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By 23 September 2015 | Categories: interviews

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TomTom has tough task ahead of it. Traditionally seen as a GPS specialist, the company has now moved into the world of action cameras with its Bandit. Picking the right ambassador to really push the limits of the Bandit, should go a long way in cementing TomTom's new action cam’s status. The man chosen for that job is the adrenaline addicted Brian Capper, who commands 24 years of experience across multiple extreme sports disciplines. Considered "South Africa's most diverse rider," TechSmart chatted with him about his experience with the Bandit.   

The right man

When you reflect on Capper's career to date, TomTom’s choice to pick him as one of their key ambassadors (along with business partner and fellow extreme sports athlete Nick de Wit), becomes glaringly obvious. Capper’s resume speaks for itself, with nine National Supermoto Championships under his belt to date. "I have a passion for anything on wheels, any motorsport," notes Capper enthusiastically.  

It should come as no surprise then that Capper has been working with some of the biggest brands in extreme sports, most notable of which is his 15 year partnership with sponsors Red Bull. Joining them on Capper's high octane journey is TomTom, having first made contact with the South African multi-discipline champion to wear their Runner Cardio sports watch. "We did a deal with TomTom around the Runner Cardio, because we (Capper and de Wit) were tired of dealing with heart rate straps," says Capper.  

Building relationships

After starting off TomTom’s high octane journey with Capper with the Runner Cardio GPS watch with built-in heart rate monitor (I was tired of dealing with heart rate straps), he was an obvious choice when the company revealed details of the Bandit action camera a few weeks ago. Consequently, Capper has had roughly three weeks’ worth of playtime with the Bandit, putting it through its paces. Capper professes, “We were looking for a company that we could work hand in hand with, and not simply be handed a bunch of products. This is a much closer relationship, and TomTom is actually asking us to give them feedback on how we can improve the camera, and I see a great synergy moving forward." 

Being an extreme sports athlete, gadgets like action cameras are now quite familiar to Capper, having worked with the likes of GoPro in the past. While he notes that their offering was very good, it lacked the editing speed that the TomTom Bandit offers. In particular, it’s the Shake to Edit feature that impressed, since it cuts down tremendously on the video editing time he was frustrated with in the past. Capper notes, "I was with GoPro for five years, and it's one thing to get the footage, it's another to have to sift through it. It just became a nightmare. Whereas with the Bandit, I come in from a ride, I can open up the app, and with the shake of the phone, it does everything for me."  

"I've had the Bandit for a little over three weeks now, so I'm still getting used to the different angles and features, but the editing is what really stands out for me," says Capper. "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use it. It's a much easier system for a layman to use," he continues.    

A safe bet

In terms of the content the Bandit yields, Capper had some initial reservations, particularly as he had never used it before. "I was nervous, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a good enough quality. Having used it though, it blew my mind." While some critics might view his response as just the type of stuff an ambassador would say, Capper was quick to point out quite the opposite. "At this point in my career, people cannot simply pay me to endorse something, I use what I want and what I like. It's more than just the camera, quality and app for me, it's the whole package." 

When asked about the Bandit's R5 800 (standard model) price tag and how local consumers will react to it, Capper believes that TomTom has done a good job of ensuring that it is neither too expensive (and out of reach for potential users), nor too cheap to be deemed an inferior product. "If you look at the way the Bandit charges (three hours battery life) and how quickly it can edit, then it's definitely on par with the other models out there," believes Capper. "You're looking at paying between R5 000 and R8 000 for a high quality action camera, and with its price, the Bandit is right in there," he adds. 

Growing together

As aforementioned, Capper’s efforts with TomTom are not simply to use their products, but also to assist in improving on the device's actual performance. Case in point is the Bandit’s lack of a conventional locking mechanism. "I want to look at a system whereby we can lock the camera. The current system is phenomenal, and it can rotate 180 degrees, but for whatever reason if you bump it on a tree or branch, it could move," says Capper. After raising this concern with TomTom, he was pleased to find out that they are currently working on such a system, which will certainly help when the Bandit is affixed to one's helmet. 

One other aspect that Capper had to come to grips with, was the unique button layout on the Bandit. Unlike a few other action cams, the start and stop functions for recording are found on two separate buttons. This hurdle for Capper however, was alleviated by the introduction of a new remote button, which can be mounted on one's handlebar. "It's also really a matter of getting used to it. I was recently filming in the Lesotho mountains for three days, and in that time I got the hang of which button to press," states Capper. 

Doing their homework

While wrapping up our chat with Capper, he's unselfish when it comes to heaping praise on the Bandit, pointing to a few standout aspects in its design and functionality in particular. "I'm really impressed with all the accessories that come with the Bandit. The handlebar mount specifically, is something that I have not seen any other manufacturer come out with yet, in terms of how stable it stays," according to Capper. He also adds that the helmet mount is equally impressive, as the surface area for the mount itself is far greater than the one he's normally used to getting. "From that point of view, it is really solid," adds Capper. 

To sum up his experience with the Bandit action camera to date, Capper ended with one concise and direct sentence. "TomTom's clearly done their homework." 

Find more info on the TomTom Bandit action cam by clicking here

For more of Capper, visit his website or check out his blog

To read about our hands-on experience with the TomTom Bandit action cam at its launch in Cape Town, click here

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