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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)

Decided to just buy an A40 /118

April 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Steve, you meant B40 / A118.

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterefoo

ha yep thats the one

April 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Hi Mad Dad:

your name explains it

your " one of those "

========================
sorry you cant read my English, but the above post was relevant in the K1S was seen in his New Red Mini he just got
in the review you can see his 2 cams is what i was mentioning, as it was 1st time folks learned of his new car, and he got another unit to put in his 2nd car, was the post at top, the review on the taxi cam was accurate, infact if you read the reviews, already someone is returning it for what was mentioned in my post, your relevant cause your waiting on your lost dash cam? from spy tech

========================================================

its common to use insults when you have nothing else

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

There are 2 Kinds of Dash Cams on the Market:

====================================

either its a " Junky Cam or Its Not "
the K1s is Not

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

G'day Mat,
That alone should tell every one where I'am located.
Question, the K1S has a rechargeable battery which you and , and I like many others don't like, can you find out if we can replace the battery with a "capacitor", if so make and model would be appreciated, and purchase location.
Keep up the excellent work, from down-under Melbourne.
Kal KOPPEL

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKal

I don’t believe that the battery in this one can be replaced with a capacitor - a battery is probably necessary to provide enough energy for the unit as it seems pretty power hungry, given the two cams, a screen, gps and illuminated buttons.

The good thing to say is that that this uses a lithium ion battery (rather than the very prone to fail LiPO batteries) and it is replaceable. The reason I usually err away from batteries in dash cameras is that they are sealed non-replaceable units and usually LIPOs, so when they fail the camera has to go in the bin. According to the manufacture the K1S camera uses a standard GoPro battery, so there should be no problem finding replacements.

April 17, 2015 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Well, we're almost at the 1 week of ownership mark and I'm going to have to revise my original score down a little, predominantly for a few reasons that may or may not impact other users of the cam. This is a bit of a long post, so the TL;DR version is that my score is reworked to 6/10 from 8/10.

The top reason for a score reworking is that the EMI suppression on this cam sucks. There's literally nothing else to say about it - it's quite possibly, in EMI terms the noisiest device I've ever put in a car.

I've fitted a DAB radio to my car, and have had absolutely zero trouble with the signal until fitting the K1S. After doing the usual EMI suppression stuff (cleaning grounds, using clip-on ferrite cores, re routing cables etc) it still causes the signal to drop out when in an area of less than perfect coverage. Switch off the K1S and the signal returns - back to perfectly listenable reception.

I've re-routed the aerial cable, clipped ferrites to the head and plug end of the aerial cable, as well as the USB voltage converter on the K1S - short of trying to construct some form of faraday cage around the K1S, I'm running rapidly out of ideas!

The second reason for a reworking of the score is that even after playing with the exposure, the night-time use of the cam is severely hampered. Unless you're in a city centre with good ambient light, you're going to struggle. Eric suggested bumping the AE bias up a bit, but when I did that - the daytime video became horribly over-exposed, so unfortunately it wasn't workable. Maybe come winter, it will be beneficial to bump the AE bias up a little bit as there will be more driving done during darkness, but at the moment - I'm less than impressed with the current state of nighttime use.

I haven't changed the score for this next point, as I believe it is something that is more an issue with my car than the camera so it is more a general point of caution. The FOV on the cameras is huge, the box says 140 degrees but that is probably up and down as well as left to right. I believe this hampers the AE on the camera (in my car) as unless I have it pointing at the dash, there is so much sky in shot that the camera sets the AE and white balance to try and compensate. This tends to give rise to a pinky-tinted, very washed out type of image. It also causes the AF to lock onto the dashboard, meaning that the view out of the window isn't as pin sharp as a 1080p camera is capable of providing.

The rear camera suffers from the same issue however it isn't too bad in all honesty. Again, this is probably more down to my car than anything to do with the camera.

Another issue, however I can't pinpoint if it is a fault with the camera, or if it is something that is meant to happen is that on startup, it plays the 'welcome' beeps, and then makes a bong noise, after checking the screen, it flicks off, back on then plays the recording 'beep' noise. I'm not sure if this is just as it copies the camera locations to the device from the SD card or if there is something amiss with it, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

It also makes the odd bong noise like that as I'm driving along - maybe it is something to do with the G-sensor? Perhaps @Techmoan can give some input as I know he uses these cameras daily.

Camera location issues aside, I'm going to revise my original 8/10 down to a more average 6/10 for the K1S. The EMI suppression is a killer and is quite possibly going to be the straw that broke the camel's back for me, unless I can find a way to suppress the noise within the car better than it currently is, and I don't think anything can be done about the night use of the camera but we'll see. I'm hanging onto it for the moment - until something better comes out, this is still the single best camera on the market for discreet use, and daytime video is still consistently superb. For less than £200 there really is nothing else on the market quite like it, and I'm possibly being overly picky myself.

