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Pick of the Camera Reviews

(Click the pictures for reviews & links) 

ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Sena Prism Tube

My favourite USB battery power Pack

This is the excellent USB power pack I use when I travel.

2 x 2.1amp outputs. 8400mAh capacity.

Two digit Led display shows battery level

 

What SD CARD should I buy?

If you want an SD Card for your camera - these are the ones I use and recommend. 

I'd strongly recommend not to buy any SD cards off ebay - I've heard about too many issues with counterfeit cards - often sold on by unwitting resellers. My inbox regularly gets messages from people who bought a £150 camera then cheaped out and bought a £3 memory card on ebay - Then when it doesn't worth they blame the camera! It doesn't make any sense. Good memory is cheaper than it's ever been - see the links above.

A lot of HD cameras will not work properly with cards larger than 32GB (cards over 32GB are usually SDXC rather than the SDHC standard used by 32GB cards. SDXC cards use the ex-FAT system rather than FAT32 - in short they are a different standard). - so don't just buy the biggest card you can afford - read the specs in the manual to see what it accepts.

UK & US LINKS & PRICES BELOW

RECOMMENDED CARDS (for action cams - see dashcams below)

CLASS 10 UHS-1 CARDS (For HD Cameras)

 

U3 CARD (For 4K cameras)

 

 

SPECIAL DASHCAM CARDS

The SD card in a dashcam is re-written over, more frequently than in other types of cameras. Some manufacturers void their guarantee if an SD card was used in a dashcam. So, no surprise, there are special High Endurance SD cards made just for dashcams...here's some.

 

VERY IMPORTANT. These links take you to the product, however Amazon have three different ways of selling. There's Amazon Direct - This means that you are only dealing with Amazon themselves, then there's other sellers that use Amazon's facilities - these show as Fulfilled By Amazon and finally there's Market Place sellers that advertise on Amazon, but operate independently.  I strongly recommend that you only use the first...the Amazon Direct - Sold By Amazon option. Even if it appears that you are paying a couple of £/$ more it is more than likely you are comparing the price of a real item against the price of a fake.

To give you an idea of the extent of the fake goods problem. In a 2016 survey by Apple - 90% of the 'Apple' chargers sold through Amazon - using the other the two methods..which includes the "Fulfilled by Amazon" option -  were found to be counterfeit....90%! 

            

 
« A few short videos about things | Main | Two new videos, A Crystal Watch and an OBD-II Display »
Sunday
Nov132011

A 'black box' for your car.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who are looking for a 'fit and forget' car camera. One that will continuously and unobtrusively record every journey - with no need for any manual intervention. A camera that you would only touch if you got into an accident and you needed to pull the evidence off it. The automotive equivalent of a aircraft black box recorder. 

Well, if you can find a way to hide this camera away in your car then this might be the one for you. The video explains pretty much everything (hopefully) that you will need to know.

Even the Muppets that I picked up a couple of years ago get let out of their display cases to help me explain something. 

If you are thinking of taking the camera apart - I've put a picture below that shows what it looks like without the Suction cup mount and what happens if you try and unscrew and remove the protruding bracket (it contains the wiring to the GPS aerial socket - so you would need to disconnect/snip these wires to be able to remove this section - not beyond the realms of possibility, but also not something that I want to do).

I have also put a couple of untouched 1080p sample clips in a dropbox folder - a 2 min 130MB clip, and a shorter 30 second 30MB clip. Right click and save either of these if you want to test them. 

130MB

30MB

UPDATE - People email me regularly to tell me that this camera is no longer available from Chinavasion. 

A quick search shows that it is still available on ebay though.. 

 

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Reader Comments (240)

@Russ - yeah I am very happy with my V1000GS and it works really well since @Mike introduced me to Class 10 SD cards ;)

I do have a question for you or any other V100GS owner, how did you enable to sound? In the video review by @Techmoan he did not mention how to enable/disable it.

Mine is still "off" and I would be keen to learn how to enable it. In the settings I noticed the volume was set to level 1 and wondered if I increased the value upwards would it then enable the built-in mic for sound?

