As a person who has this lucky hobby of buying and reviewing action cameras, it is easy to get into monotony, especially when manufacturers do not bother to innovate and push their limits to introduce something new.
That is why I was super-excited when I first saw a new, headband-shaped wearable action camera named Foream X1 by Chinese company – Foream.
What makes this camera different is not only its Power Rangers futuristic shape, but also easy-to-use interface, app with a direct video editing and most importantly, premium price tag which this innovative gizmo has.
In this post, I will write some basic stuff about the Foream X1 camera, show you all of its functions, setups and first and foremost, do an extensive review of all of its features.
In conclusion, this is going to be quite an in-depth post, so weather you are just an action camera fan who likes exploring new products or you actually consider buying this camera, I will do my best to help you out.
Foream X1 is a headband shaped action camera which comes in 5 different colors and weights around 97 grams. It allows you to shoot full HD videos in 1080p and HD in 720p. Moreover, it has a 8 megapixel SONY IMX179 sensor, which creates true 8mp photographs. Additionally it has a built in WiFi and supports an external microphone.
One of the most interesting features is a cloud storage which allows automatic syncing of videos and photos (10GB storage space available). At the moment of writing it is priced at around 169$.
Note : You can buy this camera on GearBest and get 30$ of its retail price.
Foream X1 product specification
In a table below, you can see technical specs which will give you quite decent amount of info on the camera. Do not worry if you do not understand meaning of all the rows in this table, I will clarify all the important stuff throughout the article.
Foream X1 Camera
- Chipset : Ambrella A7
- Image Sensor: SONY IMX179
- Lens : F2.2 Aperture, 87° FOV
- Weight : 97g
- Size : 176.4 x 174.8 x 27mm
- LCD Screen
- Colors available : green, pink, red, orange, black
- Image resolutions : 8MP
- Video Resolutions : 1920 x 1080; 30fps, 1280 x 720; 30fps
- Video compression format : H.264
- Video format : MP4
- Image format : JPEG
- Memory : External MicroSD/MicroSDHC up to 32 GB
- Battery : 1160mAh replaceable lithium-ion battery
- Power Supply: DC 5V 1000 mA
- Charge Way : Mini USB to USB charge by PC
- Built-in microphone built-in/external (external mic support)
- WiFi Distance : 10 meters
- Android App WiFi
- iOS App WiFi
- Connection : USB 2.0
- Time Lapse 0.5s/1s/2s/3s/5s/10s/30s/60s
- HDMI out
- Live Broadcasting
- Cloud Storage
- Language: English, Simplified Chinese
Inside the box
When it comes to packing, there is quite a bit of a resemblance between the box design of a X1 and Xiaomi YI. Box in which Foream camera comes in is made out of a thick cardboard. Unlike some other action cameras, it is quite flat and minimalist.
Once you open the box, at first glance, all you can see is a camera that reminds of a headband for sure. For a moment, you might think this is all that you get, but as soon as you lift the camera, bellow the spongy surface there are few more accessories. To summarize, box contains :
- 1x camera
- 1x soft bag
- 1x user manual
- 1x warranty card with a certificate
- 1x velcro stripe
- 1x USB cable
It does not take a genius to realize Foream does not like to spend much on additional gear that is included in the box. Pretty basic stuff. I would dare to say pretty poor accessories list for the price. No additional bells and whistles that most of the cheap Chinese cameras have.
On the other hand there might be a good reason for this. Camera can not be attached to anything but head. So it makes sense to only have a head-strap, right?
However, I would like to see a wall charger or at least one more strap. Come on, don’t tell me they could not threw at least two head striped for the price of the camera?
Soft bag made out of cloth, itself is good solution for carrying camera, but not for totally protecting it. Action camera protection requires better solutions.
I do not like that they included bunch of useless papers, such as flyer for their upcoming camera and certificate cards, which I have no idea what to do with.
User manual, is more a quick start up guide, which will be okay to get you going. It explains in clear English, pretty well how to start using the camera, update the software, attach a strap and use a WiFi.
Since the camera interface and buttons are quite simple, in my opinion, the one sheet manual is more than enough. It is only on English, be aware of that.
