The iON Air Pro 2 is an advanced action camera with WiFi capabilities and robust design. Unlike many other action cameras, it is a torch-light design making it easy to mount in various situations and completely waterproof without any additional housings. The simple design allows for the capture of HD video images at the slide of a simple button all housed in completely rigid, robust metal housing.
WiFi capability comes via an additional end piece (sold separately) to enable wireless control and transfer to iOS or Android smartphones. It’s a nifty little device packing in a CMOS image sensor capable of 14 megapixels and 1080p HD video via an easy use to wide-angle lens. I’ve given the iON Air pro 2 a test from the perspective of a triathlete to provide an indication of performance both above and below water.
Read on and you’ll also get to critique 50 metres of my front crawl (freestyle) swimming stroke!
Opening the Box – iON Air Pro 2 Review
The iON Air Pro 2 arrives neatly packaged with the camera displayed in clear perspex above an attractive brushed metal tin. Inside the tin waits an impressive selection of accessories to get you started without having to fork out for too many added extras.
Here I’ve included a video of the unboxing to give an idea of the camera unit and standard accessories.
A flexible tripod is supplied together with a standard mount to affix to a helmet (or other surface) via an adhesive patch.
Charging is via a USB once the rear compartment is exposed via a waterproof twist and locking mechanism.
It’s the backplate which becomes interchangeable with a the replacement ‘WiFi PODZ ‘ (see WiFi section below).
Underneath is the key to the mounting options where you’ll find the CamLock plate to correspond with the various iON accessories. This can also be removed to reveal a threaded connection for use with standard camera mounting systems and tripods.
The rear compartment also contains various other options and controls including memory storage by way of a MicroSD card.
The battery is sealed within he unit and charged via the supplied USB lead. The large opening at the bottom is only utilised when the WiFi PODZ is installed.
iON Mounting Solutions
The iON system utilises a ‘CamLock’ and ball-joint mechanism best sown in the image below.
The standard setup provides one mount to enable helmet mounting. I also got hold of the Helmet & Bike kit, which adds a few additional angles and options.
The CamLock connection slides into the mounting plate to click securely into place. Pinching the two sprung prongs whilst sliding the body forward will remove the Air Pro 2 quickly and easily.
Depending on your preference, helmet mounting can be to the top or to the side. You have the option to secure via 3M adhesive patches or belt grip mechanisms through the helmet vents (or a combination of both). Obviously, most people won’t clutter their own helmet with both options at once!
Here you can see that the right angle ball-joint gives a great perspective to take maximum advantage of the iON Air Pros 2’s ‘Auto Orientation’. This feature will ensure image is rotated through 180º if mounted upside-down. It also allows for a very quick rotation should you need to capture rear facing images.
The right angle mount also performs perfectly as an option for mounting the iON Air Pro 2 to a pole. The following image is a straight forward metal broom handle used as an aid to capture the main swimming video in the section below. The rubber washer was used as a depth guide for the camera person as he walked the side of the pool in time with the swimmer.
To complete the mounting options, here’s how the standard bike mount appears when attached to drop handlebars. The threaded securing pins are long enough to accommodate even the thickest of handle bars and far wider. There’s a permanent rubber gasket on each securing section to ensure stability and protect against scratches.
The CamLock is extremely secure and can be backed up with a tether (supplied) for added piece of mind. Not only has it not moved an inch during use, I’ve found camera stability to be mighty impressive with no discernible camera wobble or vibration caused by the mount itself.
Size & Weight
The iON Air Pro 2 weighs in at only 131g without any mounts or accessories. Being mostly plastic, the mounts will not add significant weight.
There are many advantages to the torch-light shape when it comes to mounting on a handle bar, helmet and/or pole, not least aerodynamics (or hydrodynamics for that matter). The only draw back I can see is where a user may want to chest mount (although I’ve not tried this).
iON supports a basic software application for both PCs and Macs which you operate when the Air Pro 2 is connected via USB. For Mac users you’ll need to download the driver from the iON website. Whilst the installation process is simple, the connection does seem a little cumbersome in the order in which you must first connect the camera, turn it on and open the software in order to order to establish the connection (N.B I have not used the Windows version).