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

StuartM

The sound button is number 15 on the mostly worthless pamphlet I received with the unit. I needed a magnifying glass to see the numbers. If you look at the back of the camera holding it as it would be mounted in the car, the sound button is on the left-top and to the right of the save button. Hope that helps.

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuss

@Russ.

Download & install the K lite mega Codec pack from here; http://www.free-codecs.com/download/k_lite_mega_codec_pack.htm

This solved the same problem for me !

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Guys, I gotta say, this camera is trash. Although it's a great idea and there are some really neat options which come with the camera, it just doesn't work for long enough to be worth the money. I bought two of the flipping things based on Techmoan's reviews and I really wish I hadn't. They lockup most days and chew through class 10 cards like mad. Terrible camera and not worth the money at all.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuper Duper

@Super Duper: It would seem there are different versions of firmware out there for these cameras. I initially had issues myself but that was due to Class 4 cards, since I changed to Class 10 I have not had an issue since.

The firmware version on my camera was stamped as V1.2K and was sourced direct from the OEM manufacturer in China - not one of these 3rd party websites you all speak about, Maybe those vendors still have the first batch cameras in stock and need to clear it before they supply the updated version? Just a thought.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

I have had my V1000GS for 6 weeks now and is used 8/10 hours a day 5 days a week.
It would seem to be the luck of the draw on whether you get a good one or not.
Originally I had a 8gb card that made the camera run hot and it did lock up a couple of times, but after reading the comments on here I upgraded to a Samsung 32gb class10 card and have not had any problems since. Also the new card has made the unit work a lot cooler.
I am very pleased with it.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertellytube

@StuartM - You might have something there. I've had no problems using several 8GB class 10 cards. I couldn't find anything stamped onto the cam, but in the setup menu while connected to the monitor, my version came up as 1.2 KH2. I bought mine off of EBay and it was shipped from Hong Kong.

@Super Duper and others - Can you check your firmware version and report back here? It would be interesting to find out which versions are having problems and which aren't.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMottikhan

I design electronic devices for production and sale and have a good deal of experience with these types of issues.
I can tell you that I am certain that the 'damage' and the lockups are going to be related to the less than ideal vehicle power.
I believe the units are getting damaged and are staying damaged due to this environment. (Electronic devices don't really heal themselves very well.)
I have ordered a V1000 unit to be delivered here next week. I also purchased 8 of the Newegg 32gig Team brand Class 4 microSD cards and plan to do some testing with this unit.
The first thing I will be doing is to use a standard UPS 12x7 amp hour sealed lead/acid battery to run the device rather than letting it see the harsh environment of a vehicle power system. I agree that the apparently improved 5 volt USB operations are due to the USB circuitry doing a decent job of filtering the regulated output well below the noisy 12v environment of the cigarette lighter supply in the car method.
Only after I have tested this unit extensively with the purely clean sealed lead/acid battery supply both for 12 v and for USB regulated from that same source will I begin to consider placing the unit into the vehicle's electrical system.
Even when doing that I will likely add some spike filtering and pre-regulation to the cig lighter circuit in the vehicle.
I see this type of thing all the time when the design has not taken adequate measures to deal with the vehicle electrical noise. Especially if the device is operating very close to the supply voltage, internally. Engineers in the lab often get surprised by the real world environment beyond what they had anticipated during the design phase.
I'm betting I won't be surprised here.
However if the camera system starts demonstrating the problems described above by other owners here while on the pure dc lead-acid battery, then we will know that much more is going on here than simple electrical noise damage (since there won't be any electrical noise from the stand alone battery).
Again, remember that this noise can damage not only the camera but any SD cards placed into it, if that noise is substantial enough or the design is in need of better noise resistance from an engineering point of view. Throwing another good device into an environment that has already indicated possible damage capability, isn't the best idea unless you have a pile of these sitting around waiting to get damaged.

I'll post what I find.

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRudy

@Rudie - I look forward to the results of your test, I just font have the patience nor time to be honest :)
Any findings you discover will be greatly appreciated, thank you.

