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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%! 

 
« Zoogue - Case Prodigy - The best iPad case (again). | Main | The New Video Intro - why, what and how. »
Wednesday
Mar202013

The A8 Car DVR - Another 'smallest' Car cam.

After reviewing the faulty Smallest Car DVR and still coming away impressed with it's design and night-time performance I thought I should see if I could get a fully working version of the newer h.264 model in to test. So I ordered another one and here it is. 

 I didn't do a exhaustive review this time as some of the info was covered in the previous video - I would recommend you watch both reviews as the cameras perform quite differently from each other. This new one records using an h.264 codec in a .avi container (not the .mov format mentioned on the box).  

Given the number of different variations of this model I've provided a link to the auction from where I bought mine - HERE IT IS 

 If you want the older mjpeg one I reviewed previously, you'll have to do a bit of a search yourself - THIS LINK will point you in the right direction. The main visible difference between the two cameras is the absence of a Mute slider switch on the old model. Assuming the seller is using accurate pictures - then you'll need to check the specs to ensure the camera is 720p as there are some 640x480 versions available too.

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Reader Comments (33)

Mat,
I think this one will do the trick for me. Thanks for the helpful review!

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Looks like a great little camera, even with the low light issue, and slightly poor sound, the only fiddly bit I think is having to solder your own connections to your cigarette lighter connector, pity it doesnt come with that.

March 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaz

Thanks for your review of this new model. This is the exact one I have. I wrote a followup message last Wednesday (13-Feb) to my initial review (in your blog of the 'thermonuclear' camera), but it disappeared into cyberspace after pressing 'Create Post' ($hit happens... LOL). I'll try again in this blog...

What I had originally thought was a TF card issue turned out to be a camera issue. In the two weeks I've had this camera, 9 out of 10 times, it will not automatically start when I start my car. The 'AUDIO" LED just illuminates dimly. If I press RESET, it starts up fine. Thankfully, pressing reset doesn't change any of my settings. It basically just reboots the camera (FYI, using 'default setting' in the menu doesn't seem to change any settings either). I have tried numerous things to resolve this, with no luck. Currently, I just check the camera each time I start my car, and if it fails to start, I press reset. If it weren't for this annoying problem, I would be very happy with this camera.

Occasionally, I get a 'corrupted video' indication (red and green LEDs lit), which corrects itself after a few seconds. I have tried the different 'loop recording' settings, and this seems to occur at the end of a clip. I've read that some of these Chinese cameras don't like SanDisk cards, so I may try a different brand. I even tried formatting the card with 'SD Card Formatter' from sdcard.org., but no difference.

Since I want to relocate the camera on my windshield, I may pop it open while it's removed, and see if there is anything visibly wrong (cold solder joint, etc.). I think the quality control on these cameras is non-existent, so it's probably just 'pot luck' to get one that works properly. It's not worth the time or effort to try and return this one. This camera has the features I want, so if I can't fix it, I may just take my chances and order another. Maybe I'll get lucky next time?

Thanks again for, yet another, excellent review!... :o)

-Eric

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdericn

Thanks for the newer product update on this. I still wonder about how these inexpensive car cams will hold up to the direct sun heat build up while an auto is sitting for hours in the hot summer sun. Have you any experience with problems of this sort? I guess an auturnitive would be to mount the cam back away from the windshield a bit and out of direct sun light in some manner.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConnor

Hi Techmoan glad you decided to continue with the reviews and not take a short break ( although you probably deserve one) I think your followers myself included would suffer withdrawal symptoms had you done so.Nice reviews as always whatever the item you are reviewing.....I have got the car dvr buying urge again but this time for a genuine korean model and I am currently looking at the Lukas LK7900 ACE which will take up to a 128GB card but at just under 260 USD is a little too steep at the moment so I will wait to see if the price comes down.The urge is ill-timed as in april the car has a controle technique the equivalent to the uk MOT test and I think I might need 4 new tyres....If anyone is interested to see what the cam looks like and read the specifications I found it on an Ebay seller site Apple-ct ..... I refrain from posting the camera details myself for fear of once again being accused as an undercover sales rep or TROLL if my memory serves me correctly....I am in fact like most who use this site a dashcam and gadget enthusiast .Regards to one and all.....the french connection....

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIPOL

Last weekend I won bidding on a HD dashcam similar to the HD SmartCam you reviewed, I'll find out in a few weeks time if the camera is Ronseal (does what it says on the tin) but it only cost me 20 quid so I can't really complain if it's not up to scratch.

My intention for owning a car cam is actually to fit one to my electric bike (drawing power from its battery), I don't have trouble riding on the roads but I do like getting new gadgets to tinker with. The one I won bidding on would look out of place mounted to my handlebars so it might end up in a relative's car, yet this A8 looks ideal for mounting on a bike, but this brings me onto a point I haven't seen mentioned anywhere:

Why don't dashcams use a docking setup?

It makes sense, eliminating the hassle of having to plug/unplug one or more (in the case of GPS antenna) wires when you don't want the camera on view when you leave your car, a dock would mean simple & quick clipping and unclipping the device. Car stereo makers adopted this technique with the removable faceplate years ago to cut down on car crime, so why don't the dashcam makers follow suit.

March 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHaku

As a final followup, I purchased a new Samsung 16GB Class 6 microSDHC card this past Saturday, to verify it is not a card issue. I did a 'quick format' in my PC using 'SD Card Formatter', then formatted it in the camera itself. Same results... More than half the time it will not automatically start, so it must simply be a defective unit... :o(

Although I liked the form factor of this camera, and don't need a screen, I am now seriously considering purchasing the new DR32 camera. If I ever figure out how to fix this broken camera, I will just mount it looking out the back window.

-Eric

March 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdericn

It seams these dash cams are all about compromises!

I have just installed this camera in my Audi A3: the lead is (just) long enough, and wiring it into fuse slot 6-11 means that it comes on with the ignition. Larger cars may have difficulty as the lead may not be long enough.
The cable and connector 6" from the camera can easily be stuffed into the edge of the roof head lining (i initially thought the connector would be too bulky to stuff in there).

Picture quality is as you describe, although 'soft' compared to the 1080p cameras - but you expect that as its 720p. The memory card can be plugged directly into my computer and played in VLC. No nasty software needed to extract the files.

This camera doesn't have a screen, therefore it is very small. It can be mounted right at the very top of the screen, just to the left of the rear view mirror. It doesn't need to be removed each time you park the car, as to 99% of those passing by it is invisible.

That last point is very important to me. The whole point of this sort of camera is to 'set and forget'. Removing a bulky camera and mount each time you drive will soon start to annoy and it is just my luck to have something happen when im having a lazy day.

Thanks for the really good review btw.

March 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNicholas

Hi
Thanks for the review.
I still got some questions in mind:
There are 2 functions in specification, automatic video recording and motion detection.
Does those actually work and how well?

Thanks in advance!

March 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Automatic start & stop recording is a feature of every car cam and works exactly as expected. This camera doesn't have motion detection.

March 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

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