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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%! 

            

 
« Belkin CarAudio Connect AUX with Bluetooth | Main | Liquid Image Ego Review - Part 2 »
Tuesday
Sep182012

A Car DVR with a wired rear camera

My Car DVR reviews seem to be quite popular, so I thought it was time to do another one. It takes something a bit different to get my attention with so many similar car cams available. This model does have the interesting feature of an additional wired rearview camera. The fact that the camera is compact and pretty cheap also counts in its favour.  

I hijack the beginning of the video review to explain why it’s really not possible for me to answer the (hundreds) of email requests I receive asking me to recommend a specific ‘best’ car camera. This will also apply in relation to the similar requests I often get regarding action cams. 

I really can’t tell people what camera to buy, any more than a car magazine would try and tell you what car you should drive. These reviews are produced only to help people to formulate a decision based upon their own very specific personal requirements. Please also bear in mind that everything I test is only used for a short period of time, I have no idea about the long term reliability of any of the products I review. 

Overall though, this seems to me like a pretty decent camera for the price, despite one or two relatively minor niggles. I paid approximately £50 for mine from this seller on eBay who despatched from the UK. If you want an up-to-date list of auctions, you can click This Link which will perform a search on eBay UK for you.

Some of the other eBay sellers stock a grey coloured model and some also come with a different style of adjustable rear camera. 

I have also found it for sale on DX.COM where it seems to be supplied with an additional suction cup mount

As always there seem to be a few variations of this camera around - so take a close look at any example screenshots shown in any adverts. The menus in mine appear as a bar along the bottom of the screen.  Here's an example of one where the OSD looks completely different, and I have no idea how this one performs (It also comes without the rear camera).

UPDATE - 22 SEPTEMBER 

Download four clips here - Front & Back, Day & Night.

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Reader Comments (493)

I purchased one of these cameras, or a copy of, last year. All was well until recently, it's gone tits up and I don't know why. Whenever I have the rear facing camera plugged in the footage is 95% unusable; the front camera records normally for a short period of time but then freezes for upwards of forty seconds and the rear camera has the worst compression artifacting you could possibly imagine. I have tried clearing and formatting the memory card as well as resetting the camera using the reset button on the side.

I'm very disappointed as the only reason that I bought it was because it looked to be the only decent duel camera system. Mine was supplied by ebay user "mr.caller".

March 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterM

@M - check the cable between main unit and rear camera. if it's crushed or otherwise damaged, it could be making the main unit have issues - if it's feeding the +VCC supply back on the video return signal line, that could really cause havoc for the controllers in the DVR. if it's been that way too long, it could have caused permanent damage to the main unit. does it work fine with the rear disconnected?

my dual camera unit is still working fine, though its battery life seems to have dropped. i have it set to turn off after 60 seconds of no power, but it seems to shut down much sooner than that. i can park, get out, and as i'm grabbing my bag from the back seat, i hear the chimes that say the camera is shutting down - probably closer to 20-30 seconds than 60. no matter though, it still records well. i have stopped moving the rear camera between my daily driver and my race car, and now only use the main unit in the race car. i really ought to get a second high-current charger so i can leave ALL the wiring in my daily driver permanently. then again, i may just go ahead and upgrade to the G1W for my daily driver, and then leave this dual camera unit in my race car permanently. HD would be nice for the race car, but the way i use it (to review my run immediately after i make it to see where i can improve, and for youtube videos), it's a waste. as you can see below, the video isn't too bad, considering it was a rather overcast day. it started pouring rain a few minutes after we finished packing up for the day.

latest race video from my dashcam (driving a friend's honda s2000 this past weekend at an autocross): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6u7ZJJfTXM

March 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

@JasonG: Nice autocross vid! Loved how you kept your foot in it at the end of the run, tires screaming, and holding on for dear life. I hooted a "yeah buddy" for you there. Had you lifted abruptly, you would have looped it for sure! Enjoyed watching you use the S as it was intended. I would share my vids, but mine are on public roads out in the canyons and sometimes it's wiser not to share those publicly, you know? :-D @M Also, agreed on Jason's comments that the issue could be power supply. I have run the device using a different power plug (one for a cell phone) and found that it didn't supply enough power to adequately run the device when using both front and rear cameras, but it was fine when running just the front. When I switched back to the power cord that came with the unit, both cameras ran fine.

