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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%! 

            

 
« CCTV Basics - Wired day & night outdoor camera. | Main | The Big SJ5000+ Action Camera Review »
Sunday
Mar012015

K1S - The first Front & Rear Hidden 1080p Dash Camera

My full video review for the K1S 2ch HD Car DVR is below. 
   
  
If you want to watch my 'Beginners Guide To Dashcams' video - Click here.
   
The K1S manufacturer website is here, and pdf manuals for the camera can be found here.
   
For my downloadable sample videos click here  As always, download these files to your machine before viewing them - streaming will make them look worse than youtube.
Note: These files have been manually trimmed for length (and filesize) - therefore the start and end points for the front and rear clips no longer match each other perfectly.
  
Size Comparison
The control unit is approximately the same thickness as a box of cards but a bit smaller overall (without cables).
   
Buying the K1S
I’ll add links below as and when I discover additional resellers. 
 
EBAY
US link here
UK link here
  
AMAZON
(US) With GPS: http://amzn.to/1MKU4lY
(US) Without GPS: http://amzn.to/1DBbUpZ
  
  
 
   
UPDATE 02 March 2015
I've received the answers to a few questions I asked the manufacturers.
 
1) The Car Lamp Open/Closed menu as expected does warn the driver if they are driving in the dark with the headlamps off. It judges this by the exposure.
  
2) Apparently the battery used is a Standard GoPro size....which is great. Normally I try to avoid dashcams that use batteries, because when the internal battery fails you have to replace the whole camera - in this case you can buy a new battery. Just a reminder -  I can't comment on the long term reliability of any cam after only a month of use.
 
3) I wasn't sure how the emergency button handled the files. I was concerned that if you saw something you wanted to keep - but the camera started recording the next file before you managed to press the button then you would be protecting the wrong clip. Well it turns out the manufacturer has thought of this. "When this button is pressed, if current recording is less than 1 minute, then current file and the file before this (together 2 files) are locked"
 
4) Not a question, but I have raised the issue of the need for resellers in China who can export to Europe and also the Speedcam database is no use in the UK until the camera can support additional database formats. Both these things are being explored...but the database issue isn't a simple quick fix.
>>>>>IMPORTANT - READ THIS... (OCTOBER 2016)
Both my cars had a K1S installed until a couple of months ago - They were still working 100% at the point I took them out. I removed them so that I could test other cameras, although I was getting a bit sick of the rear wire interfering with the rear hatchback door on both cars - this would work better in a car with a fixed rear window.  It seems that my experience is not the same as that of other people - perhaps the manufacturer changed the product after I purchased my cameras...but if you read through the comments it seems that other people are having lots of reliability issues. You may have noticed that this is no longer on my list of Recommended Cameras - and this is the reason. I was happy with the performance of both of my cameras for 18 months...but perhaps my experience was uncommon. 

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Reader Comments (642)

I have just installed one of these KS1 cameras in my car, I have a problem with the sdcard appearing and disappearing. It will power up and announce recording started and other times it wont. I have to take out the card and reinsert it then it will see it again. other times I have tried just pressing reocrd to see what would happen and it flashes NO SDCARD on the screen in red. Im not sure if this is a problem with the DVR or the card. the card mounts in win7 no problem its a 16Gb class 10 used in my ex dash cam. I will be buying a new card to see if its the problem. any one else have any experience like this?

October 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

The reference to the Amazon UK Q&A *is* interesting. Referring to recording stopping:
Its caused by the card not keeping up with the camera. Turns out that the format option on the dash cam doesn't actually format the card so on a computer make sure to format the card to exFAT with a high allocation unit around about 16MB. sometimes cards can be in the FAT32 format which is very old, very slow and doesn't cope well with large files.
I've noticed that a get the occasional "recording started" when driving. There's a strong correlation to the device giving speed camera warnings and also at the end of each file when it is having to overwrite another on a full card. Although I have the fastest card I could find, I suspect the device is having to work too hard at these times. I don't get these warnings if I reformat my card - but it soon fills up again. I don't get missing files at these warnings, but do lose ~7 seconds of footage. Thinking about it the format in the device does seem very quick. I think I'll do a full format on the PC using the advice above, and see if that makes a difference.

October 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMike Atkinson

This is apparently the same unit - according to one of the reviews - and the cheapest I have seen it. The second reviewer didn't seem to have any luck though with his.

October 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Great help in selecting and installing the Koonlung K1S!
Thanks a million!

October 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterReg

Koonlung K1S Aliexpress store: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911

October 31, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKoonlung

I read somewhere that it was recommended to buy a 2A power supply. I'm having trouble finding a hard wired one that's 2A or more in the UK. Any ideas? Or will a 1.5A be ok?

November 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDino

Ignore my last post, there are loads! I was just searching for the wrong words! "3a converter module micro usb" if anyone else is searching.

Any recommendations on any particular modules from anyone?

