Blackview, a Hong Kong based company founded in 2013, decided to step up and enter the competitive action camera market by launching two action cameras, controversially named Hero 1 and Hero 2.
Okay, hold your horses – Hero? Isn’t that supposed to be a…
Yep, we all know a brand that has Hero series, so lets just skip the part in which we talk about GoPro and their clones, or whatever you want to call them.
I am sure plenty of people, including myself dislike the product name. So if you agree, lets skip the GoPro talk and leave it to them to settle it in court if that is something they would like.
Instead, let’s focus on capabilities and performance of this camera. Lets dive deep into it, and see its features. Most importantly lets together see if it worth the 139$ price-tag.
I had few weeks to experiment with the Blackview Hero 1 camera and test out its performance and all options it offers. This will not only be a in-depth review but also a guide on how to use it and get the most out of it.
What separates this WiFi camera from many other so-called GoPro clones (the terms so-called GoPro fanboys use) is the ability to record full HD videos in 60 frames per second, but also take photos at 16 megapixels. Additionally it supports 2k resolution (2304*1296 30 frames) and has large LCD screen (2 inch) compared to competitors in the same price-range.
Camera is priced at around 139$. This is the retail price, but you can check GearBest, as they have free shipping included for that price, plus they also run quite a lot of promotion from time to time, so you can save few bucks.
Blackview Hero 1 specification
Lets take a quick look at the specs first. In the table bellow you will see official product specification provided by the manufacturer.
- Wide Angle: 170 degree
- Image Sensor: SONY IMX206
- Chipset : Ambarella A7LS75
- Size : 5.927 x 4.113 x 2.5 cm / 2.33 x 1.62 x 0.98 inches
- Product Weight: 71g (with battery)
- Memory : Micro SD up to 64GB
- Video Recording
- 2304*1296 x 30 fps
- 1080p x (60,30 fps)
- 720P x (60,30fps)
- Video Format: MOV
- Image Resolution : 16M (4608 x 3456)
- Image Format : JPG
- Audio System: Built-in microphone/speacker (AAC)
- Battery 1050mAh
- Charging : USB via PC or AV with adapter
- Time Lapse 1/5/10 fps
- Screen Size: 2.0inch
- Screen Type: LCD
- Screen Resolution: 960 x 240
- Language: English, Simplified Chinese
Difference between Blackview Hero 1 and Hero 2.
As I already mentioned, there are two models of these newly launched cameras. Below is a table which compares them side by side by emphasizing differences only.
Blackview Hero 1 vs Hero 2
- Image sensor
- Remote Control
- Video resolutions
Blackview Hero 1
- Ambarella A7LS75 Chipset
- Sony IMX206 image sensor
- WiFi (via the App)
- Max resolution in Full hd : 60 fps in 1080p
Blackview Hero 2
- Ambarella A7LA50 chipset
- OmniVision OS4689 image sensor
- 2.4G RF Wireless Image Transfer
- Max resolution in Full hd : 30 fps in 1080p
As you see, the Hero 1 has big-brand Sony sensor in it, which is why it supports 60 frames per second. However Hero 2 has pretty neat remote wrist watch as an additional gadget, which allows you to control recording and taking photos via the wrist watch controller.
If you are curious to see how these RC watches work, besides checking the YouTube reviews of Hero 2, you can check my review of SooCoo S60, which has similar feature.
I must say I personally do not have a Hero 2 to compare image and photo quality, so I can only make a logical assumption that Sony sensor is better. So if you would need more fps and probably better video and image quality, you should go with Hero 1, but if you like the remote control via the RC watch, you can buy Hero 2.
Everything else is pretty much the same, according to the official specs. Battery, size, weight, 64gb storage space, etc.
First thing that made me fall in love with this cameras was the packing. Okay, okay, I admit it, I mostly buy cheap gear with crappy packing. So for me this was pretty new and interesting.
Lets also disregard that my mailman played soccer with my package prior to delivering it. My box arrived dented. At leas I am hoping they had great time shooting on a goal with it.
Hero 1 is packed inside a box with a plastic top cover. Packing is quite elegant. I really like the fact that on the box there is not only a specification table but also an accessories list. Once you open the cover, you can remove the camera from the mount and open the “secret” compartment which hides a bunch of bells and whistles.
