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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%! 

            

 
« A review of the Sony AKA-LU1 Action Cam LCD Screen Grip | Main | A review of the Senseo Sarista 8030/60 Coffee Machine »
Thursday
Feb072013

The Smallest Car DVR - So close, but misses by a mile.

The form-factor of this car DVR is almost exactly what I want, compact, neat simple and inconspicuous.

The camera attaches with one wire, doesn't beep (ever), eschews using distractingly bright LEDs, and doesn't have the typical overly-large suction cup mount. It also doesn't have features that I find unnecessary like an LCD display, GPS or LED Night Vision. It just performs one simple role, recording driver's eye view footage all your journeys.

But if it's so good, then why did I remove it from my windscreen the moment my testing was complete. You'll find the answer in the full video review below.

The auction that I bought mine from has closed and the typical selling prices are now quite a bit higher than I paid. I should mention that at the time of typing many retailers of this camera have temporarily taken down their auctions during Chinese New Year. There should be more sellers appearing after the holidays have concluded.

If after watching the video you do still want to buy one, you could CLICK THIS LINK - which will perform an appropriate search on eBay - but when you get there you'll need to change your buying/search location preferences to worldwide to bring up the Chinese retailers.

I do like this camera's external design so I may revisit this model again but next time I'll try to source an improved model that really does record in h.264. I have my eye on this one (on eBay) - which looks like it might be the real deal.

 

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Reader Comments (37)

Might be worth a moan back to the seller - see if they will send u a better one - looks like a copy cam to me

nice design tho - maybe the goldie locks of car cams is close!

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt_uk 2

When I click on your link to ebay, I get an ebay page. When I click the back button on my browser, I return to your website, but the video is no longer there. It has been replaced by an Amazon.uk.com advertisement. I had to back out then click my link to your website (as I have you as a Favorite) to get the video to appear again. Is that what you want??? I always enjoy your reviews. Thanks for the great work.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Judging by those images of the sky, this must be the North Korea version.

February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan

Dammit, I suggest you something and then you get screwed over, kinda makes me feel like it was my fault.
But eh, can't really do anything about people who blatantly lie in eBay.
Better luck next time, and sorry!

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn_Edward

John, Well at least i got a review out of it. The 12V plug versions are nowhere to be found now - perhaps we imagined them.

February 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Techmoan - you should test one of the "better" ones from South Korea. They are not cheap but the video quality is great. May I suggest the Blackvue DR500GW?

February 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwilly

Not to be contrary, but a Blackvue (or Finevue) is the last DVR to bother sampling. They're overdone and over-priced, costing about 10x the cam sampled here. The trick is to find the sweetspot of a very good cam for less money. There are lots of examples from Abee, VicoVation, Mio, teXet, DoD - even iTronics, although they have recently raised prices significantly and also changed their product line for the worse versus the ITB100-HD. Garmin also sellss a cam, although only fund in Taiwan. Half of the trick is to get any of these products into the Western hemisphere at a reasonable price. BTW - another fine job Mr. Moan!

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

About that vendor with the cam you have your eye on ... it seems they get some respect from the crew at dashcamtalk.com See this link from discussion on the DVR-027 >>> http://goo.gl/MAaqj (Also: "Note: it appears that estore009 and hopezone001 are the same eBay sellers."

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

@Tom:

I really dont understand how you can compare this dashcam to a Blackvue. Yes - the Blackvue may cost 10 times the money but it has one big advantage -> it works :)

Lets take 30 Dollar dashcams out of the equation and have a look at a better dashcam (tested by Techmoan) ->V1000GS. Daytime footage OK - nightime footage horrible. Techmoan bought it for 160 Dollars. I contacted 2wincctv. If you buy directly from them it would still cost you 145 Dollars (135 Dollars if you buy ten).

Now - compare the V1000GS to the DR500GW-HD and the latter doesnt seem that expensive anymore, does it? Compare the nighttime footages and you will see how bad the V1000GS is. You say these Blackvue cams are overdone. IMHO they only meet the minimal requirements. Are they overpriced? Maybe :)

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwilly

Surley the camera you received is faulty?

