It's no secret the wearable-camcorder market is saturated with products. After you get beyond the heavy hitters, namely the market-leader GoPro and its feisty rival Contour, you find yourself wading in a sea of relatively new and untested camcorders. This is exactly where the JVC Adixxion enters the picture.
If you shop around you shouldn't have trouble finding the Adixxion at a steep discount, sometimes at more than $100 less than its initial list price. At that price, the Adixxion isn't a bad deal, but the camcorder isn't strong enough to command a price tag on par with the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition or Contour+2.
The Adixxion doesn't need a special case to take a swim. It's waterproof right out of the box.
One of the most interesting benefits of the GC-XA1 is the camcorder's waterproof shell, which enables it to withstand depths of up to 16.4 feet (5m) without the need for an additional waterproof case. This makes it a perfect option for snorkeling, but a terrible choice for deep-sea diving. GoPro's Hero camcorders, as well as the Sony Action Cam, require bulky waterproof cases before they can take a dip. These cases do have a benefit, as they protect the camcorders to much deeper levels (nearly 200 feet underwater). Like the JVC Adixxion, Contour does make some camcorders with built-in waterproof capability as well.
The other unique design element on the XA1 is the 1.5-inch LCD slapped on its right side. None of the top adventure cam manufacturers include a built-in screen like this, although some of them offer screens as an optional accessory. The screen is tiny, and it won't be much help when the Adixxion is mounted to a helmet, but it does help greatly for navigating menus and video playback. If you can't bear to use a camcorder without an LCD, then the Adixxion is your ideal adventure cam.
Battery life was terrible, and the camcorder struggled in low light, but the Adixxion can still wow you under the right conditions.
In bright light, the JVC Adixxion captured rich colors—if you're into green green grass and blue blue skies, this camcorder won't disappoint. Take this camcorder to any old beach and your friends may think you traveled to paradise. If you want more natural recordings, with accurate colors and less supersaturated images, then you should look into the competition from GoPro, Contour, and Sony.
The Adixxion's weakness comes in low light, where the camcorder struggled to produce a detailed image and had problems with artifacting and sharpness. In extreme low-light situations, video looked bland and desaturated—the exact opposite of its bright-light shots. Battery life was also a disappointment, with the camcorder lasting for just 80 minutes of continual recording. That's not going to cut it if you're dead-set on shooting a full day of snowboarding.
WiFi let's you do some fun stuff, but JVC's WiVideo app leaves a lot to be desired.
Just like most adventure cams, JVC loaded the Adixxion with built-in WiFi that enables you to connect the camcorder to your smartphone. In addition to using your smartphone as a remote viewfinder, the XA1 has the ability to live-stream video (via Ustream) or upload clips to the internet right from the camcorder, provided you're connected to a WiFi hotspot.
I had to upgrade the camcorder's firmware before I could successfully pair it with my iPhone, but after I did that the system worked adequately. You need to download JVC's WiVideo app to use your phone as a remote viewfinder with the camcorder, and you can also get the WiVideo program for your computer (PC only, though).
When paired to your phone, the WiVideo program shows you what the GC-XA1 sees, you can start and stop video recording, control digital zoom, take photos, and change a few settings. Response time for the remote viewfinder is fantastic, so you don't have to worry about there being a delay when you move the camcorder, but the digital zoom control is terribly slow and we wish more menu options were available within the WiVideo program.
The only setup options you can change via the app are video resolution, photo resolution (even though there's only one option), and restore defaults. Why can't we switch to time lapse mode or change white balance settings through the WiVideo app?
This "mountable" camcorder could use a whole lot more mounts and accessories.
