Fly v Fly: Cycliq Fly6 CE review and comparison to the [v]

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Fly v Fly: Cycliq Fly6 CE review and comparison to the [v]

Postby bdl » Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:02 pm

(originally posted in General Discussion)

Verdict: better image quality, a much wider field of view; buttons are even more fiddly, app is buggy.

I've owned a Fly6[v] for about 8 months, and for the most part was happy with it. The main bugbear I had with the [v] was the image quality - it's "ok", but nowhere near on par with what modern image sensors can do. Conditions have to be "just right" to be able to make out a car number plate. And at night? Not a chance.

So when the Fly6 CE with an updated image sensor came along I figured I'd give it a shot. Along with the improved image quality comes some new features and of course these days, an app.


The unboxing: Cycliq have dramatically cut down the excess packaging for the CE, which arrives in the usual card box that most gadgets come packaged in these days. Much better than the [v]'s very wasteful hard plastic moulded box. Included are the mount bracket, a couple of spacers and straps, a tether and a charge cable. No charger is included, nor a MicroSD card. The Cycliq design engineer must've been listening to the Stones when coming up with the theme...

The charging port is USB-C which is great in that it's reversible - no more flipping micro-USB connectors back and forth trying to figure out which way's which. However the port is not actually USB-C power compliant and won't charge from a USB-C charger or computer. It also won't transfer data through a computer's USB-C port (at least on a Macbook Pro). The included USB-C to USB-A cable of course charges the unit from your old-school USB ports, and serves to transfer data at USB 2 speeds.

There's a rubber flap that covers the charging/data transfer port and SD card slot. It is quite fiddly to press back into place. Being on the top of the unit it's less exposed to spray from the wheel, but more exposed to rain. Let's hope the "ground-breaking new nano technology" does its thing to keep it going through many years of rain, hail and shine.

The mounting system is a two-part job with a bracket velcroed to the seat post, the CE then clicks into that in the same fashion as a bike computer mount. Insert at around 45 degrees off vertical, twist and click. An elastic tether is provided that you can fit to the camera and then hitch around the seatpost when attaching it each time. This serves as a backup in case it gets dislodged which is nice - less fear of your expensive camera falling by the wayside. Even with the tether the mount is a modest improvement over the [v]'s velcro strap in my opinion. My unit has a small build quality niggle in that the sticky film on the bracket velcro strap is not properly adhering to the strap. The strap isn't intended to be removed regularly, so hopefully it'll last.

Turn me on: on the [v], I'd finally become accustomed to holding the unit "right" when powering it on such that I don't end up changing the light level by accidentally pressing the dimmer button at the same time. Why Cycliq thought it was a good idea to put the only two buttons on the unit directly opposite each other is beyond me; and why they'd repeat that design on the new Fly6 CE is even more puzzling. The CE's buttons are a step backwards from the [v]'s - the new device's buttons are indistinct and stiff, so you have to pay close attention to make sure you're pressing in the right place and not just on the case. One positive is that you can effectively disable the "Q" button that controls the brightness levels by using the app to disable all levels except one.

When powering up the CE, like the [v], emits a number of beeps that reflect the power level, as a handy way of telling how much juice you have left. When connecting to the computer the [v] gave a loud beep which can be rather annoying, the CE doesn't.

So, now to the important bit - image quality. Unsurprisingly the newer 1080p CE is markedly sharper with better contrast and colour than the old 720p [v]. The improved resolution is partially offset by a wider field of view. Nonetheless, the CE is actually good enough to be able to make out number plates in good conditions - unlike the [v] where you'd be lucky to make partial plates in ideal conditions. Night performance is a huge improvement over the [v], however that's really not saying much - like all action cameras, the CE drops the ball after the sun goes down.

The [v]'s 100° field of view generally meant missing out on including any part of an average bike in the image; such video is useless when trying to talk to Mr Plod about a close call. On my bike I have a rack which the [v] just includes the top of, providing a perfect frame of reference. The CE's larger 135° field of view means that for my bike a fair bit of the image frame is wasted on a view of the rack - but for many road bikes you can now get the rear wheel nicely in frame, so for many people this is one of the biggest advantages of the CE over the [v].

Audio: the [v]'s microphone picked up mostly wind noise. In contrast, the CE's has practically no wind noise but perhaps a little less sensitivity to distant sounds. Without the racket from the wind you can more clearly hear the bike noise (mechanically coupled?), but speech from the rider seems more muted.

The app, and other "features": I won't say much on this as I don't consider it very useful, plus I had a few niggles with the app on an Android phone. It's pretty obviously a v1 release. Cycliq have advised they're working on software updates. Functionally, the app isn't intended to view footage. It's just to check battery level, firmware versions and modify various settings. I did try the alarm feature which I quickly regretted doing at 10 PM when it failed to turn off. Here's a tip: pressing and holding both buttons for 20s reboots the CE, killing the alarm. About the only useful thing the app does is set the time on the CE - no more mucking about with editing a text file on the SD card as you have to do for the [v]. The CE supports the ANT+ lighting protocol which apparently can turn the camera on and off as you start/stop the computer. So if you have a suitable cycle computer that may be of interest to you; one less button to press when getting on and off the bike.

Image stabilisation: the CE has an image stabilisation feature but I didn't test this. It's unclear whether this is purely in software or driven by gyroscope sensors.

Side-by-side video:

  • improved image quality
  • for bikes without a rack: the wider field of view means you should be able to include the wheel in frame, essential when talking to the Police
  • more convenient mounting mechanism
  • no annoying beeps when connecting to the computer, and disconnecting from charger
  • USB-C plug = no mucking about with "which way 'round does this go?"
  • far less wasteful packaging

  • price bump
  • buttons: harder to press, still opposing sides
  • for bikes with a rack: the wider field of view is partly wasted
  • fiddly charge / SDCard cover flap
  • bugs in the app and ancillary features
  • much larger file sizes; needs a large, high-speed SD Card (a fine sacrifice to make for the higher-quality images)
  • not actually USB-C power compliant, doesn't charge from USB-C charger or laptop; no data transfer via a USB-C port either
Last edited by bdl on Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Fly v Fly: Cycliq Fly6 CE review and comparison to the [v]

Postby caneye » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:50 am

just a note on the packaging. I find it "interesting" that the way the packaging is moulded, you are expected to put 1 finger on the lens and 1 finger behind the CE to remove it from the packaging. that means .. be prepared to have a smeared lens. It also did not have a clear protective sheet over the lens (unlike most digital devices in the market today) which means after smearing the lens, you now need to very gently wipe it clean without scratching it.
Obviously the alternative is to turn the packaging upside down and let the CE drop out of the box.

I'm clearly nit-picking here but it seems to be an oversight on the part of an industrial designer ..

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Re: Fly v Fly: Cycliq Fly6 CE review and comparison to the [v]

Postby AUbicycles » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:57 am

Or... you get a lens cloth to extract or try and extract without touching the lens.

Of course it is not optimal and was also on my mind, though anyone like you or me who wants to avoid touching the lens can get it out.

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