Once you have got to grips with it, there is a useful interface where you can access files, store videos, backup and also install any available firmware updates.
The main software screens are as follows.
Whilst the iON Air Pro 2 isn’t supplied with a MicroSD card it is a bonus that you get a free 8GB of storage when you open an account with iON’s cloud service.
You can also adjust the camera’s settings within the software including the resolution rate and whether you wish to implement the auto orientation (which will detect if the camera is upside-down and orientate through 180º as appropriate).
Should you wish to bypass the software, you can simply transfer photos and videos direct to your regular photo library in the normal way.
Operation & Functions
This is the easy bit!
To start a new video recording it only takes one simple slide of the switch (forwards) from the stop position. This will even work if the camera is tuned off. There are only two operation buttons. The sliding start/stop switch and a smaller rubberised (single press) button to act as on/off switch and also as a photo capture by a single tap.
A reassuring vibrate is felt as a recording is started with a similar (shorter) pulse as the switch is slid back to the off position. The pulse is sufficiently distinct to be felt when mounted on a helmet which is great if you want to commence the recording just as you set off. When in sight, you will be informed that the camera is in record mode by the solid red light illuminated between the two buttons. A green light indicates that the camera is in standby mode ready to either start a video of take a still photograph.
Within the rear of the camera (with the backplate removed) there is further switch to toggle between Full HD (1080p) and HD (720p). There is also a socket for an external microphone.
I have not experienced any difficulties in operating the iON Air Pro 2. In fact it really couldn’t be easier to shoot at a moments notice.
The Technical Bit
The iON Air Pro 2 will record at 30 frames per second (FPS) in either 1080p Full HD mode or at 720p. You can also adjust to 60fps at 720p and with an in-between setting at 960p at 30fps. Video format is by way of MPEG4 (.mp4).
The remaining specifications are best summarised as follows:
- Lens Type: 180º ultra wide angle field of view
- Focus Range: 0.5m / 20inches
- Photo: 14 mega pixel in JPEG format. Single, burst & time lapse
- Built-in high quality microphone with automatic gain control
- Battery life: about 2.5 hours
- Connection: HDMI & USB 2.0
To demonstrate the functionality I’ve included a mix of both cycling and swimming material.
Before going further I should emphasise that the point of these videos is not to be perfect. Other than a little bit of trimming, the footage has not been enhanced or stabilised in any way. The idea is to give a true indication of the iON Air Pro 2’s performance straight out of the box.
First up is Ben Heaney (TriedOnline’s bike testing expert) showing some speed down one of Warwickshire’s favourite downhill stretches followed by the (tough) climb back up again. Music is overlaid on the downhill as, with all action cameras, wind buffering is obviously increased with speed. Back up the hill the Air Pro 2 is tripod mounted (rear facing) from within a vehicle. Note the effect of the wide-angle lens particularly at the latter stages of the video where Ben appears much further away when in actual fact he’s close enough to practically touch the rear of the vehicle (so close you can also hear the panting!).
The Air Pro 2 performed particularly well given the video was captured shortly after sunrise and we only had opportunity for a single take.
Next up is a quick tour of Oxford through the streets (and road works!) leading to the Radcliffe Camera in the very heart of historic Oxford. This was my turn with the iON Air Pro 2 where I side mounted to the helmet and attempted to record just a little bit of audio commentary on the go.
Again the quality is impressive and I was very pleased with the way I was able to start and stop the recording from the mounted position.
I’ll update the this very shortly with a further mountain bike clip.
It honestly felt weird diving into pool with an electrical device that I’d been using and taking care of over a number weeks. Unlike many other high-end action cameras the iON Air Pro 2 requires no additional housing or waterproof kits to simply jump on in. So, that’s exactly what I did…
As with the cycling videos, the results here are completely un-edited uploads direct to YouTube. I was particularly impressed by the speed of the light adjustment whilst focus was maintained throughout. Yes, the above clip is just a bit of fun, but is does demonstrate the detail and quality available.