What can be said more about the design? Its quite obvious from looking at a camera photo. Foream X1 is designed to be different. Made to be unusual. Produced to stand out of the crowd. In the sea of Chinese manufacturer producing square shaped cameras aimed to look similar and in some cases identical to a GoPro, Foream is quite a refreshment.
For some it may seam that they went a bit too far in trying to differ themselves from the competition. I partially agree with this statement. With its headband shape, camera will be attractive to a tiny group of people willing to have something funky.
Or customers who need this camera for particular purpose. Typical action cam user, expects his camera to look like a box attached to his head. But its the marketing that made us feel “normal” even though honestly, we look like Teletubbies.
As far as I am concerned, X1 is quite well built. Quality of workmanship is obvious, and Foream X1 is definitely one of the neatest camera in terms of its appearance. Minimalist, easy to operate and well built. It comes in multiple colors such as green, pink, red, orange and black in case.
For people seeing manufacturers images of people wearing this camera, it might seam a bit dorky.
I must admit, I also did not like how it look on those ads, but in reality it does not look as bad as they managed to present it. It is certainly not something you want to go out with (unless on those open-space techno stages) or go shopping, but for recording sports, cycling, hiking and similar activities you might not look weird at all. While wearing a black winter cap while hiking, I noticed people barely noticed it. In that terms, it looks a bit more discrete.
There are more of these hilarious jokes over at DashCamTalk about the appearance on the camera. So if you like good humor, go and take a quick look, then get back here, as there are lots of things to be covered.
Buttons and ports
If you saw me or anyone else wearing this headband shaped camera, I guarantee you wouldn’t notice how many buttons it actually has. When mounted properly, most of the buttons on the X1 will not be visible, as they would be directed down to the ground.
With that in mind, take a look at the image below and you will realize how many buttons the camera has actually.
Here is a brief overview of each and every port and button of Foream X1 camera :
- Power On-Off Button / Mode Switch – Turns camera on or off when held for few seconds, and switches through 3 modes when clicked.
- WiFi Button – Turns WiFi on/off
- USB/Memory card compartment
- LED indicator – indicates the mode of the camera (video, photo, time-lapse).
- Charging/Battery indicator
- WiFi indicator
- External microphone port
- Battery compartment
On the front side, camera looks quite simple, and there are no buttons, ports or led indicators. However, magic happens when flip it to its back, which is where most of the buttons are.
Foream X1 Modes
Camera supports 4 different modes :
- Video (for recording videos)
- Photo (for taking still images)
- Time-lapse (for time lapse photography)
- WiFi Direct Mode
In order to change from one mode to another you simply need to click on/off/mode button, which turns camera on or of. By clicking (not holding) mode button, you will switch throughout three modes (video, photo, time-lapse).
Switching will be followed by voice which will say “Video Mode, Photo Mode, Time Lapse Mode” depending on the mode you are into, this way you will always know if you are in recording or image mode. Additionally front LED indicator will show red for video, blue for photo and green for time lapse.
Camera supports only two resolutions for recording movies. You can record either in full HD or in HD.
- 1920×1080 – 30 fps
- 1280×720 – 30 fps
Video output bit rate is 15059 kbps, where as the data rate is around 14995kbps. While video colors are okay, I noticed that the main con is stabilization. With field of view being quite narrow, shake will be more visible compared to other cameras that do not have electronic or optical built-in stabilization. Narrower FOV makes shake quite more obvious.
Besides that I found camera quite easy to use in action. It does not require much tinkering. Just press the record button and you are good to go.
In order to start recording, while in video mode, click the REC button located on the right side of the camera. If you are right handed, this is great, but for a left handed person , it might be annoying to search for a record button on the right side.
It is what it is and you will have to get used to it. To stop recording, press rec button again. Start and stop will not pause the video. So each time you click stop, new video clip is created.
One thing I love is that the voice command will say “Start recording, Click” when you initiate video, and “Stop recording” when you stop it.
Quite handy, considering that the camera will be on your forehead all the time, so it eliminates cumbersome steps of having to take off the camera to see if its recording or not. Voice command team, you nailed it.
However, when you start recording a video, there is a second delay before camera starts to capture the footage. Not a huge deal, but for some people in extreme sports, seconds matter.
