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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

 

 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
    HELMET CAMERA
Drift Ghost X

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%! 

 
« Just a quick video about Bananas | Main | My review of the Sanyo VPC-CS1 pocket 1080p Camcorder »
Friday
Feb182011

(Finally) A Real HD Mini Keyring Spy Camera #11 808

After having my hopes raised and dashed in quick succession by a number of "HD" spy cams - I've finally managed to get hold of a real one. It's the latest version of my previous favourite, the DVK808 Keychain spy camera #3, and it's unofficially known as the #11 808 camera.

First a quick word about some of the (non) HD cameras I've received in the past. Some people are still surprised that there are dishonestly advertised Chinese products available. In comments left on my youtube videos, people can't believe that my HD spy pen wasn't really HD, and my 720p Car Recorder doesn't record in 720p - they naively suggest that I must have been using them incorrectly. Surely someone wouldn't sell a jittery SD product claiming it was HD, would they? Well normal trading rules don't seem to apply in China, and to me that's all part of the fun.

If I wanted to guarantee that I got a real HD helmet camera, I could always go and spend £200 on a GoPro or a Contour HD, but where is the fun in that? I give Amazon £200 and they send me exactly what I paid for..... sounds a bit dull to me. I'd much rather send some bloke in China £30 and see if what turns up in the mail a few weeks later. Finding out if  a product lives up to the grandiose claims in it's Ebay listing is a big part of the enjoyment. It's like a lucky dip, some you win, some you lose.

This time I won big..... this camera is the real thing. The video quality on this is astounding considering the size of the lens and the £26 cost. You'll need to watch the video to learn all about this amazing little camera - I will warn you that you may shed a tear at the end, I nearly did.

 

Where can you get one from?

At the time of writing the Ebay sellers who offer this camera are all based in Hong Kong. A few example names of sellers are below (I am not endorsing any of these, but they seem to sell the #11 camera).

 -----> My order from here only took 10 Days to get to the UK!

hxelepro360

power-gps

How can you make sure you are buying the right camera?

Look for the following info in their listings, H.264 .MOV file format, 1280x720, #11 HD car key camera (or words to that effect).

If you see a 1280x960 HD camera advertised don't buy one by mistake, they aren't HD and are only 640x480 upscaled.

How do you change the time?

Here is an example of the TXT file used to set the time. Download this, open it in a text editing program, type over the appropriate time and date, save it and copy it to the memory card in the camera.

Example Photos

It takes mediocre quality photos,  nothing that any modern camera phone couldn't beat. 

Below are some thumbnails which link to the original untouched photos taken by the camera in photo mode.

UPDATE - 21 FEB 2011 - It Lives!

After the video, I retrieved it from the bin and left it on a shelf for a couple of days. I thought I'd give it one last try and put the old firmware back on a Memory stick again. Plugged the camera into a wall charger and tried to switch it into webcam mode. To my surprise it came on and then re-flashed the old firmware. Pushing my luck, I decided to try flashing the date removal firmware again and it worked this time. I now have a time & date free camera. I may even upload the new firmware to the site now.....but don't come running to me if it all ends in tears.

Update 22 FEB 2011 - Firmware!

OK, I've relented. For those people who want to try and delete the Time & Date stamp - the firmware is uploaded on my Files & Drivers page or you can just Click Here to download it directly.  Just a couple of pointers, make sure the camera is fully charged. Put the firmware on a memory card  (preferably using a card reader). Just put the FW96630A.bin file in the root directory - not into any folder & also don't change the filename. Insert the card into your camera. Tap the On button and then wait a few secs - the orange light should flash, wait another couple of secs and then switch the camera off. Remove the card, put it back into your computer and delete the firmware file from the card (if you don't delete the firmware, the camera will just try to re-flash it every time you switch it on). I take no responsibility for anyone who kills their camera trying this....good luck.

(Too many people were reporting errors with these firmwares - so I've removed them)

Update 20 MAR 2011 - Video Editing Issues.

I've come across a strange problem with the .MOV files that this camera creates. iMovie sometimes wants nothing to do with the video files and refuses to import them. This only happens with the 20 minute files that the camera has closed off itself. If I start and stop the recording manually, then the resulting video clip imports fine. So for example if I were to record 30 mins of footage in one go with the camera, the first 20 min clip wouldn't import, but the last 10 min one would. This is weird, its as though the camera is corrupting it's own clips when it closes them. I've get the same results with both my cameras (one with the date stamp firmware and one without). The only way I could get my footage into iMovie was to transcode it first. I tried a few transcoding programs that refused to touch the video, erroring out with unrecognised/unsupported file type messages. Luckily I found that Handbrake was happy to transcode the file into an MP4 which I could then proceed to import and edit in iMovie. 

This might not be an issue to many people, and if the above paragraph means nothing to you then you are probably one of them. If all you want to do is capture video and then play it back through Quicktime or VLC then you are fine - but if you actually want to edit the footage you have shot, you should be aware that it is likely you will need to transcode it first.

Update – 25 March 2011 – New Continuous Recording Firmware

I have uploaded the ‘continuous recording’ firmware to the Files & Drivers page HERE. I have successfully installed and tested this on my second camera. 

This firmware fixes a number of problems. 
  1. It removes the time and date 
  2. When the battery dies, the current recording is now saved, rather than lost. 
  3. Rather than creating a new file every 20 mins, it now creates a new one every 4GB. 
  4. The video files created can be edited as normal - no transcoding required.

A 4GB file will be contain either 50 or 75 mins of video – dependent on the bitrate that your camera records at (there are two versions of the camera, one that records at 7000kbps and one at 10000kbps – the video quality is indistinguishable between them). As the battery life of this camera is approx 45 min, in normal use the camera will record one file until the battery dies. 

If you attach the camera to the supplied car charger, it will keep recording 4GB files until your memory card is full, however if you power it with a normal USB lead, it will only record one 4GB file and then stop recording. This is because of the non-standard way the camera USB power plug is wired. 

Installing the firmware is done in the same way as before – download and extract the zip file. Get the file called "FW96630A.BIN" and copy it to the root of your memory card. Put the card in the camera. Tap the On button and then wait for the yellow light to come on, this should take about 5 seconds. Turn it off again and remove the card from the camera and then delete the "FW96630A.BIN" file from the memory card. That’s it. 
If you ever want to reinstate the time and date – you could re-flash the original firmware – but due to the various drawbacks with the original firmware, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Reader Comments (266)

@blackie I'm not sure why you can't find them on eBay. If I put the text from the line below into an Ebay.co.uk search box and select International, I get 35 results,

Hd 808 #11

March 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

First, thanks so much for this detailed review. Ive been looking for a small camera I can take anywhere with me & use - but that can produce moderately good image quality. This one sure seems to fit the bill & I ordered mine this week. Its tough to know what is real & what is just hype on ebay, so thanks so much for giving us some clarity.

Second, if you ever find an HD (true HD, not upscaled) spy pen, please let us know. This key-ring camera will work for me, but a pen would certainly be a bit more convenient in the long run.

Thanks again. Love your site & youtube channel.

March 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjustin

I tried it out attached to my Lambretta yesterday morning, footage is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLe3kxbuExk

I just attached velcro to a magnet, and stuck that on the front fender. Obviously, the vibration caused quite a bit of "jelly" effect. I need to work up some vibration damping, perhaps neodymium magnets and a couple layers of inner tube rubber? I still think it looks pretty great.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Hi Techmoan, big thanks for your GREAT reviews.

Today I tried to remove the time from my 2 new HD car key cameras

1st one I copied the FW96630A file to the root directory while Micro SD card was inserted in the HD car key camera. The RESULT? camera #1 is dead. No reposnse at all.

2nd Camera I copied the FW96630A file to the root directory in the Micro SD card in the HD car key camera (through a USB card reader). The RESULT? camer #1 is dead. No reposnse at all.

What am I doing wrong? Both cameras just arrived to me TODAY.

When I plug then in a USB slot the LED light comes on but nithing else. By pressing any buttons get no response at all.

Any help please?

Thanking you in advance

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterteckgeek52

Sounds like what happened to me. Make sure they are fully charged, and if possible attach them to a USB wall charger whilst you do the next step.
Put the original firmware back on the memory card (The Date On firmware). Try and switch it on, by tapping on (and letting go). The light should flash once, go out and then come on again after approx 5 seconds. If this doesn't work then press the front button (nearest the lens and keep it held down while you press the other button...hold for a few secs until something happens. I can't really say for definite what I did with mine, it just eventually came back to life once I put the original firmware back on it. Once the camera light is back on you should turn the camera off and delete the firmware from the card before switching the camera on again, or you'll just end up reflashing it over and over again.

After mine had reloaded the original firmware it was fine for all future flashes. Good luck.

April 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thank you very much for your quick reply, very much appreciated.

I'll try to do that. I hope I get results and will post it here.

What should be the name of the .TEXT file for the time please?

TAG or
TIME or
TIMESET ?

Once again your help is greatly appreciated

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterteckgeek52

it is TIMESET, I got it thanks

I'll try to bring LIFE to the dead ones now !

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterteckgeek52

Techmoan, you are a life saver !

They both work, BRILLIANT no time stamp.

Thank you

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterteckgeek52

Excellent work !
I was able to flash both the revised versions of the software without problems, both worked, but I found the latest (4gb filesize) firmware has a white balance which is so warm that the camera is of little use indoors. Whites are dark orange (well, medium orange, in any case :) ). Is there a way to fix this?

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor Marshall

@ Trevor Marshall. I've always found these mini cameras to be pretty inadequate indoors....the size of the lens/optics are insufficient to capture enough light. Are you sure that the firmware has altered the colour temp..I wouldn't have thought that this was possible. At the moment I only know of three different firmwares....the original, the date-off and the continuous recording firmware.

April 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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