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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

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%! 

            

 
« The LCJ-HJ Camera Case for the Sony HX100V & HX200v | Main | The Korg Kaossilator 2 - Fun product, dull video »
Saturday
May262012

Cheap Dual Camera Car DVR with GPS

Chinavasion got in touch with me recently. I hadn't spoken to them for a long while so it was a bit of a surprise when they suggested that I might want to look at a car camera for them. I've done quite a few car camera reviews recently, so wasn't entirely enthusiastic about the idea until I had a good look at the camera on their website. This camera did seem to offer a lot of features for a low price and I hadn't tested a dual-camera car DVR before, so I asked them to send one over and here is my review of it. Just to confirm, I didn't pay for this camera (other than the usual Import Duties).

 

Slightly off topic - Answers to common questions about car cameras.

There are a few questions that I get asked virtually every day via email about car cameras. To save me typing the same answers out countless times a month, I'd like to try and address them here.

I often get asked to comfirm which is the best car DVR that I've tried, or which one I would recommend. I really cannot answer this one easily because all the cameras that I have tried have some issues which mean that I can't hand on heart recommend any of them wholeheartedly. I like to test things out and let the viewer make their own mind up as to whether the item is suitable for them. I've really only tested a very small fraction of the car cameras on the market today...so it's highly unlikely that I've stumbled across the best or worst models out there. 

Another type of question I get asked regards inappropriate uses of these cameras. One example is when someone  asked which car camera was the best one to use for shooting a road trip travelogue. Well a car camera is not the right camera for this purpose unless you just want a jerky fisheye view of the last 45 mins of your two week trip. For this purpose I'd suggest getting a video camera and a decent windscreen mount, or at the least an action camera. Always try and get the right camera for the job, no one camera does everything. 

The most common and baffling question I get asked regards using a car camera as a security camera. The usual scenario is that the person asking for advice is a victim of car vandalism and they want to catch the offender in the act. The reason I say that this is baffling, is because when I think about it, everything seems wrong with this idea. Ok, so if you live in an area where some idiots like to vandalise cars, wouldn't leaving a camera in a car make it more of a target? A car camera also points out of a car, therefore it's pointing away-from rather than towards the scene of the crime.  Someone could steal all your tyres and scratch a key down both sides of a car and still not be caught on the camera pointing out of the windscreen. Finally crimes like this invariably happen at night, a camera in a car at night would need to have night-vision and a power source connected that could last overnight...not a normal feature of a car camera. If it used motion activation it would most likely not pick up on a person walking past your car in the dark. So the only thing I can suggest for someone in this unfortunate situation is perhaps installing CCTV on a house but the answer does not lie with a car camera.

And finally I'd just like to say that with any reviews I do, I cannot comment on the long-term reliablilty of a gadget. I'll leave that for others to do in the comments, and I appreciate the feedback. I only get to test a gadget out for a short time and then have to move on to the next. The V1000GS is a good example of a camera that worked fine for me, but other people had big issues with subsequently. So again, I'm not endorsing any of these items, just saying what I see. So please choose carefully and do as much research as you can before spending your hard earned money.

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Reader Comments (54)

Love your video reviews

you are getting prety specialised in car dvr, arent you?

May 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleo

@Leo it's not an intentional choice, but people seem pretty interested in these cameras at the moment. I've tried to mix things up with the two previous videos though. I like to keep myself interested.

May 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I find all your reviews interesting. Keep up the good work! And - yeah - you do sound like James May :) Or should I say - James May sounds like Techmoan :)

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwillydilly

I wouldn't mind seeing only car camera's so keep 'em coming! Does this one also have a GPS data to video sync issue? I think the last "black box" you reviewed had this (V1000GS).

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

@Tom During my testing, everything seemed to be working accurately with the GPS data...until I snapped the end off the lead.

May 27, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I had to get rid of my one of these 2 camera deals - it blew up my microSD card.

