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Pick of the Camera Reviews

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ACTION CAMS

Yi 2 - Best Budget 4K 

Gitup Git2 (My Pick)

Xiaomi Yi

Dazzne P2

SJCAM M10+
 
DASH-CAMS (CAR DVRs)
 
A119
Yi

Yi Ultra 2.7K
   
    MINI CAMERAS
Mobius (also works as a Dashcam)
Polaroid Cube+
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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%! 

            

 
« '1080p' Mini LCD Camera | Main | A Cheap (& nasty) Car camera. »
Sunday
Apr082012

Two SmartCams for your car

At last here is my review of the Smartcam car cameras. 

If you are in the UK and you want a cheap dashcam then either of these cameras are definitely worth your consideration. The prices include post and packaging...but more importantly don't include the unwelcome and often unexpected extras, like Import Duty, VAT and 'handling fees' that you can sometimes incur when buying items direct from China.   

Link to Smart Electronics Ebay Store here.

Video Review below.

NOTE---- Youtube has had a seriously detrimental effect on the video quality from the HD cam - I've therefore uploaded clips for you to download and play on your machine. Here's the Smartcam - and here's the Smartcam 2

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Reader Comments (90)

Dear Techmoan,

Thank you so much for another great review.

Back when you reviewed the "Car DV" camera I remember you walking in zig zag in front of it to test the motion detection capabilites. I am just curious if you have tried the motion detection feature of HD SmartCam.

Regards,
Alan

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

I haven't tested the motion activation on this camera. I was really just testing it's car capabilities out. I've now moved onto testing something else now.....so is anyone able to comment on this aspect for Alan?

April 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Techmoan,

Thanks for all of your reviews, very useful. Might I suggest dusting off the muppets a bit more often?

I have been looking for an in car recorder to document a road trip from the vehicles point of view. I want to try and condense a weeks worth of driving into a 10 minute or so video and see how it turns out! I will be driving from the Outer Hebrides, through the UK, through France and then to the bottom of Spain. I am looking for something that can take this footage with reasonable quality, and the VS1000 looked pretty clean (and within my budget). After reading the comments section though it does seem to be hit and miss as to its reliability and hunger for SD cards.

Between this camera (the HD version) and the VS1000, which would you recommend for video quality? I can't seem to play the video files you uploaded here (even with the Klite mega codec pack, very strange) so it is difficult to make a conclusion from the youtube footage. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for the reviews!

BM

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarking Mad

@Barking Mad I suppose some day I'll have to look at the more expensive car cameras again, because so far I've only really looked at the flawed V1000GS. You don't necessarily need a car camera to record your POV though, and you wouldn't want to re-record over your footage, so perhaps an action camera like the Crocolis HD, RD32, the GoPro, ContourHD, Drift HD, etc might make more sense. Perhaps just a plain old HD camcorder with a decent mount...maybe a Hard Drive based one with enough storage for your days worth of footage might be useful.

April 18, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Guided by your ace review, ordered one yesterday. It arrived this morning, was fitted half an hour later and working brilliant. Very impressed with Smart Electronics! Thanks Techmoan.

April 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSophiedog

i send for this way, your submision page dont work

hi techmoan::
hi see your blog and i find this cam:
http://dx.com/mini-hd-720p-2-0m-pixel-digital-camera-camcorder-w-tf-slot-black-123869
Model: Y5000
is 2 usd more cheap that the older vecion
is the second vercion of
http://dx.com/the-smallest-mini-hd-720p-2-0m-pixel-digital-camera-camcorder-59538
model: y3000.
i compare the specs, and could be the same hardware, the case is diferent and now have a protector for the lens.

i send you this if you want to review

April 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpablo

Hi Matt, did you do any longish term tests on the HD one? Had my fingers burnt with pile of crap that was the V1000GS and don't want to risk the same thing if I buy this one. Any issues with yours after a few weeks usage?

Thanks.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlsitheelad

Unfortunately I never really do any long term tests with things. Once the review is over, I'm on to the next one. Hopefully some of the other people who bought the HD Smartcam can report back here on their experiences.

April 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Looking for all-round cheap covert video camera that will

take continuous video on single battery for min 2 hrs
have memory storage for continuous video for min 2 hrs
work via motion detecton
include audio
take reasonable video in poorish (dim background) light

Any ideas? Cheers

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Sorry, absolutely no idea at all. I don't believe that this product exists.

April 25, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Cheers. Is there anything approaching this? The spy alarm from Oz looks good. (Great reviews by the way.)

April 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Have bought one of 720p. No issues currently. Be aware, that screen is ON always, which makes battery to drain. Max what I got, was 1hr without power, but I usually use 12V power cord from car. Quality is quite good. Recording in dark is almost as seen by eyes, just a little darker. Sound quality is ok. Delay when saving one video and starting another is different. For 1 min videos it is only 1 sec. Worst are 5min clips 6-7 seconds delay between them. 10min clip is quite good - 2-4 seconds delay. 15 minutes clips - 5-6 seconds.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlestas

Hi Matt! First off, thanks for these really great, in-depth reviews. Your attention to detail is really quite amazing. Now, on to my question -- I was wondering if you have ever done (I looked but didn't find) any reviews of the somewhat more involved car DVR systems which support multiple cameras and have rear view mirror displays? For instance, I'm quite intrigued by a system I've come across BVTech MVR101. (http://www.amazon.com/BV-Tech-Mirror-Mobile-Single/dp/B005BU2CIC/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) I envision it hooked up in my Honda S2000 with one camera pointing forward (the one built into the mirror) and one pointed rearward likely mounted to the license plate (like a backup camera). My thought would be that it would be used like a blackbox unit in an always-on configuration and could not only be great for documenting any altercations (Lord I hope not) on a day to day basis, but also for videoing some of the rather spirited canyon drives we do here locally in a car club to which I belong.

