While I have some much needed downtime I thought I’d do some first impressions of a recent Christmas present I received, a Xiaomi Yi action camera.
The Yi camera represents my latest interaction with Xiaomi products. My Xiaomi history goes back to when I use to flash their MIUI fork of Android OS onto my original Motorola Droid. My first physical product from Xiaomi was their Piston 2 earbuds. It was when I was buying their earbuds that I ran into the first indication that Xiaomi isn’t your average Chinese company, I had to avoid counterfeits. Yes I had to avoid Chinese counterfeits of a Chinese company (which is funny because Xiaomi owes a lot of success for basically ripping off Apple in its early days). The reason for Xiaomi counterfeiting is simple, their products are really good, cheap, and Xiaomi is now a big name brand in China. (Seriously the earbuds are a great deal, I’ll probably buy the Piston 3 earbuds sometime soon.) I was pretty excited to get the camera though technically it’s made for Xiaomi under license from a separate company called Xiaoyi. Would it maintain the same Xiaomi quality?
The Yi camera, not really a GoPro Knockoff
- First, unlike a lot of supposedly off brand Chinese products the Yi camera is really well made. It lacks the plasticy feel of most low end electronics.
- There is attention to detail everywhere. There is a neat grippy pattern on the outside of the camera that is functional and attractive, as well as nicely integrated status lights. Even the battery is well designed and with usability tricks like a little handle flap for easy replacement. Heck even the box it came in is really nice.
- There is a nice companion app that makes the camera so much more than just a point and shoot video camera. It allows for lots of custom settings adjustment as well as setting up things like time-lapse filming, which I look forward to trying. However, there is an error with the app on Android 6.0.1 where you have to turn off cell data to get it the phone to connect to the camera which is annoying but not a deal breaker. (Xiaoyi blames a bug in Android, Google says the bug has been fixed in 6.0.1 so yeah who knows?)
- I really wish it had a status LCD somewhere on it like the GoPro. A nice monochrome screen just to know information at a glance without syncing to app would be awesome.
If you’re looking to get a GoPro Hero Black or Silver, this is not the camera for you. With a GoPro, it’s the ecosystem that you are you buying into. Yi Camera accessories seem to be mostly incompatible with GoPro stuff, so if an upgrade is an eventual must for you, than you might as well get the entry Hero from GoPro even if it has less bells and whistles. This is a strictly a camera for people who would kind of maybe like an Action Cam, but don’t see themselves uploading lots of videos of their sick moves on Youtube. (I have no sick moves.)
If you don’t want a GoPro and just want a small camera that you can mount to maybe your bike or better yet your pet, this is the camera for you. The Yi Action Cam is superior to all generic low end action cameras and will more than serve the needs for most people.
I would totally buy this for my little cousins.