Reviewers agree that the budget-priced Sony HDR AS-15 (Est. $170) can't match the image quality of top-rated action cameras like the $400 GoPro HD Hero3+ Black Edition. However, some reviews say it's a reasonably close second, and it offers some advantages that the GoPro lacks. For example, it's the only action camera we've seen that does a really good job with image stabilization -- smoothing out the shaking of the camera. It also beats the GoPro on battery life, running for nearly 2.5 hours without the Wi-Fi on. Reviewers really like the Sony's lightweight, streamlined design, as well; many say that once it's in place, you can hardly tell you're wearing it.
Getting the camera into place, however, may prove tricky. It offers far fewer mounting options than the GoPro cameras, and some reviewers say the mounts are poorly designed. The Sony also falls down on versatility and ease of use. Many reviewers are frustrated that it's impossible to rotate the camera lens to capture video from different angles. There's also no way to adjust the settings without hooking the camera up to a Wi-Fi-enabled smartphone or tablet. And while the Sony's video quality is surprisingly good for the price, its audio quality and still images are unimpressive.
Another budget pick with reasonably good reviews is the JVC GC-XA1 Adixxion (Est. $200). Its video performance can't match that of the GoPro camera or even the cheaper Sony camera, and its audio quality is downright lousy. However, it has a few features that its competitors lack, such as a 1.5-inch LCD display to help you compose and play back video. Reviewers also like that the JVC Adixxion is waterproof right out of the box, with no need for a separate case. Professionals and users alike praise the JVC camera's ease of use, compact shape and good image stabilization. Its biggest failing is battery life, which users say can be less than an hour per charge.