Angle of the camera is quite narrow, only 87 degrees. This will be good for people who do not like the barrel roll or fish eye distortion that wide-angle cameras create. On the other hand, I really like cameras wide a wide field of view, so the 87 degree view, without an option to make it larger, bothered me quite a lot.
I assume that for large view, they probably needed a different, bigger lens, which would totally mess up the whole design. With a bigger lens, I guess it would look like Third Eye camera made in 2009, and lets be honest, nobody wants to look this “cool” :).
Camera on a forehead, is it healthy?
I noticed that like most of the action cameras, this one also gets slightly warm while recording for a longer period of time. I am not a doctor, or any sort of medical worker, so this is not a medical advice. But I just want to point out that I am unsure how healthy it is to have a camera attached this close to your brain or head.
Again, this is just a blind guess, so if there are any doctors around reading this, I would appreciate your comment on if a slightly warm camera attached to forehead can be a potential health risk.
Until someone comments, I advice you not to buy this for your kids, as I am sure I wouldn’t let mine use something potentially dangerous. The heat did not mind me, but I must admit that I did not feel comfortable thinking if its good idea to have this on my head. I also tried it with my hat on and I did not feel any heat.
I am not saying this camera is unhealthy to use, I would just like to know if it is and I am pointing out potential problem. I do not have a proof that it causes any sort of issues, but I think it must be pointed out.
One more thing, this camera is not water-resistant, nor it has a waterproof case for it. This will mean a huge no-no for divers and people wanting to use their action camera underwater. So if you need a waterproof camera, take a look at tons of others I reviewed.
Besides recording and live streaming videos, Foream X1 allows you to take 8 megapixels still images thanks to SONY IMX179 sensor.
Since the photo quality can be judged by the samples, below you can see few photographs I made. Please note that these images are of compressed quality, since it allows much faster loading of the website. It is essential that you download raw samples, on this link.
8mp is enough for most of social media type of images. You can see that when zoomed up to 200% photo looks quite sharp. 300% crop starts to be blurry.
Colors on the camera are quite natural, nothing too vibrant or vivid, which allows a bit of space for boosting colors in Photoshop or other image editing software, if that is something you like.
Wide dynamic range of the camera is quite good. This means that objects in shadows and highlights will both look clear and sharp.
Because slightly slower shutter speed, camera can sometimes make blurry photos when you move fast, however, this kind of shutter speed gives beautiful effect when photographing water for instance, making it look silky-smooth.
Finally, because of no LCD or viewfinder it is extremely hard to get photo composition right. So if you are obsessed with photography rules of 3/4 and others, it will take insane amount of practice, and even then you might not be able to have a “perfect” photo.
This camera is more for people who just want to take quick snaps without thinking too much about photo composition.
Download photo samples
I highly recommend you to download original, uncompressed samples via DropBox on this link. Download them, do not preview them on DrobBox. Preview photos on your own PC for best possible quality.
If you want to enable WiFI, just click the WiFi button located next to on/off button and you should hear “WiFi Direct Mode” command as soon as you turn it on. While the WiFi turns on, red LED indicator located on the left side of the camera will start to blink. Once it stops blinking, WiFi is turned on.
One thing that was frustrating for me was inability to control the camera itself (take photos and videos by pressing buttons on a camera) while its connected to an app.
Great thing is that manufacturer has two apps, for Apple users on iTunes and Android users on Google Play. App is called Foream Connect on both platforms. WiFi app enables you to live preview videos, download media you created, check other people videos and upload media to the cloud.
Additionally it will allow you to change settings of the camera, though there are not many to be changed anyway.
When you launch an app for the first time, you need to pair app to the camera. In version I used, the default password is foreamx1.
When connected to the camera, app consists out of three parts :
- Camera – takes you to preview mode where you can take photos and videos remotely, via the app, without touching your camera.
- Gallery – where you can preview content you took, and download it to your phone or delete it
- Settings – change basic camera settings
First time I launched an app, I had a problem with basically everything. I was unable to pair my phone with a camera, as somehow it was bugged. I made sure that I had the latest version on Google Play, and according to them I indeed hat newest app version. After few minutes a pop-up window appeared asking me to download new 3.2.3 app from external source.
