Drift HD Ghost Review

Updated January 31, 2014
cs-product-header
Drift HD Ghost
Bottom Line

The Drift HD Ghost definitely won't give you the best possible video quality. However, it has other advantages that may outweigh this drawback for some users. It includes tons of useful features: a rotating lens, an LCD viewscreen and a handy wrist remote. Reviewers say it's really easy to use right out of the box. And finally, its battery life is the best we've seen, at three hours per charge.

Ease of use

Packed with features. The Drift HD Ghost has lots of features that reviewers love. Its lens rotates a full 300 degrees, letting you position the camera pretty much anywhere on your body and capture the angle you want. Its 2-inch LCD viewscreen makes it much easier to frame shots, adjust settings and review your footage. Reviewers also love the wireless remote you can strap to your wrist. Moreover, most reviews describe the Ghost as easy to use right out of the box. The menu system is easy to follow (though Joshua Goldman at CNET says it "can be a pain to navigate"), and the smartphone app is described as "intuitive" and "robust."

ProsUseful features, Excellent battery life, Waterproof coreConsMixed reviews on video quality, Heavy

Performance

Video quality is iffy. Reviewers differ widely over the Ghost's video and audio performance. Eugene Kim of PCMag.com praises its "crisp, detail-rich video footage," while Brent Rose and Michael Hession of Gizmodo.com say it's lacking in detail and the color skews toward green. Several reviews note that images taken in low light are very grainy. In a head-to-head test at MTBR.com, the Ghost comes out best among six cameras for audio quality, yet another comparison test says the audio quality is poor, and Rose and Hession complain of a "high-pitched shrieking tone." One thing all reviewers agree on, however, is that the Ghost is absolutely tops for battery life, holding a charge for as long as three hours.

Design

Hefty build. One of the biggest complaints about the Drift HD Ghost is that, at 5.9 ounces, it's heavier than most action cameras. The Telegraph's Paul Davies says its utilitarian styling is "unlikely to win any prizes for beauty." However, the camera does win some points for its sturdiness. Davies says it "feels reassuringly tough," and Gizmodo.com's Rose and Hession note that the viewscreen is protected by Gorilla Glass. One big advantage is that the Ghost is waterproof right out of the box, with no need for a case. However, it can only go down to a depth of 9 feet; beyond that, you'll need a waterproof housing (not included).

Buy from Amazon

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

Camcorders, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated

ConsumerReports.org tests 23 action camcorders, including the Drift HD Ghost. Trained panelists evaluate picture quality, display quality and low-light performance, while testers measure audio quality, image stabilization and autofocus. Recommendations are based on performance combined with features, ease of use, reliability and value.

2. CNET

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Action Cam, Joshua Goldman, March 22, 2013

The Drift HD Ghost earns 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 from CNET. Joshua Goldman loves the Ghost's abundance of features and long battery life, but says video quality has some "issues" and the camera menus can be a hassle to navigate.

3. PCMag.com

Drift Innovation HD Ghost, Eugene Kim, May 23, 2013

Eugene Kim awards the Drift HD Ghost 3.5 stars out of a possible 5. He says video quality is good and there are lots of useful features, but mounting options are limited. Overall, he thinks there are better cameras available for the price.

4. Laptop Magazine

Drift Innovation HD Ghost Review, Michael A. Prospero, Jan. 16, 2013

Like most reviewers, Prospero gives the Drift HD Ghost a good-but-not-great rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. He likes its features, its long battery life and the "robust iOS app," but he finds the camera bulky and the video quality only so-so.

5. Wired

Drift HD Ghost Action Camera, Billy Brown, Feb. 22, 2013

Billy Brown of Wired likes the Drift HD Ghost better than most of his colleagues. He awards it 8 points out of 10 ("Excellent, with room to kvetch") for its "simple out of box-use," long battery life and great features. On the downside, he says it's heavy and pricey.

6. MTBR.com

POV Action Cam Shootout -- Which Camera Is the Best?, John Shafer, March 13, 2013

John Shafer, an avid photographer and mountain biker, constructs a rig that lets him mount six action cameras at once and film his progress across varying terrain. The Drift HD Ghost falls in the middle of the pack overall, but has the best audio quality of the six.

7. Gizmodo.com

The Best Action Camera, Brent Rose and Michael Hession, Dec. 5, 2012

The Drift HD Ghost comes in fourth out of four in a head-to-head test of leading action cameras. Editors say it's "easily the winner" on battery life, but "image quality still isn't up there" with its competitors. Overall, they consider it a "very nice" camera that's a little overpriced.

8. BHPhotoVideo.com

Drift HD Ghost Action Camcorder, Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, Not dated

We found only about a dozen user-written reviews for the Drift HD Ghost at this camera retailer, but the comments are quite helpful. Nearly every reviewer finds the camera easy to use, and most say the video quality is great -- perhaps not as good as GoPro's, but a better overall value.

9. The Telegraph (U.K.)

Six of the Best Action Cameras, Paul Davies, Nov. 30, 2013

The Telegraph names the Drift HD Ghost as one of the six best action cameras, saying it offers "plenty of bells and whistles" and produces "superb" visuals. However, there's nothing in the article about testing methods, and there's no direct comparison among the six winners.