The Techalogic HC-1 on review here is a very compact helmet camera with 2K resolution. Its clever mounting system makes it easy to fit to most helmets, and the decent battery life means it could be an ideal dash-cam-style device for many motorcycle riders, as well as horse riders and cyclists.
I’ve been using it on several rides to see if it’s worth the money, and to find out how it compares to a much more expensive GoPro…
The mounting bracket is very clever, allowing the camera to be fitted at any 90° rotation
The Techalogic HC-1 is just 45mm wide, 43mm tall and 35mm deep. That’s without the mounting bracket, but it only adds a couple of millimetres.
Weighing 49g, it’s 68g lighter than my GoPro Hero 7, and even 24g lighter than the old GoPro Hero5 Session, if a few millimetres bigger. The only device to challenge it in size is the £455 DJI Action 2 at 39mm square and 22.3mm deep, though battery life on that is extremely limited.
The HC-1 comes with a very clever mounting bracket that the camera clips easily into at any of four 90° positions, making it really versatile. It has GoPro-compatible lugs on it, and comes with a mounting bracket that rotates through 360°.
This means that, with the camera on the side of the lid, it doesn’t stick out too far, and it requires less hardware than a GoPro typically does. A flat and a curved adhesive mount is supplied, so you shouldn’t have any issues mounting it to almost any lid. There’s also a strap mount, though this is more designed for equestrian helmets, where you’ll probably find it easiest to remove any hat silk for the best grip (especially if it has a bobble!).
Techalogic also supplies a curved bracket that means you can fit the clamp to the side of the lid and have the camera at the very front, on the chinbar; the ‘YouTube influencer mount’ as I like to call it. The idea’s good, but I was unable to position it in such a way that the camera wasn’t pointing too low. This also wouldn’t work at all on the Shoei NXR2, for instance, as the cheek area is too sculpted to take the bracket. Popping the unit on the side is easy on every lid I’ve tried, and my preferred location.
Techalogic has a discount code for 10% off the chinmounts.com website, which offers 3D-printed brackets for a huge range of lids. While I can see the benefit of having the camera mounted up front like this, I personally don’t like blocking the vents. Still, the option’s there if you want it, and the Techalogic HC-1 is a very compact camera, so less obtrusive than a GoPro.
A nice touch with the supplied fittings is the option to use the supplied set-screws, rather than thumb fasteners for the GoPro-compatible kit, making for a more streamlined and tidy mount. My only comment would be that I’d like to see a shallow, fixed bracket supplied, as well as the one with the 360° rotation, as this allows the camera to sit more flush against the side of the helmet… it means you have to stick it on correctly in the first place, but you also can’t accidentally knock it out of alignment.
While photographing the Techalogic HC-1 for this review, I took it out of its mount to rotate it 90°, in order to show it fitted to an equestrian hat. Unfortunately, rather than coming out of the bracket, the four screws were pulled through the case. However, this was a very early version of the product, and Techalogic – which is a UK-based company with full personal backup and support should you need it – has confirmed that the production versions had already been modified to prevent this happening.
With just one button on the top, the Techalogic is very simple to use day-to-day; just press and hold to turn it on and it starts recording automatically. Press and hold again to turn it off.
The unit has a small vibration motor inside that helps you hear it when you’re on the bike, but being so tiny it’s not very powerful; I’d like it to buzz about twice as long as it does currently, to give you a better chance of noticing it, especially when turning it off.
To set the camera up, download the ‘HC-1 Helmet Cam’ app, available for Android and iOS. This takes you through the process of connecting your camera to the phone via WiFi, then allows you to change the resolution, bitrate, loop recording, clip length and other options. For the test footage shown below, I had it at the maximum 1440 QHD 30fps with the high bitrate, and mic ‘volume’ set to high. At this setting, a 1 minute clip uses 111.7MB of space on the memory card. The watermark can be turned off in the app, and light source frequency can be adjusted from the default 50hz, if you’re seeing strobing in some locations. By default, when the memory card is full the HC-1 will continue recording by overwriting the oldest footage.
You can also see a live view from the camera while using the app (useful for positioning on your lid), and remotely start and stop recording.
The supplied helmet strap allows the camera to be fitted to a horse riding hat
This is a small, relatively cheap camera, so it’s perhaps unfair to compare it to a much-more expensive GoPro – even an old one like my Hero 7. However, many people buying something like this will want to know if it’s as good as a premium action cam.
Overall, the footage is impressive, with contrast handled fairly well. There’s no image stabilisation, so while your neck does a lot of the work in damping out vibrations, there’s none of the smoothness you’ll get with something like a GoPro or DJI Osmo Action.
Night footage is impressive – to my eyes better than my GoPro – and it’s only really the compression that seems to let it down when zooming in. The clip below needs setting to the highest quality in your player, and of course YouTube does add further compression, but there is some blockiness that can restrict details.
While a firmware update might well improve this, at the time of testing the audio quality was very disappointing.
Unsurprisingly, wind noise is a problem, but I rarely use in-camera sound when riding anyway. What does let it down is the quality of speech as it’s very hard to hear what someone is saying even when they’re right in front of you. For now at least, only the most heated of ‘discussions’ are likely to be picked up by the HC-1’s mic.
It’s no surprise that there’s not a microphone input on the HC-1, given its size, but it does mean that those considering this for vlogging will need a separate audio recorder to pick up their commentary.
I’ve had no problem with water-ingress on the HC-1, so I took it apart to find out how it’s built. It’s great to find a seal running around the case, so the only point at which water could get in is likely to be the silicone flap that seals well into the side.
This flap can be a bit fiddly at times, and has once got stuck open, the tether not going back into the body of the camera. I poked it back with the tip of a penknife and it’s been fine since. Just make sure you always close it properly.
It’s great to have thumb-screws or flat-headed ones both included, though I’d also like to see a low-profile bracket if possible (the 360° one on the right is what’s supplied)
You can watch clips from the Techalogic HC-1 in the app, download them to your phone, or copy them off the microSD card. All this works fine, though the card is hard to get out of the camera, requiring something to poke it (I use a microSD to SD card adaptor).
The Techalogic HC-1 has a 3.7V 850mAh cell built in, which in my testing at room temperature with the camera stationary, consistently gave an impressive 2hrs and 20mins of run times.
Charging is via a micro-USB port (apparently they couldn’t quite fit a USB-C port in), and takes approximately two hours. There’s no indication of the state of charge when it’s plugged in, so perhaps a firmware update could see the LED – which confusingly is solid green when charging – flash at different frequencies.
There’s nothing else on the market now – at least that I’m aware of – that offers such a small form factor at this price and with a decent battery life. Whether the HC-1 is right for you depends on what you intend to do with it, but here are some other options…
The Techalogic is much more compact on the side of a lid than the GoPro. I use this Ruroc to test cameras – if you want to see our brutally honest review of it, click here
As a way of documenting rides, be that to show your mates or as a dash-cam, the Techalogic HC-1 works well and is a compact piece of kit that’s good value for money.
The audio quality could be improved, and it’s not going to satisfy those looking for the highest standard of video, but the combination of battery life, price and small form make it well worth considering if you’re after a budget camera for your motorcycle (or horse riding, cycling etc…).