March 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRMurphy

@RMurphy - I've been racing for over a decade and i certainly know better than to lift in a slide if i want any chance of recovering. it's saved me numerous times on public roads, even in my wife's minivan. i had to swerve hard at about 50mph to avoid someone who pulled out in front of me, and ended up with the van in a tail slide. since it's front wheel drive, i floored it while countersteering to pull myself out of the skid. no contact with anything, so i just kept going. learned that while racing, too, since i haven't always raced rwd vehicles. too bad i didn't get THAT on video!

been thinking about getting a dashcam for the van too but my wife already thinks i'm paranoid enough having one in my car. she tells me "you don't live in russia" (referring to all the russian crash videos on youtube). no, i don't, but it'll still prove that i had a green light or that i was completely in my lane in the event of an accident. could even help someone else if i am a witness and not directly involved in an accident.

also, interesting to kinow the main unit will work with a regular phone charger when not using the rear cam. that'll make swapping between cars easier for me.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

@Jason G - Off the top of my head I don't believe the cable for the rear camera to be "crushed" as such, I've run it under a door seal but I wouldn't use the term 'crushed' to describe how it's placed, I'll double check it this weekend when I have more time. It appeared to work okay without the rear cam when I initially noticed the problem and linked it to the rear camera but upon reviewing footage from today there seems to be a problem; the image froze a few times and it ended prematurely, the camera did not turn off though.

@RMurphy - I am using the supplied power cable and have not used any others.

Mat (Techmoan) mentioned that he might review some more duel camera set-ups so at least I've got those to look forward to if this camera is dead/dying as that's what sold me on it in the first place. If a company was to make a camera with the quality of the G1W but with to cameras and an auto on/off record feature I would buy one immediately.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterM

@M - it may not be literally crushed but somehow physically damaged - kinked, twisted, maybe even stretched, which isn't always easy to see externally. if you can, ohm out the lead to the rear camera to check for shorts or intermittents. if you unplug/replug the unit often, it could be a damaged cable end or even the jack on the main unit. i ove mine between my camry and my race car once a month, then bring it inside to dump the race video to the pc since that's easier than taking out the sd card.

i'm right there with you wanting a dual camera setup with the pricing and quality of the g1w. i think both front and rear cameras need to be the same quality as each other (especially notable since this unit has such a lame rear cam compared to the front) so you can read number plates from either view, and not have the rear view washed out by headlights like they are on this little unit. since the g1w sells for about 50usd right now, a dual setup would hopefully cost 80-90usd. i do like the flat pad mount of this camera over the big suction cup and bracket of the g1w though - less bulky (esp if used in the rear!) and possibly more stable. no, it can't rotate but that's not too big a deal for me.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

@Jason G - I will check tomorrow although I didn't notice any irregularities while unpacking the unit, unfortunately I can not ohm test the wire as I do not have a multimeter (or know anyone who does). I have only plugged and unplugged the rear camera once so I would be very surprised if that was the issue, it was plugged in correctly.

I'm not sure if this will be of much use but I recorded 27 clips today and the video freezes somewhat consistently, every 17 to 22 seconds or so, but it freezes consistently, 12 to 14 seconds; the audio continues as normal. It would also appear to be an intermittent problem as some of the clips have recorded just as they should.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterM

@M - have you perhaps tried a different microSD card? maybe yours has some bad clusters/blocks. solid state storage does weird things when it gets to the end of its useful life, especially cheap ones. not saying you bought a cheap sd card but if you've cycled through the card a ton of times simply because you drive a lot or use the camera a lot, the card could simply be worn out and must be replaced. solid state storage can only be written and overwritten a certain number of times and then it just quits working. spinning media (floppies, conventional hard drives) have write cycle limits too but they aren't as low as solid state.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

One more thing - multimeters are cheap. one of the ones i own only cost me about $7 at Harbor Freight Tools. sure, it's made in china, but then again so are our cameras. ;) if for nothing else, a multimeter is handy to have around to test batteries with - say you find one that's not in a package - you can easily test to see whether it's new or used up. or rechargeables - check whether it's the device or the battery that's at fault.

granted, i also own a nice Fluke meter, but i bought that when i was working professionally as an auto mechanic, and actually needed that quality and durability.

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

Hi guys, I haven't been on this thread for a while however I note a few problems coming up again similar to we all had when these cams first came out, you could look back at previous posts to see the outcome. However what I can personally say is that just about every problem that has been posted on here regarding performance I had when I purchased my first of four cams, two returned, two kept.

The answer is simple, all the time you have the rear camera connected you will have these problems, there is nothing you can do, try different cards, settings etc, will all be to no avail if your cam is playing up. I use two separate cams, one front one back, no attached rear cam. From that day to this (18 months) I have not had anymore problems.