Just in case you are wondering what’s inside the box, here is a list of all accessories :
- 1x Blackview Hero 1 camera
- 1x waterproof case
- 1x bicycle stand
- 1x 1050 mAh Lithium battery
- 1x waterproof backdoor
- 1x wall charger
- 2x 3M adhesive tape
- 1x wire rope
- 3x plastic ribbon
- 1x USB cable
- 2x base mounts
- 2x flat adhesive bases (helmet base)
- 3x switch support
- 1x bracket (for mounting camera onto a tripod)
- 1x clip (used in combination with a bracket to attach camera to a belt)
- 1x adapter
- 1x fixed base
- 1x cleaning cloth
- 4x bandage
As you can see, there is a ton of gear that this cam comes with. Do not think you will use all of these, as not all of them are useful for everything and everyone. I like the fact that battery comes separately in the box and not inside the camera, which means it won’t drain the first time you use it. Meaning, you will have a battery to test out the camera right away without having to charge it for the first time. But better charge it full, anyway.
Additionally it’s great that Blackview included a wall charger. The one I got is for EU type sockets. I am not sure if there is one specific for US. If you are in the US, make sure to ask vendor if they have at least the adapter. Usually sellers will be glad to ship one to you free of charge. At least guys at GearBest will. Make sure to leave them a note at the checkout.
Unlike the problem I previously had with SooCoo 10 which did not have a bracket for mounting a camera onto a tripod, Hero 1 comes with this useful tool. It’s worth mentioning that three plastic ribbons and a wire rope are pretty useless. I have no idea why Chinese manufacturers love to include them, probably because they are cheap and look useful, even though they are not.
If you already had a chance to own a cheap action camera produced in China, you should know that the amount of gear is nothing unusual. You can check out other action cameras I reviewed just to compare.
Accessories that come with all of these cameras are nothing of super high-quality, but it will be more than okay for most people. I personally never had a problem with the gear quality. I have been using it on my hiking trips, in high temperatures and it did good job for me.
It should be mentioned that the manual (or rather a flyer) itself is quite brief and does not offer anything but the basics. It’s one of the shortest user guides I have seen. It is on English only.
Camera does not come in different colors. There is only a single color to chose from – white. Even though the shape and size is certainly nothing new to the market, I really liked the design and the clean look of the Blackview Hero 1.
The black line surrounding on-off button and lens give Blackview Hero 1 an interesting look. It’s interesting that nowhere on the camera itself will you see Hero 1 branding. Only Blackview.
When it comes to shape and size of the camera, Blackview Hero 1 dimensions are 5.927 x 4.113 x 2.5 cm / 2.33 x 1.62 x 0.98 inches. If you are interested in the box (package) size, it is 26 x 11 x 11 cm / 10.22 x 4.32 x 4.32 inches.
Since I reviewed a handful of similar cameras, I did not need a scale to realize Hero 1 is heavier than most of the models I reviewed. It weights around 71 g with a battery inside, and 53 g without it. As you can see it’s not the lightest camera on the market, but can’t be considered heavy as well.
One thing worth mentioning, is that camera has a 2 inch LCD screen, which allows you not only to preview what you are recording, but also post-view your videos and photos, and change settings. Display resolution is 960 x 240.
Buttons and ports
- 2304*1296 30 FPS 16:9
- 1920*1080 60FPS 16:9
- 1920*1080 30FPS 16:9
- 1280*720 60 FPS 16:9
- 1280*720 30 FPS 16:9
One thing that was quite appealing to me is that camera offers resolutions that are very useful. They did not stuff video resolution choice with bunch of useless settings which were cool in the 90’s.
So all of these resolutions are pretty neat and I like the supported options. As you can see, the camera supports 2k resolution, but also 60 fps and 30 fps in full HD. This means that people who like creating slow motion or like to slow down the aerial videos recorded with a drone will be happy.
As you might know, 30 fps are okay for most of the users, but at 60 fps the footage looks more realistic.
However realistic a video is not something that you always want to achieve, so if you want movie-like silky effect, you can use 30 frames per second. One thing I wish the camera included is perhaps 120 fps, at least in 720. This would allow better looking slow motion videos, since the more frames per second the footage has, the better it will look in slo-mo.
Download sample footage in different resolution on this link.
With 16 megapixels lens and Sony sensor, Blackview Hero 1 fulfilled my expectations. Photographs produced are very good. These are quite sharp and come in true 16 megapixels that can easily compete with Xiaomi YI, which was one of the best quality action cams when it comes to taking photos. The image sensor used is Sony IMX206.
Photo samples bellow are compressed in order to load faster on the website. I recommend you to download original samples I’ve taken on this DropBox link. Preview them on your own PC and check if it satisfies your needs.