Compared to rivals from Contour, GoPro, and even Sony, the JVC Adixxion is very limited in its mount and accessory offerings. The camcorder comes with only a few supplies: one adhesive mount with two bases and a ball joint unit, a goggle mount that requires the use of a tiny screwdriver to assemble, two removable lens protectors, and a thin piece film that is meant to protect the LCD (we can't imagine anyone actually using this). If you want to go beyond the basics, JVC only lists two additional mounts on its website—a handlebar mount for attaching to a bike and a roll bar mount designed for off-road vechicles.
The provided goggle mount is ridiculous. Requiring the use of screws to assemble means you have to take apart the entire mount if you want to switch it to a different pair of goggles. (This also means you have to carry the tiny screwdriver with you wherever you go.) The mount is far larger than it needs to be, too, and we wish JVC would just make a simpler mount that could snap together with ease. On the camcorder itself, JVC cleverly includes two tripod mounts: one on the base and one on the left side. GoPro should be taking notes here, as its Hero camcorders don't have any built-in tripod mounts (you have to buy one for an extra $15).
The Adixxion doesn't have many additional video and still image features. There's a simple time lapse record mode that is very easy to use and has only two shooting options (one photo per second or one photo every five seconds). There's also an Endless Record feature that overwrites old files with new ones if the inserted SD card starts running out of space. Video recording is limited to one 1080p full HD option, two 720p HD modes, one tall HD setting that shoots 1280 x 960 video, and one standard definition record mode. The camcorder has only one still image setting that takes 5-megapixel photos.
It's not one of the top adventure cams on the market, but the Adixxion is a reasonable choice if you can get it for under $200.
If you're in the market for an adventure cam, there are three reasons to consider the JVC Adixxion over the competition: its on-board LCD, the waterproof core, and its simple interface. The Adixxion won't get you video that looks as good as what the GoPro, Contour+2, or Sony Action Cam are capable of, and it doesn't have nearly as many features or controls, but it should fulfill the basic needs required by adventure-cam seekers. If JVC had launched the GC-XA1 with a cheaper price tag, then we'd certainly be lauding the Adixxion as an excellent budget alternative. But the $299 MSRP is too expensive for what you get, and we can only recommend the camcorder if you can find one for around $200 or less.
For serious videographers, the JVC Adixxion will surely feel limited. The camcorder doesn't come with many mounts, and the list of available accessories is far smaller than the competition. While video performance in bright light was often great, the camcorder usually ran into problems in low light. The camcorder has a few WiFi features that aren't found in many other adventure cams (like the live stream feature), but its WiFi capabilities as a whole aren't that much different than the competition—and nearly every adventure cam has WiFi now.
The JVC Adixxion is not as powerful as the top camcorders from GoPro, so if you want the best image quality you can get from an adventure cam, then we suggest you look at the Hero3: Black Edition instead. But compared to the second-tier adventure cams and waterproof models we've tested, the Adixxion certainly holds its own. The GC-XA1's problem areas came in low light, sharpness, and battery life. Its lens also has the narrowest angle-of-view amongst all the adventure cams we've tested.
If you're looking for tack-sharp images across the frame, look elsewhere.
At its best, the Adixxion is able to capture a video image that looks reasonably sharp. The camcorder's numbers in our test reflect that impression, measuring 600 lp/ph horizontally and 650 lp/ph vertically. Those numbers are consistent with the Contour+2 and Sony Action Cam, but they're a notch behind the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition.
That's not all there is to say about the GC-XA1's sharpness, though. The camcorder showed a major difference at the center of its recorded image versus the sides. At the center, the image was often blurred, and in low light situations this resulted in a huge amount of detail loss. At the edges, which is where we got our sharpness measurements, the camcorder produced a much sharper image. So, if you're looking for an even, across-the-board-sharp image, then the XA1 will disappoint.
When the lights get dim, the GC-XA1 begins to struggle.
In moderate low-light conditions, the GC-XA1 is a reliable camcorder. But don't go spelunking with this little action cam, as shooting with anything less than 40 lux of light will result in a very murky image. The camcorder lost a ton of color when we shot our low light still life at around 20 lux, and there was a ton of noise and artifacting. Our sensitivity test revealed the Adixxion needs 16 lux of ambient illumination to record an image that's bright enough for broadcast. That's more than twice the amount of light required by the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition and Sony Action Cam.
