Recently I had the opportunity to review a camera from a brand I’ve never used before. The brand is AEE and the camera is their MD10 model. While AEE produces a wide range of action cameras, the interesting thing about the MD10 is its size: it offers the same features as other cameras but in half the space. Fascinated by the dimensions of this camera I thought it would make for an interesting review.
As always let’s start with the box.
The first thing I noticed was a crack on the bottom of the plastic box. Presumably that’s the fault of the courier, not defective packaging. But there were also a few scratches inside the box where the bezel around the camera lens scraped against it as you can see in the photo. Hopefully it’s just an isolated case – a packaging oversight.
On the graphics printed on the box you can easily read the brand name and the camera model but nothing more – unless you can read Chinese! I can’t believe they don’t include a European/American pamphlet with at least some English on it.
AEE MD10 Specification
The MD10 is one of the smallest cameras on the market at 5.0cm tall, 3.3cm wide and 2.3cm deep (1.96in x 1.30in x 0.90in). How can such a little camera shoot videos at 1080p with 30fps and 720p with 60fps? It also has a adjustable of angle of view with an aperture of f/2.6.
- Chipset : Ambarella A7L
- Image Sensor: Sony 8MP
- Lens : Wide Angle: 136 degree max (adjustable view available)
- Video Stabilization
- Weight : 75g (with battery)
- Size : 5.0 x 3.3 x 2.3 cm / 1.96 x 1.30 x 0.90 inches
- Screen Size: 1 inch, LCD
- Colors available : 1 (black)
- Image resolutions : 8 megapixels
- Video Resolutions : 1080P (1920 x 1080 @25,30 FPS), 720P (1280 x 720 @50,60 FPS), WVGA (848 x 480 @100,120 FPS)
- Video compression format : H.264
- Video format : MP4
- Image format : JPEG
- Memory : External MicroSD/MicroSDHC/MICROSDXC up to 64 GB (class 6-10 recommended)
- Battery : 1000mAh (non-removable)
- Charging : PC USB or AC adapter.
- Video Output: HDMI
- Built-in microphone/speaker (AAC)
- Android App WiFi
- iOS App WiFi
- Connection : USB 2.0
- Timer: 2s, 3s, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 60s
- Remote Control (RC Watch)
What do you find in the box?
Inside the box you’ll find the following:
- 1x Camera
- 1x Manual (completely in Chinese)
- 1x Camera body mount
- 1x Camera body clip mount
- 1x power adapter (US-spec so I couldn’t use it here in Europe)
- 1x USB cable
- 1x microSD card 16GB branded J-like
- 1x Mini CD (On it you’ll find the digital manual entirely in Chinese and an Autorun.exe that’s in Chinese too. I couldn’t understand any of it!)
Note: You can download the English-language manual here.
Unlike many other brands the AEE MD10 doesn’t include a huge number of accessories, at least not with the package version I received. It does come with two types of body clips that seem to be of high quality – very strong and well built though the clamp’s spring closure might be a little too strong.
If you’re curious about the packaging then have a look at this unboxing video.
As I mentioned the AEE MD10 is very compact and thus different from most other action cameras. The design is simple and effective with three buttons for recording videos, shooting photos and turning WiFi on or off plus a three-way On/VOX/Off switch.
It’s well built and seems like it should resist shocks well. The camera clip is very tight, almost too tight, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I found just one ergonomic problem: the door that covers the MicroSD card slot. What’s the problem? It’s absolutely impossible to open with your hands because the notch is too small even for a fingernail. You need something tiny and pointed like a needle or a toothpick. That makes it difficult to change the SD card when you’re not at home.
The front display is very useful because it shows you essential information as pictured below.
- Remaining recording time / remaining shots
- Number of recorded files / recording timer
- Recording mode / shooting mode
- View angle (wide – medium – normal – small)
- Battery level
The AEE MD10 has a series of menus and sub-menus for choosing modes and functions and setting parameters. These are displayed on the LCD screen using various combinations of icons and letters and numbers.
Video mode selection
When you move the slide switch to On, the start screen that appears is what AEE calls the Video Mode Selection. However, this is a misnomer because this screen is used to select from various functions for both videos and photos. The icon in the upper left corner of the screen identifies which of these functions has been selected.
