Sea Otter Action Cam Outlook: Will Shimano Show?

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Even as San Mateo, CA-based GoPro continues to consolidate its helmet-cam market dominance, new players keep giving it a try. The latest: Shimano, a vaunted name in cycling, but a tyro in optics.

Just this week Shimano announced the CM-1000 “sport cam.” Some specs are impressive: Featherweight (86 grams), good battery life (2 hours on 4-hour charge), low-light sensitivity (16mp CMOS sensor), waterproof to 32 feet (no case needed). Wi-fi connectivity and ANT+ compatibility (for performance and training stats) are big pluses too. And all for $299 — a Ben Franklin less than GoPro’s top model (although GP’s step-down “silver” model matches that price, lacking only best-breed HD).

86 grams!
CM-1000 is latest to tilt at GoPro’s empire

There are a lot of unknowns, including mounting options (chest mount particularly, given its horizontal orientation and nearly 3 inch length) and compatibility (will it fit GoPro mounts?). Another biggie: Durability. Controls are exposed and that light weight gives one pause. Finally, the full-on HD spec at just 30 fps seems on the shy side, but we’ll see.

Also, who’s making this bad boy for Shimano? (We assume it’s not getting into the electronics business.)

But the proof’s always in the pudding. When we saw the announcement we were stoked at the prospect of testing the CM-1000 at the upcoming Sea Otter Classic bike fest in April.

Unfortunately, the announced availability isn’t till May. Typically availability is even later than announced dates. The early announcement makes us wonder if it’s a pre-emptive move aimed at something in the works from GoPro.

Sea Otter might not be the best venue for Shimano’s rollout anyway. GoPro is a Gold Sponsor of the bike fest, has a huge, popular booth centrally placed, and keeps the groms fully equipped as they fly around the jump and stunt pits. Break a case or a mount? Run out of juice? Just go to the tent and they’ll fix ya up.

And if GoPro does have something new up its sleeve, Sea Otter is the logical place to show it off.

Competition is good for any consumer product. And GoPro’s cams have some limitations (we’d still like to see an LCD monitor although we understand rationale for omitting; a ball mount option would be great, too).

But till something blows us away, GoPro gets our nod for being home-grown, forward-thinking, customer-responsive and reasonably priced. We like supporting U.S. brands. As for anyone challenging GoPro’s near-monopoly, we’d rather see someone other than a much bigger near-monopolist like Shimano take it on.

In the meantime, alt-GoPro buzz is focused on the CamOne Infinity.

How serious Shimano’s entry is will take some time to ferret out. Remember Sony? Toshiba? Polaroid? See any of these puppies on the trail lately?

For a rundown on the increasingly crowded sport-cam market, check out GizMag’s comparison matrix.

MTBR’s comments section has some good input too.

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