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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)

@C Smith - I had exactly the same problem with the unit repeating "Recording Started" and "GPS Ready" when the card became full. It was also displaying a couple of red error messages on the screen but I can't remember what they said - something about the card. I reformatted the card and it has been ok since although I'm guessing its not full again yet. Mine is a 64Gb Samsung EVO.

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDean

@C.Smith, @ Martin
Thank you very much for replying. I'll try restarting the DVR tomorrow. I might need to take the unit into the house to give it a full charge as my drive to work is only 8 miles; I'm guessing it would take a while to charge in the car. I'd be very interested to here what, if anything, the manufacturer has to say. It's a little difficult to keep an eye on whether the message will reappear as I've tried installing the unit in the glove box. I say try, because the wires are a mess and don't want to stay where I've shoved them. Maybe I could do with more finesse? A large flat head screwdriver doesn't seem to do anything to press the wires into the gaps. I think a little research on how to hide wires is in order as my usual jab it in and shout at it to stay doesn't seem to be doing the trick. I'll try to keep an eye on it and update if I find a fix or if the problem sorts itself.

Ooh, @ C.Smith re memory cards. Granted what I'm about to say next may be rubbish as this is my 1st day using the thing, I think the theory holds true. As near as I can tell from Techmoan's review, the DVR requires at least 22mb/s write speed for both cameras, 1080p, with sound. From looking at screen shots on Amazon reviews, class 10 seem to get 15mb/s. With that in mind, I've got a uhs3 card. It claims 90mb/s, someone's screenshot shows 40mb/s which is still ample. I'll try to attach a link, but it's a SanDisk 64gb uhs3. It cost £24.99. I think Kingston did one for maybe a pound cheaper. I can't remember why I chose the SanDisk. Maybe speed, review or a random choice. Either way, I'd look at the write speed of the card you choose. Cheers for getting back to me
SanDisk Extreme 64 GB microSDXC Class 10 Memory Card up to 90 Mbps with U3 Ratings, Frustration Free Packaging

Here's the link. ..it worked!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B013P1M436/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_74b8wbRXAQNYB

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

@Carl,

Regarding tucking the wires in, I got help from my wife and we (well, she really, since she did most of that work) got them tucked under interior trim most of the way. The only exception was across the rear window, where we had to use three cable clips that were supplied in the package. You'll probably have to spend a little time looking at your trim and being a little creative. I doubt I could have done it without the wife's help, honestly.

As for getting the wires neatly into the glovebox, try routing them up from underneath. I found in my car there's a gap at the bottom of the glovebox that lets the wires fit neatly in there without any pinching (or even any threat of pinching). I have mine installed in the glovebox. Originally, even my GPS puck was in there, but when I started having trouble maintaining a GPS lock, I took it out and stuck it to the windshield in the upper right corner. I'm ok with this because it's in the tinted area and you have to be right up on the car to have any hope of seeing it.

With your short drive, your battery will never charge. (And I just realized that Mat may have been asking *you* if Motion Detect was turned off.) You'll have to charge it in the house. I'm curious: Do you need the battery for anything? If you're not using Park Mode or Motion Detect, then you probably do not. Ever since I've removed my battery, I've not had the unit freeze up on me. Of course, I've only had it a little over a week and it's only frozen once that I know of. So, maybe it's coincidence and I'll be up for another freeze-up in the future. Who knows? :)

As for the memory cards, I've heard bad things about SanDisk in conjunction with dash cams. Something about SanDisk having some proprietary something or other that not all dash cams can use. I don't know much about that. However, I think I'll spring for a Kingston next week and try that out. It looks like my Samsung has only a 20mb/s write speed. I'll just get the Samsung a USB adapter and then I can use it as a portable drive. I appreciate any suggestions no matter how long you've been using the kit. I'm keen to install a dash cam in my wife's conversion van, but I can't do that until I can get the kinks worked out in my own!

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@Carl,

Oh, the other exception about the wires is the car charger and the little stop/start button. We mounted the button on my center console, then ran the cable down to the front passenger floor and eventually up to the glovebox. I'll get pictures of my install for you this afternoon after work and I can email them out to you tomorrow or tonight. My email is webmaster @ cdsstudios[dot]net. Feel free to fire one off to me so I have your email address and I'll get those pictures with my phone and send them off to you. That might give some ideas for you for running your own cables.

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Matt

Great review, I am looking to fit a two camera set up in my car and at present I am torn between this and two separate Mobius cameras given your experience with both units what would you recommend.

I know the cost is increased with the K1S option but that doesn't concern me too much but just wanted to know what would you choose?

