Saturday, April 15

Review of the Sena Prism Tube Action Camera for Motorcycle Helmets

It is that time of year again when the call of the road is loud and relentless. Jesse Owens II is home from winter camp and itching to take me far and wide. So far, however, all we've done is ride back and forth to school. But that brief ride is enough to start the day with a heart full of joy.

This season I will ride with a new toy after finally acquiring a Sena Prism Tube. As the owner of four previous helmet action cameras, I'm liking this one the best. Yes, even better than the renowned, popular GoPro that I once owned; I like it better than the Drift Stealth that I traded the GoPro for and still own; and, even better than two other helmet cams whose names I've forgotten and never even used on the ‘cycle. That makes a total of five helmet cams I've owned. Only the Sena and Drift have inspired me to try my hand at moto-vlogging.  

So, for those looking for a simple, snap on helmet mounted action camera, I offer this review of the Sena Prism Tube. 

What I like: It's no nonsense; simple to set up; no tiny window to scroll through to access features; no pairing with a phone; unburdened by multiple mounts; and, did I say, "easy to set up." Of the helmet cams I've owned, this one is intuitive and seems the best design for snapping on a helmet and going! Mounting on a helmet is quick and simple. A sturdy clip can be screwed to helmet and the camera inserted in the mount. This works well if the helmet is devoid of a lip or flap that goes underneath the helmet. This method did not work securely on my Nolan modular helmet but worked fine on my full-face Scorpion. However, even on the Scorpion I was never able to adhere it so securely that the screw-on mount didn't move a little when adjusting the camera or turning it on and off. However, the stick-on mount works great on the Nolan, which is my preferred helmet. Moreover, I like the camera's 125-degree wide angle lens and its ability to adjust to light variations quickly. It records in full HD 1080p at 30FPS—so some the 30FPS is unacceptable. To me, it is not.  I have yet to try the camera at night, but when driving into a dark garage the camera's eye adapts quickly. 

What I like most is that everything you need to get going is included in the box. No need to buy a microphone because a wired mic is included as is a USB cable for the speaker and microphone. You will need to supply a micro SD card up to 32GB. In addition to a microphone, the Sena Prism Tube comes with a speaker, which is a bonus because it removes the guesswork from wondering if the camera is recording. When turned on, a voice prompt will announce: "Camera on, recording." When the camera is turned off the voice announces, "Camera off." Sweet! I can recall many times I rode thinking a camera was recording only to learn later that it wasn't. Not with the Sena Prism Tube. I read that there is also a warning of low battery but I can't confirm that as I've not gotten that far yet. 

What I don't like: Actually, not much. I'm not looking for professional quality video. I'll be okay with good enough. If I venture into moto vlogging, I'll up grade if necessary. The Sena did take some fiddling to get the camera angle straight on the helmet. For the first few test rides the camera was a bit cock-eyed. With the help of YouTube, I learned from other users how to solve the lop-sided perspective. My preferred method is putting the helmet on and looking into the mirror and straightening the camera. I can then test the angles out and play back on my computer to check. Easy-peasy.  I read also that using a bubble level with the helmet and camera mounted and placed on a flat surface also works. Once mounted on the helmet, the Sena can be moved back and forth as well as inward and outward from the helmet, giving the rider considerable range in camera angle.

The wind has been an unpleasant challenge. I don’t blame the camera. It’s more a mic issue I’m guessing. The Nolan has a wind curtain that fits under the chin of the helmet. I need to find that to see if it will cut down on the wind noise. One some YouTube videos the wind is awful, on others, using the same camera, the wind is almost nonexistent. Weather conditions surely matter and we’ve had some truly windy days. Helmet style and quality surely matters too. Still, I’d like to get the wind interference under better control. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

Loving the Sena Prism Tube--and being back on two wheels...