Xiaomi YI is without any doubt one of the best cheap GoPro alternatives. With all its pros and cons it became a “poor man’s GoPro”.
Joke aside, with great image quality, decent video and low price as its biggest advantage YI is a go to choice for people who do not want to waste money on big-brand cameras.
However, camera it self has two main problems :
- It does not have an LCD
- Battery life of 2 hours is not enough for most of us
You might be wondering, will Xiaomi create a camera with an LCD screen and better battery performance? Probably, but at the time of writing, it is quite unknown if and when will it happen.
If you already bought a “Green Ant”, there is great solution for you.
Some smart engineers created a detachable LCD screen for Xiaomi YI and a 2400mah li-Ion battery, which gives twice the recording time.
I was lucky enough to get a hold of one such power pack, and in this article I will do a short overview of it and test it out.
What is it?
Its a additional accessories set which includes gear that were never before available for YI. It is made in China, and it is not an official Xiaomi product. Company behind this power pack (as I like to call it) is SuperTig.
However, I noticed that company called Pannovo also sells this power pack. I do not have Pannovo pack, but by looking at photos in some of the stores, it really looks the same to me. Perhaps they are just different brand selling this item produced in same factory.
While I can not say for sure, I noticed that Pannovo compared to SuptTig sells these separately on some sites.
Update: It appears that most of the sites sold out these, so its hard to find them separately. In my opinion its much better value to get a whole pack.
Once again, I am unsure if the accessories pack is the same, if someone has more information, please drop a comment below. In this article I will showcase and test screen and battery made SuperTig, which you can buy here for around 40$.
Whats inside the box?
Once you open a box, here is what you will find inside :
- 1x 1.5 inch LDC display
- 1x 2400 mah Li-iOn replaceable battery
- 1x waterproof housing
- 1x replaceable waterproof back door cover
- 1x screw
- 1x 1/4 inch to GoPro mount adapter
- 1x flat base clip
- 1x USB cable
- 1x buckle lock
When I first got my Xiaomi YI, in my video review summary I said :
I do not like the lack of LCD and the fact that Xiaomi sacrificed functionality for the sake of the design. Sometimes I did not know what I was recording.
Luckily, thanks to the newest invention. You will not hear my complaining anymore about inability to properly compose a photo or video, because SupTig piggyback screen solves those issues.
In essence this Xiaomi YI LCD display is a viewfinder which allows you to preview what you are recording or photographing. Or in layman’s terms with this screen you see what camera sees.
It works exactly like HDMI cable when attaching it to a TV. Even though the diagonal of the screen is only 1.5″ it is still quite handy and certainly much better than having to guess if you managed to properly catch your family in the frame for instance.
Display does not have a locking mechanism like battery has, because it is quite firmly attached. It is plugged in both USB port and HDMI port of the camera.
The built quality of the screen is not that good. Its plastic. This is however good for people who want to have light-weight solution. LCD screen weights only 23 grams (0.81 ounce). The total of camera with battery, memory card, battery cover and a screen is cca 93 grams (3.28 oz).
Can you change settings?
Most people will ask if Xiaomi YI screen allows us to change settings and options?
Unfortunately it does not. It is basically only a live preview, you can’t adjust settings or anything else. You still need to connect to a mobile app to do such tasks.
How about battery life with LCD on?
According to my tests with LCD being turned on all the time here is how the default 1010 mah battery performed :
- 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps – 35 minutes
- 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps – 48 minutes
I really enjoyed having an LCD screen, but camera indeed felt a bit bulkier and different. I noticed the the unit I got has a bit curved screen. I do not know if it is just a faulty unit, or all screens are like that due to the materials used.
Having a screen in green color would be quite neat, as the white one, which is currently produced, might not be appealing to everyone, especially if you have the “green frog” color of the camera.
One more complain is that display is sometime quite hard to pull out. You have to be very careful and patient while operating it, otherwise you might break the plugs, which can remain inside the YI, causing additional headache. Just be patient with a screen when taking it off.
Also when trying to put display into YI, try not to press actual screen, press the side edges instead, because screen is plastic and might crack easily.
How to connect it?
It is quite simple to attach the display. Just remove the MicroSD/USB port cover, and plug it in. However if you only do this, you will see a blue screen when you turn on the camera. This means that you have to enable AV Output inside the YI app.
Once you turned AV on, screen should be working. If you do not see AV Output option inside your app, you must update the firmware.
Display can be turned on or off by pressing tiny button on the left hand side.
DIY LCD screen
Since YI is DIY and hackers camera, people who prefer to do something on their own can buy any sort of AV screen and connect it to the camera. Here is an interesting tutorial on how to do it.
If you are a bit tech-savvy, its quite simple, just wire up the RCA to the USB port. A bonus idea, you can also 3D print a housing. Hopefully this will get your creative juice flowing.
24000 mah backup battery
Battery life is something that most of the action cameras these days have. Cameras that are popular, like GoPro, have all sorts of external batteries. I was so happy to see external battery for YI.
Usual 1010mah battery gives around 2 hours of recording. This one is twice more powerful.
Backup battery weights 58g (2.05 ounces), which makes camera total weight around 107 grams (3.77 ounce). Battery has its own USB port, so you do not have to attach it to the camera to charge it.
Only plug the USB cable into your PC and the mini USB into battery USB port. Battery will show red color while its charged, which will turn off when its 100% ready.
Here are my results with the camera in various resolutions and fps. Please note that I did not perform this test on a brand-new battery. LED indicators have been turned on, WiFi was off all the time.
- 1080 x 1920 at 60 FPS – 182.21 minutes
- 1080 x 1920 at 30 FPS – 240.43 minutes
As you can see in 1080p 30, battery life is great. It is little above 4 hours, which is twice better compared to around 120min that supplied battery 1010mah can do.
Waterproof case and other accessories
Not everyone needs a waterproof case. Not all of us are divers or do underwater footage. As you probably know, Xiaomi YI is not water-resistant, so even with the lightest rain, you would need some sort of a protection.
With this pack, you also get a 30m waterproof housing together with screws and 1/4″ to GoPro mount adapter, which will come in handy when you want to attach this camera to anything with standard action cam mount.
What I really liked is that waterproof case comes with a spare back door, which are quite more spacious, so you can fit your camera with LCD attached inside, or with a 2400mah battery.
You can find some more waterproof solutions for YI in this article.
Where to buy it?
Even though camera itself can be bought everywhere, this kit, can be found only on handful of stores.
Despite this “power pack” not having a user manual, being cheaply packed and the fact it comes in a single color only, for its price it provides excellent value. More importantly it eliminates two very important issues, which held back some people from buying Xiaomi YI.
Now you can not say : “Yi is great camera with even better price, but I will not buy it because it does not have a screen” or “Its a great camera, but battery life should be a bit longer.”
I really think that SuperTig handled this quite well. They also included a waterproof case, which alone is wort around 10-15$.
In my personal opinion, the best valued accessory is external 2400 piggyback battery, which extends battery life to 4 hours of continuous recording. LCD display is also quite handy, especially for beginners. However it consumes battery quite a lot and is cheaply made. More over it does not allow you to change settings, so its just a simple view-finder to help you compose your videos better.
You might want to check some other Xiaomi YI related articles I wrote :
- |Full Review|
- |Best Accessories list |
- |Virtual Interactive Manual|
- | SJ4000 or YI which one is better?|
Finally, you can take a video in which I made about this set.
Hopefully this article was helpful. Feel free to ask a question in the comments below. If you own this pack, I would like to hear what is your experience with it.