March 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSt3wN3v5

Matt,
Thanks to your great review of this product, I bought two of these, one for my wife's Honda and one for my Challenger here in New York. They are excellent and have provided lot's of video's of people running red lights and almost getting into accidents. A couple of notes: 1. When they use to their battery power they lose track of the time. (But not the date curiously) Also - about once a month they begin to turn off & on by themselves, so they benefit from a factory reset and a card reformatting. This is when I take time and copy the interesting ones to my Mac. After that, everything works fine.

Anyway - I look forward to your reviews especially of the classic electronics.
Cheers,
Barry

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

So, I thought I'd post an update after interacting with Spy Tec's technical support for the past several days (from before the weekend through yesterday). First of all, their support was outstanding. They were a little sluggish in responding at first, but this is apparently due to my request being mis-routed. They confirmed that they recommend a Class 10 UHS speed class 3 microSD card. I've found that a UHS speed class 1 card will work, but the kit will alert "GPS ready" multiple times per trip when the memory card is full. When the card is not full, you get "GPS ready" only one time, as expected. Also, I would recommend using the little button to stop recording before turning off your vehicle or otherwise powering the K1S down.

As of today, I've ordered a second K1S from Spy Tec's Amazon store and a 128G Lexar Class 10 UHS class 3 microSD card for it, as well. I opted for the 128G card because the vehicle it's going into is primarily used on long trips. I'll be continuing to use my UHS class 1 card in my daily driver and simply reformatting the card weekly (because getting "GPS ready" 10 times in an hour annoys me).

Hope this helps anyone else considering purchasing this product. I really like it a lot for many reasons.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

What version hardware/firmware did you get from spytec? What firmware did you upgrade to?

April 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCMax

Hi techmoan and readers . have had a K1s for about two months , started out working brilliantly , at one point the unit became extremely hot ( Burning Hot ) and the DVR Case started to bulge , I took out the battery which turned out to be the source of the heat , the battery was bulging on both sides and according to my local battery supplier , it had " Sulphated " and could have caused a fire if I had not removed it when I did , the system was running on constant power from the battery to a lighter socket .
I contacted the people i bought the unit from and they sent me a new battery without hesitation at no cost to me , all good except the unit is now doing crazy things like locking files at random , switching on and off at random , starting and stopping recording at random and the menu , when I try to access it either does not respond to key commands or keeps scrolling past the setting I am trying edit .
Apart from that it is a great Cam when it is working ! , I have received an email from the suppliers telling me a replacement is on the way , a replacement of what , I am not sure , I had not asked for my unit to be replaced , but since my battery was cooked they may have expected further issues to arise and got in first to keep me happy ( Which they succeeded in doing ) I will give an update when the parcel arrives , for the record my firmware edition is K1s R180/20 150831 694 HW_V3 and I think my second battery is failing .

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

when your replacement camera arrives toss the battery and buy yourself a decent quality GoPro replacement battery, fortunately it uses the same size so at least you can find something better quality locally

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

@Jokiin ,Thanks for the info , any chance you have a model number for the Go Pro battery or are they all the same ?

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

not sure but I think the models prior to the Hero 4, best to take it into a retailer and compare to be sure

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

@jokiin , Thanks again , will hunt one up tomorrow .

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@CMax,

I don't remember the firmware version numbers. All I can remember is the firmware it shipped to me with ended in "v2" and the firmware I upgraded to ends in "v3". This is the link for the firmware: http://support.spytecinc.com/help/article/link/k1s---1080p-dual-car-dash-camera

Download, unzip, copy the .bin file over to the DVR unit, then power it up and it will ask if you want to upgrade. Click in the affirmative and it will take only a couple of minutes. I would recommend formatting the card after that because it renames the file to ".zzz" and I was unable to delete that file except by formatting the card.

@Greg,

You don't even need to use a battery in it, unless you're using Park Mode and such. I noticed my unit got quite hot, as well, and took the battery out after 4 days. It runs perfectly fine without the battery. The only caveat is that you'll need to use the stop/emergency protect button to stop recording before you shut off the vehicle. Otherwise, the last files being written will be corrupted by the sudden power loss.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@C.Smith Thanks for the info re -battery and last file protection , as it turns out , just a few minutes ago , before I got your info , I bought two brand new Go Pro hero 2 batteries from a shop in Sydney , now i have the choice of fitting them or maybe not ! Thanks again.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

I'm back , with a silly question I hope someone may be able to answer ! , when I connect the K1s DVR unit to the PC ,( Windows 7) , all I get on the screen of the DVR is " USB connecting " it does not set up as a removable hard drive , all I get , is to read the sd card through the PC , no access to the the operating system of the DVR , is that typical of all the units or am I doing something wrong when I connect to the PC ?