In my opinion, photo quality is really good. Colors look natural. The lens is quite sharp, and once you zoom into an image, you will realize it’s the true 16MP and not interpolated.
Close up yellow flower at around 30 cm. It is obvious that the camera blurs the flower a bit ,while the background is perfectly sharp. This is normal with any action camera, since their lens is not intended for close up photography. However this camera does very good job at it.
Landscape photo test under strong sunlight. Camera preforms quite well, though slight rainbow reflection is visible when camera faces direct Sun. Important thing is that image does not darken once it faces sunlight, which is the case with many similar cameras.
Bellow is a close up test at around 50 cm distance. Camera produces great, sharp images of objects in front and background.
The image below shows how camera gives quite a lot of barell-roll distortion. While this is normal for all cameras with wide angle lens, I noticed that this camera produces wider angle, but also gives more distortion then few others I tested.
You can see how this old stable in the background looks oddly shaped, while the subject in foreground looks normal. However what amazed me is the wide angle, camera managed to capture both corners of the house without any problem.
What annoyed me is data stamp in the right corner, it too high. I would prefer if it was in the corner, so that it does not distract. Not a huge deal, but its worth mentioning. Of course you can turn date off, like I did for all above images.
Third and final mode, called preview, is used to enable you to take a look at images or videos you took. Like any other camera it allows you to browse through footage or images. You can playback videos as well, or just delete both photographs and films that you do not like.
Battery and memory card
Camera uses removable 1050mAh battery, which gives around 100 minutes or recording time in 1080p 30fps and around an hour in 60 fps. As you see, battery life is not impressive, therefore I always recommend you to get one or two spare batteries and a power bank if you intend to use camera longer then that.
Power supply is 5V / 1A. Battery is rechargeable and can be charged via the USB cable or AC adapter.
Hero 1 supports up to 64gb MicroSD memory cards, which is twice the capacity of some of their Chinese competitors. Additionally it has 2GB of internal memory. For best video results, it is highly recommended that you use reputable memory card brands of class 10. Though you can use whatever class and capacity you wish, at your own risk.
I have tried this camera with 3 different memory cards : Samsung 16GB MicroSDHC, Sony 64GB MicroSDHC and Sony 16GB MicroSDHC. All worked great.
User experience and navigation
If there is one thing that really pissed me off about this camera its the user experience it provides.
To make things funnier, on their product page, it says
“Every tiny detail on the device is optimized for your user experience.”
What the… Seriously Blackview? Optimized? Sorry, but this camera is everything but user-friendly. You have a mountain to climb. Software needs to be improved.
Blackview Hero 1 is probably one of the most annoying interfaces I have seen.
The fact that manufacturer wanted to simplify and eliminate additional buttons made usage of the camera quite frustrating. I literally wanted to pull my hair out while browsing through the interface, trying to explore various settings. It is quite a learning curve, even for me, a guy who has tens of action cameras.
In the next two paragraphs I will explain you how to do some basic functions with the camera. I wrote them in order to make things easier to you, but also to illustrate the amount of effort it goes to do some basic stuff with the camera.
Turning camera on/off
How many times has it happened to you to accidentally call someone on the phone, or turn some options while the device was in your pocket?
Come on, be honest.
Well, to turn on Blackview Hero 1, you simply need to press an ON/OFF button. No need to hold it. Camera turns off very quickly, but in my experience, it is much better to have to hold button for a second or two instead of pressing it quickly.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but imagine you are hiking, camera turned on accidentally, and just when you are about to reach the top of the mounting with a breathtaking view you realize battery drained and the only footage you have left is the inside of your pocket. I really hope they will fix this in future updates, even though its not a big deal.
Until then, you can set the camera to turn off automatically after 1-3 minutes of inactivity and prevent accidental turning on.
To turn the camera off, you need to hold the very same button for 2 seconds.
Switching through different modes
If you think I was whining unnecessarily about on-off, I dare you to try to switch through different modes. As I mentioned camera has different modes : video, photo and a preview. To switch between different modes, you have to hold (hold, not press) the upper navigation arrow (UP ARROW).
Maybe I am an idiot, but it happened to me few times to hold button shorter then it should so instead of switching modes I entered the setup, etc. Quite frustrating. I would prefer if a on/off button had modes option and left and right arrows… Well the arrows should do what an arrow should do – be used for up/down navigation.
It certainly takes some time to get used to the interface.
