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on June 14, 2012
I already own a GoPro Hero and GoPro Hero2. Plus I've spent a small fortune in the GoPro addons, attachments etc. Then I saw this little Gem on one of those day sale websites. They had it for $139, that's about the same cost as the LCD bacpac + a spare battery for the GoPro. So I wanted to see what this camera could do.

Well out of the box, I was super impressed with what it came with. LCD Panel, remote control, multiple mounts, waterproof case etc.

Pros
* I really like that the camera and the camera case have a regular 1/4 inch tripod mount. This makes it so much easier to attach to standard mounts, like the UltraClamp.
* Like that it has two different buttons for starting video and taking a photo.
* Like the laser for lining shots up.
* Like the LCD panel being standard, although it turns out I don't use it much.
* Has a flat lens, so does not distort like the GoPro under water.

Cons
* The laser pointer is useless if you have it in the plastic case, it can't project out as the case blocks it.
* The audio isn't particularly great, but then it isn't with the GoPro either.
* The remote control doesn't have a very good range.

Video quality is very comparable to the GoPro, especially when using the 720px60 mode.

Conclusion
at the price I paid, these things are almost disposable, I was impressed enough that I bought another and a couple as gifts when they were on sale again.
11 comment|41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 19, 2012
I received this camera as a gift over the holidays and was really excited to use it. When I first tested it, the video was shifty and paused a bit every few seconds. I fixed this issue by formatting the memory card using the camera as the instruction manual suggested. One problem I was not able to fix, however, was the audio problems. I had intended to use this camera as a dash camera for when I go for drives with other car enthusiasts on the weekends. Unfortunately, each test recording I made had this horrible high-pitched squeaking noise that is impossible to ignore. Notably, this noise was present in all the recordings I made while testing each camera setting.

I assumed that I may have a defective unit so I contacted Swann (who are based in Australia) via email. I sent them a carefully written email message that clearly describes the issue and further included a brief video clip that contained the background noise so they could hear the noise for themselves. Unfortunately, they never responded to my email message despite my having sent it multiple times to their customer service email address. I also attempted calling them, but the customer service line repeatedly led me to a dead end -- no human being and no way to leave a message.

After this, I did a search online to see if I could find other people's videos that were captured with the Freestyle camera. I found one such video in which, like me, they had mounted the camera to the dash of a car. In that video you can hear the exact same noises that my unit captured. In view of this, it appears likely that the problem is not with my unit but with the design of Swann's camera/microphone. Perhaps this explains why Swann never responded to my emails and calls.

In view of the above, I think the Freestyle camera is poorly designed. In addition, I think Swann's customer service is poor. I have now ordered the Go Pro Hero 2 Motorsports edition camera and I hope that my experiences with this camera and Go Pro will be better.
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on July 24, 2012
I really really like the camera and the interface a lot. Everything about it is great, except for one thing. When you run out of space on the memory card, if you are in the middle of filming, the file isn't closed so basically you lose everything you filmed. The GoPro will end the video and make is usable. If this camera did not have that one little flaw, I would be thrilled with it. I lost videos of my kids at disneyworld because I recorded too long so it just created a corrupt file. Not Cool.
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VINE VOICEon June 13, 2012
Point-of-view (POV) or hands-free action cameras are a new category of digital cameras. They combine the features of a camcorder with a surveillance camera. They are small, lightweight and equipped with a fixed focus wide angle lens. This unique category was pioneered by GoPro HD HERO2: Motorsports Edition (2011 Model) for photographing various sports from sky diving to surf boarding. The Swann Freestyle has several features which caused me to choose it over the GoPro but I will not do a side-by-side comparison. I have used my Swann for about 4 months and I will share with you some observations which may assist your choice. The video was taken with the Swann Freestyle attached the handlebars of a bicycle. The video was edited using CyberLink PowerDirector 10 Ultra.
Positives:
1. Tripod Screw Mount: The tripod screw allows for mounting on any conventional tripod. The camera is so small that I routinely attach it to and hold it with 4 inch table tripod.
2. Underwater Housing: An underwater housing is included. With the Go-Pro this is an extra. Also included are an assortment of mounting hardware and a nice pouch to hold the camera
3. Laser Pointer: This is an advantage when the viewing screen is removed you want to point the camera.
4. Remote Control: The remote control allows you to start and stop the camera from several feet away.
5. LCD Viewing Screen: The screen makes for better composition, particularly useful with the wide angle field of view. Also, the screen permits playback viewing. The screen can be removed which should theoretically should extend the recording duration.
6. 8meg Photos: The 8meg still photos give enough pixels to process and crop the images. The images are soft and require sharpening.
7. Camera Controls: There are two switches and two buttons on the top surface of the camera. One switch turns the camera on and off. The other switch turns on sound activated video (which I have not tried). The red button turns on and off the video recording. The neutral button takes still photos.
8. Durability: The camera is small and boxy but very durable. It fell off a 4 foot ledge while I was recording. The LCD display panel fell off but the camera continued to record.
Negatives:
1. Customer Service: I contacted customer service asking them whether the camera would take time-lapse photos while it was plugged in and charging, thereby extending the video duration beyond 2 hours. They finally replied after one month. The answer was no.
2. Changing Settings: Most settings for the camcorder and camera reverts to the default settings when the camera is turned off. Changing settings requires stepping thru several menus on the tiny LCD screen.
3. Spartan Manual: The 7 x 10cm manual is 39 pages of small print. The complexity of the camera requires several good instructional videos, an on-line manual or a CD.
4. Vignette: The wide angle images have distortion and darkening at the corners.
5. Low light conditions: The camera clearly works best in brightly lit scenes.

