I still remember the time the cheapest 4k action camera was the Thieye T5e which costs over $100, which I wrote a review on.
Today, we’re going to be taking a look at one of the cheapest real 4k action camera, Rexso Explorer K, which also happens to be Elephone first real 4K action camera, and at the end, determining whether it’s worth the money or better off purchasing another camera.
Content of Review (Click to Skip To Section):
- Body (Buttons, Ports & Indicators)
- Interface & Settings
- Unique Features (6 Axis Stabilization & H265 Decoding)
- Smartphone App
- Video & Image Samples
- Explorer K Vs Mijia 4K
- Firmware Update
- Best Place To Buy
What It Comes With
It comes with all the basic accessories plus a storage bag.
The quality of the accessories is really good as they fit together snugly and securely.
Everything can be interchanged with GoPro, SJCAM accessories other than waterproof case as the button locations on the explorer K are slightly different.
The Explorer K has a rubbery side to it and a nice matte finish on the front.
It definitely feels more expensive and well-built than cheaper action cams (around $50) but when comparing to cameras like the Mijia 4K, its build quality still stands a little short.
Although the body resembles one of a normal action camera (matchbox style), it has one less button than traditional action cams, so if you’ve used other ‘normal’ action cams before, it’s going to feel a little odd. But otherwise, everything is pretty much the same.
Buttons, Ports & Indicators
Power/mode button: Press to change modes; Press & hold to switch on/off.
Wi-Fi/back button: Press to change mode settings or for navigating; Press & hold to turn on/off Wi-Fi.
Shutter/select button: Press to confirm settings or start record/take picture. (depends on mode)
Micro-SD: On the bottom. Supports Micro-SD card up to 128GB.
Micro-USB: for charging and data transfer to PC.
Micro-HDMI: for displaying on the TV/monitor
Led indicators is super bright so really easy to see: 2 on the front, 1 beside the shutter button
Status LED (Blue): Light On – power on; Light Off – power off;
Charging LED (Red): Light on – charging; Light off – fully charged
Top (Orange): Blinking: wifi switched on; Light Off – Wifi disconnected
I found it to be quite sharp & bright and it’s even pretty easy to see even in bright situations. That’s why it is in my opinion, one of the best screens I have seen of all the action cams I have reviewed.
Interface & Settings
Like I mentioned earlier, the navigation feels a little awkward initially because there’s only 1 button to navigate. (other action cams usually have 2 separate up & down buttons)
Nonetheless, after playing around, I got used to it and it still felt pretty natural and easy to navigate around.
There are 6 modes, record, photo, multi, settings, wi-fi & files.
Note: There is a typo error below which I have addressed to the support team.
Normal Photo (16/12/8/5 MP), RAW (16/8 MP), Lapse – this is an error (it should be timer)(1/3/5/10/30s)
Timer – this is an error (it should be lapse) (0.5/1/2/3/5/10/30/60/300s), Burst (Up to 15p/s)
The settings isn’t that user-friendly because quite a few of the selections are in short-form and if you’re new to action cameras, it’d be a little hard to understand at first.
Anyhow, there are 5 areas in the settings, media, photo, sd, system and info.
Note: There are some additional settings that came with recent update.
Mic: On/Off sound recording
Flip: On/off Rotate the screen 180˚ for dash cam or other mounting use
OSD: On/off On-screen display
TV Mode: PAL/NTSC (No point because I’ve tried and it doesn’t change video frame rate)
Frequency: 50Hz/60Hz (No point because I’ve tried and it doesn’t change video frame rate)
LDC (Lens distortion correction): Digitally corrects fisheye effect
Scene: Auto/Normal/HDR (I recommend using HDR here because auto doesn’t do a very good job)
EV COMP (Exposure Composition): ±2 (Auto does a decent job)
WB (White Balance): Auto/Fluorescent/Sunny/Incandescent/Cloudy
Meter (Colour Meter): Center/Average
Shutter (Shutter Speed): Auto/2/5/10/15/20/30s (Very impressive, able to take long exposure shots)
Auto Shutoff: Off / 1 min / 3 min / 5 min – auto power off duration
Auto Dormant: Off / 1 min / 3 min / 5 min – auto screen off duration
Language: English, France, Espanol, Deutsch, Portugues, Italiano, Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japan, Russian, Korea, Polski, Vietnam
Time set: set the date and time manually (not required as it’s automatically synced with the app)
LED: switches the LED indicators on/off
Shows the firmware version, model and manufacturer.
Allows you to switch on/off Wi-Fi.
This is quite unique because it has the ability to encode videos in h265 instead of the traditional h264 video encoding used by most action cams.
This is for the more technical people out there but in layman terms, it basically films at the same quality h264 but takes up smaller space (because of its more efficient compression algorithm) Therefore, you’ll be able to film way more at a go, without compromising any quality.
The only thing I can think that’s ‘bad’ about H265 video encoding is that it has a lower compatibility with technology as it’s still a relatively new technology. I had to update my Mac to the latest software update (Sierra V10.12.6) which was only released on Dec 2017 in order to be able to view and process H265 videos.
This is an example of a comparison I made to show the difference. I tried to make the clip as identical as possible to make a fair comparison.
So as you can see, the difference is noticeable and for the same quality, you are able to save about 20% of memory space although this varies from one place to another.
