EE has joined the ranks of action camera makers hoping to take down GoPro. The UK's biggest network is taking a slightly different tactic to TomTom, Panasonic and Garmin, though, by making the new 4GEE Action Cam connected and, if you pay monthly, seriously affordable.
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As you might have guessed from the name, the Action Cam, which shoots 1080p (30fps)/720p (30/60fps) footage and 13MP stills, is connected to the internet via 4G from EE. That means you can livestream footage straight from the camera without the need for a smartphone. Livestreaming is limited to 720p video at 30fps.
EE says that the broadcast function is handled by Skeegle, which it owns. That's a bit of a shame as well, it's not YouTube or Facebook i.e. the places on the internet where we already watch our friends and strangers doing cool/stupid/dangerous stuff. But perhaps EE will extend livestreaming options in the future.
Three hours of 'active' battery life is on par with most action cameras and there's space for 64GB of memory if you'd rather edit your vids before sharing them with the world.
The Action Cam is bundled with a waterproof case (up to 60m), a lightweight case for everyday use and chest, helmet and bike mount accessories will be available too. EE also announced a bundled viewfinder watch - you won't need to take your smartphone out with you so in theory you won't be using that. The rugged watch helps you to frame your footage, take photos and start/stop recording at the touch of a button on your wrist. There is of course an Action Cam smartphone app, for iOS and Android, with camera controls and settings to manage data usage and top-ups.
Yep, you'll soon be keeping an eye on your wearable camera's data usage. EE clearly wants to get us all on Action Cam contracts - it costs ¬£99 upfront then ¬£10 a month over 24 months for 2GB of data on a shared EE plan. That upfront cost is actually waived until 12 July making it a pretty good deal if you don't have the cash to splash out on the full cost of this kind of gadget. After that point, you can pay ¬£15 a month with no upfront cost.
For anyone not currently with EE, prices start at ¬£15 a month with a ¬£50 upfront cost. Want to buy it outright? Prices start to get expensive - ¬£300 including 2GB for 30 days and ¬£400 for 24GB over 12 months.
More EE gadgets to come
EE is a network, yes, but we've seen gadgets from the company before - the budget Kestrel phone and its EE TV box for instance. Now with the 4GEE Action Cam, it is looking to get into hardware as much as price plans.
We will see plenty more EE branded products in the coming years as it has announced a strategy including making homes smarter, helping people keep fit, interact and share on the go and connecting cars. If we need a monthly data contract for every single mobile device we own - be it wearable, smartphone, camera or car - that makes for some huge monthly payments to networks such as EE.
Hopefully it won't come to that. Ideally we need a personal network for all our tech outside the home, body Wi-Fi say, that connects to the internet via a core device - probably still a smartphone.
"We've introduced our 'connected strategy' as we understand our customers not only want superfast coverage, they want products that give them the very best experiences," said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.
"The 4GEE Action Cam is a great example of this, a product that keeps us connected in a new way, even in the most extreme conditions, sharing those epic moments as they unfold. It's the first of several highly innovative products from our devices portfolio to be unveiled this year for work and for play."
The 4GEE Action Cam will be available from 16 June in EE stores, the EE online shop and from Amazon, Dixons, Selfridges and Jessops.