The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Waterproof Action Camera is like the Jeep Wrangler of digital camcorders. It's not particularly impressive that it's only capable of capturing VGA video, but take the ATC3K into the great outdoors and you'll find that its rugged construction, waterproof design and compact size allow it to be used in conditions that would instantly void the warranty of more complex and more delicate models. You can pick the ATC3K up for around £120.
The ATC3K comes in the form of a tapering tube. Measuring 108mm long and 57mm thick at its thickest end, it's quite portable. With a rubberised bumper surrounding the lens and solid, waterproof (up to 3m) construction, it's also quite rugged.
At the business end, the ATC3K's small recessed lens is tucked behind a raised rubber ridge and a plastic shield. Along the top are a monochromatic LCD screen and three rubberised record, power and menu buttons. To prevent accidental presses, the buttons must be held for a second or so to register an input.
At the rear end of the device is a twist-off cap sealed with a pair of rubber rings. It covers the battery door for the two AA batteries that power the device, as well as the SD card slot, video out port and mini-USB port.
Included with the ATC3K is a plastic mounting ring and base grip for connecting it to any of the included mounting options. The ATC3K kit includes a handlebar grip, a webcam stand and a helmet grip that can be used with one of two Velcro straps or the rubber head strap that the unit ships with.
Also included is a CD with Windows drivers, a carry bag, an AV cable with RCA connections for video and monaural audio, a USB cable for connecting to a PC, and a pair of AA batteries.
The ATC3K's main feature is its ability to record video at resolutions of up to 640x480 pixels and 30 frames per second in an AVI format. You're given the choice of VGA (640x480 pixels) or QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolutions in the menu.
The 32MB internal memory will hold up to 47 seconds of VGA video or 1.5 minutes of QVGA video, if you're in a pinch and forget your SD card. To get the best out of the device, you'll want to pick up an SD card (not included). The device will store up to 120 minutes of VGA video on a 4GB SD card (the largest readable size).
The menu system of the ATC3K lets users adjust the resolution; delete unwanted files; enable/disable audible button confirmation (beeping); adjust the audio recording level between low, high and off; and set the date and time for file time stamps.
When connected to a television or monitor using the included RCA cables, the ATC3K can play back stored media or send a live video feed. When connected to a computer via USB, the ATC3K gives the user a choice between displaying the files stored on the device and functioning as a webcam. The unit only includes webcam drivers for machines running 32-bit versions of Windows, leaving 64-bit and Mac users out of luck.
The ATC3K seems most stable when used with the included tube grip on, for example, bicycle handlebars. We had difficulty securing the ATC3K in any other configuration without incurring a good deal of vibration. The ATC3K's bullet-shape puts its centre of gravity a few inches in front of the mounting point when using the strap-based attachments, causing the lens to shake about considerably.