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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%! 

            

 
« 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)

Is it just me, or is this just an Innovv K1 with a different name?

April 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hi.

Thank you for your test. I have recieved my K1S today, and tried to download newest firmware and programs fra manufactures website. Some how I can't get and email fra them with the code to download. Is there a specific name, that I must use besides my email?

Does anyone else have that problem?

I guess I will have to test the K1S with the recieved software for now.

Regards Michael

April 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSkeel

@C.Smith , an update on the GoPro batteries , have fitted one and it is running OK , not hot at all after constantly running for two hours to Perth and the same for the return trip , I still have an issue of the unit constantly repeating " video file protected " and " GPS ready "
the other problem is it will not turn off with the switch on the top , I have to pull the power lead and remove the battery on occasions .
Waiting for new micro disc cards , 64 gb Kingstons to replace 128 gb Sandisc to see if that fixes the problem.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Greg
seeing that you have constant power to your K1S, you don't need to have the battery installed, this will fix your problem of overheating batteries due to always being in a state of charge. would also make it easier to shut the unit down when you desire, without having to pull the battery each time.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlice Paige

@Alice Paige , My newly installed GoPro battery is not overheating , the rest of the system in malfunctioning .

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg,

Have you tried to change sensitivity of shock? As this may be the reason for "file protected message"... I have recently traveled +/- 1500 miles and camera was OK until I have reached Czech Republic motorways - the condition is pretty bad and so even if my sensitivity was set to low the same message came on thousand times... tried to turn it off or go for hard reset (factory) it may help you with both issues.... Hope it helps. ... also could you please share the code of battery? B I will order it too. I do not have any problems but do not want to risk any fires...
Thank you

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

@martin ,
Thanks for your input , I just got much the same from the people I bought it from with the added tests of unplugging one camera at a time then running it to see if it stabilises the system , can't see that making any difference being the camera's appear fine .
Re the battery , it is a Genuine GoPro ( with all Genuine GoPro labels on it ) Model number AHDBT-001 , the AHDBT-002 is the same and they are both for the Hero 2 camera's . all the best sourcing them , I found mine on eBay.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

@Greg

Thanks for the update on the GoPro battery. I've found that the "GPS Ready" notification happens more frequently when the SD card is full. If it is not full, I generally get the notification once per trip. I discussed this with Spy Tec and they think it's because the GPS track file writing is interrupted for a fraction of a second while files are being deleted. Martin may be right about the shock sensitivity, as I never get that notification and I have completely disabled that functionality.

One thing I discovered is that the "updated" firmware available from Spy Tec is not actually updated at all. It turns out it is much older, as the version that comes pre-installed in v1.79, the version from Spy Tec is v1.58, and there is actually a v1.80 available on the DashcamTalk forums (for both MPH and KPH). I have flashed the v1.80 on my two control units and set the Split Time to 5 minutes (the only choices being 2 minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes). I'll let you know next week how it performs with a full card. I've swapped my card out for a UHS speed class 3 card (the old card went into my new mobile phone).

@John

Very interesting observation that this is a rebranded/renamed Innovv K1 kit. In looking at Innovv's site, the installation instructions are exactly the same as what is included by Koonlung in the package. Thanks for pointing this out because I see at least one other camera I'm interested in purchasing now!

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@C. Smith

I am quite surprised that it is working with UHS clas 3 cards... have you noticed any difference ? I was worried to buy UHS 3 as these types of cards are not supported by all devices and so well done for testing... What is the size of your card ? 128 or 64 GB ?

Am looking forward to hear from you the review of 1.80 firmware version :-)


@John

I have asked the same question a few months ago and the answer was "Koonlung makes the K1S, Innovv buy the main unit and some camera components from them and do their own bit for the waterproof camera housings, bracketry, cables, mounts etc to suit the motorcycle application"

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

@John that's correct on the Innovv/Koonlung relationship

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

@Martin

In my daily driver, I'm running a 64Gb card (this one from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1MFyK5w ). In our conversion van, which is primarily used for long trips, I'm running a 128Gb card (this one from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1qWj1Fw ). Just last week, I used my car to make a 6 hour drive to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and swapped the 128Gb card into my car. I had no problems with it at all. In fact, I pulled all the footage from it so that I could show my wife what Random Lake looked like (since I was interviewing there and we might possibly move there) and also to get a good look at the footage of the HVAC guy road-raging because he thought I cut him off. (Turns out I did not cut him off. He just thought I did. It was interesting footage for the few miles he followed me, though.)