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg,

I'll be interested to hear your experiences with the GoPro batteries, especially regarding whether they overheat and are safe to use for an extended period of time.

As for connecting the DVR unit to the PC, it sounds like you're doing it correctly. My DVR unit always says "USB Connecting" on it until I finally disconnect it from the computer. However, the computer does recognize it as a hard drive (in my case, the G drive) and I am able to copy files both from and to it. It is excruciatingly slow, however, and I would recommend that you simply get a USB adapter that lets you slot the card into it and then plug that into the computer. The transfer rate will be much faster.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@C.Smith , No probs with the batteries , will let you know when I receive them and have run them for a few days with constant power to the unit , as for the PC side of things , there are two files on the card , DCIM and Registrator viewer , if I were to copy an update file over to the unit , does it go in the Registrator viewer file or just on the card , making it three files ?.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg,

It would make it a third file (technically, the DCIM "file" is a directory). So, when updating the firmware, just copy the unzipped firmware over to the card into the top level directory (which is the one that has the DCIM directory and the "Registrater Viewer" executable). After that, eject the hard drive that represents the DVR unit, connect power to the *other* side of the DVR unit (the one that the car charger connects to), power up the unit and it will detect that new firmware file. It will prompt you to install, and you just hit the right-most button below the screen to confirm (default selections are the ones you want, anyway).

The DCIM directory will contain up to two sub-directories. One will be named "100" and the other "101". If I recall correctly, the "100" directory is where files you've marked to protect from over-writing will be saved. This one will only be present if you have marked files to be write-protected. If you have not, then only the 101 directory will be present.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@C.Smith , Thanks again for your help , I think I have now got my head around what needs to be done , I will definitely leave an update on the Go Pro batteries in the near future .

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@C.Smith , just read one of your posts re- Altitude readings and someone else's on speed measurement units , did you get on top of it or can I help , these two I am on too.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg,

I found out from Spy Tec that the K1S cannot record altitude information. I am kind of disappointed by that.

As far as speed measurement units, my DVR came set for MPH and I have not seen a way to change that to KPH. Now, I'm not interested in changing to KPH, but it would be nice to know how just for the point of knowing how. Who knows? Maybe someday the US will switch to metric like most of the rest of the world. (LOL. Yeah, right. The metric system and Socialism are The Devil here!) One thing I should note is that the "Registrator Viewer" program defaults to metric and there is a setting that controls this, enabling you to change to English measurements, instead.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@C.Smith , I may have a newer firmware version , in my Registrator viewer under the " View " drop down menu at the top of the screen , if you come down to measurement a side window opens and gives you the choice of Metric - Meters / kilometres or British System , feet/miles and if I go into Graphics under the same View drop down I can check the boxes for Speed , Altitude and G-Sensor value and they all show up on the running screen of the DVR.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@C.Smith , I am going to run my system with the Altitude and G-Sensor boxes checked tomorrow to make sure they are on screen when the DVR is in the car and running , will get back to you with confirmation either way .

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg,

That's kind of exciting! Looking forward to hearing back.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@Greg

When dvr is connected (by the correct connector) you need to power it up, then it will show you the dvr as new drive.. I have tried it the first day I have bought it and had the same message until I have powered it up. But I have to agree with C.Smith it's much easier to use card reader (just to make sure you will disconnect it by Eject from pc before removing card)...

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

@C.Smith , @Martin , Thank you both for the tip about the card reader , will give it a go .

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Hi Mr Techmoan, great reviews - I've been reading them all week. I have a question, should you find the time to answer. You stated that if you didn't already have two sets of K1S fitted in your 2 cars, you'd buy Mini 0806's instead. Given that the two solutions are about the same price, and given the high reported rate of failures on the 0806, I wondered why you would go for the 2 unit solution over the K1S. For me, the primary goal is having dual cameras, as discretely mounted as possible. Cost is secondary. I definitely don't want a 6" camera rig dangling down the windscreen for all to see. I also don't want something that blows itself up after only a few months use. Wiring in a 'hard-wired' power source and concealing cables is also not an issue - I used to build aircraft wiring looms.

April 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSquonky

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911
Koonlung K1S with suction cup mount Ambarella A7 dash cam car dvr car camera gps car video recorder 140 degree wide angle lens

April 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterR180 newest firmware

Hello everyone,

We are Koonlung factory and here it is the only authorized Koonlung K1S dual lens camera Aliexpress store:
http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911

For the front camera and rear camera,we also have waterproof version and power adapter for motorbike driving.
so we have car version and motorbike version.
If you have more interests,welcome to ask any questions

April 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterR180 newest firmware

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