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I'm happy with the day and night footage on both my cameras. They don't bong (I think I turned the g-sensor sensitivity down or off - can't remember), the one in the Mini starts up when I unlock the car (that's when the 12V socket gets turned on) so it beeps to indicate its recording before I've got my seatbelt on. This car also has DAB built in and I've been listening to Absolute 80s without interruption. Couldn't be happier. Perhaps I'm easily pleased, but it's working really well for me.

April 17, 2015 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

The EMI issue is something common to DAB radio and remote lens cameras it seems, even Blackvue cameras at twice the price are known for this issue

The lenses are fixed focus, not auto focus, it's not how your camera is aimed that is affecting your focus, the lens would have been incorrectly focused during manufacture, lens focus is done by hand and is subject to human error unfortunately

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

I have mine plugged in to a 12v supply so it also boots and records straight away. Regarding the bongs and beeps while driving - I believe this is to do with the G-sensor, and I assume the camera is actually operating 100% correctly.

@Jokiin - after reviewing some of the footage, the focus does seem to be fine - it was concerning how the dash was in sharp focus and the traffic outside was not.

I will hold my hands up on this one and say that um... dusty windscreens distort the image somewhat!!

Schoolboy error 101 for me in that respect!

I still find the AE bias a bit too high during the day and way too low during the night though but I'm going to have to experiment with the location and angle of the cameras - centre screen below the RVM is probably not the best place for this camera - I might go to top of the screen to the right of the RVM (which is where I had my old Lukas 7900 ARA) to see if it helps out any.

Interesting about the EMI problems with the blackvue cameras as well. I can't see the cable between the camera head and the main box being noisy though, I'll experiment with the ferrites to see if suppressing the camera cable itself helps the DAB signal.

@Techmoan - my car uses aftermarket DAB, so I wouldn't be surprised if the OEM kit is better suppressed against interference than some of the aftermarket stuff. Good choice of station as well - I'm a Kisstory fan myself at the moment though (when it works!)

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

The " Bong " Sound Is Not What I Hear.

There is a 3 Tone Musical Greeting. Yes that is True
Sounds Pleasant, and its also adjustable. The Sound Volume and can be turned off / no sounds.

6 out of 10 ? yet you say the daytime video is superb / great
I Very Picky & Rate My K1S 8 out of 10.

The " Beep " that comes on and off while your driving indicates Saved files "!" from overwrite
G-Sensor is overly sensitive. I Turned It Off,
Try "1" Lowest Setting if you use g-sensor. It should stop what you describe occurring

The 3 Tone Musical Greeting not a " Bong " indicates unit Turning on or Powering Off
its good to know don't you think?

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

Video Quality Varies with the "Scene Selector "
18 Options to Choose from

I notice it does change the contrast and colors a bit.
not sure why, but they got Fire-Works as a Scene. Use Menu, Find Scene Selector, 18 choices effect final video appearance.

nothing you can do to " Take Away the Sky " however
what you see is what you get

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

I know it plays the power on / power off sounds, the one I'm experiencing is while running - it plays a bong noise, then beeps as if it has just started recording again. I suspect this to be the G-Sensor however in the menu, the G-Sensor is set to off.

After checking a few things, the unit started exhibiting a reboot loop - I've uploaded a video of this here: tinypic.com/r/dzid0g/8

(The video was recorded on my mobile phone - the quality isn't amazing due to this)

I've done a reset on it, but it didn't cure it - it seems to have settled down now but when adjusting the front cam, the screen corrupted and it reset again so I'm guessing that there may be some other issues that aren't showing up. The car supply was showing as 12v with the ignition off, and 14v with the engine running, so a voltage problem preventing it from starting up can also be ruled out.

Also, I don't personally think the problems are down to the memory card - as it was boot looping with nothing attached other than USB, and no memory card in the device. For brevity, the card is a legitimate Sandisk Extreme UHS-1 64gb. Definitely not a fake - it was bought from the UK high street retailer Tesco, rather than online.

Eric: Good daytime video alone does not a dashcam make, unfortunately. The EMI problems are a big thing for me - so much so that I've spent £50 today on a new DAB antenna and cabling in the vain attempt that I can get it working happily with the K1S. This is expenditure that is a direct result of me using the K1S. I'll reiterate, the daytime quality is great - the night time quality (for me, personally) along with the EMI issues, and whatever is now causing the boot loop issues have really taken the "omg what is that I must have one!" shine off the product for me.

