EE 4GEE Action Cam review: is it actually a GoPro rival?

EE's £300, 4G-connected GoPro rival with viewfinder 'smartwatch' offers instant streaming of your extreme antics

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For

  • Live streaming via 4G
  • Decent 720p HD footage
  • Simple to use

Against

  • Poor build quality
  • Heady price tag
  • Lack of settings

The desire to record and share absolutely everything is a modern phenomenon that shows no sign of abating. Plus, mobile phone hawkers EE believe the bevy of current action cams isn’t instantaneous enough for today's social media-hungry generation.

The company's 4GEE Action Cam hopes to tackle this problem by installing a 4G Sim card into the device, meaning extreme sports enthusiasts, and exhibitionists can stream live video footage from said camera directly to video sharing application Skeegle.

The 13MP, full 1080p HD camera is a seemingly robust little fella, complete with heavy-duty plastic cladding that ensures it doesn't explode when it falls off the mountain bike and keeps water out at depths of up to 60m.

There's also an equally chunky watch, which acts as both a timepiece and a viewfinder when linked via Bluetooth to the camera. You can also hook the camera up to a smartphone app if you don't fancy strapping the Fisher Price fob to your wrist.

It will cost £299.99 if you opt for the pay-as-you-go bundle, which comes pre-loaded with 2GB of data. Alternatively, you can pump that up to a heady 24GB for an eye-watering £399.99.

EE customers can get the camera and watch for £10 a month when they share data from a 4GEE phone or it's £49.99 upfront when added to a 2GB or 10GB monthly EE plan.

Whichever way you look at it, it's expensive; especially considering the sub-par build quality and unintuitive set-up process I experienced.

First of all, an anchoring prong on the USB charging lead that connects to the watch snapped within about 30 seconds. This meant I had to physically hold the watch and cable to get it to charge.

Secondly, the initial set-up was a pain, with the fashionably minimalistic instructions doing little to help matters. It took several attempts to connect the viewfinder watch to the camera, by which point I wanted to test its durability by throwing it out of the window.

The camera was finally up and running after a few hours of fiddling and charging, so I took out to film some local scenes.

Another thing to add to the gripe list: the watch viewfinder was absolutely useless in direct sunlight - you couldn't see anything - and there was a slight delay between pressing the shutter and record buttons and the camera actually doing what it was instructed.

I found the app a much better way of setting up and recording a shot remotely, as the screen resolution is far superior to the grainy footage seen on the watch.

Apart from that, it's extremely simple to use and the housing managed to soak up a couple of hefty knocks and it didn't leak when taken for a dip in the sea.

Once the footage and images were captured, I attempted to download the results from the internal 2.5GB internal memory and MicroSD card. Unfortunately, my MacBook Air didn't register the device with the supplied cable, so I had to resort to a trusty card reader.

Recovered from the raw excitement of that XXX-treme clip? So yes, the video is pretty good; thanks to a sharp image from the f/2.8, 3.4mm lens. But it's nothing to write home about. A lack of camera settings means it's almost impossible to get footage to rival that of the GoPro - which is pretty much broadcast quality - or even Veho's Muvi K2.

Stills were also pretty poor on the lower resolution settings but did get better as I cranked up the storage-sapping resolution.

Overall, the 4GEE is a fairly easy-to-use action cam that benefits from 720p HD live streaming and a robust housing. But you really have to want to instantly share content to justify the eye-watering price tag.

If you don't want to do that, you're far better off buying a protective case and mounts for your smartphone to live stream footage or opting for a far superior rival from the likes of GoPro, Ion, Veho and Drift, then adopting a little patience and uploading footage after your extreme sports session.

As you can see from these (compressed) images, you can get results that aren't terrible by any means, but the getting of them doesn't justify the expense, for me.

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