The first function to appear is Video Recording. You can begin recording videos from this function by pressing the Record key and stop by pressing the key again. To advance to other functions, press and hold the Record key for 3 seconds then use the Shoot key or WiFi key to scroll through the functions.
Stop scrolling when you’ve reached the desired function and press the Record key to select it. If you don’t press the Record key the function will be selected automatically after 3 seconds. Each function is identified with a specific icon.
You can choose from the following functions while in Video Mode Selection:
- Video Recording – Press the Record key to start the video recording. Press again to stop recording.
- Video-only – Record video without audio
- Voice Recording – Use the camera as a digital voice recorder
- Time Lapse – Take a series of photos at timed intervals that can be played back as a video
- Timed Recording – This is a shutter delay except after the time has been counted down it begins recording video instead of taking a photo
- Shoot-in-Recording – Allows you to take photos during video recording. This can be done manually or automatically at intervals set as described below in Recording Parameters. Press the Shoot key to take photos.
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Photo mode functions
- Single Shot – Press the Shoot key to take a photo
- Fast Shot – Burst mode. Press the Shoot key to take several photos within a 1-second period. You can set the number of photos per second as described in Shooting Parameters below.
- Continuous Shooting – Continuous burst mode. Press the Shoot key to take photos continuously at a set time interval. Press Record key to stop. You can set the number of photos per second as described in Shooting Parameters below.
- Timed Shooting – Shutter delay
You can continue to scroll past all the functions in Video Mode Selection to reach Parameter Settings designated by the letter “M”. Here you choose the settings that apply to the video and photo functions listed above.
You can also change the camera’s Basic Settings. You select the Parameter Settings mode the same way you select Video Mode Selection functions. After you’ve entered Parameter Settings mode you choose from the Recording Parameters, Shooting Parameters or Basic Settings submenus. Each is identified with an icon.
The following settings can be changed in the parameter submenus as shown:
- Time Lapse – Set the interval for Time Lapse photos to 1, 2, 5, 10 or 30 seconds
- Timed Recording – Set the delay to 5, 10 or 20 seconds
- Shoot-in-recording – Set the time interval for shooting photos while recording video. The settings are Manual or 5, 10, 30 or 60 seconds.
- Resolution setting – You can select from the following resolutions/frame rates/aspect ratios for recording video
- View Angle – Set the angle of view to wide, medium, narrow or small
- Video content loop – You can set the bit rate to Fine or Normal. Fine will give you clearer images but takes up more memory.
- 180° Image Rollover – Inverts the image 180° in case you have to mount the camera upside down
- Display Time – You can choose whether or not to display the recording time in the lower right corner of the recording
- Fast Shot – Set the burst mode to 3, 6 or 8 shots per second
- Continuous Shooting – set the time interval between shots for Continuous Shooting. Choose 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 10 or 20 seconds between shots.
- Timed Shooting – Set the time for shutter delay to 3, 5 or 10 seconds
- Shooting Resolution – Choose from the following image sizes. All are at a 4:3 aspect ratio: 8.0MP (3200x 2400); 5.0 MP (2592×1944); and 3.0MP (2048×1536).
- Display Time – You can choose whether or not to display the time the photo was taken in the lower right corner of the photo
- Warning tone – Turn the Prompt tone On or Off
- Status indicator – Turn the Status Indicator On or Off
- On screen display – Show or hide icons and details when viewing videos and photos on your TV or monitor
- Auto to standby – The amount of time before the camera goes into Standby after there has been no camera activity
- TV output format – Select NTSC for North America and most of South America or PAL for elsewhere
- Format – erases all files from the memory card
- Recover factory setting – restores all camera settings to factory default
Buttons, Lights and Ports
The AEE MD10 has a very simple design with just three buttons and a switch.
- Record key
- Power indicator
- Recording status indicator
- Shoot key
- WiFi key
- Power On/VOX/Power Off switch
- Power/rec indicator
- LCD screen
- USB port
- Mini HDMI port
- MicroSD slot
The buttons are well made and every click is followed by a “beep” sound that confirms the click. The menu is not especially intuitive.
You must press the Record key for 3 seconds to access it, use the Photo and WiFi keys to go up or down then press the Record key again for your selection. It’s harder to describe than to actually operate but once you get used to it it’s actually a good concept.