This is an inexpensive way to get into POV video. It is a lot of fun and you will find many ways to use it. Do not buy it if you need a lot of hand holding from customer service and give yourself plenty of time to learn how to use the camera.
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on May 4, 2012
[edited to correct the powered filming note] The camera works fine and is easy to use, but a few details bother me. OTOH, some details are nicer than GoPro, and it really has almost all the accessories you need at 1/2 price of GoPro base package, so I'll go 3.5 stars instead of 2.5. The same package from GoPro would cost 3-4x more (camera plus lcd and remote).

What I really liked:
+ Decent video
+ Laser pointer to help aim
+ Easy to use
+ Lots of included accessories (Remote and LCD display included)!
+ 1/4" screw mount on camera and case (works with tons of 3rd-party mounts)
+ Low price
+ Voice activated record stop/start

Negative:
- "rapid fire" photos do not start rapidly, and only fire about once per second
- No filming while powered by USB - [incorrect, I did get this work by plugging it in after recording has started - it is an undocumented feature]
- No filming direct to computer via USB
- Laser doesn't penetrate case for aiming while cased, which is when you really need it
- MicroSD instead of regular SD card size

I wanted this for a couple specific uses, most of which will work out of the box: Filming bike riding, hunting, and sailing. I'll put the camera on my bow as a shot cam, on my handlebars to see my crashes and near crashes, and on my sailboat to see the crew at work and play.

One feature I miss, and will wait to get when it's availalbe and reasonably priced, is a waterproof camera that films direct to computer via wifi or usb. I'd like to run the camera non-stop to a computer on board my sailboat. This way I can just turn it on and let it go the entire time I am racing to catch those moments of sheer terror that pop up during the hours of boredom.

Summary: A good buy at 1/2 or less price of almost exactly the same from GoPro
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on March 26, 2012
I needed a small, waterproof HD camera to make some kayak fishing videos. A friend of mine has one of these and his videos look great, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I was especially excited about the prospect of a remote.

Everything with this package works the way it should. Crisp and vivid 1080p video, several mounting options, and the aforementioned remote. It's easy to use, comes with an LCD screen AND a charger and has a great laser range finder option. Another positive is that there are lights all over it so you can tell if you're recording. The readout on the top of the camera come in handy as well so you can tell if it's running or recording or in still photo mode.

I'll list a few pros and cons and compare it to the Go Pro Hero:

Pros....
Shoots crisp, clear 1080p
Loaded with features (LCD screen, remote, laser, mounts, charger and carry pouch - all things you need to pay extra for with a Go Pro)
Standard screw in mount on bottom of both camera and waterproof housing
Quite a bit easier to navigate the settings than with a Go Pro
Access to USB/charger/HDMI plug-ins on sides handy and easy
Battery lets a long time
Ease of use

Cons...
Waterproof housing seems a bit iffy and not as sound as a Go Pro, although I haven't had any problems
Only shoots video at 170 degree angle
Audio quality is hit and miss (I've had bot good and bad experiences with it so far) but very sensitive outside the waterproof housing. Not bad overall, but you can fix it if you edit with iMovie. I don't know what these other folks were talking about with the audio issues
Remote is awesome, but the range of it is only 6-8 feet, and even less if you have the camera in the housing
Only shoots at 30 fps - would like the option of 30, 60 and 120 fps

If you want to see a video that I made with it [...]
It's mounted to the front of my kayak, so all of those shots are with this camera.

