pretty lucky because most of the time when I'm out I'm near my pickup truck so I can just plug it in there to charge, but it gets annoying to have only been out for a few minutes, pick it up to try and record something and have it shut-off on me mid-sentence.


In summary, I have found it useful, but I would not buy this product again or recommend it to a friend; in fact I'm very likely going to replace it in the near future.  You can get better video and audio quality out of a smartphone than you can out of this camera, as well as mounts to place a smartphone just about anywhere you could place this, with one caveat being that this actually has the hard case for placing it next to particularly dangerous scenes like going underwater or next to something that might damage an unprotected device.  The audio and video fall out of sync, the audio is extremely muffled even when outside the case, and the photos are grainy even with the resolution set to max and the lens wiped and treated with anti-fog solution.


Below are some sample media to show you both the photo quality and the problem I'm having with audio/video syncing.  I haven't done a full blown video review yet; I did a first impressions and recorded this video real quick in order to showcase the problems.  The video was captured at 720p30, and the photo was captured at the camera's max resolution.  The photo and video clip in question were supposed to be part of my next YouTube video of my buddy and I doing some target shooing out in the woods, but half the videos wound up being way out of sync with the audio and the photos look like crap so I am probably just gonna delete it all.  For the price tag of $100, I probably should have just spent a few extra dollars and gotten a GoPro Hero or something.


Photo of my friend's Russian Mosin Nagant on the hood of his pickup truck, taken while facing toward the sun.

Link: PICT0000.jpg



YouTube video demonstrating audo/video sync issues: 


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