Shooting outdoors at dusk or indoors in a well-lit environment shouldn't give the GC-XA1 much trouble. The camcorder measured just 0.75% noise in our 60 lux low light test, and colors were strong and accurate at that light level as well (4.05 color error with 87% saturation). It's not until we dropped the lights even lower that the camcorder started to lose control. Even so, this camcorder is clearly not as strong as the competition in low light.
If you love oversaturated colors, then the GC-XA1 is your perfect match.
Green green grass and blue blue skies should be written into the Adixxion's instruction manual. The camcorder oversaturates quite a bit in bright light—and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Colors are deep and vivid, the sky looks gorgeous with the right light, and everything looks rich. In low light, this wasn't the case, although the camcorder did manage to record accurate colors in our 60 lux test. In very low light, the GC-XA1 lost its ability to render color properly, and the resulting image appeared washed-out and bland. Since color is subjective, the best thing to do is look at our sample video and images on this page and see the XA1's capabilities for yourself.
Since its colors were so rich in bright light, the GC-XA1 didn't do very well in our color accuracy test. The camcorder measured 7.37 color error and 118% saturation under bright, even light. In low light, this error improved to 4.05 with a saturation level of 87%. The camcorder has no color modes, but it does have a bunch of white balance presets to match your shooting condition. For those who like to set their white balance manually, that's not an option—you must choose from one of the six presets (including two underwater white balance options).
You won't find any slow motion modes or special frame rate options on this camcorder.
WIth the GC-XA1, you're limited to using a 30p frame rate for recording full HD video or a 60p option for shooting 720p. This sets the camcorder back from the competition, most of which have multiple options in this department. The GoPro Hero3: Black Edition is the unequivocal leader in this regard, offering 24p, 30p, and 60p frame rates, as well as a couple of high-speed record modes at lower quality levels (great for shooting slow motion).
Maybe all this talk about frame rates doesn't matter. Most people will shoot with default settings anyway, and the XA1's 1080/30p mode is just about as default as they get. The mode captures motion with decent smoothness and little trailing, but the camcorder has a serious problem with artifacting—especially when shooting in anything less than ideal light. This high presence of artifacting may be a result of the camcorder's low bit-rate offerings that tops out at 15Mbps.
Super-wide lens? Not quite.
Like most adventure cams, the JVC Adixxion is advertised as having a "super-wide lens". In fact, JVC even states the lens has a 170-degree field of view in its specs. Unfortunately, this advertising jargon isn't entirely truthful. In our test, the Adixxion was only capable of a 73.5-degree angle of view, which isn't much wider than your average consumer camcorder.
Compared to other adventure cams, the JVC Adixxion can't see nearly as much of the action. The GoPero Hero3 manages a 124-degree recording angle, the Sony Action Cam goes as wide as 143-degrees, and the Contour+2 could see 95-degrees in our test. It's worth noting that none of these numbers actually correspond with manufacturer specs for these camcorders, all of which lay claim to 170-degree recording angles.
Battery life is another area where the Adixxion camcorder doesn't stand up to its competitors. The battery lasted for just 80 minutes of continual recording in our test, which is half the battery life we got out of the Sony Action Cam (162 minutes), and a good deal less than the Contour+2 (108 minutes). Even the GoPro Hero3: Black Edition (92 minutes), which we hammered for its sub-par batter performance, did better than the JVC.
Meet the testers
Managing Editor, Video@nematode9
Jeremy is the video expert of our imaging team and Reviewed.com's head of video production. Originally from Pennsylvania and upstate NY, he graduated from Bard college with a degree in film and electronic media. He has been living and working in New England since 2005.See all of Jeremy Stamas's reviews
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