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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)

@Chaz

Well, you may not need such a large card, but I do. A 128Gb card only stores about 11 hours of video, whereas a 64Gb stores about 5 and 1/2 hours. With our conversion van, we're typically driving 6 or more hours in one direction. As for my commute, the portion of it done in my car is 40 minutes in each direction every day (I use the bus for the other half of my commute). So my commuter car's card fills up on day 3 of my commute every week. If something happens, I generally take the card out of the car on the weekend and transfer the files. So, you need to settle down with regards to your judgment of what sized card is "necessary". If you can get by with a 32Gb or smaller card, that's great. Not everyone can, and I am one of those who cannot.

My firmware is 1.8.x; I don't recall the specific revision number. (I think it's about 1.8.3, but don't quote me on that because I'm nowhere near the camera to check right now.) It's the most up-to-date firmware I could find 6 months ago, and I haven't been able to find any newer firmware since. The last I had checked before today (and now I went and checked again), Koonlung wasn't (and still isn't) offering any firmware on their site. I've owned my K1S since March of 2016 and have had MPH firmware since purchase.

Don't think I haven't thought of everything and tried everything I could think of before now. When I first purchased the camera, I had purchased a cheaper card. I had more problems with that and upgraded to a Lexar. The gaps in recording for file deletion are much shorter with the Lexar (~3s vs ~6s), but that problem has never gone away.

June 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

I even tried lower the resolution at which the camera systems are recording and that did not help. The cards would get full and the recording would stop while the system deletes files. Then it would resume after file deletion was completed. So, it's not even the resolution that makes any difference.

June 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Well I do not see why you need a full trip that long if anything happens you hit the red button and it's saved.
any saved recording is saved in a separate folder
As for cards makers recommend Kingston, I was using Scandisk but changed over to Kingston and it work ever since.
I will not be replying anymore as you seam to have made up your mind.

June 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChaz

Ok guys - i got news.

took me the entire weekend to do all the measuring stuff.

Current is 300mA when connected to 12V. That's nothing for a car. But bad things first, because although i found a solution that will work for me, i don't have much good news.

Charging Current= 610mA
Overcharge Protection: 4.2V
Overcurrent Charge Protection: 5A
Overcurrent discharge Protection: 3A
Undercharge Protection: 3.4V
Recording @battery: 1.2-1.3A :(
Parking Mode: 1.0A

So what does that all mean? That means charging a full empty battery will take 2 hours till full. So this may be not such a big concern for you US guys driving anyway 5 to 6 hours the get a six pack in the next supermarket - for me it is a problem. Most important for me is the parking mode. Here is the user manual completely misleading.

'recording for 30 minutes' as stated in the user manual is wrong. With a current of 1.0A in parking mode that means parking mode works for a bit more of one hour when detecting no movements, with all the time recording it will be a bit less than one hour. So:
Park mode: max one hour, charging: at least 2 hours

And, as suspected, the unit is ALL THE TIME recording in parking mode, it just analyses the stream for movements. When detecting movement, it is writing the file down to the filesystem. That means they could easily implement a pre buffered parking mode since the unit is anyway all the time recording.

My solution now as follows:

I removed the battery and connected a rather large 10'000 mA Lipo Cell instead of the OEM cell. Where the bat was located, i added a fan to prevent overheating.

Most of the time my car is parked in a safe and closed garage, I’ll just power off the unit manually to prevent parking mode. When I park somewhere I'll have 10 hours parking mode time which is very important for me. Charging from full empty to full will take some time, maybe i'm going to add a separate charging board, but for me it is ok for now.

technomoan can we add pictures here?

Philipp

June 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilipp

@Chaz

True, I do have my mind made up. I've experienced times where this system has simply stopped recording entirely, without any reason for that. I also want a system with a good parking mode, and the K1S does not have this. Of course, I could just wire it to the battery and let it record all the time; I'm just not keen on this idea because I like being able to shut the camera off, especially if the car is going to sit for multiple days (in my garage) which does happen from time to time.

@Philipp

I'm glad you've found a solution that will work for you. It's too bad there isn't a pre-fab solution for people who are not as technically-inclined as you are.