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

@Rudy - sorry, not Rudie ;)

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

hello , anyone has this camera?
http://www.ebdeal.com/gs1000-auto-car-camera-1080p-30fps-full-hd-vehicle-dvr-gps-logger-g-sensor.html

It is similar as V1000GS, i have compared the functions with v1000gs, it seams better.
This camera has 1.5" lcd, built-in GPS, the two features is very useful and helpful i think.
Other functions almost the same as V1000GS.

Anyone using this camera? Please leave come comments, thanks.

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndres

I just got one of these V1000GS cameras. It's a little buggy but I think I figured something out that will help people.

USB - To get it to work with your computer, you have to hook up the USB and press the USB/REC button. Press it and hold it down and then it will show up in My Computer.

Corrupt files - Seems like the last file is always corrupt, and I think I figured out why. The battery in the camera has NO CHARGE. When you shut your car off, the power is disconnected and the file that was recording is corrupted. When the battery is charged, it can save the file.

Charging the battery- I think I figured out how to charge the battery. It does not charge by hooking up USB to computer and it does not charge while recording in your car. The way to charge it is to hook it up in your car and press/hold down the USB/REC card. The red blinking light stops, so recording stops and the Red and Blue start to blink. Now it is charging, and not recording. I plugged it into the lighter socket that is powered with/without key in the ignition, and I let it sit. Then, when I tested the camera - no corrupted files!

My guess is that the reason Techmoan did not have this corrupt file problem, but so many others did is because the unit used for testing already had the battery charged. The rest of us who order receive the unit with the battery empty and must charge it.

I'm still a bit clueless with this thing, but the picture is great and I really don't want to send it back to china. I hope someone finds this helpful!

June 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave F

@DaveF - thank you for sharing your findings with all of us. I also had to learn the hard way and press all the buttons to figure out whats what. I also had issues with blue and red flashing LED's initially so guess I managed to charge my built-in battery? Have not charged it since or seen those blue/red flashing LED's.

Finally pressed button 15 (as per user manual) on the camera today to enable audio and noticed something very odd on playback. With a number of consecutive files recorded on playback the audio is audible but the video plays back at 2x speed... and its not the player that's set to play at double speed either, I double checked... no pun intended there. After a while (30min or so) the video resumes as per normal recording. Very strange stuff... oh yes and the file sizes are not their normal 62mb but half, 32mb...

My opinion about these gadgets is that it is not mainstream enough for the manufacturers to sit up and listen to us plebs moan about the problems we have so they can fix it. One day though, one day :)

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

Just some progress info...
Received my V1000 a week later than expected. Customs had it for a week so maybe they were trying to figure out what it was.

Anyway, did some initial power testing and discovered a few things. One is that the current demands are constantly changing, jumping up as much as 50 ma in a repetitious cycle. This appears to be from the demands of continuously writing to the SD card.
I ran mine with 32 gig Team brand Class 4's with no problems so far.

Measured the current demand at 12vdc exactly and it was around 180ma not counting the 50 ma variations. Funny thing was that as I lowered the voltage by as little as 1 volt, the current started climbing to almost 300 ma + variation. This held true down to the cutoff voltage of 8.75 volts. The system recovered and ran fine as I got to 9 vdc. So 9Vdc is the lowest regulated operating voltage for at least the V1000 that I have.

I plan to make a small male to female cig lighter plug assembly with a 9 or 10 V regulator and several thousand microfarad electrolytics in it so I can run it near the cutoff and filter the 3 volts difference from the vehicle. Most standard linear regulator chips have a 2 volt dropout unless they are the low dropout types. This means I need at least 2 volts more than I'm regulating to keep the regulator regulating. Hence the 9 volt choice even though it is very close to the cutoff for the device and causes the device to run 100 ma higher than I would see at 12vdc. Typically I will not see the voltage drop below the 12vdc level from the vehicle except when running the starter. Otherwise I should see between 12.7v and 14.5 volts coming from the vehicle.