All in all, a good addition to the camera as over the long run, it’ll save you a lot of storage and is definitely one of explorer K’s strong selling points.
6 Axis Image Stabilization in 4K
Stabilization performance to me is pretty good and especially excels when dealing with small tremors.
I was also genuinely surprised when it could stabilise 4K at 30fps as it is not possible with any camera at this price range (under $100).
The app is generally reliable and simple to use.
The interface is pretty standard, you can do all the normal stuff here, such as changing the settings, viewing live footage & remotely control the camera.
However, similar to the camera, there’re a few spelling and formatting errors in the app.
Overall, for the app, I felt it’s quite reliable, transferring speed is pretty fast and it’s simple to use as well. The only issue I had was the spelling errors and the general interface isn’t really visually appealing either.
Image & Video Samples
The Explorer K can take up to 16MP (4608 x 3456) 4:3 crisp shots but that’s just one of the thing we should consider in determining photo quality. Colour, low-light performance, raw image all play a part in deciding whether the quality is so-so or amazing.
As you can see from the shots I have taken, the 16MP definitely produces quite a sharp image and colours are pretty vivid and accurate too. I felt it’s really good for a camera of this price range.
Raw Image – Weird Issue… (Fixed: Read below)
The Explorer K is capable of taking RAW images but there is something strange going on here because despite having an option for RAW in the settings, when I try opening up with multiple software, it either comes up with an error or shows up a black image.
I’m not sure if there’s something wrong with it or could be memory card issue but I’m currently clarifying with the Rexso support team.
Stabilization (DIS) & Timelapse + Comparison With Mijia 4K
Explorer K & MiJia 4K – Image Comparison
All images were set to auto and downscaled by the same ratio. Click here to download the original samples.
The obvious difference between the 2 is the field of view. Explorer K has a wider field of view (170˚), whereas Mijia 4K has a 130˚.
Also, if you were to look closer Explorer K definitely had an edge as it has more detail. Colours for both cameras had it’s strength and weakness so as far as colours go, they were pretty much on par.
However, overall, I would still go with the Explorer K’s for photo taking between the 2 as it takes a larger picture without compromising any quality.
I feel the explorer K and the Mijia 4K is very similar because they fall in about the same price point of about 80 USD and are both capable of taking true 4K videos.
Overall, I felt that the quality of Mijia 4K is generally better than the Rexso Explorer K. Mijia 4K firmware is more stable, has a touchscreen interface, longer battery life and feels more well-built overall.
On the other hand, the Explorer K has a better screen (brighter and clearer), it also has way more accessories (Mijia 4k has none), takes at a higher resolution (16MP) and is able to stabilize at 4K.
Firmware Bugged Out! – Fixed By Hard Reset
After testing for a few days, everything went pretty much perfect but suddenly, for some apparent reason, it became irresponsive as you can see from the above video.
I suspected this was due to using an ‘inappropriate memory card’.
Awesome Customer Service Team!
I immediately contacted the technical team and within a day, they replied and went through the steps to hard reset with me.
It worked and that’s why I’d like to commend them for their responsiveness as many Chinese companies honestly wouldn’t even have cared about you after sales, but Rexso proved that they were not ‘one of them’!
Anyways, this shouldn’t happen to you as I was experimenting what would happen if I were to use a memory card not on the recommended list and turned out it bricked the camera. lol
Performing Hard Reset
The steps are pretty standard to other action cams.
- Unzip this file (download here) and copy the contents to an empty memory card.
- Insert the memory card into the camera.
- Press and hold the power button and shutter button together until the blue light flashes. (about few seconds)
- The camera should startup automatically within a few minutes.
Feel free to post your thoughts or problems (if you have any) in the community. Join here!
Where To Buy
The Rexso Explorer K is definitely a unique action camera because no other action cam that costs under $100 has native 4K recording capability, H265 encoding, full accessories kit and stabilization at 4K.
The build quality is also pretty good, buttons are responsive, the screen is one of the best I’ve seen.
There aren’t any major issues except that it overheats relatively easily and the part where there are glitches regarding H265 video and raw image. Also, other than the minor spelling errors which can be all fixed through a firmware update, I think it is one of the best 4k action cameras for your money.
Should You Buy It?
Although there are some issues faced by the camera, it’s really only temporary as the support team are really responsive and quick at solving these issues.
Having said all of that, for me, I’d still go with the Mijia 4K because of the touchscreen capability and ‘cleaner’ camera interface despite the lack of accessories, stabilization in 4K and the higher quality of images which the Explorer K can offer.
Meanwhile, there’s another action camera that is very similar to the Mijia 4K and Explorer K, the Explorer 3 by MGCOOL. I’ll be doing a review on it once I get my hands on that! Stay tuned!
This concludes my review for the Explorer K. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any questions regarding it or action cameras in general? Any Feel free to leave a comment down below!
That’s all for now. Until next time, thanks for reading and have a great day! 🙂
Rexso Explorer K89 USD
Bang For Your Money4.0/10
- H.265 Decoding Capability
- Amazing True 4K Image Stabilisation
- Comes with tons of accessories
- Clear 16MP Photos
- Responsive Customer Support Team
- High Operating Temperature
- Spelling Errors in App & Settings Page
- Can't shoot in PAL (50Hz) Power Frequency
- May Bug Out If Use Non-Recommended Memory Cards
- Raw Image & H265 Bug