Ion Air Pro review: Hands-on

The Ion Air Pro action camera lets you live stream in real time

What is a hands on review?
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Ion Air Pro review
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Ion Air Pro review
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Ion Air Pro review
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Ion Air Pro review

Announced back at CES, and set to go head to head with the GoPro HD 2, the Ion Air Pro records in full 1080p HD using its wide angle lens, and can also capture still images. Where it stands out from the crowd is with the associated iOS app (currently in beta) that enables you to watch a live stream of the action on your iOS device, or upload directly to Facebook or Youtube.

This is all made possible by the Wi-Fi Podz - a disc that fits neatly into the back of the camera.

Ion Air Pro: Build

Sporting a much more streamlined look than the GoPro HD, the Ion Air Pro is cylinder-shaped with striking black and semi-metallic blue finish. An octagonal finish around the base of the camera means that it won't roll away if you put it down.

Unlike its main rival, there's no need for a separate waterproof casing, as the unit itself is waterproof up to 10m. This means that there's no pesky outer casing to muffle the microphone when you're out shooting.

The unit feels extrememly lightweight, tipping the scales at 123g, while the build quality still feels reassuringly sturdy, yet compact.

Ion Air Pro: Features

You can buy the Ion Air Pro on its own (£199.99), or alternatively pick up the Air Pro Plus package which includes a couple of bike mounts and a small tripod, which all fit Ion's Camlock system. More mounting options are set to launch in the near future for attaching the camera to various bits of sporting equipment. We haven't had a go with setting up all the mounts yet, but that's something that we'll cover in our full review.

Ion is also offering 8GB of free cloud storage for your snaps and videos.

Ion Air Pro: Controls

Controls are about as simple as they could possibly be - the power on and off button also doubles as the still image capture control while a sliding switch on the top starts the camera recording. It also makes a small vibrating alert so that it's clear when you're recording and there's no need to check a visual cue such as a light.

Operation really couldn't be easier and we found that it was easy to locate the correct controls and switch the camera to record without looking, a must for anyone who's taking part in any extreme sport.

Ion Air Pro: App

The iPhone app is already available on iTunes, with the iPad version and the usual Android alternative coming very soon. At present, the app is in beta mode, so functions are limited, but eventually you'll be able to view photos and videos and create albums for them, as well as live streaming the action directly to your mobile device.

The app will also enable you to use your smartphone as a remote control for the camera.

Ion Air Pro: Battery

The camera can be charged from your computer via USB or using the supplied charger, offering up to 2.5 hours of juice. Alternatively, a battery pod will be available that offers up to four hours of recording.

Ion Air Pro: Picture quality

The camera takes both HD (at 30fps) and lower-res footage, so that you won't cripple the wi-fi when trying to live stream to your social networking site of choice. While we haven't had a chance to take the Air Pro out for a spin just yet, the demo videos that we were shown in an iPad certainly looked impressive.

Ion Air Pro: Verdict

The Ion Air Pro certainly looks set to give the GoPro HD a run for its money. Not only is it smaller and lighter, it also has a slicker, more attracive chassis, as well as the ability to live stream. Once its up and running, the app integration will likely be the key to its success and we look forward to trying it out in detail. Stay tuned for a full review.

Ion Air Pro availability: Early April 2012,

Ion Air Pro price: £199.99 (Camera only), £249.99 (camera + bike mounts), £299 (camera + bikes mounts + Wi-Fi Podz)]

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.