7 Things to Consider when Buying a Portable Video Tower

1. Height V Transportability

Buying an easy to transport portable video tower will change your life, same as buying a not so easy to transport portable video tower will make you change your vehicle! Two things to consider, will my new tower fit into my car? Secondly can I easily bring it from my car to my shooting location? You really don’t want to have to change your car when you buy the tower, and you don’t want to have to make more than one trip from the car to the shooting location either.
Many portable video towers were designed for American Football that’s why they are often referred to as endzone cameras. The teams in this market often have large budgets and space to store an oversized video tower in their luggage section on their coaches.
Don’t settle for anything less than a portable video tower that will fit in any standard car. Portable should mean portable in every sense of the word.
The higher the tower the heavier it will be. More height = more weight.
Avoid Light weight high towers above 18 feet, feedback from users say they do not operate well at height in most weather conditions. If you need height greater than 18 feet then it MUST be heavy duty with all that it entails.
In my experience 18ft is more than enough for 90% of applications. Anything above this height and you will have to sacrifice transportability and portability.

2. Pan & Tilt – The Importance of One-Handed Operation

We all know that pan, tilt and zoom functionality are critical, but how are these functions operated. It’s important to be able to do all three with one hand, until you have been caught out in a heavy rain shower this may not immediately seem important.
While being able to pan, tilt and zoom using a remote control sounds handy, you already have a remote control operating the camera, leaving you with no hands free. Besides umbrellas, tagging events for future analysis, or taking phone calls are all useful actions to be able to perform with your free hand.
Finally, my advice is to avoid of the battery-operated pan and tilt heads. Several tower suppliers use this system, but their pan and tilt speed of movement is simply not fast enough for most field sports and will leave you missing shots, and extremely frustrated. Speak to an owner of one of these towers before deciding.

3. Set-up – How easy is it to set up your portable video tower?

Ease of set up is a vital factor when it comes to choosing your portable video tower. Bottom line, this should be easy in any weather. Don’t leave yourself cursing the bad weather, the wet and the complicated fiddly set up. Avoid any winch and pully systems from a set up and maintenance point of view. (Click to view assembly video)

4. Camera included or “Free Camera”. V Choosing the camera that meets your needs

We all like free things, right? Well yes and no. In the case of choosing a portable video tower the answer is a resolute no, beware of towers bearing gifts!
Almost always the camera will not be fit for purpose. The Sony CX405 is often the “Freebie”. This can be bought online for €175 will meet the requirements of any serious analyst. You will end up buying a high-end camera, don’t learn this the hard way. This is based on client feedback and first-hand experience. (Click to download list of  Video Cameras we recommend)

5. Maintenance/ Warranty

Ideally you would like a piece of equipment that needs as little maintenance as possible. You want to avoid having to repair or replace complex parts in as much as this is possible. The less down time the better. Find out: how easy is it to replace parts? Can I do the repairs myself?

6. Accessories – The importance of the accessories that come with your portable video tower

The accessories your portable video tower come should make your life easier and improve overall experience. If you live in a rainy climate you must have snug fitting rain covers for your equipment. A good sun visor to protect the screen from the glare from the sun is very helpful, and can go a long way to making your life a lot easier.
Don’t accept anything less than standardised cables, leads and connections, otherwise they will be too difficult to replace.

7. Avoid towers that link signal to a laptop and not a field monitor

If your requirement is to link a laptop for live analysis, then the field monitor supplied can link to it plus most applications don’t call for live pitch side analysis. The laptop is an expensive piece of equipment to protect in bad weather.
We developed the Vantage Point having used several competitor towers for years. Based on this knowledge we worked to take the beat of these towers and take away what we saw was not needed for most application.
Create a list of pros and cons of the various towers you are considering. Be sure that the people you are going to for guidance have similar needs to you, for example if you are moving your tower to a new ground every weekend then there is no point in talking to someone who never leaves their training ground.

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