I downloaded the app, but it took forever, since these Chinese servers are terribly slow sometimes. My internet is quite fast, but it took 20 minutes to download 23 mb. I had similar problem with Xiaomi YI, until they regularly started to update Google Play app, I assume the same goes for this one.
At the end, I emailed the developers, and they fixed the issue, latest version is now available on Google Play.
Foream X1 is one of those cameras that has ridiculously small amount of options that allow you to change something. Here is an overview of the settings that camera has :
- Register Camera
- LED Indicator – Turn LED indicators on or off. Be aware that you should not turn them off when the speaker volume is mute, as you will have no idea if the camera is turned on or off, so do not do that.
- Video Resolution – If you want to change video resolution, you can do it here
- Speaker Volume – Determine the volume of a voice command
- Language – change language from English to Chinese and vice-versa
- Time-lapse interval – Change interval for time-lapse mode shoots (0.5/1/2/5/10/30/60 seconds)
- Format memory – Erases all data from your memory card
- Firmware version – shows the latest version of the X1 software.
Upgrading an Android App
As soon as I connected to the Foream Sports Camera App for the first time, my camera kept saying “Please upgrade an app”. It took me a while to understand why the heck this thingy wants me to upgrade the app, even though I had the latest version shown on Google Play. The solution is that at least at the time I tried to upgrade the app, there was another version which was not added to Google Play. Quite frustrating, but here is what I did.
Firstly, my camera started to bug, and did not want to turn off. So I used a needle to restart it by pushing it into “restart”. After that I formatted my memory card via the app (I was connected to camera WiFi). Then, I connected to my home network (not camera WiFi). I entered the App, and a popup window appeared asking if I want to upgrade.
When I clicked “Yes” it took me to a download page that was obviously a Chinese version of a Forearm website. The international one did not have an app to download, so I just followed what app said.
If you are on Android, you probably know that most of the phones by default, block apps that are not from Google Play. Since this app is downloaded manually, you would have to “allow installation of apps from sources other than Google Play Store.” This can be found inside the Settings>Security of your mobile phone.
Once all of that is done, just go to downloads of your phone and start the foream.apk file. App will upgrade automatically.
Please note that this process might not be needed when developers of Foream camera, put the latest version on Google Play Store. I just wanted to take you step by step, just in case bugs like this happen to you.
Before you start, charge your camera at least 50%.
- Turn the camera off.
- Plug the USB into the camera and into your PC.
- Download latest firmware here.
- Unzip downloaded folder.
- Copy X1.bin file to the root folder of your camera. Your PC>FOREAM X1
- Unplug the camera from the USB (it will automatically turn off)
- Turn the camera on, and you should hear “Start Upgrading”
- It should take around 20 seconds to full minute for camera to upgrade.
- Once you hear – upgrade is done, wait for 20 seconds for camera to restart – you have successfully upgraded – congratulations!
10GB cloud storage. You can upload all sort of stuff from your phone, not just images or videos from the camera, which is very neat.
1160 mAh replaceable lithium-ion battery powers the X1. According to official specs, this kind of battery gives around 236 minutes (according to my tests) of recording time in 1080p x 30 fps (non stop recording) without WiFi being turned on. That is somewhere near 4 hours of recording, which is amazing for an action camera. I tested plenty of cameras, and this one has better battery life then most of them.
Green LED battery(charging) indicator will blink when the battery life is lower than 25%. Which is not that handy if you wear the camera on your head, as you can not see it. That is why developers implemented a voice command “Battery is low”- which will warn you few minutes before camera battery drains out. “Battery is low, power off” will warn you that the camera turned off due to low battery.
Foream X1 can be charged by the standard micro USB cable, which most of the phones use these days. You can fill the battery by plugging the supplied USB cable into your PC. Once you do that, press the power button. You will hear a scary Counter-Strike voice saying – “charging”.
If the green charging indicator blinks twice every few seconds, this means that the camera is still being charged. Once it shows only green light, the battery is full and you can start using it all over again.
What I did not like about the camera, is that when it arrives, it has 0% battery life, so you first have to wait for it to charge and then play with it. And if you are excited to try it, like I was suspense might kill you.