November 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDino

Koonlung K1S New Batch produced from Oct 14th 2015 is most stable firmware with hardware,
free Singapore air post =205.23USD
Aliexpress store: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911
To most of Europe countries, buy 3pcs can get free DHL delivery.
Further details,please click "contact us"

November 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKoonlung K1S

Hey Koonlung:

can you be more specific?
regarding your NEW BATCH, ?

whats the firmware version and how has it changed? Confirm your the MFG SUPPLIER, your name implies you are.
Discuss in Detail Your Improvements We Should Expect.

You might Mention your low price is the stripped down version,
for the GPS Model and the Event Switch $247 is more than EBAY and Amazon purchased here in the USA,

With All the Recording Issues being Reported Here, for those saying its un-reliable why not go back to the Merchant for an Exchange ?
after you determine its faulty so that it is reliable and works fine.

Recording Issues have been reported since Day 1, you might be surprised that in most cases its the Choice of Memory Card.
WHY? because many are Fake and you dont know what your using if when you say you do.
also if your not using a professional grade UHS-1 Card that is Genuine, you will have recording issues with breaks in between and it does not roll over, and freezes with yellow !!! I tried 7 Cards Before Mine Works Reliable, and no issues now to report for 7 months.

ITS TRUE FORMAT THE CARD ON THE COMPUTER 1st
THEN FORMAT THE CARD IN THE K1S
you might be happy if you do, not sure why you guys complain when spytech has a 1 year warranty

November 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBlake K.

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Full-HD-1080p-Koonlung-K1S-Dual-Dash-Camera-Kit-GPS-Ambarella-A7LA70-Car-DVR-2CH-Hidden/938911_32495411971.html

Here is more Koonlung K1S details.
This link is produced on Nov 4th,we could provide original Transcend 64GB Class 10 TF card =22.02USD,free shipping
1 year warranty guarantee
K1S with GPS=205.23USD with free Singapore air post with tracking
for example,ship to UK, K1S with GPS+ DHL=213.3USD (within 3 working days get parcel)

November 4, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterK1S

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Full-HD-1080p-Koonlung-K1S-Dual-Dash-Camera-Kit-GPS-Ambarella-A7LA70-Car-DVR-2CH-Hidden/938911_32495411971.html

November 5, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterK1S

If I buy this model in USA will it work in uk

November 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ryder

Yes - these run off a 12V to 5V USB adaptor - which works anywhere in the world. It's made in China - and it's the same product sold everywhere.

November 6, 2015 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

the only variation of sorts is different firmware for mph or kph display which may be needed in different regions, no issue in your case

November 6, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

Has this got a car park mode on it? I need one for my work car and I often have to park it in some very suspect areas.

November 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNickH

Koonlung K1S Aliexpress Store with Free Shipping, One Year Warranty service,New upgraded version produced on Nov 3rd:
K1S+ GPS+free Singapore air post=205.23USD ( get 2USD coupon)
K1S+GPS+ DHL express delivery to UK =205.23USD+8.07USD=213.3USD-2USD=211.23USD ( get 2USD coupon)
K1S+GPS+ DHL express delivery to Australia =205.23USD+5.79USD=211.02USD -2USD=209.02USD ( get 2USD coupon)

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911
http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Full-HD-1080p-Koonlung-K1S-Dual-Dash-Camera-Kit-GPS-Ambarella-A7LA70-Car-DVR-2CH-Hidden/938911_32495411971.html

November 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKoonlung

Hi Guys.

I'm new here and I want to share some info about my K1S from Koonlung.
I bought this DVR from the link mentioned above by Koonlung.
http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911

Today I've tested new KMH firmware.
Here You can found some more info.
For testing I'm using SanDisk 128GB Class10

Firmware R157 from 20. March 2015
REC Time: 12:36:19
Split Time: 1,2,5,10 minutes
Data time consumption: 10 seconds recording = -15 seconds on card (remaining REC Time 12:36:04)
CAM1 bitrate: 12Mbps; CAM2 bitrate: 8Mbps (night recording)

Firmware R180 from 31. August 2015
REC Time: 16:48:30
Split Time: 2,5,10 minutes
Data time consumption: 10 seconds recording - -8 seconds on card (remaining REC Time 16:48:22)
CAM1 bitrate: 8,5Mbps; CAM2 bitrate 5Mbps (night recording)

Overall: With the new firmware the DVR is faster and I've found the LED light doesn't light ORANGE during charging, just WHITE when on power or RED while recording. Video quality is almost the same, significant data bit rate reduction didn't affect the video quality that much.

November 12, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAres

Hi Ares,

LED is white when charging.
Please feel free contact us and ask for R180 firmware which is newly released on this week,which has improved audio.

