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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%! 

 
« The Cheapest 8" Android Tablet in the World? | Main | KGB Marker Pen Spy Camera »
Monday
Aug292011

Various

Just thought I should do a brief update, although there is not much really going on. 

HD808 Tripod Mount

Firstly - if you are using the HD808 (or similar) camera you might want to think about doing what John Whatley did and making a simple tripod mount 

To Quote John "OK here it is so simple but it produces great movies with no shake. There is a 4BA screw at one end and I have tapped the other hole 1/4 BSW to fit tripods"

Brilliantly simple.

 


HP Touchpads

 Next - I managed to get hold of two 16gb Touchpads in the recent HP fire-sale. I was going to say that I was 'lucky' to get hold of them, but luck had nothing to do with it. 10 hours of constant refreshing and registering accounts with multiple online retailers and putting things in virtual baskets only to have sites crash out - is not luck, it's flippin frustrating and it's damned hard work.  I only intended to get one, but the website I used was crawling and I managed to click Add-to-Cart twice before it refreshed. After unboxing and playing with one, I liked it so much I decided to keep both.

So in addition to my old trusty 64GB 3G iPad1 that entertains me on the train for the daily 1.5hr round trip commute I now have a lounge based tablet and the missus has the other. I won't be doing a review of the Touchpad - there are plenty of detailed and knowledgable articles already out there, but suffice it to say, I'm very happy with my purchase and if you could possibly get hold of one you shouldn't hesitate (but you probably know that already). One tip that I can give to new owners is that Costco (in the UK) stock a neat carrying case designed for 10" tablets/laptops. It costs approx. £6 and has handles, a shoulder strap, two side pockets and an impact protective lining.   One knock-on effect of getting hold of the Touchpad(s) is that I will no longer be looking for an Android tablet to review. I was contemplating the Andypad - but even I can't find a use for four tablets in the house. 

 

Renault Twizy 

 Third, I've been looking at a small car suitable for driving the mile or so to the station - I've been walking the route for 10 years and another dark damp winter is something that I'm really not looking forward to. I started off looking at Smart cars - but then started thinking about electric vehicles, which lead me to find and investigate the upcoming Renault Twizy. It's a small electric two seater (one person sits behind the other) that is due to come out next spring. I got very close to reserving one, I thought it would be a fun thing to blog about, but then the practicalities hit me. Unfortunately this vehicle is classified as a quadricycle which due to some technicality necessitates the fact that it cannot have full doors on either side. The gull wing style doors on the Twizy are therefore two third length only. This means that the top part of each door, where the window normally resides,  is open to the elements. I don't know how things are like where you live, but unfortunately in the UK anything new or unusual tends to get fiddled with by idiots. Park a scooter at a station and inevitably one day when you get home, it with either be on it's side or missing. Well imagine the amount of attention something like the Twizy would garner, and with those open sides there is nothing to stop anyone climbing into it and messing about inside. Even if people didn't manage to live down to my expectations, there is nothing to stop a family of pigeons taking up residence or cats climbing in there to use it as an outdoor toilet.

 

 So although the Renault Twizy is just not suitable for me (and possibly not for the UK either), I look forward to seeing one on the road. Just imagine the amount of attention you would get from other road users, if you owned one it would be like being a celebrity. I know from owning a Piaggio MP3 that people like to talk to owners of unusual vehicles. If you are the kind of person who likes to stop and chat with people, I can't think of anything.that would be better suited to the purpose of starting conversations with perfect strangers than the Renault Twizy. More info on the Renault ZE site here.

 

ACT20 - New Firmware

Finally, the manufacturers of the ACT20 camera unexpectedly got in touch and supplied me with their latest firmware. I wasn't even aware that the firmware on the ACT20 could be updated so this came as a nice surprise. The new firmware comes supplied on all cameras sold after July 2011. I updated it on mine and it works fine. One interesting new feature that I haven't tried is the ability to record at 1600x1200 at 15fps. However the best new feature is the ability to choose to have the camera auto start and stop whenever power is applied - this feature works perfectly and makes the camera very useful as a journey logger in a car. The link to the firmware is below- the instructions are included, but just connect the ACT20 to a PC and delete the old setup file from the memory card and then run the Firmwaresetup.exe file and Click the Firmware button at the bottom and choose the update.pvf file and then click Setup to overwrite the firmware on the camera.

I tried to import footage onto my Mac that had been recorded using the new firmware to see if the video importing issues I experienced in my review had been resolved. I was pleased to find out that the footage did import into iMovie this time and could be edited as normal, but unfortunately had no sound - however this is still a big improvement and I rarely use the sound recorded on these cameras attached to vehicles anyway, because it's 99% wind noise. One thing I was now able to check was whether this camera suffered any dropped frames, and I can confirm that it records at 25fps, and doesn't drop or repeat any frames - even though it uses the older mjpeg encoding rather than h.264.