Overall, I like this camera so much, I bought a second one. For the price, it's a great package!
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VINE VOICEon February 15, 2013
I got this as a Gold Box deal, and that may be partially why I love it to the 5th star. It is very cool, functionally intuitive, and it comes with every accessory you should need except for extendable monopod and mini HDMI cable. I experienced the audio problem other reviewers have reported (prominent electronic background noise in recordings) using a 32Gb Transcend Class 4 card, but not with a 32Gb SanDisk Class 10. Your mileage may vary, but I did see where others asked for actual results, so that is my contribution. Using an Ultra High Speed card for full HD only makes sense now in retrospect. Maybe audio is where slower cards break down? I see where another reviewer demonstrated the fisheye warping in the corners and he was (imho overly) disappointed with this lens, but I will defend it as a tradeoff between the generous wide angle and the fast 2.8 brightness of the glass. I shut off the lights and shot with only my aquarium for illumination and was very impressed with the light gathering abilities of this little guy. The focal point is very crisp, the LCD is bright, and the still camera resolution goes up to 8Mp from the default 5 (Amazon is a little confusing on this point).
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on June 5, 2012
Overall the product records 1080, and 720 video just fine. The worst thing I've seen with this camera is the low light grain getting pumped up a bit too far with auto gain... but it's not bad. I plan to use this camera to record high speed time-lapse, (or as Swann calls it "continuous shooting") and decent quality HD video on and around Mountain Biking! The "continuous shooting" mode has quite a few choices in time between shots, plenty in my opinion.

I am now on the search for more mounting "peel and stick" plates as the kit comes with two normal flat, and one large curved helmet plate. The GoPro snap-lock "peel and stick" plates and the Swann plates are different and will not work with each other without some modification. Drag! However... the mounting arms/mechanisms from both GoPro and Swann can be swapped at the joints where they are tightened so if you have some GoPro connectors already you should be able to mix and match parts to come up with what you need. Yeah! The GoProH2 is a fantastic product, but the price point was too high for my tastes when this camera is going to take a beating on the trail. Tried a friend's GoPro this past winter backcountry skiing and was very disappointed with the handling of white,(snow) in direct sunlight was way over the 100% video limit and washed out all detail on multiple settings.

I will post additional reviews after some tough trails with the Swann Freestyle. Time will tell.

To address the repeated audio complaint, the cameras microphone is sealed inside a watertight enclosure, (same for GoPro) sound is not going to make it's way into the enclosure without some high Db sound, or something smacking the plastic housing. This camera design is primarily for video if you are using the waterproof housing, audio suffers by design.
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on October 24, 2013
What Swann is essentially saying is if you purchase from Amazon, you are not an "Authorized" customer. Get a GO PRO!Swann Freestyle 1080p HD Waterproof Sports Video Camera

Steer Clear for warranty problems. After purchasing 5 cameras from Amazon, with one failure after 2 months, this is the response I got from Swann Tech Service.

Amazon states I cannot return it to them, and Swann says they don't want it either. So, I'm left holding the bag for 169 dollars on a Swann Freestyle Camera. Two
multi million dollar companies, and one of them is ducking their responsibility to the consumer, and btw, Rommel, I published a review just as you asked.

OCT 20, 2014 | 11:05PM EST
Rommel Yadao replied:
Hello David,
Thank you for contacting Swann Technical Support. Please note down your reference code for this email, which is XXXXXX. Make sure to include it in any further correspondence with our support team.
I¡¦m afraid Amazon Online is not an authorized reseller of Swann Products, you need to get in touch to the company that sold you this product for the warranty.
For real-time assistance you may call us at 1 800 627 2799 and choose option 1 for TECHNICAL SUPPORT which is open 24/7 or contact us via CHAT SUPPORT at [...]. Chat Support is open 10AM to 6PM EST
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
If you liked our product or our service, please write us an online review at your place of purchase!
Regards,
Rommel
Support Technician
Swann Communications
Support Services Asia
To see the latest in Advanced Security Made Easy visit [...]
À Please consider the evironment before printing this email.
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on December 28, 2012
Accidentally found this product when I was reseaching GoPro - Swann ended up being a far better value for what you get.

I've had this camera for roughly 6 months and have been using it almost every time I go mountain biking. So far the camera held up to my riding, the video quality (I use 720p @ 60 fps to save some space and have ability for slow motion) in clear sunny days is great but heavily wooded areas with spotty lighting can have some blurring.

The sound is the weakest point of this camera - when in in waterproof case there is very little sound that gets through, at higher speeds there is definitely wind noise which I kind of like but it seems that other cameras have clearer sound and capture more of it. There is also some 'digital' noise in background - seems to be pretty typical for this camera. It is worth mentioning that my first camera had to be returned after all sound has completely gone away; also when attached inside of the car there is a lot of rattling noise that was happening (in this case it was not in waterproof case) - I got replacement quickly and without a problem.

Also, although maybe only relative to mtb application, sometimes it is hard to hear the beep for recording when camera is mounted on my helmet and I end up guessing whether it's recording.

I'd actually give the camera 3.5 stars due to sound issues and some little things like remote and laser pointer not quite working with waterproof case. Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with this camera especially at the cost of used GoPro - got a lot of use out of it and it doesn't seem like a waste of money.
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