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

I presume that it is faulty, yes. But even if it didn't exhibit the coloured light issue it's still missing the advertised h.264 and12V plug, so I'd avoid this one and try the other version I link to in the post.

February 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

@Willy @2/10/13 2:29 AM:
I really dont understand how you can compare this dashcam to a Blackvue. Yes - the Blackvue may cost 10 times the money but it has one big advantage - it works

"Works". You could say this about the DoD products that Russian truckers have documented to last for years of all-day every-day use(ref. Youtube). Versus frequent, rapid and massive failures of Blackvuew products due to day-to-day heat exposure. So "works" is a variable. This cam obviously failed but you can compare this unit to a BV or any other cam (but not equate them). An interesting comparison table is done at dashcamtalk.com.

Lets take 30 Dollar dashcams out of the equation and have a look at a better dashcam (tested by Techmoan) ->V1000GS.

I think it's interesting that Matt opted to review this tiny cam that is from the lower end of the scale just to see if it *would* work (even if he didn't get what was ordered). But a non sequitor, really, as v1000gs is not even listed by 2wincctv and has long been reported to be no longer manufactured. A current equivalent in purpose and price would be interesting to see reviewed by Matt, even if someone has to send him one.

Now - compare the V1000GS to the DR500GW-HD and the latter doesnt seem that expensive anymore, does it?

At a local price of ~US$350-400 the dr500 is well over 2x the price of a v1000gs. I think most would say that is (much) more expensive.

Compare the nighttime footages and you will see how bad the V1000GS is.

Except that it's still better than many or even most.

You say these Blackvue cams are overdone. IMHO they only meet the minimal requirements. Are they overpriced? Maybe

But they don't even have an LCD screen! :) The power monitor module is an extra-cost option! Some won't be satisfied until a RED EPIC-X is available with parking motion detection. Minimal is subjective.

In the end, the value equation is an individual one. Our friend Techmoan tends to look for high function, lower cost, preferably with a unique twist or advantage. This is why I would suggest that just as you "take 30 Dollar dashcams out of the equation" one must take out the top end of the price range as well. When a US$60 DVR-027 (genuine) will suit most people as an "avtoregistrator". That's another reason the BV and FV DVRs move to the exclusion zone here.

Whatever our individual preferences and differences may be, I'm always looking forward to Mr. Moan's next review. Thanks for watching.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom

@Tom:

You cant just mention russian truck drivers and youtube and deduce that DOD cams are reliable. What kind of an argument is that :) Do you mean to insinuate that DOD cams dont ever fail? Cause I know better...

What modell are we talking about - how much does it cost - whats the image quality like? If you dont even mention a modell name any debate is pointless. The fact that there is some OK footage on youtube does not prove that all DOD cams work well under all conditions. Ive seen reviews of most DOD cams and I am simply not impressed.

Check that:

http://dashcamtalk.com/dod-gs600/

As you can see - one of the most famous DOD cams, the GS600, is nothing but a branded V1000GS such as tested by Techmoan. Same thing - therefor same ok/poor image quality - same price. Read about the known problems and watch the nighttime footage. You will see that the GS600 is an SD card killer and that the nighttime footage is useless.

You said you couldnt find the V1000GS on 2wincctv but have you seen the TW-V1000? Looks pretty much alike doesnt it? I think they just renamed it. When I talked to the sales manager Betty from 2wincctv some time ago the V1000GS was still available (under that name) for 145 Dollars. Get in touch with her and ask her - if you think that matters somehow. BTW - judging by what I know about chinese manufacturers I would say that most cameras on sale (especially the older ones on your dashcamtalk table) are no longer in production.

You spoke about rapidly failing Blackvue PRODUCTS. Be told - it was ONE model (out of a big lineup) that had a heat problem. Blackvue is one of the biggest players in one of the biggest markets for dashcams. They offer warranty services that noname brands dont offer. I know what to do when my Blackvue fails. What do you do when your noname camera stops working?

