- Ability to swap modes on the go
- Handsfree functionality
- High quality video recording
- Harder to use in extreme cold
- Not useful outside of winter sports
For winter sports enthusiasts, the Liquid Image Summit Series Ski Goggles are easy to use and offer a comfortable and convenient way to capture HD video while skiing, snowboarding, sledding, or snowmobiling.
Skiing offers great scenic views both on and off the mountain; but it isn’t always convenient to take out a digital camera to get a shot from the chairlift or while cruising down the slopes. The Liquid Image Summit Series HD 1080p Snow Goggle gives skiers the ease of shooting hands-free video and snapping photos on the go without even removing a glove (well, for the most part). The goggles feature a 135-degree wide-angle lens, a video camera that can shoot 720p resolution at 60fps and 1080p at 30fps, and a 5-megapixel camera for 12-megapixel interpolated digital stills.
Build and Design
The goggles come in both black and white and include two polarized lenses as well as a 4GB MicroSD card, and they allow for memory cards up to 32GB. Liquid Image states that for each extra 1GB of memory, the camera will hold at least an additional 1,000 photos or 30 minutes of video. There are compartments on either side of the goggles; the right side houses the battery and the left side is where the SD card and ports are located for charging or hooking the device up to a computer or television
On the left side of the lenses are two buttons, the bottom button turns the camera on or off, and the top button switches modes and captures images. Above the nose, centered on the forehead, is the camera lens. Liquid Image states that the rechargeable lithium battery can last up to 1.5-2 hours in HD video mode, and it did not add any noticeable weight or bulk during testing. The liquid image summit goggles are compatible with a helmet, and they require a quick configuration with the included attachments.
There is an LED light inside the goggles that will light up different colors to let the user know what mode the camera is operating in without having to remove the goggles. It will light up green for recording at 1080p @30fps, blue for 720p @60 fps, red indicates still image photo mode, and purple represents the mode for continuous photos every two seconds. Users are able to flip between modes by pushing the buttons located on the outside of the goggles. If the user forgets the color for each mode, a small LCD screen is located on the inside of the goggles opposite of the camera. This LCD screen displays basic information such as if the battery is charged, if the SD card is loaded, what mode the camera is operating in, and how many files are on the SD card.
As ski goggles, they measured up to any standard goggles on the market. Liquid image also sells additional lenses online if the included orange and blue tinted polarized lenses do not suffice. The goggles are comfortable to wear on the face, but they might not fit well for anyone with a smaller noggin, since they extend a bit further out on the left and right compared to standard goggles, due to the two compartments to hold the battery and other ports.
TechnologyGuide took the goggles to the slopes to test them out, and the results were pretty good. Part of the experience was dependent on conditions, but anyone who has skied in with negative 20-degree wind chills knows that doing much of anything besides letting gravity take hold, is ambitious. With temps that extreme, the button to switch modes was difficult to press through gloves, but when tested again on a 30-degree day, TG had no problems switching modes on the go.
In contrast, a specialized rugged outdoor camera like the Contour Roam 2 does not allow for switching on the go; it needs to be hooked up to a computer if the user wishes the change the shooting mode. Also, the Roam 2 must be mounted on a helmet, which can be a bit cumbersome, whereas the Liquid Image goggles require no extra equipment other than goggles that skiers and snowboarders generally wear anyway.
TG felt that the goggles were more comfortable for skiing than having the Contour Roam 2, or any other device, mounted to a helmet, and that the Summit goggles allowed for more versatility when taking shots, thanks to the easy mode switching feature. The battery life held up for the entire day and the 4GB card was sufficient for two to three days of footage.
Installation is easy in that the software requires none. In fact, there is no software; once hooked up to a computer with the high speed USB 2.0 cable, the computer recognizes the goggles as a hard drive device and allows for importing, deleting, and viewing files. Also, the microSD card comes with an adapter so that it can be used with any computer featuring an SD card reader slot. If on vacation without a computer, the goggles conveniently come with the appropriate cables to play video and pictures directly from the goggles to a television.
Image & Video Quality
Interestingly enough, when cruising down slopes while snow was being made, the Contour Roam often lost picture quality due to snow clouding up the lens, whereas the Liquid Image goggles stayed snow free, keeping the picture clear while in motion. The 720p at 60fps video is best suited for high action as the extra frames keep the footage smooth, especially while in motion down a trail. The 1080p at 30fps takes higher quality images at lower action, which might be better for getting video off the chairlift and capturing summit views.
Video quality was decent, and while it did not quite measure up to the Contour Roam 2 footage, which features a comparable resolution of 720p at 60fps and 1080p and 30 fps, the added convenience of the Liquid Image ski goggles outweighs the difference in image quality. The 135 degree viewing angle does cause a slight fish eye effect, but this is pretty common with other action cameras available on the market.
The location of the camera lens makes for a true to life POV shot, whereas a mounted device might give a less natural view. This also makes it easy to aim shots correctly, since wherever the user is looking, that is what will be captured; the expansive viewing angle also lends well to getting the right shots. Taking video or still shots of scenery with a mounted device can be a little more difficult since they generally do not feature a viewfinder; with the Liquid Image goggles, the user’s eyes are essentially the viewfinder.
The still images taken with the Liquid Image Summit Series goggles came out okay, but it was difficult to take clear images without any blur. Presumably, this is because the camera is attached to the head, which is hard to keep perfectly still. This is a common issue with most mounted devices too, as capturing clear images requires a steady hand. However, in good lighting conditions, images came out decent. The video quality certainly outshone the still image quality, but generally those in the market for a POV sports camera are more interest in taking video, and stills can always be captured after the fact using a simple video editing program.
Beyond skiing and snowboarding, these goggles would also work well to record activities like snowmobiling or sledding, For any winter sports enthusiast, the Liquid Image Summit Ski goggles would be a great choice. Also, the added versatility of being able to take still shots, continuous still shots, and two different resolutions of video makes them a useful way to capture memories on any ski trip without having to risk bringing a standard camera on the mountain.
While the still images did not come out as well as the video did, the video is the selling point of the goggles. With the option for both 720p at 60fps for high action and 1080p at 30fps for lower action with higher quality, they are as versatile as they are convenient. For anyone interested in capturing their winter sports adventures, these goggles are the way to go. Anyone that wants to also capture sports in warmer weather will not find much use for these outside of winter.
Bob Hennessey contributed to this review.