The original Yi Action Camera is like the Xiaomi of action cameras. Well, it is a sub-brand of smartphone maker Xiaomi.
So, it is very affordable but so-so in terms of quality.
The new Yi 4K Action Camera is a totally different animal. It is not exactly cheap, but scores on both design and quality.
While the original Yi Action Camera does not have a display, the Yi 4K has a 2.19-inch touchscreen display. In fact, the Yi 4K Action Camera is so streamlined that it has only one button on top.
There is a micro-USB port on its left for charging, with a flap covering it. At its bottom, there is a standard tripod mount. So, you can mount the camera on any mini tripod or Joby Gorillapod.
Its only button is used to power up, shut down as well as start and stop recording. A long press is for powering up, while a short press activates the recording. Powering up and shutting down each takes around 2sec.
IMAGE SENSOR: 12 megapixels
LENS' FIELD OF VIEW: 160 degrees
DISPLAY: Built-in 2.19-inch touchscreen
WATER RESISTANCE: 40m (with water-proof casing)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
WEIGHT: 95g (body only)
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5
But, to change modes, like between photo and video, you need to use the touchscreen display. The menu interface is easy to use and the touchscreen is very responsive.
However, if the camera is in a waterproof casing, you cannot change the modes. This is a hassle if you are doing water sports, since the Yi 4K Action Camera is not waterproof on its own.
You will need to buy the waterproof case ($49, sold separately), which is water-resistant down to 40m. I highly recommend buying the waterproof case if you know you are going to be wakeboarding or windsurfing with the camera.
The 4K videos captured by this Yi camera are top-notch. They are comparable to those shot by GoPro Hero5 and Sony FDR-X3000R.
They are just slightly not as crisp and detailed.
The still-image quality is also pretty stellar with nice dynamic range and punchy colours.
Most impressive are the night-video footage and still images shot by the Yi camera. They display minimal noise artefacts as well as correctly exposed shots that do not blow up the highlights.
• Verdict: The Yi Action Camera 4K provides the best value for money, in terms of quality-to-price ratio, with its affordable price tag, great image quality and easy handling.