This low starter voltage is of concern because that is the same time the device is either starting itself or has already stabilized while key was on but before the starter was employed. I believe this is when these devices and SD cards are being damaged.
I'm considering making some type of power hold-off circuit delay system with a long enough delay so that there is no power being applied to the camera until well after the engine has started and the voltage has stabilized above 12vdc. Of course I can always just plug it in manually when things are settled each time... but how long before I forget that?

Unfortunately, I have no units I can use for destructive testing. Just this one I bought so I have to limit what tests I can use to gain information about these devices.

More as I get it.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRudy

@Rudy - Thank you for your very technical explanation there. It was a little hard for me to follow considering I don't know the difference between a volt and an amp :) BUT you make a valid point that I agree with, these cards get damaged when the vehicle is started.

So here is my thoughts on the topic of power spikes and ask that anyone please let me know if I have a valid point or not. What if I connect the V1000GS to the cig lighter for power ONLY once the vehicle has started?

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

@StuartM - I would say that since we know some of these devices are being damaged and we also know one of the harshest electrical circumstances these devices see is during the vehicle starter phase, I would say that it may not be the exact cause but it sure won't hurt a thing to add power after the vehicle system has stabilized and it may indeed help. A lot.

This is the approach I will be taking with mine until we tie this down a little better.

Bad part for me is that even if I build a better power interface to protect the V1000, I would still have to expose it to harm to even see if the V1000 would have been damaged without it. In other words, the way to see that a certain set of conditions were responsible for damaging the unit is to expose it to those conditions and let it get damaged. That is a bad circumstance to have if you want to demonstrate something by cause and effect and not risk your investment.

June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRudy

And an update...around 4 months after installing the V1000GS, it went south on me. It still works, but the video went fuzzy and it quit responding to the remote. Keep in mind that this can't be a power issue, since the up/down filter has been connected the whole time. I also checked the filter's output and stays at a constant 12.12VDC as long as the key is on. That's with the car off, while starting or running.

I was able to get it to respond to the remote by opening the cam up and reseating the white ribbon cable inside, but I can't get the focus to work properly. I refocused the picture to be clear in the center of the screen by adjusting the ring on the lens, but it's still very blurry on the sides of the video. I also took the lens apart and cleaned it inside and out with Everclear(TM) to no avail. I also cleaned the sensor to no avail. It's back installed and working, but fuzzy.

I'll test the sensor when I can get free time in a suitable environment. If it's ok, I might try replacing the lens with an aftermarket wide angle.

June 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMottikhan

The sensor is OK and everything is working again. I think having it in the car at such high temps with the solar shield reflecting even more heat back at it might have been the culprit. I took the lens apart and after breaking it a little, got it straightened out and focusing correctly. It has some chips in it, but it's not affecting the view. I ordered a 130 degree lens to replace it. That should give a little wider view anyway. Here's the URL...

http://dx.com/p/replacement-fixed-iris-wide-angle-lens-for-cctv-camera-2-5mm-51865

Not bad for $5.50.

June 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMottikhan

For those having problems with the V1000GS, if you can't get a refund or store credit, please consider putting it up for sale on ebay at a discount. Just be honest in the listing if it doesn't work or has problems burning cards. I'd like to do some case mods and experiments with it and there's nothing out there to play with. I'm interested in getting 3 used or non working ones if the price is right.

June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMottikhan

Ive got a V1000gs that good for experimenting on. It can work for hours USB powered from my DVD player, then for no reason stop. Ive tried a regulated 12v power supply using the supplied car adapter and it froze after 5 minutes...i give up (16gb class 6 Toshiba card used)

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaryl

@Daryl - I haven't seen it or any other used V1000GS on ebay yet. But before you list it, did you notice Dave F's post about charging the battery? Also, have you made sure to turn the G-Sensors off? They can cause the cam to freeze because of the lack of space left on the card.

I'll keep an eye out for the ebay listing in case you decide to sell it.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMottikhan

Managed to get both of my units to work (finally) with the PNY Class 10 cards.

Actually pretty happy with the dashcam now - yay.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004WZFN7Y/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuperDuper

DR400G-HD review followup (After 2 months)

So... after having this camera for 2 months now, and using it daily, am VERY HAPPY with this Camera.

