GoPros are expensive and don’t come with many accessories, which means you have to spend even more. The AKASO V50 Pro promises to be an affordable action camera that gives you “good enough” video for less. Does it deliver? Mostly.
An action camera is probably not the first one you should buy. If you don’t bike, hike, surf, fly drones, or even leave the house much, you probably don’t need one at all.
But they can be helpful when you’re on vacation, or if you take up a sport or an active hobby. You might fearlessly travel everywhere with your camera, but sometimes, you just want something small, light, and easy to use.
However, if you don’t plan to use it often, you shouldn’t spend much on an action camera. That’s where the AKASO V50 Pro comes in. It’s a little more expensive ($120 at this writing) than some other options. But for the extra money, you get all the accessories you need and better menu navigation. It also offers 4K video recording, albeit, at 30 frames per second (fps). If that’s not enough, though, you can step down to 1080p resolution and get 60 fps.
(Nearly) All the Accessories
As cameras go, the V50 Pro looks pretty generic. It’s small, rectangular, has a big ole lens on the front, a micro HDMI port, and a mini USB port you can use for an optional external mic. The casing looks like gray rubber, but it’s hard plastic.
One area that does set the V50 apart from more expensive options is the sheer number of accessories it comes with. You get two bike mounts, a waterproof case (up to 30 meters in depth), two helmet mounts, a few other mounts, two batteries, a dual battery charger, and a wrist remote. The only thing it doesn’t include is a microSD card, but you probably already have a few of those sitting around. If you want to record in 4K, though, you need a fast card—something that writes at least 60 MB/s.
Because the V50 comes with nearly every mounting accessory you could ask for, it’s going to save you more than a few dollars. The waterproof case is necessary because, unlike a GoPro, this camera isn’t water-resistant. That’s sad, but acceptable, given it costs nearly one-third of the price.
You get about an hour and a half of usage out of each battery, and it takes about two hours to charge one completely. A GoPro lasts about two hours on a single battery, but it only comes with one. So, the trade-off is worth it as long as you charge both batteries before you record.
An Easy-to-Use Menu Interface
In addition to all the accessories, the V50 has something else cheaper action camera’s do not: a touch screen.
If you’ve ever used a sub-$100 camera, you know the menu systems tend to be unintuitive and frustrating. They usually have about three buttons to navigate the menus, and each one acts differently, depending on the current screen. It’s easy to press the wrong button and get punted back to the main menu to start over again. Or fail to record because you hit the wrong button.
The V50 avoids those problems (and the need for multipurpose buttons) entirely. It’s still not the most intuitive menu interface I’ve used, but it’s good enough. The touch screen works well—95 percent of the time it correctly registers my swipes—but it’s not as good as your smartphone.
Within a few minutes, I turned off the time and date stamp, corrected the date, changed the resolution, and found the option to turn off the annoying beeps the menu system makes. I also appreciate the quick action menu you can access by swiping up from the bottom. From there, you can turn on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, the microphone, and more. On other action cameras I own, if you want to make changes like these, it takes much longer.
The only downside to the touch screen is you can’t use it when the camera is inside the waterproof case, so change your settings ahead of time.
The Wrist Remote Is a Solid Add-On
The V50 comes with a wrist remote that looks like a watch and makes recording easier (most of the time). With cheaper cameras, you have to remember which button to hit to record (it’s harder than it sounds when you’re tired). If the camera’s in a case, you also don’t have any markings to help.
On the V50, if you properly pair the remote, you just press the record button, or the picture button if you want to shoot a still image. The downside is the pairing part. Every time the V50 turns off, so does the remote and the camera’s Bluetooth radio.
So, when you turn on the camera, you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen, tap RF (which is the Bluetooth option, for some reason), press and hold the power button on the wrist remote for three seconds, and then let go. You then wait for the two devices to pair. If you forget any of these steps, the remote won’t work. However, once you set up everything, it’s convenient not to have to mess with a mounted camera to record.
If you don’t want to wear the wrist remote, AKASO has another trick up its sleeve. You can download the iSmart DV app for Android or iPhone, pair it with the V50 over the camera’s local Wi-Fi, and control it from your phone. It’s complete control too—you can change menu options, access photos and videos, and even stream the active recording to your phone. The lag is about one second behind actual time, which is acceptable enough. The distance was also decent, as I was able to walk three rooms away before I ran into issues with the stream.
It’s also worth noting this camera came with a dual battery charger—another item cheaper action cameras often don’t include. That sounds like a small thing, but it’s annoying to keep track of which battery is charged and swap out the one that’s not.
The Video Is Good, But Not Amazing
Accessories, apps, and plenty of batteries don’t mean much if an action camera isn’t good at recording video. So, how is the V50 on that score? It’s alright. It’s not at a GoPro level, but it’s good enough and, again, at one-third the price, you can’t expect more.
The V50 records in several resolutions and at several frame rates; it tops out at 4K at 30 fps. By contrast, GoPro currently offers 4K at 60 fps, which means smoother video and better-looking action scenes. For an extra $35 (at this writing), you can spring for an AKASO V50 Pro Special Edition that also records 4K at 60 fps. We only tested the standard edition, though.
I don’t consider the lower frame rate a big loss, as 4K video creates large files that quickly eat up your SD card. They’re also harder to edit. The ideal combination for most people is 1080p at 60 fps, and the V50 Pro offers that.
While the V50 Pro includes image stabilization, it’s not as good as what the latest GoPro offers. I’d say you get 85 percent of the quality for almost one-third the price. Just telling you the quality is adequate doesn’t help you out much, though, so here’s some video I recorded with the V50.
Perfectly Adequate for the Price
All in all, the V50 is fine—good, even. It produces decent video, includes all the accessories you need, and has an interface that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.
If you’re thinking about getting an action camera, but can’t justify the $400 cost of a GoPro, you should consider the V50 Pro.
Yes, even cheaper cameras exist, and the video they produce is just as good. But I can tell you from experience, everything else lets you down on other affordable action cameras. The menus will drive you nuts, the batteries are annoying to charge, and you’ll press the wrong button to record more times than not. The V50 helps you avoid all that, which makes it worth the cost of entry.
Here’s What We Like
- Comes with tons of accessories
- Wrist remote is very useful
- Touch screen works great
And What We Don't
- Pricier than some other action cams
- You have to turn on Bluetooth at every power-on
- It's only waterproof inside the case