The dogcam Bullet R+ shoots good-quality video and occupies minimal bar or helmet space, but it's up against some stiff competition in the action camera arena.
For a growing number of cyclists, action cameras have become a final line of defence against a road network that hasn't been designed with safe cycling in mind.
It's no wonder then, that the market for such recording devices is becoming increasingly saturated. Finding a niche in an environment like that can be difficult for manufacturers, especially when a market has become synonymous with a particular brand as this one has with GoPro.
The creators of the Bullet R+ Full HD video camera, dogcam, looked to find a niche with their previous flagship camera, the Bullet HD 2, which they launched as the smallest and lightest 1080p action camera on the market.
Sensibly, dogcam have retained much of what made the HD 2 special for the update to their flagship action cam, the Bullet R+. The device's matte grey, brushed aluminium, bullet-shaped finish brings an elegant, low-profile, action camera option to a market dominated by GoPro's boxiness.
Fortunately for dogcam, the device doesn't only look good, it captures good-looking footage, too.
But from a road cycling perspective, the camera does have its limitations. Restricted battery life, poor audio capture, and hard-to-grasp optimisation software make it a tough sell to casual users and commuters looking to record their rides.
First, though, let's start off by telling you what the device can do. The R+ records both 1080p and 720p at customisable frame rates of 30/25fps and 60/50fps respectively. Handily for road users, it employs a Loop Mode which will record in 15 min segments until the battery runs flat. It's waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters. It's super light, coming in at a measly 62g. It has optimisable recording levels, including sharpness, contrast and white balance. It even comes with a RF remote control.
The R+ comes in at £149.95, which - for reference - puts it on a price-par with GoPro's Hero3, and about £50 more than the new entry-level GoPro Hero device.
For your money you get a bunch of out-of-the-box peripherals with your R+, a feature that's not universal among action cam manufacturers.
Among your in-box goodies, you'll find mounts of the tripod, sticky, helmet and handlebar variety, and the new-to-the-R+ wrist-mountable RF remote control and receiver. With this add-on you can start or stop recording, and take still images with the click of a button - a feature we struggled to use until we spent a good while studying the instructions, and even then it wasn't totally clear whether your clicks had been successful.
The R+'s on-board tech has also seen some improvements since its HD 2 days: a new lens, a still-photo mode, adjustable white balance settings, and battery management options all contribute to a better all-round experience.
But that all-round experience is what leaves dogcam's flagship action camera a little short, at least for road cyclists who will mostly be using a camera like this for commute recording or for road safety purposes.
Firstly though, I'll say that the dogcam was the most pleasant camera to ever grace my bars. It's good looking, small, lightweight, and relatively straightforward to use and set up, thanks to its handy laser pointer. It also looked at home next to my similarly-shaped lights, and the provided slide-to-secure mounts were all solid and safe, even to the point where it took me a couple of tries to get the hang of fixing the device to my bars.
The camera produced good footage, too. When recording at 1080p, you get a crystal clear image, that isn't affected by road vibrations, and handles changes in light levels admirably, especially if you take the time to grapple with the optimisation software.
The camera's image-capture standards didn't translate across to its ability to capture audio, though. The literature that comes with the device states that in order to make the most out of the microphone you've got to use the rear case with holes in rather than the solid waterproof case. While this did make sound audible, the microphone was by no-means usable for deciphering any language - something that can come in handy for roadside altercations - though it did manage to catch my wheezes as I slogged up a 2km climb.
Here's a little showreel of footage that I captured while testing the device:
Despite its good looks, and ability to capture good looking images, the R+'s let downs weren't restricted to its audio capture: it was clunky in use, too.
Turning the thing on was simple enough, but problems started surfacing when I tried to decipher the R+'s notification buzzes and flashes.
The Bullet R+ does away with the widely-used and, quite frankly, common sense recording signifier of a solid-red LED. Instead, you're told that whenever the camera's on, it's recording, and you can tell when that it is thanks to a flashing blue/green LED which surrounds the on/off button.
Sounds simple, right? When you turn the camera on, you're greeted with a vibration and a handy laser beam pointing out the centre of the recording image. When you turn the camera off, you're notified by a slightly shorter buzz, coupled with a few flashes of the laser beam.
Call me dense, but both those notifications were a little too similar especially for my limited on-bike processing capacity. I like simple, obvious notifications, especially while I'm riding.
Those two notifications are all you get. So, when it was bright out, and I couldn't tell whether the soft blue/green recording signifier was flashing or not, checking by turning it on or off led me on a fruitless quest for information.
The device is also without any sort of signifier as to whether it's running out of battery or storage, so I'd occasionally find myself trying to turn a dead camera on because I thought I might have forgotten to turn it on in the first place. That lead me to a frustrating number of distracting mid-ride camera-fiddles.
The issue of mid-ride turn-offs was an annoyance that cropped up more than I'd have liked.
dogcam suggest that the camera should last 60-90 minutes on a full charge, depending on chosen recording quality, which occasionally left me camera-less on my 80-minute roundtrip commute.
Without the inconvenience of remembering to recharge the camera while at the office, a one-charge day while using the R+'s lowest quality settings was only just possible. When the camera was set to record at its highest quality, the camera often filled the 8GB of provided storage. This of course, can be altered by using a 32GB micro SD card, which the camera will accept - you'd have to buy your own though.
Not long after my time with the Bullet R+ had ended, dogcam introduced a Loop Mode feature in the device via a software update. Loop mode allows the camera to continue recording even after the Micro SD card has reached its storage limit. At that point the camera will begin overwriting the earliest files stored on the unit until you tell it to stop.