A few notes:
1. I can't feel any quality differences between 1080p to 720p, so I find myself using the 720p in order to record 6h instead of 4h.
2. When my DR400G-HD get full, from some reason it's dose not overwrite old files, instead, the camera stop recording and output an error message "Please check SD card", and I don't know why... (maybe I mess up something in the parameters)
*in the end it's not a big deal, I just swipe the SD card with a spare, and I get instantly another 6h of driving.
3. you need optimal conditions in order to read vehicle license plates that are not in front of you
4. not been able to disable the G-sensors is frustrating, the lowest Insensitive setting is not low enough.
5. the GPS signal is loading fast and never drop, I am very impressed!

Again, overall - I am VERY HAPPY with this Camera.

Here are some more video footage (720p 30 f/s)

Canada Day 2012, Road trip.
- Video is x2 accelerated
- Sound was edited

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytmhc3prhYM

Off Road Trip
- In some parts, video is x2 accelerated
- Sound was edited

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvpl0bFYTvU

July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKayax

Like some car cams the video goes from dark to light a few times.

No big problem.

July 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Just started playing with my V100GS today - Its been great so far. Having only 1 issue.

I'm recording in 5 minute intervals. After running for 23 minutes today, I had 5 files (as expected). The first 4 played fine using media player. The last one would not load/play. Has anyone else had issues with the power turning off and "corrupting" the file?

Can someone tell me where I can download the "HD Player" software for this device? Did not see it in the box...

I'm actually plan on using this in my airplane when I give rides to visitors...

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarty

@Bartie: The HD player software is installed on the device if memory serves me correct? Connect it to your PC and see if that helps? If not send me your email and I will send you the files as I have a copy on my rig here.

Not sure why the last file is corrupt but it may have to do with not saving the video file correctly on shutdown.

Of late the problem I experience is that the camera just locks up (red light solid blue light off) and then have to unplug the power, wait a few seconds, and then reconnect. No more damaged SD cards at least.

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStuartM

@StuartM: Thank you for your kind offer & advice. I may take you upon the software piece if I can't locate it on the card...

When I received my 2 units, I don't remember getting SD card with them…

I believe I had to buy the cards separately... So there wasn't anything preloaded on them...

I'll try re-formatting one of my SD cards in the unit and re-check to see if the HD Player Application appears...

After re-reading this blog a little closer, Seems others have had the file corrupt issue in the past. I may need to simply plug the unit in and let the internal battery charge for a short spell before using it again...

I bought 2 of these units (V100GS) a few months ago and just now getting started playing with them…

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarty

@Barty. Put a card in the camera. Format it in the camera, by using the onscreen menus. Attach the camera to your PC. The software is on the camera. You may get two drives showing up on your PC, check both of them.

July 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Techmoan:
@StuartM:
Gentlemen, Thank both of you for the help...

Once I plugged the camera into the USB port of my computer, and connected to it, I found the HD Player App / folder on the Camera itself...

Now I feel a little bit silly for not looking there in the first place...

So to satisfy my curiosity, I re-formatted the SD card (using the camera), removed the SD card from the camera, and plugged it into my PC (using SD toUSB adapter).

The HD Player folder did not exist on the SD card...

Sort of makes sense now. Why waste the space on the card if the program is able from the internal memory of the camera itself.

So, apparently the HD Player folder only exists when connecting to the camera using the USB interface... (Helpful hint for those that
follow this blog)

Thanks for the help. Now I'm off to give this device a real road test...

@Techmoan:
Love the web site. Keep up the great work. Enjoy your reviews very much...

If I ever find myself in Manchester, first round is on me at your favorite pub…

Cheers...

July 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarty

I have tried and failed to get this V1000Gs to work reliably....the unit is way to sensitive, even powered from my DVD (usb) player on my desk using a 16gb class 10, it can work for hours and freeze up or work for a few minutes and freeze up.

Anyway ive got this unit www.youtube.com/watch?v=uInnc0g8HLI
the Night vision is good also, the unit is 720p but unlike the V1000gs this unit works...

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaryl

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