June 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterC. Smith

Currently building my parking mode board. Looks good so far. As for now i've found something really interesting:

- Open the k1s firmware using notepad, or notepad++
- scroll down to line 55857
- look twice since you might not want to believe it:

IDX,X,Y,TYPE,SPEED,DirType,Direction
1,0.002126,51.418398,1,48,1,140
2,0.004301,51.495149,1,48,1,310
3,0.004396,51.495234,1,48,1,130
4,0.005956,51.578997,1,65,1,305
5,0.006484,51.578919,1,65,1,120
6,0.006730,51.586780,1,65,1,190
7,0.007597,51.568632,1,80,1,25
8,0.008480,51.569197,1,80,1,210
9,0.011510,51.577127,1,65,1,135
10,0.013864,51.574972,1,65,1,325
11,0.014934,51.408788,1,48,1,125
12,0.015073,51.516641,1,48,1,75
13,0.015404,51.516932,1,80,1,255
14,0.016258,51.595353,1,80,1,85
15,0.017847,51.454939,1,48,1,290
16,0.017894,51.455022,1,48,1,110
17,0.018829,51.401706,1,48,1,0
18,0.018846,51.402465,1,48,1,180
19,0.019338,51.602798,1,48,1,170
20,0.021355,51.587015,1,48,1,10
21,0.022363,51.590092,1,48,1,190
22,0.023375,51.476702,1,80,1,340
23,0.023494,51.517434,1,80,1,270
24,0.025695,51.616682,1,48,1,20
25,0.025731,51.406957,1,48,1,95
26,0.026081,51.472761,1,80,1,150
27,0.026492,51.596561,1,80,1,100
28,0.027277,51.596391,1,80,1,105
29,0.028357,51.516871,1,80,1,102
30,0.030314,51.562901,1,48,1,85
31,0.031916,51.512858,1,48,1,345
32,0.033620,51.390789,1,48,1,320
33,0.033771,51.577015,1,65,1,60
34,0.035614,51.517559,1,48,1,66
35,0.035808,51.459411,1,80,1,120
36,0.036226,51.518082,1,80,1,250
37,0.038337,51.560413,1,48,1,310
38,0.041521,51.441120,1,65,1,110
39,0.042293,51.452357,1,48,1,285
40,0.042450,51.578083,1,80,1,335
41,0.043008,51.452212,1,48,1,115
42,0.043117,51.577985,1,80,1,155
43,0.044771,51.531430,1,48,1,75
44,0.044924,51.531361,1,48,1,255
45,0.044964,51.374523,1,48,1,340
46,0.050027,51.492211,1,48,1,280
47,0.051254,51.441464,1,48,1,0
48,0.051410,51.569223,1,80,1,150
49,0.051565,51.431087,1,48,1,325
50,0.053121,51.612341,1,80,1,235
51,0.054654,51.576342,1,65,1,265
52,0.054772,51.519360,1,80,1,95
53,0.055401,51.576378,1,65,1,85
54,0.055735,51.493004,1,48,1,75
55,0.056558,51.519852,1,48,1,260
56,0.056689,51.562556,1,80,1,335
57,0.058092,51.389772,1,48,1,115
58,0.058116,51.477886,1,48,1,40
59,0.058661,51.478213,1,48,1,215
60,0.059371,51.560429,1,80,1,140
61,0.061781,51.520940,1,80,1,60
62,0.062555,51.611035,1,48,1,60
63,0.062634,51.521691,1,80,1,240
64,0.064214,51.427712,1,48,1,185
65,0.065426,51.462057,1,48,1,255
66,0.067516,51.538752,1,48,1,150
67,0.067960,51.549445,1,80,1,355
68,0.068551,51.548448,1,80,1,175
69,0.069600,51.433394,1,65,1,110
70,0.069719,51.608557,1,48,1,85
71,0.070649,51.524126,1,80,1,70
72,0.070818,51.513275,1,65,1,345
73,0.070952,51.510436,1,65,1,180
74,0.070971,51.524732,1,80,1,235
75,0.072712,51.458054,1,80,1,260
76,0.074027,51.575180,1,65,1,290
77,0.074861,51.575058,1,65,1,110
78,0.075956,51.526349,1,80,1,240
79,0.076285,51.526070,1,80,1,55
80,0.077680,51.584224,1,48,1,215
81,0.078875,51.432222,1,48,1,140
82,0.079337,51.490959,1,48,1,280
83,0.088043,51.455775,1,80,1,295
84,0.088184,51.425019,1,80,1,325
85,0.088275,51.529144,1,80,1,85
86,0.096046,51.530764,1,80,1,255
87,0.096059,51.576218,1,65,1,245
88,0.098675,51.453459,1,80,1,115
89,0.098814,51.531219,1,65,1,255
90,0.098891,51.531103,1,80,1,75
91,0.099288,51.453042,1,80,1,295
92,0.101628,51.549054,1,48,1,65
93,0.103500,51.579989,1,65,1,55
94,0.103586,51.408710,1,48,1,275
95,0.110256,51.618504,1,48,1,245
96,0.113571,51.494639,1,48,1,235
97,0.115264,51.532808,1,65,1,275
98,0.115350,51.532638,1,65,1,100
99,0.118174,51.532383,1,65,1,285
100,0.118829,51.615359,1,65,1,320
101,0.119950,51.614492,1,65,1,140
-> cut the rest

