Updated Dec 15, 2021 ...
Rylo Action Cam: Stable Footage, 360° View
In the action camera realm, almighty king GoPro sees little if any competition outside of lower priced, lesser quality "meh, whatever" almost disposables. A while back, the VSN Mobile caught our attention for its best-in-class 360° capabilities. New top shelf cameras on the market rarely make the cut for review because they either don't offer anything innovative, "introduce" already standardized features or whisper larger dimensions ... all with a less established reputation.
It's hard to get new tech onto the battlefield and even harder to find a fair fight worth picking.
Of all the cams that may (or may not have) flown by in our social media feed, the Rylo stood out in a big way. Its shape and overall technological concept immediately made sense even through a five-second internet ad. That alone speaks to why we've decided to give it the focus it deserves.
Before I begin though, I'll mention that its creators are no strangers to the challenges they face. Alex Karpenko and Chris Cunningham are Apple and Instagram alumni. To dive Olympically into a peripheral-based project takes bravery, know-how and a few exactingly placed insanity peppers.
Even if it were literally a paperweight, our first action camera review criteria has to be durability. Then and only then should we consider its user interface. Beyond that, assuming it makes it through both gates prior, we'll let the technical specs define its worth.
As with many electronics companies, they've reversed the aforementioned priorities to give your wallet an early sheen, so let's spread on the reality and put their product details to practice!
Action Camera "Strong Like Ox"
Water resistant up to ... not, the video camera itself is in no way a waterproof action camera. Their separately purchased "adventure case" provides enough of a seal to handle heavy rain while riding but the buy in for this add-on is a rather bloated $70 (as of this article's publishing date). For that price, you only get up to three R&D fully-submersed meters, so don't take your bike scuba diving.
On the upside, their adventure case is GoPro mount compatible, making for easy installation.
Rylo's operational shock resistance also remains a bit vague as the company informed us. This is important since even subtle but consistent engine vibration might come into play. Be it a thumper, twin, triple, four banger or freak six, there's an RPM range on your bike that begs for visual distortions in the resulting video. Some of our own (GoPro recorded) route videos show the effects of this and Rylo, with its digital stabilization, is a newfound saving grace. No other cam on the market solves said problem better (but we'll get to that in a moment).
Protecting our electronics from the elements is important, especially when riding under the guise of an "assertive" skill set. Water, debris, vibration, temperature ... it's all human engineering and mother nature teamed up against a tiny and sensitive video recording device. In the ($70) case of Rylo, it would appear we're off to at least a reasonable start.
The Very Same Ox Could Probably Operate This Cam
For you knuckle draggers out there, consider this your A/V club. Let's get right to it ...
- identical front/rear LED operational indicators (on, charging, error)
- rear LCD display: remaining battery, photo/video mode, video mins & photo storage
- one/two/three beep audio indicator (on/record-start-stop/off)
- two-second response shutter button for powering on/off and video/photos
- micro usb charge port
- quick-release battery/SD insert
At the same time, those of us with opposable thumbs can enjoy Rylo's smartphone app and its impressive, albeit amateur viewing/editing capabilities. The software boasts a compass, 360° video, extensive editing, PIP (picture in picture), positional scrubber and a truly innovative motion control/stabilizer that we're almost ready to explain. Again, as of this publishing date, only the iPhone version of their software is complete while a seemingly infinite "Android version coming soon" message on their website constantly renews our sometimes painful hopes.
Looking deeper into the software tools, there's a "tune" feature which helps to calibrate everything. "Trim" clips sections of the output and "level" aligns the horizon. Stabilization is active by default but can be enabled/disabled should there be any reason for it.
There is no desktop app (ugly record scratch) and a smartphone is required for editing. You can rake the files to your computer directly from the SD card but then the level/stability features are rendered moot and what would otherwise be one video becomes two (one for each lens). Should you uncover a solution, please let us know in the comments.
The battery swap is a breeze. So is the SD card. Support is web form only but without hassle.
Onto The Particle Physics
Rylo's dual, 208° fisheye lenses capture more footage than you might think necessary for one specific reason: stabilization. Their claims to innovation are warranted but how they accomplish it is where genius comes into play. While it does have its own (small) physical/mechanical stabilizer, the Rylo camera software does most of the heavy lifting. With enough daylight in the footage, Rylo's editing software can detect jostles in the output buffer, repositioning the viewport to suit. No other camera package offers such a conceptual approach. The analogy goes something like this ...
- Imagine a box with dimensions of 30x30 "whatevers".
- Within that box, imagine another smaller box (20x20) which is your viewport.
- If Rylo senses the 30x30 environment is shaking, it repositions the 20x20 to realign.
With the settings maxed out, Rylo can record 3840 x 2160 (4K @ 30fps) video and immersive 360° audio. When challenged about offering 60fps for hyper-lucid fluidity, their media rep surprised us. As it turns out, the memory configuration is also software based ...
“We pride ourselves on being a software company. Support for 60fps is something worth investigating as we may be able to add it later on through software improvements.”
Its battery charges via micro USB, storing up to an hour of data on a 256 GB SD card (16 GB card included). The Anodized aluminum alloy and OLED display weigh in at 108 grams, or 3.8 ounces respectively. That's 39 grams less than GoPro's HERO4 Silver.
Our Take On The Genius Yet Hooven-Friendly Rylo Action Cam
In a big world of struggling electronics, Rylo is a top-shelf contender. Not since the VSN Mobile have we had reason to revisit the topic. While we still love our reliable GoPro Hero 4 (an older incarnation), it's good to see new tech on the horizon.
Will they take over the market share? That depends on their next moves. We wouldn't be surprised if GoPro found this an appropriate time to pull an ace from their sleeve.
Their momentum building, it would appear Rylo has some pretty solid backing. Their pre-holiday announcement certainly caught us off guard (and maybe it would've been less of a molotov had they already finalized their Android version). We look forward to seeing what they do next.
What's Your Favorite Action Camera?
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