If you notice that you videos have no sounds, its because you probably pressed (DOWN ARROW) once you were in video settings. I have no idea what they wanted to achieve with this sort of user interface, which is everything but intuitive and user friendly.
Now that I managed to find a way, through rather annoying navigation, its time to show you the settings this camera offers. Even though, most of action cameras in similar price range have lots of options that can enhance your creativity, this camera is pretty limited when it comes to changes you can do to your photo/video through the camera itself.
There is no white balance or exposition setup. Camera apparently does that automatically. Besides some standard options which are pretty self-explanatory such as date stamp, format, sound on off, language, camera has these set-ups available :
- Auto Power Off
- Auto Back-light
- Button sound
And that was everything as far as setups are concerned. So if you are one of those guys who loves to “hack” the footage by playing with various options, you should know that this camera is pretty closed and limited for now. I am not sure if the future firmware updates will bring something more.
On the other hand, by eliminating lots of these features, camera became quite simplistic and its good for people who just want to turn it on and take photos or record a video and not worry about setups, ISO, exposure and other more advanced stuff.
If by any chance you wish to downgrade the quality of your video, you can do that inside the quality setup :
- Super fine (highest)
- Fine (medium)
- Normal (lowest)
Auto Power Off
This great option allows you to set time interval in which camera should turn off if its idle. So if you are not recording or touching any buttons, camera will turn off automatically. This is a life safer, since if you are oblivious like I am, you probably will forget to turn off the camera at one point. You can chose from these intervals :
- Off (to disable auto shutting down)
- 1/3/5 minutes.
You will hear a countdown timer if you have the button sound enabled before camera automatically turns off.
In order to save as much battery as possible I keep mine at 3 minutes.
Similar to auto power-off, auto backlight option will turn off the display only. Depending on which time you specified, display will blackout, which again, saves quite a lot of battery.
You can pick from :
- 10 seconds
- 30 seconds
Once the display gets turned off, you can activate it again, by simply pressing any of the buttons. Its similar process to the screen saver on your PC.
If you are irritated by the beep sound camera produces, you can disable it. That’s all this feature does.
Blackview Hero 1 App – Third part software with additional features
Even though I do not like the fact that the camera does not have its own application and uses third-party one that plenty of cameras with Ambrella chipset use, I was pleasantly surprised that it unleashed few additional features that are not available in the camera settings.
Besides extra settings exclusive to the app itself, user experience is pretty simple and straight to the point. There is not much to think. Few simple buttons, not many options to be tweaked.
But lets go step by step. The manual recommends the use of LinkinEyes app.
There is always a risk with third-party apps, and I would really like to see Blackview having their own app which they will work on and adjust solely to their cameras. While there is nothing wrong with the app at the moment of writing this review, you never know what LinkingEyes developers will do.
How to connect to an app?
In case you do not want to read the manual, here is a brief tutorial on how to connect to the Blackview Hero 1 – LinkinEyes app.
Enabling camera WiFi
First, turn on your camera. Hold the OK button to enable the WiFi. If you turned on the WiFi, first you will see a large WiFi icon all over the camera LCD Screen. Next, you will see a password. Leave the camera now, take your phone/tablet.
Connecting Blackview Hero 1 to LinkinEyes app
Now that you turned the camera WiFi, its time to connect to that WiFi network. I assume you already installed the LinkEyes app previously. Good. Go to your phone WiFi Settings, and find a network with the name amba_boos (yes, seriously, whatever that means, that’s the one you need). The default password is 1234567890.
Enter it and connect to a network. You are all set, now just find the LinkinEyes app on your device, and enter it while being connected to amba_boss network. If you did everything the right way, your camera is now connected. This password entering step is required only for the first time. If your device remembered the password, it should automatically pair with the camera WiFi next time.
App Interface Explained
As I mentioned previously, app is quite simple and intuitive, you should get used to it quite quickly. It does not offer many features, but hey, neither does the camera, so its logical. Bellow is a simple overview of app interface. I understand this should not be explained to everyone, but its good for the newbies.
- WiFi indicator (indicates weather or not you are connected to a camera network)
- Resolution Button (if you are in video mode, it will show video resolutions, or photo res in image mode)
- Video Mode – Chose this if you would like to remotely record a video, then click record button (#8)
- Photo Mode – For taking photos (chose this then click #8 button to take an image)
- Date and time
- Settings – Here is where you can change some basic camera settings remotely. Whever you select here will reflect and change to your camera as well.
- Preview mode – Preview image and footage, download them to your phone directly or share them on Social Networks right away.