You complained about the optional "power monitor" as if that was a disadvantage of some sort. Its like saying that Mercedes cars are bad because Mercedes also sells bicycles. The fact is - the Mercedes car will work - even if you dont buy the optional Mercedes bicycle. Same thing with the camera. It will work without the power monitor. On the other hand - does DOD even offer a power monitor that protects your car battery?

Preference is one thing - but when something happens you need the best image quality you can get. A camera that offers OK image quality during daytime and bad grainy, noisy image quality during nighttime could turn out to be "not good enough".

Why am I on fire for things like parking mode? Couple of years ago someone backed into my parked car and fled the scene. I had to pay 4200 Euros to have my car repaired...

Ive seen all of Techmoans excellent reviews on dashcams. Ive noticed that there were some dashcams that he liked. I also noticed that he hasnt found the perfect dashcam yet. This is why I suggested to test one of the "better" dashcams. After all - Ive noticed that Techmoan owns a lot of high end stuff (Iphone, Ipad and so on). I deduced that Techmoan is not a screw. So I made a suggesstion. Nothing wrong with that - right?

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwilly

Did you try out the Mutations Record???? I don't know if this was supposed to be the G-sensor

I was hoping the red button was going to be an event log.

February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMainsail

I'm looking same thing to be small and not expensive Car DVR, but sometimes quality cost, that one quality is better looks for 29$ Car DVR.

February 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThom

I got the newer h.264 camera and it kills FM reception in my car. I didn't see any CE marks on the camera either.

February 28, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoop1987

Got that exact same effect when I accidentally damaged the ribbon connector to lens of an 808 cam.

March 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMotorMac

I purchased one from Techmoan's "this one (on eBay)" link (seller hopezone001). I paid US$43.49, with free shipping. It arrived within a week, and I installed it today. At first I thought it was broken, as I had to press the RESET button each time I started the car for it to start recording. Eventually I noticed the yellow 'MUTE' LED was on (very dim in the daylight), which indicates an invalid TF card. I was using a standard SanDisk (Class 4) card. I replaced it with a SanDisk Ultra (Class 10) card and all it well.

It is indeed the latest model, with the full on-screen menu. The menu system is a bit confusing to navigate at first, but once you figure out which button does what, it gets easier. Video quality is very good for a camera in this price range (and no 'thermonuclear' issues... LOL). I am impressed with its low-light performance as well.

It produces .AVI files, averaging 57.5 MB for a 1 minute clip. I see no missing frames between clips. In fact, it appears to add the last few frames from the previous clip onto the next one. Here is what the 'media information' tab in VLC media player shows:

Codec: H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10) (H264)
Resolution: 1280 x 720
Frame rate: 30

It is 30 FPS, but when I click the 'frame by frame' button in VLC, a new image appears every TWO clicks, so the actual rate may be 15 FPS. Still looks quite smooth on playback at normal speed though.

Overall, I am extremely happy with this camera. Many thanks to Techmoan for your excellent and thorough reviews!

-Eric

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdericn

Eric, thanks. I purchased one of these as well and intend to test it out soon and make a short follow-up video. From your report it sounds promising.

March 10, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Could be a winner...........

March 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

Followup from my previous post...

Looks like I may have gotten a 'dud' camera after all. Originally, I thought my 'fail to start' issue was an invalid TF card. In the 5 days I've owned this camera so far, 9 out of 10 times it fails to start, and requires me to press the reset button after I start my car. The yellow 'mute' LED (labeled AUDIO on mine) will illuminate brightly when the mic is on, so I don't think the fact that it glows dim when it fails to start means an invalid TF card. What's strange is that it continues to glow dimly for quite a while after power is turned off. There is a small battery in the camera, so maybe the dim LED is normal?

I tried reformatting my TF card (a SanDisk Ultra, Class 10) using 'SD Formatter 3.1' from www.sdcard.org, but still have the same issue. I read someplace that a few of these cameras don't like SanDisk cards, so my next step will be to try a different brand.