Also:
Not a good resolution, I could not make out number plates right in front of my car.
Not able to connect to a computer using a USB cable.
GPS cable is REALLY difficult to unplug from the unit.
Though GPS was being captured I couldn't find a way of recording it as part of the file, it would only save AVI audio/ video and that's all.
Getting the video off the unit is a pain: plug in USB cable to computer, format the microSD card, copy the program from the card to the PC, run the program and connect to the camera.

All in all rather disappointing, but I now have a smartcam HD courtesy of the review on this site.

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Is there any chance Techmoan could review the GS1000? The GS1000 is a HD DVR with built in GPS receiver and display.

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwillydilly

Excellent review, I've just ordered one off the back of this video. Keep up the good work!
Quick question, do you know the maximum MicroSD card this will take (obviously class 6 or above)?

Cheers,
Luke

May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

Great reviews on the car dash cams. It's interesting looking at the various formats and video quality sold under HD720P.

Throw in the fakes and clones and buying one of these gets to be quite a lottery. I am currently waiting for one of these.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=251031085354&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:AU:3160

There seem to be many variations on this unit, same case, different circuitry. The video quality that you are actually getting may hinge on whether the unit includes 848x480, or only has 720x480. Supposedly the genuine DVR-047 does not use interpollation and misses out on the 720x480.

So it will be interesting to see if my cheap DVR-047 is true HD720p without a HDMI socket or is actually a DVR-047, given the quoted specs.

This page shows the major differences.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/DVR-027-HD-720p-30fps-Car-Vehicle-Dash-dashboard-DVR-Camera-w-2-5-LCD-Monitor-/140559209598?pt=AU_Car_Parts_Accessories&hash=item20b9fb547e

I will probably do a video review on what I get for my money.

Interesting subject .

Nice work.

Cheers

Rob

South Australia

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Nice review again. Is it also possible to export both views as seperate files? And not as one?

Snapping off the connectorplug from the cord is 9 out of 10 caused by pulling the cord instead of pulling the connectorplug itself.

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRutger

@Rutger. You can only output what was recorded, so if you recorded both cameras then you get the side-by-side video. If just one camera was recording then you get a singe 640x480 output.
The lead is hard to pull out, even with the clip disengaged, if you do get this camera I'd suggest using a pair of pliers to pull the clip at the same time as depressing the latch with a screwdriver.

May 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

hi techmoan , i liked seeing the muppets taking part in this one. cant believe that rubber flap on the side of the cam, the far east designers probably started out with plans for a waterproof action cam & then several pints later turned it into a dash cam?

i saw a 808#18 on ebay (item 251072724355)? the chinglish specs seem to indicate it has firmware updates to make it suitable as a car dash cam , records on power , loop recording . did you hear about it? thx

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbw

in general with dash cams do you think e the delays between clips due to the time the device takes to delete & reclaim space on the microsd?

is there an optimal clip length which would reduce this? or certain way to format the card possibly? do you format the card using the device format menu option? thx

June 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbw

@bw It's different for each camera. You can optimise things with a shortish file length and a fast card, but if the camera is a bit sluggish there is little that you can do about it. It's always recommended to format the camera using the onscreen menus if it's at all possible.

June 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks for another awesome review Techmoan.

I've ordered one of these based on your review. I like the - rear view - feature. Finally, I can show if someone is tailgating me!

It might not be as hi def regarding detail, compared to the V1000GS, but it's good enough for any fender benders - video evidence trumps liars every time.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuperDuper

I am interested on camera. (1) V1000GS ... (2) GS1000 or (3) F500L ..
which of them is perfect video in Night and Clouds ?
Thanks for reply

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeet

Paul posted above that his camera couldn't resolve the license plate of the car in front of his. Is that accurate? Also, you stated that the battery was drained after 12 hours if the GPS antenna was left plugged in. This camera plugs into the car cigarette lighter so are we to assume that it drained your cars battery after 12 hours? Thanks for clarifying these two issues for me, either one would be a deal breaker. Actually a third deal breaker is requiring proprietary software to recover whats recorded. Another great review, BTW.