So here are the GPS data inside the binary file in CLEAR TEXT. That will make it more easy to replace them. But be careful when replacing the values, the file integrity have stay intact, means, you can replace bytes, but not add or strip bytes (the filesize have to be same as before)

give it a try

Philipp

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilipp

erm, sorry for the double post, i even found some source code comments inside the firmware:

/ucode/ssyeh/work/a7l/products/13_China_CN003/ucode/source/enc/orccode/preview/enc_preview_new_api.c line %dnot supported operation mode %d

shoulden't that be Korea instead of China?

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilipp

one last post, after that i'll shutup forever.

It looks like they have planed to implement a photo function called 'still_picture', but the code is all commented out in the binary file.

And, I found some funny generic code structure implementations:

Usage: t %s -lens [cmd] .......
Supported cmd
linfo lens information
init initial lens
park lens park
stdby [en] lens standby
zi [pps] [steps] Zoom In
zo [pps] [steps] Zoom Out
zpi [en] Zoom PI On/Off
zst Get Zoom status
fn [pps] [steps] Focus Near
ff [pps] [steps] Focus Far
fpi [en] Focus PI On/Off
fst Get Focus status
iris [pos] Set aperture
irisq Query Fno and AVno
irist Get aperture status
sh [pos] Shutter Operation
shst Get Shutter Operation
shdly Get M.Shutter delay time
nd [pos] ND filter Enable/Disable
ndst Get ND filter status
cal [p1] [p2] [p3] [p4] Calibrate lens
iot [p1] [p2] Ext. API

see functions 'zoom in' zoom out'. It looks like they were on hurry to hold production date.

June 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilipp

After doing some research, I fell I'm even more confused now. What I'm looking for is a dash cam that records what's in front and If not more importunely what's going on in the cab. I've had reports of my employees sitting in our trucks doing nothing for hours. I'm looking for a unit that can record while parked, have a long recording and battery life. GPS would be nice as well. Any suggestions or recommendations?

August 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobb

So I've had a couple of these units now one for about 2 years and one for about 2 and a half years. Initally both worked great as I purchased the Lexar SD cards. However over the last few months both have become unreliable with various issues from getting hot to freezing screens. I use to format the cards regularly and on checking today both units have now stopped loop recording.

I reviewed this unit sometime ago and was quite happy as it seemed to work ok but having had them for sometime my advice is DO NOT BUY as these units are unreliable and do not stand the test of time. I've had a couple of near misses and when reviewing the footage it has not been recorded.

I am replacing both units.

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBandit D2

@Robb
Same here... :-(

What you are planing to buy?

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterStudentoo

I’m currently looking at the Blackvue DR 750 S. It’s a new release but both front and rear cameras are HD but twice the price of the K1S. I’ve used a Roadhawk ride+ for my helmet cam on my motorcycle and that hasn’t missed a beat in 2 years. I’ve come to the conclusion you get what you pay for.

Shame the K1S is a good unit in theory but the reliability just doesn’t cut it..........

October 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBandit D2

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