A new problem that I noticed on my drive home tonight is that every once in a while both the red and green LEDs turn on, which indicates 'Corrupt Video', whatever that means. After a few seconds, it returns to normal operation. I have a feeling this happens when it writes to the card, since I have the loop recording set to 5 minute clips now. I may change it back to 1 minute to see if that helps.

I am hoping these problems are all TF card related, because otherwise, I really like this camera. It is exactly what I was looking for. I don't need a built-in screen because I have an aftermarket head unit (Pioneer AVIC-F700BT), and have the camera connected to the auxiliary video input. This allows me to easily view and adjust the camera.

For the time being, I just check the camera when I start my car, and if it fails to power up, I press the reset button and it starts working. Luckily, the reset button doesn't reset the date, or any of my settings. It just reboots the camera.

I'll report back when I get a new card, probably this weekend.

-Eric

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdericn

I bought three of these without the GPS features and it operates a little bit differently.
There is no software to install.
It can format the SD card even if it was already formatted. You press and hold the Left Arrow button for 5 seconds to initiate formatting.
The 'Mute' button and LED should have been called 'Mic On' instead since mute is on when the LED for it is off. I suspect that is why you didn't record sound when you thought you should have.
Setting the time and date is a matter of pressing the Orange button for 5 seconds and then using brief Orange taps and Left/Right Buttons to make changes to the settings and then end with another 5 sec Orange press to end it.
It produces standard AVI files that require no decoding with special software. You must playback on a PC or Mac media player to hear the recorded sound (which worked perfectly on these).

The mounting ring was very strong and not loose like yours was.
It also did not have anything but bare wires for the switched 12v DC but I prefer to wire mine in and if you are doing this type of work, it should be trivial to add your own Cig Ligher plug if you need one.
These units are $40 US delivered and draw about 170ma max during recording and about 125ma in pause or play.
The ebay seller I used for this is phitronic. I bought 3 of them to use with my V1000 to record in every direction simultaneously in my street-legal Electric Cart.
Hope some of that was useful to y'all.
Here is the ebay item link:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/321080232827

Four of these would have been about the same price as one V1000 although only 720p but that's all I want anyway.

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndroidian

I think that your version lacks a good infrared filter. Sunlight contains a lot infrared component. Even after sunset it's still there for some time (but we humans don't see it). Just stick an infrared filter in front of the lens and see whats happening. Probably that means an upgrade to your camera :)

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTjalling

Have you seen this model? Known as the HD DVR D7 or 'New HD 720P Dual Separate Lens Car DVR Recorder Dashboard vehicle Camcorder D7' on eBay. Would you be interested in reviewing it? Great reviews btw.

Item number 221128239594, seller niximtech

March 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersnowbord

I just got one, the HD version with Chinese writing. That's OK, it was only ~$40. I'm guessing the power wires are white+ and black-ground. Is that right?

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Oh, sorry, that was a really stupid question I asked. I withdraw it.

June 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Hi,

I just bought this camera off amazon and was wondering if anyone knew whether it needed used 12v or 5v power? I'm debating on whether to wire it into the rearview mirror (12v) or if its 5v what other route i should take.

thanks in advance!

pat

July 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpat

12 volts. Mine's still working after 6 weeks, hard-wired to a 12 volt source under the dash. It's the HD version from Hong Kong with Chinese characters on it for Play, Record, & Mute.

August 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Thanks for the response. Lastly I just got the camera and there are 3 power wire (Positive, Negative and ACC). I was wondering if i want the camera to automatically turn on/record do i wire the ACC and Positive together after tapping into a 12v source? Thanks again in advance!

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpat

Positive should be 12v constant power. ACC should be powered only when you want the camera to be recording.

If you wire them together to constant power, you'd get 24x7 recording. If you wire them such that both get cut off when the key is out, then (I think) the camera doesn't close out correctly -- it can't finish off the file being recorded and save it normally. It needs a few seconds of power after ACC power is cut. Plus, think completely cutting power makes it forget its configuration option settings.

So, it's best to have two separate power sources: one that's hot all the time, and one (ACC) that's powered only when the key is on.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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