Cheers

March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercharmin

@Jason G - The MicroSD card was brand new when I got the camera and I really don't drive that much at all so I really don't think it's that.

March 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterM

I have one of these cameras from ebay (or I guess it may be a copy / clone - hard to tell). It's been a bit unpredictable so far, so I wanted to see if anyone could help me out before I go to the trouble of hiding all the wires under my headlining. The manual is very hard to understand, so I thought I'd get more sense out of a community like this.

The main issues are:

* Clip length doesn't seem to follow what's set in the menus. I've had it set to 2 mins, but the length of clips on the card is very short - 12 to 30 seconds. That makes for a LOT of individual files to wade through.

* The lens focus seems very short. I'm assuming these cheap cameras have a fixed focus rather than any kind of autofocus? It captures raindrops on the windscreen in perfect sharpness, but the image outside of the car is fuzzy at best. If it came to an accident dispute, I'm not sure you could prove the identity of another car. If I take the camera off its mount and aim it at my hand the image is perfectly sharp - it's as if the camera is focussing very close at all times.

* The forward-facing image at night-time is useless - nowhere near good enough to prove a dispute. Only things illuminated right in front of the headlights very close to the car are visible.

Has anyone else had these issues, and more to the point, found a cure?

Thanks for reading!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSnapHappy

@M - just because it isn't old or heavily used doesn't mean it's still good. if you have a second card you can test with, it's a simple, logical test to try.

@charmin - i've not had my camera as long as you but have no issues w/ the rear cam thus far.

@snaphappy - other than the short files, you've basically just described a cheaply made, low resolution device, which this is. scroll up a bit to see my racing videos on youtube and see how they compare with what you see. i agree the resolution/clarity is nearly worthless at night, and you'll almost never be able to read a lice plate day or night, but it will identify the make/model/color of the other vehicle, and whether your traffic light was green or red, and what lane you were in. which is a lot more than the other guy can do if he doesnt have a camera.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

oh i forgot to add that my camera (can't remember which firmware it has offhand but i know i posted it in one of my earlier posts) is flaky when using the 2 and 5 minute settings. once i put it on 1 minute, it's fine.

another issue with longer files is that since the front camera records at 30 fps and the rear records at 25fps, they tend to get out of sync after a bit when playing them simultaneously (such as when combining them in an editor). better editing software can probably cope with that better, but i'm cheap and i use free/shareware.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

and one more thing to do with the rear camera... because i wanted to be able to easily move the front and rear cameras to my race car, i did NOT use the original cable that came in the box for the rear camera. it had a regular 3-conductor 3.5mm male plug on the end that goes to the main unit, and a strange, micro-din 4-pin male connector at the rear camera end. the camera itself had the 4-pin micro-din female connector. so i cut off the 3.5mm male plug from the supplied front to rear cable, cut off the rear camera's 4-pin connector, and soldered on the male 3.5mm plug. then ran a standard headphones extension cable through the headliner from front to back. doing it this way allows me to mount the rear camera close to the main unit, pointed at myself (or whoever's driving) to see whether or not the driver was looking in the right direction at the right place on the track. there's no need for 10 meters of cable when the rear (secondary) camera is mounted only a few cm away.

perhaps replacing that tiny, fragile-looking 4pin connector with a more robust headphones connector (and a shorter extension cable and thus less signal loss over the distance) eliminated the rear camera issues that some of you are having.

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

Hi Jason - yes I'm sure you're right: there's a lot of technology packed in there for very little money, so I don't expect miracles. I was just wondering if anyone had optimised their settings in a way that I haven't yet.

The single most significant problem for me is the focus: it currently has pin-sharp focus at a distance of 9 inches, but blurry beyond that. It's nowhere near the standard of the videos you've posted. I'm considering cracking it open to see if I can move the lens - but that'll be fairly drastic invasive surgery!

March 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSnapHappy

Hi all, as for the video playback stuttering , I had the same problem until I updated my codec on my media player (downloaded the K-Lite free codec pack) -Google it!, and video plays perfect , front and rear camera.
Battery sucks though!! Only works with ignition.