While I didn't get to try this mode out, it would appear to solve one of the problems with the camera that I felt would trouble commuters and road users most.
The optimisation software, while useful, didn't prove easy to use either.
The control panel, which comes ready to install on the 8GB micro SD card supplied with the camera, provides a number of adjustment settings. These present valuable optimisation options, in an easy-to-use system, which would have won the camera many plaudits, had there been a live camera feed to give you a frame of reference for any changes you'd look to make.
The lack of a direct feed meant that the optimisation system had a hit-and-hope feel about it. After a lot of tweaking, I did eventually end up with a better, less grainy image, but the frustration did make me wonder whether it was all worth it.
The camera's cylindrical shape allowed for adaptable camera positioning. I attached it to my seatpost for one ride in order to get a rear-view image, however, my riding position meant I kept knocking it with my inner thigh. While that particular set-up didn't work for me, having it as an option without having to purchase a specific mount may be worthwhile for different bikes or riders.
As far as road cycling and action cams go, you're unlikely to come across a better looking option as your on-bike companion, and for the money you get an excellently optimisable image. The weight and aerodynamics of the device are also big plus-points.
But for the casual user, or the commuter looking for an extra line of defence against reckless drivers on the road, you may want to look elsewhere, especially for the price. The RF remote control - thanks to its usability issues - struggles to justify its inclusion; the camera's limited audio capture is a big loss for use in a road environment; and limited battery life doesn't lend itself to day-long ride captures, even with the device's new Loop Mode feature.
Adaptable, lightweight full-HD camera let down by poor audio recording and limited battery life
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dogcam Bullet R+
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Recording your ride has become something of a cycling staple. dogcam's Bullet R+ will record your ride with great clarity, it'll look good doing it, and it won't take up much room. What it won't do is capture any usable audio or last long enough to cover a substantial day of commuting.
This is the latest Bullet camera from dogcam, developed by listening to our customer's feedback, the Bullet R+ offers a number of improvements over the Bullet HD2
The R+ offers all the same features as the Bullet HD2 and is compatible with all accessories.
The R+ now has the added benefits of:
RF remote control
Improved battery management
Still photo mode
Adjustable white balance settings
Constructed from anodized aluminium, this camera is shockproof and waterproof down to 10 metres and contains the latest video processing technology to produce superb video and audio quality.
Track tested and developed in association with Formula One engineers, the Bullet R+ is the perfect helmet and motorsport camera and is proven to withstand extreme vibration and temperature environments.
As with the HD2 the Bullet R+ offers software controlled brightness, contrast, saturation, resolution, frame rate and microphone sensitivity for the highest quality video in all conditions. Now also includes white balance settings.
EASY TO MOUNT – EASY TO USE
The compact and lightweight camera means the Bullet R+ can be mounted almost anywhere. Simple ON/OFF operation enables high definition video recording in seconds. Built-in vibration alert and LED feedback lets you know when the camera is recording.
Set the camera to standby and simply operate the camera from the remote button.
WATERPROOF & SHOCKPROOF
Waterproof down to depths of up to 10 metres. Shock and vibration tested to Formula One standards.
A full range of camera mounts are available, for endless mounting options, including surfboard, handle bar, wrist, roll bar and tripod mounting tray. The Bullet R+ camera will fit just about any helmet, fairing, car body work or roll bar. The size of the Bullet R+ means it is much more discrete than any other market leading camera.
SMALL AND LIGHT
The Bullet R+ is 84mm in length, 23mm in dia. and weighs just 61.2g. By adding the remote sensor, this extends the length to 110mm
The Bullet R+ now has loop mode. Simply use the supplied configuration software to enable Loop Mode and the camera will record in 15 min segments until the battery runs flat or you switch the camera off. Loop mode means when the Micro SD card is full, the camera will start to overwrite the earliest files until you tell it to stop. Now you never have to worry about making sure your Micro SD card is empty before you set out on that ride.
NEW Waterproof RF Remote controller allows you to start/stop recording and to take instant 5mp photos.
Simply attach the receiver to the back of the camera, turn it on and the camera will go in to standby mode.
Camera battery life in standby mode approx: 6 hours.
RF Remote battery life approx: 6 hours.
Camera battery record time: 90mins
UK mains charger for camera and remote included or charge by USB.
Manufacturer dogcam suggest that the Bullet R+ is "the first camera to utilise adjustable configuration software, with upgraded camera optics, that produces professional grade full HD video and has captured point-of-view footage for shows including 'I'm a celebrity, Get me out of here' and Top Gear."
Obviously, you won't need professional-grade visuals on your commute, but if you're looking for a sleek, low-profile action cam to shoot sequences in a variety of light conditions - the Bullet R+ is a good option.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Waterproof to 10 metres
1080p 25/30fps 720p 50/60fps
135 Degree Wide Angle Lens
MicroSD support up to 32GB
1.5 Hour Li-Poly Battery
Built-in Class 2 Laser
USB 2.0 High Speed
LED record indicator
H.264 Video Encoding
.MOV playback Mac & PC
-10 to +40oC working temp
Time/Date stamp (optional)
1 year warranty
PC and MAC configuration software included
Did you enjoy using the product? I found the product frustrating to use, but the footage it produced was good.
Would you consider buying the product? Not at the price when a more cumbersome but far more capable GoPro is available.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If the friend was looking for a sleek action cam to capture fast-paced action footage: yes. If they were looking to record their commute: no.
About the tester
Age: 23 Height: 6ft 5in Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Moser Speed My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding
Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.
Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.
When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.