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Full-HD-1080p-Koonlung-K1S-Dual-Dash-Camera-Kit-GPS-Ambarella-A7LA70-Car-DVR-2CH-Hidden/938911_32495411971.html

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKoonlung

K1S is Talking Version for US Model Miles Per Hour. if you have KM Version does not talk.....has tones
which i prefer and not updated my unit cause i dont want the thing saying anything to me while i drive.
i cant imagine it nor want it. the on and off tones is all i get now and all i need.

if you do update you cant go back is my understanding and you got the talking version for good
most units are in miles per hour.

What Happens When You Buy from that ali express?
notice they dont mention which version you get?

K1S mph or kph // its one or the other not both,
its unclear which model you get from aliexpress link they dont mention it

China Price from the AliExpress is Higher than Techmoans Link on ebay/amazon
plus you get it in days not weeks

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBlake K.

Hi Koonlung.

I can confirm R180 firmware has improved audio and REC Time due to decreased bitrate.
CAM1 now uses 9000kbps
CAM2 now uses 6000kbps
both variable video bit rate

November 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAres

Hi Mat,
Great site, I really enjoy all your reviews. I bought two of these cameras for both cars in my family. I really like the way they work. Thanks for helping me decide which camera was best suited for my needs.
Barry

November 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

Hi, anyone else had a problem with the K1S where it doesn't auto turn on? I have to turn it on manually. The power "plug" icon shows in the top right, but as soon as im out the car it turns off and then wont turn on again. Park mode is off.

Cheers

November 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPete

is it possible to turn off screen and still record images
due to taxi regulations as i bought one and i am having probs
with cab inspector in edinburgh help

November 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdigger

Blake k Said: Anyone Used the K1S footage as evidence Yet?

Unfortunately I was recently involved in a minor collision, another road user cut the corner and collided with the O/S/F of my car.

Nobody in my car was injured but my car sustained damage to the front bumper and wing (fender), headlight, wheel and drivers side external mirror.

The other driver failed to stop, but the event was captured on both the front and rear K1S camera. I was moving at approx. 15mph when the collision happened, the other vehicle was travelling at approx. 25-30mph.

I submitted the footage to the Police which helped prove that I was not in the wrong position on the road, the footage is very useful in that respect as you can clearly see the other vehicle come over to my side of the road before he hits my car.

However, unfortunately neither the front or rear camera quality was sufficient to capture the licence plate of the other vehicle.

The recording details as reported by DATAKAM Viewer:

Front Camera: - 1: Video: AVC1, 11968kbps, 30.0fps, 1920x1080, gop8 - Ambarella AVC vide
Rear Camera: - 1: Video: AVC1, 7984kbps, 30.0fps, 1920x1080, gop8 - Ambarella AVC vide

If anyone is interested I will upload the original footage for your review, can anyone recommend a site I can upload to that will not degrade the quality of the original footage?

November 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRussellg

any file sharing site would do, www.mega.co.nz is a good one, the free storage they offer is plenty and the server are fast

November 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin


Russellg Said: If anyone is interested I will upload the original footage for your review


Following on from my previous post (two or three post up) please see links below for the footage of the collision: -

Front camera 20150904-1940_CAM1_3171.MP4
Rear camera 20150904-1941_CAM2_3172.MP4

The clips are original and unedited, 2min long each (front and rear).

The event happens at approx. 1 min 25s into the clip. You will see the Black Vauxhall Zafira (UK model) come into shot.

I’m sure it may be possible to deblur using software like Amped 5 or Photoshop but that is beyond my ability.

Something to be aware of if you are looking at this (or any) dashcam to be able capture the licence plate of a moving vehicle.

November 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRussellg

Hi Russellg

I've tried de-blurring the image for you using photoshop 'shake reduction' filter and also some software called Blurity but unfortunately not joy.
This is for several reasons, the main one being the K1S (and all other dashcams) records in a compressed file format (mp4) meaning vital pixel information, such as clarity, pixel information and colour sampling is at a significantly lower rate (lossy) in order to be able to fit such information on the SD card. It's the whole RAW vs JPG debate, see here; http://www.howtogeek.com/142174/what-lossless-file-formats-are-why-you-shouldnt-convert-lossy-to-lossless/

The other reason is because the car is moving towards you so as the car is getting bigger the anti-blur software finds it difficult to distinguish the before and after frames because the image shape is changing.

One other thing you might be able to do is to head back to the street in question and see if there are any security camera that may be operated by the local police or council. I see that on the apex of the bend in your rearview mirror there seems to be a bank with a security camera above the ATM. If it has a wide enough lens it may have recorded the accident? One other long shot is to try and trace (via the police) the owner of the silver Vauxhall Y964YGA at the traffic lights in the hope that they also had a recoding dashcam?

Good luck!

Darren

November 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

Has anyone got the speed camera database working in the UK?

November 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDino

Does anyone know where I can get the latest firmware (R180)?

November 25, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterErik84_NL

r180 firmware can be downloaded from the bottom of this page...

http://www.innovv.com/#!the-k1/cm4l

November 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDarren

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