External Microphone and headphones
Camera has 3.5 mm jack, in which you can plug in an external microphone for better audio quality (sold separately).
What is very interesting that this same port can be used to insert headphones which will help you to hear voice commands more clearly. One strange thing is that even with earphones inserted into the port, voice command will be heard on both speakers and earphones.
But that’s not all, you can also use 3.5 mm jack to USB cable to charge the camera, however I would recommend you to use supplied USB cable instead of experimenting with adapters.
Overall user experience that I had with X1 head camera is quite good. I am quite impressed how simple the operation of the camera is. There are not many buttons, settings to be tweaked, etc. It works really right out of the box. App navigation is simple, but in some cases buggy. Voice navigation makes everything a breeze.
It is quite hard to evaluate the customer service of Foream. I had few questions about the camera, and tried to email them. On their website, there is a contact page with emails, but each of these emails returned an error right after I sent them away. I do not know if this was a server error on Gmail, or whatever, but I assure you I tried more then once, on all three emails.
Since I had to reach support team urgently, I had to find a workaround. On their Google Play App there is a developer email, which I used to send my question to. Few hours later, I got a satisfactory reply that solved my issue.
Company certainly needs a contact form, it would be much better. I hope their server errors will be fixed.
Buy Foream X1
Here are few places where you can get Foream X1
If José Mourinho could be a camera, he would be X1. Either you love it or hate it.
Its built quality is impressive. It brings tons of innovative features, that I personally never seen before. Voice command for instance blew my mind. Such a useful thing. I have no idea how other manufacturers didn’t think of it before.
It was light-weight and comfortable to wear. I wore it on few of my hikes, and it was great for taking quick images. Photo quality is decent, though if you move really fast, because of the shutter speed and delay of a fraction of a section they might look blurry. Video stabilization is a big issue for the camera. Because of the narrow field of view, videos will look quite shaky if you move your head quite a lot.
I especially loved the battery life. Since there is no LCD screen, camera can record around 230 minutes in my tests which was absolutely fantastic.
Customer support is hard to reach due to the servers in China, but the developer I managed to contact was quite helpful and replied to tons of the questions that I had. So you can say that support is decent if you manage to send an email that usually gets rejected by their server.
Cloud storage they offer is something that many other bigger brand should do, as its quite useful. Thanks to its velcro strap, camera is quite stable, and will not fall out easily.
Futuristic as it looks, Foream X1 offers quite limited amount of things you can do with it. If you are one of those guys who likes tweaking and non-stop making things better, you might be bored fast with this camera. The product does what an action camera should – record videos and take photos. No white balance, ISO setups, etc. For some, this is a disadvantage, but people who actually want to spend time recording, rather then adjusting camera will love it.
Probably the biggest limitation is its use. You can use it only on your head, as it is a first person camera that can be mounted on a head only. No way you can mount it to a quad copter, or onto a car, chest, etc.
Angle of the camera is probably something that bothers me the most. While most of its competitors try to have wide-angle view, X1 has pretty narrow 87 degrees angle. I can not understand the decision behind this, as everyone seam to love wide field of view in their videos these days. This means that this camera give little or no fish eye distortion, which is a plus.
Who would I personally recommend this camera? People who do not mind having a camera on their head of course. People who like simple, well built products that can not be changed, tweaked, etc. More importantly, this one is perfect for people who want to have first person view, without having to look like a Teletabies when mounting a square shape camera onto a head. Instead you can look like Star Track wearing Foream X1 😉
My final opinion is that for the price, camera offers quite interesting features and lots of innovations that need to be perfected. Foream launched something different, they were brave and I salute them for that.
However for its retail price of 150$ (in some shops X1 can be found for 130$) there are tons of other action cameras that offer much more when it comes to photo, video and accessories. With this many innovation, I really hope Foream will became a new player to the market, changing the status quo. Even though compared to other cameras X1 has tons of disadvantages, it also has some features that no other camera has. I cant wait to see another camera made by Foream.
If you have any sort of question about the Foream X1, or you would want to leave you review on it, feel free to leave a comment below. I would like to hear back from you.