Monday, 6 May 2013


The good: The Monoprice MHD Action Camera is an affordable, easy-to-use waterproof POV camera with a good assortment of available mounts as well as a built-in standard quarter-inch tripod mount.
The bad: The MHD's video quality is merely OK; its battery is not removable; there's no microSDHC card included; and its fixed lens makes level mounting a little trickier.
The bottom line: The Monoprice MHD Action Camera is a very good value. You'll just have to be forgiving of its video quality.Monoprice certainly knows how to stir things up. Its MHD Action Camera is one of the least expensive POV cameras available that records in 1080p, coming in at less than $100.
Now, resolution isn't everything, especially in this case because the output isn't exactly great. Otherwise, Monoprice put together (or should I say chose) a nice camera here.
From its compact, lightweight body to its point-and-shoot simplicity and its multiple mounting options, the Monoprice MHD is a very good value. If video quality is your top priority, you're going to want to spend a little more cash for something like the Contour ContourRoam2 or the Liquid Image Ego. Aside from that, though, its a decent camera from a company that stands behind its products.
In the box
With less expensive action cams you're likely to get a couple of adhesive mounts, but that's about it. Monoprice skips the adhesive mounts altogether, and instead includes a sturdy handlebar/pole mount.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
The camera itself has a standard quarter-inch tripod mount, so there are plenty of mounting options available. On top of that, the MHD comes with a clip that screws into the tripod mount, so it can be quickly snapped into the handlebar mount and removed just as fast. The included mount uses a ball joint, too, which could be used with third-party mounts like those from RAM. Monoprice also sells suction cup, helmet, and board mounts that use the same quick-connect clip.
Along with the handlebar mount, you'll find a carrying pouch; a Mini-USB cable for charging and transfers; a screw key for the clip mount; and a small security strap that loops into the various mounts.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
Design and features
If you've done a lot of shopping for action cams, you may have noticed that the MHD bears a resemblance to the Ion Air Pro. They have similar bullet-style waterproof camera bodies (down to about 30 feet); use the same clip-mounting system; and have nearly identical controls.
The similarities don't end there, though. Like the Ion camera, the body of the MHD vibrates to let you know when you've started and stopped recordings or taken a photo. Also, all of the MHD's ports and its microSDHC card slot are located at the back under a locking twist-on waterproof cap. While the Ion uses the same cap design, what's underneath is slightly different.
(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)
On the MHD you'll find a Micro-HDMI and a Mini-USB port, a microSDHC card slot, a switch for changing video resolution (1080p or 720p, each at 30 frames per second), and a reset button. You get essentially the same things on the Ion with one big exception: a cavity for Ion's Podz system, which lets you add things like Wi-Fi or a wireless remote control.
There's a bit of a difference on the front, too. The Ion has a field of view of up to 170 degrees depending on your recording resolution. The MHD's lens is 120 degrees, which is still plenty wide, and is actually about the same as the Ion's when recording in 1080p.

The MHD's software lets you change a few settings and set the date and time, but that's it.
The two movie resolution options are 1080p and 720p (MOV format), easily selected with the switch on back. Just slide the big switch on top forward and the camera turns on and starts recording. If you want to capture photos, just press the power button at the front of the camera and press it again to take a photo.
A small application for Windows or Mac is stored on your microSD card (cards of up to 32GB are supported) when inserted in the camera. Launch it when the camera is connected to a computer and you can make changes to a handful of the camera's settings (this can also be done through an onscreen interface when the camera is attached to a display via HDMI). This includes changing photo resolution and shoot mode: single image, three-shot burst, or interval shooting that captures a photo every 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds.
The MHD also has a built-in gyroscopic sensor that detects the camera's orientation, allowing you to mount the camera upside down without needing to rotate video 180 degrees with editing software. The gyroscope doesn't adjust for other positions, though, so if you mount the camera on its side or at any other angle, don't expect your image to level out.
Charging the built-in battery is done via USB -- plugged into either a computer or wall adapter (not included) -- and takes about 2 hours to get a full charge. You can record up to 2.5 hours of 1080p video on a single charge, which is pretty good, but once it's empty, it's empty; the battery cannot be removed or replaced. Obviously, it can be recharged.
Video quality
If the MHD has a weak spot, it's video quality, falling into the "good enough" range for its price. If the most you want from the camera is to record clips in good light for posting to sharing sites and viewing on small-screen mobile devices, the MHD is sufficient.
At small sizes, things look reasonably sharp and detailed. However, you will still see effects from rolling shutter like wobble when the camera is vibrating from movement. Colors are oversaturated and highlights blow out fairly easily, but that's typical for action cams. As is the chromatic aberration (purple fringing) around high-contrast subjects.
The bit rate for its 1080p video is low at approximately 10Mbps and it shows. It doesn't handle complex scenes or fast movement very well at all, showing a mush of artifacts that only get more visible the larger you view the video. Low-light video is decent, though the artifacts are joined by noise.
The audio, when not being blasted by wind or underwater, is good, and the mic is sensitive enough to clearly pick up voices at normal speaking levels (not shouting or whispering) up to a few feet in front of the camera. It sounds somewhat muffled, however, likely because of the waterproofing.
(Credit: Joshua Goldman/CNET)
Photo quality is actually pretty good when you have plenty of light. Probably nothing you'd want to make large prints of, but for posting to Facebook, it's fine.
Conclusion
The Monoprice MHD Action Camera might not produce the best video, but the whole package is a very good value. It definitely makes it affordable to do a multicamera setup, and it's just inexpensive enough to make you want to impulse one to play around with it in and out of the water.

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