MGCOOL Explorer 2 – A new 4K action camera with H.265 recording

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GoPro has dominated the action camera market for a long time, but now there are a lot of other less expensive options becoming available. The other day we bought you news of the Yi 4K Action Camera that can capture UHD material up to 60p, and soon another Chinese company MGCOOL will officially launch their new competitor, the Explorer 2.

In pre-release information sent to us, MGCOOL claims that the Explorer 2 will have a feature set and performance that is comparable to the GoPro HERO 5. The Explorer 2 will not only be capable of capturing 4K at up to 30p, but it will also feature a LCD touch screen, GPS positioning, voice control, and a built-in gyroscope to provide better electronic image stabilisation.

MGCOOL say the Explorer 2’s gyroscope sensor will utilise the camera’s EIS primary electronic anti-shake technology by accurately track fast and slow action to help reduce jitter in the image. This sounds similar to what GoPro, Yi and other makers are also doing in-camera. How well it works compared to those competitors, or the mechanical Balanced Optical Steadyshot (B.O.S.S.) of the Sony FDR-X3000R, remains to be seen.

The multi-touch LCD screen on the back of the camera enables users to set shooting parameters as well as view live a live image. If you want to use the camera underwater, the maximum waterproof depth is claimed to be 30 metres using MGCOOL’s waterproof case.

The Explorer 2 will record in the H.265 codec, which is a big step for action camera codecs. With its smaller size and potentially higher quality, the H.265/HEVC codec is slowly starting to become more popular. It is already is use on some cameras including the DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

As data-intensive as HD is, 4K is even worse. HEVC’s main advantage over H.264/AVC is that it offers roughly double the compression ratio for the similar quality, though compression efficiency results vary depending on the type of content and the encoder settings. This means that a video file encoded with HEVC can occupy half the storage space of its H.264 equivalent with no real noticeable change in quality. When compressed to the same file size or bit rate as H.264, H.265 usually delivers significantly better visual quality.

At this stage there is no further information available about other specifications such as frame rates, recording options, photo modes and other features.

The company’s previous Explorer Pro action camera that can capture UHD at 24fps is priced at $99.99US, so I would expect that the Explorer 2 will probably retail for a lot less than a comparable GoPro HERO 5. There is currently no footage available from the camera to see, but the Explorer 2 should be officially announced very soon.

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