August 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbillib

As far as clarity and quality of image....that's why I include footage from the camera in the video, it's so you can decide if its good enough for you. I cant decide this for you.

I don't know how your car operates, but in every car I've owned, the power to the 12v socket disconnects when the car ignition is turned off. That is how the camera knows how to start and stop recording...when it gets power the engine is on and it starts recording. When the engine is off, the power stops and the camera shuts down. The camera has a built in battery that should hold the time and date when the camera is not receiving any power (when the car ignition is off)... this camera's inbuilt battery discharges too quickly when the GPS adaptor is connected. Normally a camera should retain its time and date settings for a number of days..usually weeks.

August 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Ah, thank you, I understand now. All of my (American made) vehicles with cigarette lighters still functioned even after the car was turned off. I've also owned two Bimmers that were the same way.

August 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbillib

This camera may be OK for you, it would take months or longer to discharge your car battery. The resolution is 640x480 for both cameras...it probably won't be good enough to get a number plate in sharp focus, but that wouldn't matter much during a t-bone or a high speed collision. There are definitely better cameras around than this one though.

August 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

hi all i to have one of the cameras of above i think the review was very good i just have 2 problems with mine one is
play back mode on the camera work ok but after 30 seconds mine freezes up the second is the gps this why i got this
camera in the first place it shows the wrong speed data all the time its 14 to 20 mph out on my driving trip as a camera
only i would say get one but gps is a waist of time great price for what you get

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergort

hi all sorry the gps is fine i had it set on the wrong setting

August 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergort

Great stuff,im currently looking for a car cam,dont want to spend a fortune either.Im glad i found your site,keep up the good work,and many thanks for the info and reviews.

September 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterT.K

very nice review. I have bought from hier in Netherland en very goed product and service.
Auto Blackbox DVR
http://bit.ly/UBpD4r

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkokaco

Thanks to your review I got one of these.. When I try deleting a clip using jplayer, I always get "SD card must be UNLOCKED".
It is not locked.

Have any of you been able to delete clips with no issues?
Gary

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary H

Do some of the clips have a padlock symbol indicating that they are locked due to activating the G-sensor? If so you will need to select and unlock these clips with the unlock button.

December 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

No, they don't.
But the ones that do have lock symbols, I cannot luck on the PC. I can only unlock it with the device.
I have admin rights on my machine.

Are you able to delete clips?
Thanks,
Gary

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary H

I've really enjoyed your car cam reviews. The field is wide and varied but you really helped me understand the important factors to consider when purchasing a dash cam. I was quite tempted with this unit but decided to go for something much smaller that records in higher resolution.

I think if you're hit by another car, lower resolution is fine as long as the vehicle stops. A 1080p camera may just catch a number plate if the other car decides to drive off?

One of the biggest issues with buying these units is the sheer proliferation of clone manufacturers out in the east, all knocking up different variants of the same unit. The quality can vary massively. I spent the best art of a week investigating the GS1000 trying to track down a unit I could be confident had the best quality specs. Others came without GPS or with lower spec processors or poor quality lenses (or a combination) etc etc. The unit I settled on is currently shipping and even now, I'm not sure I'm not going to get some kind of cheap knock off.

Anyway. Keep up the good work.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan

First, thank you for your video that reviewed the DVR.

I saw the video and I bought it from the website. and I got it and got it work. BUT I can't find any player to play it on my MacBook Pro.

Do you know a program that I can use to play the video and see the GPS map. like JPlayer?!

thanks,

February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterA.Salem

Using that type of cam for vandalism and or registering a thief is pretty silly isn't it?
Using it as evedence by a car accident is a much better way.
It would be nicer 2 have an internal system (extra money) wo can record 360° wide.
Over a few years we got so much rubbish euh technical materials sticking on the glass that we can't see anything anymore!.. lol

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