Besides nearly all settings that you can adjust with the camera, there is one option that seams to be exclusive to the app. Inside the Settings (button #6 on the image above) chose Capture Mode. You will see that capture mode allows burst shooting together with normal and time lapse.
This is interesting feature for those you who like photographing fast moving objects, or sport events. By enabling this, your camera will take 3 continuous images once you press the shutter button. I have no idea why they excluded this feature from the camera setup. We can only hope they will add it in some of their firmware updates.
Mass Storage Problem with Windows 7 and 8.1
If you are having issues with your PC not being able to read the camera, please use ONLY original USB cable that came inside the box. None other are working apparently. This solved the mass storage issue described bellow.
I really had so much fun with Blackview Hero 1 action camera until I decided to plug it into my PC and transfer videos and photos. Holly crap! I am not sure if this is a problem exclusive to my camera, or all other have same issue, but once I plugged this fella into a PC my Windows 7 did not recognize the device.
I tried so many times. I tested different USB cables. Tested it on Windows 8.1 – nothing. Both my laptop and PC were unable to recognize this camera. Huge, huge, huge disadvantage and problem, that I truely hope can be fixed. Maybe its my memory card problem? I tried 3 different types of cards, still nothing.
Because I was unable to transfer files directly from the camera, I pulled the Micro SD card and put it into a card reader. If you have a device either a mobile phone, tablet or a camera that supports that very same card you can easily transfer the files. But if you do not. God help you. Lets hope these issue will be fixed in some of their firmware updates, because if it does not, its going to be a major issue.
I would really appreciate if anyone who owns this camera already, can leave a comment and let me know if you are facing this same issue. Or its just my item with the problem.
When it comes to after-sale support, I expected much better treatment from Blackview. Even though, there is an option to send an email to them, the chances they will reply are equal to ones me winning a lottery. Its been over a two weeks now, and I never received a reply about firmware updates for instance.
That is why I tried to contact them on Skype. This way I got instant reply from one of their representatives. Even then, I did not get my issue resolved.I was given a link which did not work. After that I was told they can not put a link immediately.
It is great that you can contact them on Skype, but it is unthinkable that they ignore emails. So if by any chance, you need to reach out to customer support, use Skype, and add after-sales representative. Funny, but it works.
Blackview Hero 1 is great camera. It produces great 16 megapixels photographs and sharp, videos in fantastic wide-angle. It can record in 2k resolution and in 60 fps in full HD. Huge advantage is great Sony sensor which makes sure that the camera preforms good even under the direct sunlight.
The WiFi app it has is pretty simple and easy to use, which is a huge plus. Packing of the camera is fantastic and it comes with a lots of additional gear. 2 inch display that camera has is a huge advantage.
One more thing in favor of this camera is that it has decent battery life considering it has a large screen. I like the fact that it allows you to control battery consumption by selecting screen saver and auto power off.
Besides its weird name that obviously tries to resemble to a GoPro, it is however priced 40% more then most other Chinese action cams and gives slightly more of a fish-eye distortion. I must agree that for what it offers and the gear that comes with it it justifies the price.
User interface and navigation is annoying and gives a lot of headache. Additionally my camera had problem with transferring file to a PC as my computer did not recognize camera. (NOTE: I am not sure if other cameras have this same issue, I can not confirm).
I do not like the fact that camera leaves not much to a consumer to play with. It does everything automatically and sets everything up. You basically can not do much. No white balance switching, no ISO control ,etc. For new users, this probably is an advantage, but for people who want to have more creative freedom its a disadvantage.
NOTE : You can buy Blackview Hero 1 here (price includes free worldwide shipping)
To sum up, after a few weeks of using this camera on a regular basis in both indoors and outdoors, I can say that is is pretty decent product that has few bugs that have to be ironed up in the next software update.
If you are a tech-savvy person, you will get used to navigation after few days, but if you are not be aware that there is a learning curve. Even though it can not be called under 100$ camera, it is pretty good choice for people who can stretch to 140$.
If the camera is a bit pricey, you can check some cheaper alternatives I reviewed | All Action Camera Reviews here|
Questions, suggestions and your opinion
As you might not, I highly valuate you, the reader. Your questions and ideas are always more then welcome. If there is something you would like to know that isnt presented in the article, just leave a comment.
If you already own a Blackview 1 or even 2, it would be awesome if you could comment and let me and community know how it works for you.
I hope this review managed to help you in a way.If you found any mistake, or want me to add something up, just let me know.
Until next time, happy recording.