I took the opportunity to email the ACT20 people to enquire whether they were thinking of making an h.264 version or a model with a wide angle lens. They replied that the h.264 chips are too expensive at the moment but they already sell a 120 degree wide angle lens version (although I've yet to find a distributor).

So overall I'd like to re-evaluate my assessment of this camera now and recommend it with the new firmware - especially if you use a PC and you can find one in it's 120 degree wide angle lens guise.

Click here to download the New Firmware and associated Update software for the ACT20 camera.

Click this link to see my old review of the ACT 20 Camera - recorded back when I still had a bike :-( 

One more thing…. I will be doing one more action camera review (although it will probably take a few weeks to put this together after it arrives from China) - but after that I think I may be done with these cheap cameras for a while. Now that I no longer have a motorcycle (purely for financial reasons) I don't really have any use for an action camera any more. So I'm at a bit of a dead end - there isn't anything new and exciting piquing my interest from the far east suppliers at the moment - everything seems like it's been done before. So I'm going to sit back and see what happens, just be aware that it might be a good few weeks before you see any more reviews from here. I'm not dead (probably), I'm just saving up for the next big thing.

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Reader Comments (23)

Have you tried to address the wind noise such as a using some foam over the microphone of a mini camera like they have on professional microphones? This could be done for example using the foam from an earbud cover from a headphone. I agree wind noise is annoying but sound adds another dimension to the video. I guess I may have to order a camera myself and experiment!

August 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuc

Thanks for this update!

August 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLukas

I wrote to zzahuan (http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Super-zzahuan) asking if their ebay listing saying the ACT 20 had an option for a 120° lens was available and they just replied

"Hi, my friend,now it just have 120 degree camera."

But I'm not sure I'm going to get it, as I have a Mac and would like to have sound on some of my film! But there you go, it looks as if the 120° lens is available, just ask. Whether you actually get it or not is another matter!

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVoyager03

Forget the Renault Twizy..... This is ultimate small electric car.... The Tango..... I do not know if they are available in the UK....

Tango
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VPz38Xkgsc&feature=related

0-60 in 4 seconds plus on about how safe the car is....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slHQ0M66NV0&feature=related

A bit of drag racing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Xl3oY82zU&feature=related

It would be great to see you do a review on one of these......

Take Care

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

Some very interesting facts about the tango can be found here..... http://www.commutercars.com/home.html

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

My ACT20 HD used to suffer an average of 33% dropped frames (using a variety of Class10 memory cards), after upgrading the firmware to v1.0.7.18 from your site, the camera now has an average of 16% dropped frames (with the same memory cards). Still a great camera for the price, good battery life, and the "Cycle recording" works like a charm.

Also the firmware upgrade didn’t seem to work using Windows 7 x64 (the setup button was greyed out), worked fine using Windows XP.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMr2buds

@Mr2buds I seemed to be getting a steady 25fps on the clips I looked at...maybe I just got lucky. I assume you weren't expecting to get 30fps when you did your dropped frame tests.

September 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Carl Many thanks for the links - I had never seen the Tango before, it is a very interesting car. The good thing about the Twizy is that it will actually go on sale early next year from a major manufacturer and at an affordable price. I've seen a lot of very interesting cars never make it to market or come out at prices way beyond any normal person's budget. I presume you've also seen the Narrow Track vehicles video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CAnq5DyNG0
One vehicle I particularly liked the look of a few years ago was the Peugeot Hymotion3 - but that looks like it's never going to happen now.

I've ended up buying of a 2yr old Smart car which will do me for the next few years. Hopefully when I come to change this car there will be much more choice in the Microcar, electric or narrow track vehicle market.

September 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Voyager03 - Thanks for the info and you are right to stay away from it, if you own a Mac. If anyone does actually get the 120 degree one, could they let me know, so that I can link to the sellers.

September 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Techmoan, I followed your example on your video review, and open the footage in Virtualdub and go through it frame by frame (it also shows you a [D] for a dropped frame).

I notice that when I cycle down a hill at 40mph, I get a pattern of 3 unique frames, 1 dropped frame, 6 unique, 1 dropped, 6 unique, 1 dropped, and then it repeats. Which is 16.6% dropped frames (this seems to be the worst case).

When I cycle slower I get less dropped frames, I think it depends on how complex the scenery is, and how fast you are going. The best I seem to get is around 13% dropped frames (eg every 25 frames, 3 will be dropped frames).

Hopefully they could improve this with a future firmware update :-)

September 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMr2buds

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