The 64Gb card is new (I got it last week) and I'm now using that one in my car. The previous one I was using was Class 10, but only UHS speed class 1. That card is now installed in my new mobile. So far I've had good performance from the new 64Gb card, but it won't fill up until Friday. I expect the same performance from it that I've gotten from the 128Gb card, which has been filled up at least twice now. I think the firmware will be a bigger deal than the card.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@ C.smith
It really looks like some high specs card... I have currently 32Gb Samsung works fine just is too small. his one looks quite expensive but may be worth to go for this card due to the quality and daily use....
Thank you for detailed answer

@ Jokin
I think you are the one who answered my question in past about the Innovv/ Koolung:-)

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMartin

@Martin

I get between 5 and 6 hours recording time on the 64Gb card at max resolution and picture quality. The 128Gb card gives me around 11 hours. I know the 128Gb card is pretty pricey. I only coughed up the cash for it because of the way that vehicle is used (usually a 5 hour trip in each direction). Usually, it's my wife using that vehicle, too, and she's not as tech-savvy. So, I'll probably end up getting another 128Gb card for her to tote along as a spare in case something noteworthy happens.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

@Martin, yeah it probably was me, I manufacture dashcams and know quite a few of the different factories, engineers, industry types etc

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

Saw your review on K1S cam and bought the dc. Only issue I'm having is when I set the loop time (they call it split time) to 2 mins, (only 2, 5 and 10 mins available) it keeps reverting back to 5 mins. Any suggestion?

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbdja35

@bdja35

There is an issue with the r179 and r180 firmwares where the Split Time keeps being set back to 5 minutes. This thread/post from DashcamTalk forums has a work-around for you: https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/latest-firmware.14961/#post-224840

Personally, I've opted for 5 minute long clips since even 1 or 2 minute long clips are too large to email. The r179 and r180 firmwares do not offer 1 minute split times. I was able to get that by getting an r158 firmware from Spy Tec, but that firmware is so old that I wouldn't recommend it. (I only downgraded because I hadn't figured out how to read the version correctly at that time. I have since upgraded back to r180 on both my K1S control units.)

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Hi.

I have now made my first test. It seems though, that when I play back the recording, the speed on the picture is in mph instead og km/t (km pr hour which we use in Denmark). When I watch the playback through the "registreviewer" there is though a speedometer which shows the speed in km pr hour. But I would lie to have the stamp in the recording in km instead og mph.

Can anyone help me how to change that?

regards Michael.

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSkeel

@Skeel

Here's a page that has links for the latest (r180) firmware. It comes in KPH and MPH versions. Just download the right one (KPH), unzip, copy the k1s.bin file to your control unit, then power up the control unit. It will prompt you to update the firmware. Just click the right-most button on your control unit to confirm (you'll click a total of three times - twice to confirm, once to dismiss the notification that it is done).

https://dashcamtalk.com/koonlung-k1s/#Firmware

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Is there anyway of disabling the MPH without disabling the GPS?
Thank you

April 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbdja35

@bdja35

If I recall correctly, when you set the configuration setting that blanks the speed, it will still record the GPS coordinates. Have a look at some of Techmoan's footage because he blanks the speed in at least some of it once he gets to 30 KPH. It's that footage that I'm basing my previous statement on, as I keep the speed displaying in case I do get in an accident (so I can prove what speeds I was going).

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/938911

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterk1s

@k1s

Good God! Enough with the spam! We already know where to purchase one if we want to.

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Thanks @k1s the info. I do well about figuring out the settings, but every now and then I can't. I believe, as do others, that their instruction's could be a little more detailed. I'm fully installed and running.

April 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbdja35

@C. Smith

thank god,you reply the post anyway
if you buy the item,we offer 199USD with DHL shipping

April 21, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterk1s

@ Jokin

do you have any idea if koonlung will release a new firmware?

April 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCMax

@Greg & @Martin,

I thought I would update you as to how my system is performing now. With the UHS speed class 3 memory card and the r180 firmware, I get "Recording started" and "GPS ready" announcements exactly once per trip. The same is true for "Recording stopped" and that happens only when I press the button to terminate recording at the end of the trip. The system is working flawlessly. My wife has noticed that when she goes for coffee at Caribou (sort of like Starbucks - less expensive and actually tastes good), then her system will announce "GPS ready" about every 30 seconds while she is in drive-through, but it only does it there. I figure that's because it's a tight little loop very close to the main road. I noticed on the DataKam Player when I play those trips back that the little arrow that represents the vehicle spins, indicating it is unable to derive a heading. And that doesn't happen in other drive-throughs. So, it's an interesting anomaly.

@CMax

The most up-to-date firmware that I'm aware of is the r180, which can be downloaded from the DashcamTalk site.

April 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Sorry, no idea about any firmware update activity, I did see Koonlung in Hong Kong last week but most of the staff I knew that worked there previously have left the company

April 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

@C.Smith
Thanks for the update , I seem to be getting stable operation most of the time now , I took the DVR into house and fully charged the GoPro battery , re-installed it and used the factory reset function key , i have all options turned off and manually stop and start recording , I have the R180 firmware , that was in the recorder when I got it , I am waiting for my Kingston micro disc cards to arrive , microSDHC/SDXC UHS-I U3 90R/80W , not cheap but should improve performance , the 128gb card I am currently running does not have high capacity read and write ability , will update when i have the new cards and have run them over a couple of days .

April 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Is it possible to hard wire the device to the car battery, to maximise its capabilities in recording whilst the car is parked?

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

@Simon,

Sure, you could do that. It would need to connect to the electrical system "in front" of the ignition system. Otherwise, when the car is off, the camera would still get no juice. Keep in mind that you'll run a risk of the battery draining, unless you run the car regularly. I'm not sure whether anyone has any information on how long to expect the car to be able to sit between being driven with the camera recording the entire time. You might look at DashcamTalk forums, as there might be someone there with such experience.

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

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