March 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterColin

I bought both the mini and the front and rear hd cam you gave good reports on . I cant get the sound to work on this one would you please help ive tried recording many different times . also can you tell me what the 3 modes the on and off button control on this model i have a hard time reading the directions and understanding. I have a 16 gig micro could it be the problem? Im getting great video just no sound. Any advice? By the way you are great! Im in a coma here Ive called paypal and awaiting reply!
David

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Hi,
I want to buy a dual lens camera, but can hardly find one with my needs.
I do prefer 1080p as with 720p you can barely see licence plate numbers,
an average+ night footage and as wide angle as possible of course...
I want to use the rear camera as a reverse camera as well...
I found this option but not sure about its quality or reliability,
F90 dual len 1080p, have you maybe tried it? most of them come in 720p,
its hard to find one that is 1080p and not fake :\

May 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Worth noting that these are now being shipped with upgraded specs on Amazon & eBay - 1920 * 1080 front, 720 * 576 rear - for £45 ish pounds.

I cannot imagine that they'll be any good but I've purchased one just on the off chance. The 720p units are just a bit shy of being able to capture number plates in my experience. I'd imagine that 1080p @ 30 fps is probably the minimum when travelling?

I know a front facing camera is enough to establish speed, position and direction but a rear facing camera may still be quite handy in a shunt.

May 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

@Dan - you'll probably get the same unit i have. scroll back a few pages and i give a detailed report about my supposed 1080p cam. sure, it generates files at 1920x1080 but they're very blurry and really aren't any better than the vga resolution setting - you can't read number plates any better at 1080p than you can at 640x480, even when just sitting behind someone at a red light. the rear cam is 720x480@25fps and has a narrow fov, and gets washed out by bright light very easily. it can't make out plates either so if anything happens like a hit n run i'll have to hope i can either read their plates off out loud to where the microphone picks it up in the recording, or catch up to the perp and get plates that way.

if your cam does in fact have a better sensor then that's great, and please do let us know. make some recordings at all the settings and see how they compare on your pc or tv.

May 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

@Jason Thanks for the info. I'm not expecting much to be honest so if it manages to deliver something then it will be a bonus - and I'll be sure to make the video available for review. I wonder if there is a way to polarise the rear view camera - with gel or something similar to manage the light issues.

Unless it happens to be spectacular it will be quickly swapped out for a stealth Mobius at both front and back anyway.

May 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

a pl filter won't help. it's not glare, it's just a very cheap, poor quality sensor being overdriven. in daylight it's passable but still doesn't read plates. at night it's just blobs of light. it would be enough to see that someone swooped in behind you right as you hit the brakes or something but not much else. plain window tint might be ok but not worth the effort. hopefully your entire camera kit will be better than mine. you can see the "cut off" video on my gibson99dotcom youtube channel - it was done around dawn and you can kinda see the lack of quality. my other race videos were also mostly done with this camera and you can see that for recording the racing, they're more than enough. once i get my miata (mx5) running again, i'll probably move this cam to that car permanently then get a G1W for my daily driver.

May 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason G

Well I got the unit .. after working my way through the Chinese menu and managing to get it to display English, it kindly advised me "No TF Memery" [stet]. And it fails to recognise any TF / SD card that I have. These things are pot luck I guess. Luckily it was shipped from the UK so I'm hoping the return is the same and I can ask for my money back.

Back to the drawing board.

May 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Why does this camera have no manufacturers name or model number?

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErnie

Alrighty, I found out they are manufactured by Flylink and distributed by a.o. Nikingstore in Europe for only 58€ on Amazon.
Still however, what I regularly find missing in specs and reviews is ; dimentions (e.g. mini jack of reverse camera) and lengths of cables. How am I to tell it will fit in my cars if this is not clearly specified??? Can I extend a cable for another 5 meters or so with a standard (shielded) extention cable ?

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErnie

has anyone got the AV out working on theirs?
i want to use the out to a 7 inch rearview parking camera with 2 AV ins,

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFatlip

Is this the same as the one in the review?

Click Here

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

@Fatlip; I'll receive my newly ordered camera friday coming and will try Vid-out myself cause I'd like to use that too. Will let you know next week.

@Darren; It surely looks like one! Good price too with an included 32gb card. Mind you though, there are several versions and this one does not specify in which format .avi or .mov it is recording. I thought the newer versions had also a rear camera with a tilt mechanism, this one has not but that says not all. I got mine from amazon in france although it does not show which version rear camera is supplied. How typical, icnmplete ads. Can tell all about it next week, but I read that H.264 is a good thing.

bye Ernie.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErnie

ok so i asked people who have this camera and a few said they broke down after several months, they said maybe it was because they used them in their cars daily to go to work and back, can anyone verify this and if the AV out works?

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFatlip

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