The video quality is quite good but could be better. The colors are true-to-life and in general it handles changes in light well. The angle of view allows a wide perspective and while not an extreme angle it’s enough to catch all the action.
The camera works great at night and even in complete darkness you can still recognize objects when recording videos or shooting photos. I used the camera as dashcam and had absolutely no problems even with oncoming cars’ headlights.
You might be thinking, “Ok, so is this camera perfect?”
The answer is no. Although it has good color and light management, the sharpness is poor. At very close range it’s good but beyond a few meters the details knead into each other. It’s not too serious but it could be better.
This camera can shoot video in the resolutions and frame rates described above in the Menu section.
The AEE MD10 has a Sony Exmor R sensor with 8 megapixels. It allow you to shoot pictures at image sizes up to 3200 x 2400. Photos suffer from the same problem as video, i.e., the details tend to knead into each other. At least with the color accuracy you can shoot the most beautiful paints in the world!
Here are some images.
The audio quality is good but only at a low/medium volume. When the the volume is too high it starts to distort various frequencies. I noticed that it always records higher frequencies accurately even at high volume but lower frequencies like a drum or an electronic bass are distorted even at medium volume.
I recorded this live concert with the camera:
I recorded this video in a restaurant:
The AEE MD10 has a 1000mAh battery which gave the following results:
- 1080p 30fps – 191 minutes
- 720p 60fps – 163 minutes
- WVGA 120fps – 164 minutes
- Recharge time – 135 minutes
This camera has the best battery life I’ve ever seen! At 1080p 30fps can record more than three hours – it’s unbelievable!
Battery life is due to the frame rate and the resolution. The camera doesn’t have a color display or a high frame rate so the processor doesn’t need to work too hard. All of this saves on power consumption. I should clarify that the battery is incorporated, not removable. It was a little bit frustrating for me because I’m used to taking at least two batteries with me when I go for a bicycle ride.
The camera automatically divides videos into 15-minute file segments. It’s interesting how little memory is used for these file segments.
- 15 minutes at 1080p 30fps – 1,40Gb
- 15 minutes at 720p 60fps – 1Gb
- 15 minutes at WVGA 120fps – 1Gb
The average camera’s memory space usage is about 500Mb every 5 minutes with 30fps and 1Gb every 5 minutes with 60fps. The AEE MD10 is able to beat these averages because the file compression is huge. This is the reason why the video quality looks a little bit poor. To me a better compression algorithm would substantially improve the video quality.
WiFi and App
Like a lot of new cameras the AEE MD10 has WiFi and an app for Android and iOS. That in itself isn’t so special. So why am I applauding enthusiastically? Because the app and the WiFi combine to make one of the most stable connections I’ve ever seen on an action camera!
The app never crashed and the WiFi signal can reach 40-50m (about 131-164ft) outside when there are no obstacles in the way, i tried it with my phone because i haven’t the possibilities to try the remote controll but i think is is the same range.
Indoors it easily goes through an entire house without any problems. Once connected to the camera you’ll have full control from your smart device. You can change the resolution, angle of view, time lapse, video loop and more.
The only negative is that there’s a small delay of about 2 to 3 seconds between the movement of the camera and the refresh on your device. It could be annoying for some people but personally I prefer a good connection to perfectly synchronized images.
One disappoint is the number of errors in the specifications on the website. The angle of view is actually adjustable, not 120° per the website. The actual WiFi distance is 30-40m (as measured with my smartphone; the wireless remote should be similar) rather than the claimed 100m.
It’s hard to trust their other specification like the claimed depth of the waterproof housing?
In addition to the website there is the annoying SD card door. It’s nearly impossible to open by hand so if you’re outdoors you need to find a small object to open it. The other problem is the sharpness of images; it’s generally good but could be better. Finally there’s the lack of accessories in the basic package like mine.
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The AEE MD10 is a good camera, one of the smallest on the market, so you can put it wherever you want. It has very good battery life and an incredible WiFi range, pluses that make it great to use with drones. But despite being compact and well built it has one big problem: the price.
To me 140€ (about $159 in the US but available for less) is too much, especially without the waterproof housing and wireless remote control.
But if you have a big wallet and are searching for a little camera to clip on your belt or under the seat of your bike, this is the camera for you!