Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cam ECS vs Kitted-out Stryfe

Nerf N-Strike Elite Cam ECS-12 versus a Nerf N-Strike Elite Stryfe with similar equipment attached.  I've been meaning to do this test for awhile, but there was one hurdle I couldn't jump:  The cost of that fancy camera blaster!!  It's no secret that the Cam ECS-12 is a wallet buster and, as many have pointed out, it's not quite worth the financial beating it takes to bring one home.  However, thanks to some stellar deals over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, there were a few opportunities to pick one up for 1/3rd the price, so I jumped on it to see what all the fuss was about.

Over the past few days, I've been playing around with the Cam ECS-12 and pitting it up against a Stryfe that I've equipped with a Super Soaker adjustable stock (similar to a Raider), a Tactical Mission App cradle, and an iPhone 5C.  I put standard batteries in both blasters and started breaking down the details between them.  Range, comfort, ease of operation, quality of the video captured, there's a lot to nitpick with both of these setups.

In order to be able to accurately tell which one is better, a line has to be drawn for cost on both.  I'm using Nerf-only products to compare against each other in an attempt to keep things as fair as possible.

The Nerf Cam ECS-12 retails for about $80.  An 8-Pack of batteries to power the blaster and in-built camera it are about $8.  So, a total of $88 to walk into a battle and record footage.

The Nerf Stryfe retails for about $18.  A 4-Pack of batteries to power the blaster are about $4.  You can pick up an N-Strike stock on eBay for about $8 dollars (I've seen some for less, some for more).  The Tactical Mission App cradle is about $14.  However, to get the camera, you have to have an iPhone or iPod to use with it.  This is the tricky part... since this kind of device will push the cost well over what the Cam ECS is listed at.  Then again, this is also an item that many people already have, so in some cases it's not an extra cost you would have to incur to build one like this.  To keep it simple, we're going to leave that cost out under the idea that you wouldn't go buy an iPod just to use for a Nerf Camera.  So, a total of $44 to build up a blaster similar to how the Cam ECS is currently set up.  A little over half the cost of purchasing a Nerf Cam ECS-12 at full retail.

There's more to consider here than the money you'd potentially save by going with the cheaper setup.  The Stryfe's versatile setup can be a plus, meaning you aren't limited to using it with this equipment.  It doesn't have to have a stock, you don't need the added weight and bulk of the camera, you can extend the barrel if you like.  There's an endless stream of possibilities with a blaster like this.  The Cam ECS-12 has a fixed-length stock that isn't removable.  The front barrel also lacks an adapter like the Stryfe, so this blaster is what it is aside from tactical rail options and different magazine sizes.

The Cam ECS-12 does provide a comfortable solid stock and an aggressive rifle look with tactical rails on the top and bottom.  The trigger, accelerator switch, and mag release switch are all in the same spot as they are on the Stryfe, so they're both easy to use.  It does boast a longer range printed on the box than the Stryfe, claiming "90 feet".  RandomShadow09's range tests revealed an average range of 39-40 feet.  The top shot was recorded between 44-45 feet.  The Stryfe, also tested by RS09, averaged better ranges landing between 44-45 feet with the top shot at 51 feet... so even though the box claims better ranges, most fans have learned not to trust the newer printed range claims.  (Elite XD... I'm looking at you!)

So it's looking like a clear victory for the Stryfe, as it should.  Heck, even a RapidStrike with the Mission App cradle on it would be cheaper and better... but it still comes down to that "if you have an iPod or iPhone" bit.  There are homemade options for cradles for Android smartphones to remedy that idea, so a camera blaster doesn't have to burn a hole through your pocket. If you're without a smartphone, you could argue that the Cam ECS-12 is worth it... but then you get into the quality of the video that this blaster takes.  I should've said lack-of-quality, as there's eight gobs of reasons why the ECS-12 fails as a camera gun.  Poor frame capture rate and underwater sound quality top off the list of horribleness for it.  There really seems to be no love for this blaster... but you really can't refute the mounting evidence out there either.

If you haven't owned a Nerf Cam ECS-12, curiosity might still push you over the edge and think "well it can't be THAT bad" but, I'm sad to report that it really is.  There's a reason our resident Bobololo went so far as to photoshop a Cam ECS-12 into his "review" instead of actually picking this blaster up.  Unless you've gotten a stupid good deal (like I did) on the blaster that makes it worth about the same as a Stryfe, the cost really can't be justified.  In the tests I've been running, I've been trying to find things I like about the Cam ECS-12.  You don't hear as much noise from the motors, the ergonomics of the blaster make it quite comfortable, it looks cool, and the operation of the camera and playback is easier than fiddling with a smartphone, but these are all small advantages in the grand scheme of things.  Cost, Performance, not to mention availability (I have yet to see one on a shelf locally), the Stryfe... or any other blaster for that matter... being used to mount a camera to capture in-game footage is a better choice than the Cam ECS-12.  That being said... I still don't understand why Nerf chose a noisy flywheel blaster to put a camera in!  With a manually primed blaster, you wouldn't get nearly as much noise in the video as you do with two flywheels whirring constantly!

I'm not super heartbroken.  If you get a good enough deal on a Cam ECS-12, like in the $20-$30 range, it's not a bad rifle.  It doesn't jam (much), it gets decent range, and it's comfortable to use.  Just ignore the camera bits, maybe repurpose that area of the blaster to be something else, maybe use the other 4 batteries to volt mod it with standard batteries, you have options.  I already have a handful of mod ideas on the drawing board to make this a fun kit.  Until then... I think I'll watch some of those entertaining Cam ECS reviews around YouBook and FaceTube.

1 comment:

  1. My suspiscions are confirmed! I am not really into this whole record your battles thing, but the cam is sill a decent blaster. But 90 bucks is pushing it. you can pick uop a rapidstrike here in Canada for 40 bucks at walmart. 50 bucks more!!!!! Yoou could buy two rapidstrikes for less than a cam and you won't even end up getting batteries for the stupid camera too. Sorry Hasbro, I'm not buying it.