The waterproof and impact-resistant Hitcase Pro ($129.99 direct) is one beast of an iPhone 4 and 4S case. It also features a wide-angle lens and mounting system that transforms your smartphone into an action camera. In terms of video quality and options, the combination of the Hitcase Pro and iPhone 4S isn’t as versatile as standalone devices like the GoPro Hero2 . But no action camera, even with optional Wi-Fi accessories, can rival the iPhone 4S’s cellular radio and app support—it’s always connected and ready to edit, upload, and tweet your latest exploits. While this combo isn’t made with serious videographers in mind, it’s a solid option for capturing and sharing your most exhilarating moments, without worrying about breaking your iPhone in the process.
Design, Setup, and Performance
The metal buttons and sharp, angular lines of its black plastic exterior give the Hitcase Pro a no-nonsense industrial look. The case measures 5.38 by 3.13 by 0.68 inches (HWD), with a 0.43-inch lens protrusion, and weighs 4 ounces. It’s comparable to the Mophie Juice Pack Pro, but that case has an extra battery packed inside. Compared with the Lifeproof case , another water and impact resistant option, the Hitcase Pro is an absolute brick. Three plastic latches hold the case shut, while the inside is lined with shock-absorbing rubber.
There’s a rubber Home button, metal Volume and Power buttons, plus cutouts for the speaker holes and earpiece. The headphone jack is covered by a rubber stopper, which can only be removed when the case is open. You will not be able to access the Ring/Silent switch while the case is fitted to the phone. Along the bottom edge is a mounting rail that slides into various mounting accessories. The Hitcase Pro includes a tripod adapter, helmet mount, and GoPro compatible mount.
Much like with the Lifeproof case, setup should be handled with care. It’s as straightforward as dropping your iPhone in and snapping the latches closed, but ensure that the seals are properly aligned and the seams are all closed tightly. The first few times I tried closing the case, the top latch would cause the Power button to stick. To get the best fit, make sure to squeeze the case together tightly while engaging each latch.
Even though there are vents for the earpiece and mic, the case makes it difficult to use the iPhone as an actual phone. During my tests, voices sound muted through the earpiece, and there’s a loss of crispness through the microphone as well. A sturdy plastic sheet covers the iPhone’s screen, and while it still responds to touches, you have to press down harder than usual.
The wide-angle lens adds some field of view to your still and video shots, but it doesn’t work any miracles. It’s limited to 76-degrees, which is not quite as versatile as a camera like the Ion Air Pro , which gives you 127-, 150-, and 170-degree options. You’re also limited to 1080p30, while the Ion Air Pro and GoPro Hero2 both have multiple modes, including 720p60, which is great for slow motion shots. The iPhone 4S takes good-looking stills and video that stand up well against the Hero2, but the dedicated solutions are still better when it comes to image stabilization.
The Hitcase Pro includes a free companion app called Vidometer, which uses the iPhone’s built-in sensors to provide additional information you can add to your videos. You get speed, altitude, G-force, and orientation markers, all of which appear as overlays on video capture. You can’t upload video directly from Vidometer. Instead, you’ll have to save videos to your Camera Roll first, and upload from there. Still, this is far easier than transferring files back and forth between a camera and smartphone or camera and computer.
If you’re more concerned with sharing your latest and greatest moments outdoors, the Hitcase Pro makes an interesting alternative to dedicated action cameras like the GoPro Hero2. However, at $130, there isn’t all that much savings over the Hero2, which is listed at $299.99, but can be had for around $200 online. The Lifeproof case costs only $80; while it doesn’t have the wide-angle lens, it is far thinner and lighter, and there are a number of mounting accessories available online. Plus the Vidometer app is free and works with or without any case. The Hitcase Pro performs as advertised, but if you have a little more in your budget, I’d recommend a dedicated action camera for your next outing.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc