Sena 10C Review – Bluetooth Headset & Camera Combo for Motorcyclists
The staff here at Ultimate MotorCycling have always been huge fans of Sena’s excellent electronics; the 20S headset used by almost all of us allows reliable, clear conversation between several riders at once, as well as a multitude of other functions.
The only thing missing was video. However, Sena addressed that issue a few months ago with the introduction of its Prism camera. The unit is typical Sena – it works beautifully, the hardware is small and compact, and the resulting video has amazing picture quality. More interesting is that the camera can be controlled by a Sena headset and the vocal audio running through said headset (whether it’s just the rider or the rider and others joined by intercom) can be recorded as part of the video soundtrack.
Both items work well in tandem and of course happily mount to a helmet. The snag is that both quite bulky items dramatically compromise the helmet’s look.
Enter the Sena 10C – a combo unit that is essentially a 20S communicator with a built-in video camera.
There are some slight differences, of course. The most obvious is that unlike the 20S, which clips to a base unit attached to the helmet, the 10C attaches to the fitted microphone and earpieces via a micro-USB connector that plugs into the rear of the 10C. And the helmet clamp is just that – a clamp for attaching the unit to the helmet and nothing more.
The clamp has a rotary knob which tightens the 10C to the clamp; it can be rotated to any angle so depending on the riding stance of your machine you can tilt the video lens forwards or backwards appropriately.
The lens itself rotates so no matter what angle the device is fixed at, the picture will be vertical—although of course you have to remember to set this correctly before heading out. The lens has a rubber lens cap – having had a couple of “doh!” moments where I realized I’d left the lens cap on while recording, I’d recommend taking the cap off when you first unplug from the charger and put your helmet on.
The results from the 10C are up to Sena’s usual standard, although as a word of caution, make sure you experiment with microphone placement as wind noise is definitely a factor. Again, this depends on the style of bike you’re riding, the speed at which you’re traveling, and of course the helmet brand and model you’re using.
The camera image and audio quality are excellent – although perhaps not quite a high quality as the Sena Prism alone. A good analogy is to compare the 10C to a camera phone: it’s a phone primarily, but it also has a pretty good built-in camera. So the 10C camera isn’t necessarily designed to replace a good standalone, but it’s a great in-between device. If you’re a prolific V-logger then you’ll find the 10C invaluable.
In use, I didn’t find the 10C quite as easy to use as the 20S because the main function wheel is quite a bit smaller. It doesn’t look like a big difference, but with gloves on, I did find myself grappling to find the rotary knob a bit more than the immediately easy-to-find one on the 20S. Of course as with anything, once you’re used to finding it, use becomes much easier.
I was curious about battery life, and the 20S communicator has been more than impressive. On one overnight trip where I forgot my charger, I used the 20S for two days continuously without running out of juice. The Prism video camera is (unsurprisingly) a lot more power hungry, and although the power reserve is adequate, I have run out of battery a few times. So combining the units into one, I was concerned the battery would have been hosed pretty quickly – but that was not true.
During a 300-mile, all-day ride, I used the 10C with music and rider-to-rider intercom, and a fair amount of video, and the battery didn’t fail. Impressive stuff! Interestingly, the 10C will shut down the camera with 20 percent of battery remaining, ensuring that the communications aspect of the device will continue to work for another two hours or so.
The video functions are handled by buttons on the top of the device and thankfully they are easy to feel. Click the big one once to turn on video, and click it again and hold for two seconds to start, and the same again, to stop recording. If while recording you turn on your music (hold the center wheel button for a couple seconds) it will also record to the video’s audio track.
One small word of caution: don’t forget that if you’re uploading to YouTube and your video happens to have popular music playing on the sound track, you are breaching copyright laws and may be told to take it down. Perhaps I’m being overly paranoid but it might be a consideration and if it is, make sure you leave your music off while recording video.
Overall the Sena 10C was very impressive and well up to Sena’s usual standard of brilliance. Battery life wasn’t an issue, and audio and video qualities are truly excellent. Having so many functions combined into one slimline unit is a major attraction, and much better looking than attaching two separate devices to both sides of your helmet.
Sena 10C Review – Bluetooth Headset & Camera Combo Photo Gallery: