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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%! 

            

 
« 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)

it is just weird that before i could record for a very long tome. i even replaced my SD card to 20gb to be sure.

but still, it only records 4 minutes of video. there might be a problem with the internal battery that i do not know about.

normally I keep the camera unused and uncharged for 5 days when I am working. I can only use it on weekends and I charge it overnight.

August 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGerard

I wonder if anyone can recommend this Car DVR which has a swivel head, infrared lights, small view screen, cycled recording and supposedly true 720 high def video http://tinyurl.com/44v7ag5

The tiny screen is way tiny but would at least let you see if you have framed the picture properly and if you are actually recording.

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJhim

I recorded some stuff and when I played them, there is audio playing but no video. any help?

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

@John. Perhaps try reflashing the firmware with a different one?

August 16, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

i am not tech savy so i wouldn't know. can you recommend me the best firmware?

i tried formatting my sd card and everything but still I can only record audio and the videos aren't playing. i have the codecs needed to play a MJPG file.

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Techmoan,

Any word on a firmware update that adds motion detection or file overwrite?

Thanks!

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterScott

@John. Could you just try playing the files in VLC so that we can 100% discount a codec issue on your PC. If VLC can't play them, then nothing can.

August 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Scott. I've heard nothing. Eletoponline emailed me the last firmware (50 min files with Time&Date stamp). Hopefully they'll send me any new ones they make too. I'm not sure if they are working on adding any more features though.

August 17, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Great reviews. I am sure that it is there in E bay. I'll keep visiting for more of your updates.

August 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterInvestigation Services

so camera was working fine. til i tried to mount it in an RC chopper.. well I had a MINOR crash. i mean simple. mishap. but as soon as that crash i noticed the came wont come intostand by. ... it wont let me read it when i hook it to the pc either.. when i plug it in the red light comes on as if its charging but not working.. ... is it a brick now? how do i reset? any ideas anyone? tks in advance....

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdalton

yikes... i dont think i have the original firmware that has the time on it..where can i get it?

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdalton

also. when i read the card on an external reader. it has this .HPIMAGE in the root..... do i delete this b4 i put the original firmware in it?
i did upgrade mine to a file named "Rel2 - Remove Time - 20 min" it also says this WARNING!***********WARNING!***********WARNING!***********WARNING!

This is new and different firmware from Release 1, and is NOT COMPATIBLE WITH RELEASE 1 firmware.
You cannot mix and match, nor can you go back to Release 1 after you install this firmware.
But all the improvements that were in Release 1 are in Release 2, plus better saturation control has been added.
So there is no reason to stay with Release 1 firmware unless you are happy with it and don't want to attempt firmware replacement.
Version 1 firmware is now considered obsolete. Any future firmware versions will be done with Release 2.


so is it ok to try to put original firmware on it?

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdalton

now i know i saw your post to my original post. but now ur post is gone.. am i going nuts over here? or did u delelte it by mistake

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdalton

Could you please tell me what happens with the files of the card when the camera card gets full. As I would like to use the camera for a continuous recording on a car I would not like to change the card (or erase it) each time it gets full. Does it delete older files to continue recording?

Thanks for your comments.

August 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

@David when it's full....it's full. This camera doesn't recycle it's rcordings

August 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Dalton I've got two version 2 firmwares on my site. Both are verified to work. I've put them on my old camera that came with V1 firmware and I've also put them on my V2 Jumbo. Both work fine. You cannot get back to V1 firmware after you have upgraded to V2 firmware. But there is no reason why anyone would want to.

August 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Dalton. Also, it doesn't matter what else is on your card when you put the firmware on.

August 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

hi again still having problems playing videos on my pc after leaving recordings to turn off on there own i keep getting error messages or file rendering problems and iam getting no where fast i posted a comment a few months back and you said to update drivers and firmware where and how do i do these things ? iv downloaded loads of different players codecs and when i try to use firmware and driver update sites i feel i might get ripped off if i pay and they dont work please please can you make it simple for me iam not pc minded but dont want to lose my videos iv red all posts and none make scence to me sorry so hope you in your wisdom can help me a pc retard thanks

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermark p

Hi Techmoan! thanks to your review i bought this fantastic keyring camera! Really cheap and really really cool to use. BUT i have to get some kind of response by you...
I noticed you said that the wiring was different from the mini USB cable and the car battery charger/power supply, and with a continuity tester i found out the strange pin layout.
But other than this, you noticed some strange "heating" while using the car adaptor? At first i was thinking was just the burning heat wave that affected italy, but looks like the adaptor make the camera toasty! Maybe is the 1.5A rated adaptor a bit too much?

Sorry for harassing and making you read my awful english sir

keep the awesome work you do!

September 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio

@Mark P. I think your problems will be resolved with newer firmware on your camera. I had the same problems as you with the standard firmware, but the later firmwares resolved it. The original firmware created corrupted files if left to complete a video on it's own. If you manually stop the videos recording then the files are OK. So have a look at my Jumbo camera review (it's the same camera with a different case and bigger battery) - you will see details of how to upgrade your firmware on your camera to one of the newer versions.

September 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks very much for this compreensive article. I recently purchased one of these and have had no problem editing the .MOV files with Windows Movie Maker, QuickTime or AVS4YOU video Editor. I do occasionaly find videos ending unexpectedly or not recording at all but I'm not sure if it's operator error or the battery is running out. I need to pay more attention

I am using the camera on an RC Glider and finding the 20 minute limit annoying. I have downloaded the firmware update but notice that you have removed your "successfuly tested" statement in your March posting. Given this and the apparent absence of the editing issues you raise, I'm wondering if there my camera has upgraded firmware and if so, should I attempt to install your upgrade?

September 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterken Lee

@ ken Lee - There has been a lot of confusion over the firmware. When I first posted the firmware up, it was to let people upgrade cameras that were bought containing version 1 firmware. Then the manufacturer started sending out cameras with V2 firmware and people were trying to 'update' this by flashing with my older V1 firmware and ending up with weird (but not irreversible) problems. I then took down all the firmwares completely to avoid the emails from confused people. After I realised what people had been doing I then put up just the V2 firmwares again - but only the ones that worked flawlessly (the 50 mins firmware with no time stamp won't continue to record until the card is full due to a bug - so I didn't post this one up). So whatever 808 camera you have, the firmwares on this site will now work. They are all V2 firmwares. You cannot go back to a V1 firmware after you upgrade - but all cameras bought in the last couple of months come with v2 firmware anyway and all new firmwares from now on will be v2 only anyway- so this isn't a limitation. (Editing issues only happened on the very first stock v1 firmware - all other v1 and v2 firmwares worked fine).

September 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks mate. I have the #11 and as it does create a new file every 20 minutes, the firmware must be V1. I'll try the upgrade but it's a pity about the date/time bug because I use the videos as a log. Still you can't make an omlette . . .

I also watched your reviewof the "Jumbo" 808 all the way through, despite having just watched the #11 review. It must have been the gratuitous pyrotechnics that kept up my interest. Seriously though, these are excellent reviews and I have nothing but admiration for people such as yourself who take the time and effort to share their knowledge with others. Thank you.

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterken Lee

Hello again. I meant to ask a question about powering the camera directly from a regulated 5V supply. The motor for my RC glider runs from an 11.1 3s 2200 maH Lipo Battery but has a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) which provides a regulated 5V supply to the radio receiver. I was thinking of tapping this supply directly to the camera's USB port. My undertanding is that assuming the firmware upgrade is succesful, I would be able to record till the card is full, regardless of capacity (8G?), as long as power is maintained albiet in 4G chunks.

Do you think this approach would work? If so, would it be best to use the "standard" USB wiring configuration or the "proprietry" configuration used for the charger. I also have vaque concerns about overcharging the camera battery or draining the plane's battery though I think this is unlikely.

September 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterken Lee

HI !!!
I have Problem with 808 (Key Chain) 720p Cam...
When i buy it it works Fine for 8-9 days..

BUT NOW

When I turn on camera and Orange Light stay on Standby just 2 Seconds and it turn off itself (Memory Card IN)

When I turn on standby and quickly Hold Button for taking a Video,its instantly turn off orange Light,without turning on again (Memory Card IN)

But When I Remove Memory Card and turn on Camera orange Light stay on about 5 sec and Blink 3 Times and again OFF (Memory Card Out)

I tried to Reset it with RESET BUTTON...Batery is FULL..Camera works Fine when i connect to PC..I tried to use Another Memory Card but again its Still turning of Itself..Is it possible that Firmware can fix this problem ??

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCanijA

Tested the said to be upgraded versions of HD 808 #11 like the HD 909 as well as HD 808 #12, still the HD 808 #11 outperforms these newer versions, HD 808 #11 has better video recording(no lags/pauses), sound is also better/more sensitive, low-light performance of the #11 is also better, overall the HD 808 #11 is still on top. You can watch videos in youtube of the HD 909 and HD 808 #12 to verify our thoughts. HTH!

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwww.yummypinays.tk

HI!

I've ordered a 808 #11 keychain and it should be there by the end of the week. However, I am still asking myself a question.
Is the firmware to remove the time stamp stable at this time? I mean, I heard of several people bricking their camera, but most of the time, it came back to life, right? What are the risks right now, and what should I be careful with?

Thanks for your answer!
ps: You're not boring at all, I discovered your videos a while ago, and I must say that they are very helpful!

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhotofan

@Photofan I'd say the chance of bricking now is very slim. It was only really a concern when they first came out and the initial batch couldn't take the firmware upgrade. Any cameras that were bought in 2011 are fine. There's probably about the same amount of risk as updating to the latest software on a PS3 or an iPhone now.

September 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

That's great! Thanks Techmoan :D I'm eagerly waiting for my #11.

September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhotofan

Hi there,
i am owner of 808#3, and i am going to buy 808#11.
Because your review is very technical (and i like it) i would like to ask one question about posibility of firmware of #3 or #11 right here.
I wonder if is there posibility to set shuter speed to 1/30s even in low light.
My #3 takes good looking video in low light only if it is NOT in movement. Else it takes blury frames just like my Kodak Zi 6. I prefer dark frame but still sharp linke GoPro, but GoPro is out of my financial posibility right now.
I think there is easiest to light up dark frame righter sharp blury one.
Do you have idea if it posible to set shutter speed not less than 1/30s?

Regards!

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

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