Any plans for such a review? I can't seem to find any reviews at all of that particular device mentioned above. I know this is a pricier unit than some of the typical cameras you've been looking at, but just thought I would throw it out there as a suggestion/question.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRMurphy

@RMurphy I don't tend to get things into review that would involve a permanent or semi-permanent modification to install them in my car. Drilling holes for cameras, routing wires and/or swapping my rear view mirror would be a step too far for me (not to mention what the missus would say about me 'damaging' the car). Also if I ever did install something like this, then I could only do it once, which would mean that there wouldn't be any need for me to look at any newer cameras when they became available. So although I find these devices interesting, I can't really do a review of them.

May 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Matt. Thanks for the quick reply. I completely understand you not wanting to do a permanent install of anything. This particular unit clips over the existing rearview mirror and does not require the removal or even semi-permanent addition of anything. For purposes of a review, you would probably handle the power the same way you do with any other 12 volt powered camera--let the cable hang down and plug into the car's 12 volt power receptacle. The rearview camera is optional and could probably be skipped for purposes of a review, although you could probably manage it with any basic cam you might have laying around (you could point it at pretty much anything just to see how the device deals with multiple feeds). It appears the entire thing can just be unclipped from the existing mirror in a matter of a minute and no one would ever know it had been there. The ability to remove the device is what I like about it since my car is a convertible and so having anything expensive visible in the car just begs someone to knife the convertible top to steal things. I also am festidious about keeping my car completely stock to protect the resale value. So a removable yet unobtrusive camera (read that as one which doesn't have to be suction cup attached to the windshield) is what I'm looking for. Just thought I'd mention the above in case that might have an impact on you perhaps giving it another look. :-)

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRMurphy

I wrote to the eBay seller and he said Class 6 and up MicroSD cards should be fine.

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Hi Matt: don't want to derail the discussion here off of the devices you just reviewed, but I came across this link and wanted to send it to you. Seems to be the same unit I mentioned above (MVR-101). http://www.mobilevisionboise.com/products/hermes-smart-mirror.php Gives more information, I think. Thanks! Okay, I'll stop bugging you about mirror-mounted cams now. :-D

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRMurphy

@RMurphy I'll have another look at it, I misunderstood what it was. I see so many of these things on the Chinese websites I tend to make assumptions about how they work.

May 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Great review! A Little question: how do you set the time on this model? is there a specific file which needs to be put on the micro SD? thanks

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbw

@bw its done through the menus...skirted past at 4:43.

May 16, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

ok thanks! these are great reviews of the dash cams taking video of traffic, do you think you could show us how a dash cam would cope with an accident? would it fly off its mounting & detach from its 12v tether? smash into the windscreen? would the camera finish saving the critical last file?

alternatively, accident velocity can be simulated by letting an object free fall. so a dash cam attached to the inside of a large glass bowl falling from three stories could simulate a 60km crash. maybe one of the muppets would be interested in participating in this one?
keep it up

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbw

Hi, great reviews but can you advise if the HD camera could be used to record the front occupants of the car, and would the audio be of sufficient quality to pick up and replay the voices? I'm looking for an inexpensive way to record in car training sessions.

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarchag42

@marchag I'm testing a dual camera at the moment..that isn't perfect but it might give you some ideas. Look out for this review in a week or less.

May 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Matt. Thanks for the heads up - I look forward to reading the review. For the use I have in mind I don't actually need a dual camera as I'm not looking to record the road situation simultaneously with the in car aspect; I would only need to record the occupants. Would the HD SmartCam manage this?

May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarchag42

@marchag. The Smartcam should be fine for this purpose.

May 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks for all the excellent reviews.

could you tell me how many minutes of recording at HD quality I could get on a 16Gb card? My maths understanding of gigs megs and bytes is poor.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMick G

hi mick, i recently bought one of these. on hd I get around 1Gb per ten minutes.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbw

Yep, it takes 100MB per minute.

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlestas

Great site with great reviews...thanks.
Just ordered a Dotklock which should be here in the next week.

On the SmartCam I cannot get the unit to save the new settings I have entered. The internal battery is dead so as soon as the external power supply from the car is disconnected the settings revert to the factory default. Can you confirm this ?
Also I am unclear as to the auto power off setting, does this mean that if set to say 1 min then after the car power is switched off the unit will power down after 1 min and if set to auto off then the unit keeps going until the internal battery is dead ?

Cheers Stephen

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephen

I'm pretty sure that auto-off just says how long the camera will stay in standby before switching off (i.e. not recording or playing anything). I'd email Scott about your other issue, sounds faulty to me.

May 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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