The GoPro is a pretty cool camera, and one that is championed by athletes and action photographers around the world. There’s very little that can compare with a GoPro when it comes to video output, and when you put it in a weatherproof case and on one of the many mounts available for it, you get a level of versatility unparalleled anywhere else. However, a GoPro Hero 5 will set you back well over Rs 30,000, and that isn’t even considering the optional extras such as casings and mounts.
If you don’t have that kind of budget, yet you still want a good action camera, you could consider one of the many GoPro clones around. One such option is the MGCool Explorer 1S, which you could buy from one of many online retailers including GearBest. Priced at US$ 54.99 (approximately Rs 3,600 before shipping and duties), the Explorer 1S is incredibly affordable and promises all the goodness of a GoPro. But can this affordable GoPro clone really match up? Find out in our review.
Looks like a GoPro
The MGCool Explorer 1S undoubtedly looks like a GoPro, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for mistaking it for one. It’s about the same size and shape as the older GoPro Hero 3 and Hero 4 models, and comes with its own waterproof housing and mounts. The box includes a large variety of mounts, so you’ll definitely find something you need depending on how you intend to use it.
The back of the device comes with a color screen, while the front has the power/mode button and lens. The top has the shutter button, while the right side has the controller buttons.
While navigating can be a bit complicated and fiddly, you can manage to navigate through the functions and settings of the MGCool Explorer 1S once you get used to it.
The interface is simple and functional, and there is plenty to choose from. You can choose between shooting video and still images, view images and recordings that you have on the device, and tweak settings and options to set the camera up to your preferences. For storage, you’ll have to insert a microSD card, and high-resolution recordings are of course more intensive on the storage.
Charging is through micro-USB, and there is strangely also a mini-USB port in place on the device. On the whole, it’s a simple affair with all the basics in place, allowing you to record video at up to 4K resolution, or take still images at up to 20-megapixel resolution. The device is also Wi-Fi enabled for easy connectivity.
Image quality could be better
Let’s be clear; there’s a good reason why a GoPro camera costs what it does, and it has to do with image and video quality. The MGCool Explorer 1S costs one-tenth of what a GoPro does, and image quality is naturally poorer than what you would expect on a GoPro. However, for the price, there’s very little to complain about.
You get decent enough video recording at 4K and QHD resolutions, but dropping the resolution to full HD at 60fps yields the best results. Still photos have an automatic fish-eye effect because of the wide angle of the lens, which is capable of shooting with a 170-degree field of vision at up to 20-megapixel resolution. The camera does tend to suffer a bit in indoor and low-light conditions, with a considerable amount of noise visible in these situations.
All of this makes the MGCool Explorer 1S great for outdoor shots and videos, and the weather-proof casing and mounts mean that you can take the camera anywhere and shoot pretty much anything. Stil images do come with the advantage of wide-angle shooting, which is good if you can tolerate the fish-eye effect. On the whole, just don’t expect quality to be on par with what you’d expect from a GoPro, and you’ll be happy with the results you get from the MGCool Explorer 1S
Take a look at some of the sample videos and images that we shot with the Explorer 1S.
Is the MGCool Explorer 1S a worthwhile GoPro clone? Well, yes and no. When it comes to functionality and ability, the Explorer 1S ticks all the boxes. It’s got size, weather-proofing, versatility and the ability to shoot at various resolutions up to 4K and 20-megapixel on its side. Wi-Fi connectivity and plenty of tweaks and settings help as well.
However, it simply does not match up to a GoPro on image quality. Still, it’s important to note that it costs a fraction of what a good GoPro goes for today, and with that in mind, you are getting what you pay for. If your requirements are basic and you want a simple action camera to get a few decent shots and videos of your adventures, the MGCool Explorer 1S is definitely worth a look. Do keep in mind that it isn’t available directly in India, and you’ll have to buy the device using one of the various foreign online retailers that will ship to India. Also remember that which the device itself costs the equivalent of about Rs 3,600, there will be duties and shipping costs attached that will bump the price up a bit.