To ensure there’s no damage to the camera it’s important to ensure the rear cap (or Podz) of the Air Pro 2 is firmly secured and aligned with the corresponding white dot. Once twisted into position, there is locking switch to keep the seal engaged in the correct position. Provided these steps are followed the iON Air Pro 2 will be water proof to 10m / 30 feet.
Next up is the kind of video a triathlete may want to produce to analyse their swim technique. Using the handlebar mount and improvised broom handle (pictured above) this 50m analysis was captured with a helper (Annie Heaney) walking the poolside with the iON Air Pro 2 submerged to a depth of approximately 30 cm / 1 foot.
Again these were single take videos and we had no idea how the results would turn out until after the event. I’ve certainly been impressed with the underwater clarity and ability to provide insight into where I can make improvements to my swimming technique.
I know I’m making numerous mistakes here but until the date of this video my only real feedback from my coaches was given above water and from poolside. Feel free to comment below!
Before ending this section I must say a huge thank you to Ben and Annie Heaney, without whom much of the above footage would not have been possible.
A 14 megapixel still photograph can be taken by single press of the of the on/off button. Using the iON desktop software and/or the WiFi PODZ, the settings can also adjusted to shoot sequenced one at a time, 3 per second, or one still shot every 10, 20 or 30 seconds to also create step photo video.
Sticking with the Oxford theme here’s still shot taken of the Ancient Radcliffe Camera.
With the ultra wide-angle lens the its possible to see that some lines do appear curved (note the spire to the far left of the image). Having said that, the lighting and image quality is good and can become very useful for creating extra images to enhance your videos (i.e cover images an thumbnails).
WiFi PODZ & Smartphone App
Connecting to the Wi-Fi PODZ starts initially by replacing the backplate with a twist and lock.
With the camera and WiFi PODZ turned on (it has its own button in the centre of the backplate) you can then go to the settings area of your smartphone to select the ‘WIFIPODZ’ as a network in its own right. As with the joining of any other network, a password is required on first connection.
Within the iOS version of the app you have the ability to both adjust settings and use the app to control the device remotely. With no viewfinder on the iON Air Pro 2 the app becomes very useful as a remote start/stop, functioning also to provide a live preview before commencing recording. This can be extremely useful for getting an idea of the correct framing for your videos. The app is also extremely useful in displaying a real-time battery indicator.
Whilst relatively basic, the menus and screens are perfectly functional and intuitive when on the go.
As it’s a two-way communication between the camera and app, videos can be uploaded quickly for preview (but only for playback in the lower resolution setting). Videos can also be deleted from both the app the MicroSD card via WiFi. There is also the ability share images direct to Facebook and YouTube (however this will require switching back to your usual mobile or WiFi connection first).
A good level of adjustment can be found in the app to enable and disable functions to suit your surroundings. Similar to the desktop option, the app will allow for increasing and/or reducing the resolution rate available for both video and photo images. As can can ben seen from the second screenshot above, the settings connection can take a little while to establish.
I’ve only used the iOS version (i.e Apple) of the app. Ben uses a Samsung device and found the Android app to be a little less sophisticated when out capturing cycling videos shown above.
Accessories and Options
Whilst I was had more that sufficient mounting options with the Helmet & Bike Kit, iON also has an impressive array of mounts to suit also almost any sport or purpose. Head over to the iON website to see the packs available for cycling, mountaineering and boarding all coming in at pretty competitive prices.
Conclusion – iON Air Pro 2 Review
The iON Air Pro 2 is an incredibly comprehensive package with the ability to compete with the most advanced of action cameras. Video quality is impressive both above and below water and build quality is second to none. Yes, I’m sure greater image quality is now available (not least that iON have recently release the Air Pro 3) but you’ll be hard pushed to find a more feature packed camera for the price. With offers now placing the Air Pro 2 regularly at the £180 mark you get a lot for your money. Add the comprehensive and reliable range of mounts into the mix and we now have an all purpose action camera at a very affordable price.
I want my reviews to be as independent as possible. On that basis, I thought a link to Amazon would provide the most impartial method of you looking at other user comments should you be considering a purchase.
iON Air Pro 2 Review