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

@Dave I have had a similar resetting/re-starting problem when I was messing with the front cam, even to the point that there would be no front video, just hte rear cam. It would be black when it should have been the front view.
I was/am tempted to send it back in the worry that it will happen in the future and just quit, but it makes me wonder if there is a bad connection or ciruit board in the front camera in the shipment you and I got from Joovuu.
It is working fine now it is in place, but if I move it around it will still do it, at least occasionally.

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

@Brett - I'm beginning to feel the same way - the recorded boot loop was after adjusting the rear cam, then it rebooted while adjusting the front cam so I'm a bit edgy about the connection myself.

I freed off an inch or so of cable from the roof, and was able to wiggle the front cam around on all axis without it rebooting, so I think it may just be down to how tight the wire is.

I can see my Sunday being spent rewiring the whole lot to try and put these issues to bed once and for all, if I get no joy I may have to approach Joovuu with the intent of having the kit swapped out for a new one.

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

@Dave I agree it has something to do with the cable tightness. It was at its worst when there was no slack, although it also was not stretched tight.

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

Please Help Me understand what i dont know,
maybe others too could use info

I see DAB, and you spent money on an antenna

and EMI as part of the discussions

======================
in the USA,
You guys sound like Tech Wizards

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

DAB is another type of radio - Digital Audio Broadcast. It's similar to SiriusXM in the US. It is becoming more mainstream in the UK but older cars (mine is a 2006 model) need aftermarket kit in order to receive it, similar to an aftermarket Sirius receiver over the pond.

EMI stands for Electro Magnetic Interference. Everything electrical will emit some form of noise, but there are limits to what it can emit and how much it can emit. FCC conformity in the US usually takes EMI into account. If you hold a mobile phone next to a speaker and connect a call, you will hear noise picked up by the speaker - this is EMI in a nutshell.

Most electrical kit should have some form of EMI suppression built in, either basic (ferrite beads/cores - generally a lumpy bit on the cable) or more intricate (example the Xbox 360/PS3 and I assume Xbox One and PS4 have an inner metal box, inside the case - this works as a faraday cage, stopping any unwanted 'noise' caused by EMI 'leaking' out of the enclosure.

As I haven't dismantled the K1S, I can only say as a best guess that the device lacks some of the EMI suppression that it really should have, as there is enough electromagnetic noise being generated when the device is turned on that it is being picked up by the DAB antenna, crowding out (for want of a better term) the DAB signal. No signal means no radio, no radio means an unhappy me!

Imagine you had a SiriusXM receiver in the car that had functioned correctly for the past few years - only to find that you fit a K1S and when it is working, you don't get any Sirius radio - that's kinda the situation I'm in. I've made the best of a bad situation in that if the DAB signal is strong, it can get through the noise - but as soon as the signal becomes anything less than 100% perfect - it drops off completely.

I must apologise to be honest, the Internet is world wide but I kinda fell into a little UK bubble, being that Techmoan is a Brit :) I'll try and minimise the acronym use - I know not everyone is as techy as I am! :)

April 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Thank You!

you did a great job in your explanations, and how it applies.
Now see your concerns and what your dealing with
============================================
i have the brain in the glove box . you guys call it a boot i think
it works good there with the GPS inside and picks up signal

have you tried to move lcd monitor further away from your mobile radio receiver
wonder how far that k1s shoots the emi and is issue for your device

not to be funny or anything but i wonder if Tin Foil will work.
Techmoan has mentioned that some folks wear it as a hat

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

Mine is also in the glove box (the trunk = the boot in British English!). The GPS antenna is under the centre speaker cover on the dash.

I've tried to route the cabling etc away from the DAB aerial, going so far as to route the antenna up and around the windscreen, then down across the drivers side rather than the passenger side (remembering we are RHD over this side). The only cable crossover is caused when the front cam wire runs alongside the DAB antenna as it routes across the top of the windscreen and down the A-pillar.

Tin foil has been used as EMI suppression in the past, I'm just avoiding covering all my cables in it until it is literally the last possible option on the list other than removing the DAB kit completely.

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

It's only with you mentioning it, that I recall a number of people over the years advising me that their dashcams (various makes) knock out their DAB reception. I've also heard about the same thing happening to Sat Navs.

I'd completely forgotten about this when I installed the K1S in my Mini which has both these devices built in...so its fortunate that there was no impact otherwise I would have wasted an afternoon routing the wires carefully around the car - because the K1S would have to be removed rather than lose these features on my new car.

One thing I haven't done though is plug in the GPS Aerial/Speaker into my K1S. I have no idea if this would help, but it may be worth trying your K1S without the GPS device attached to see if it is the culprit.

April 18, 2015 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I am very glad I waited for your reviews as I always wanted a remote "Black Box" type dashcam. I was put off the Blackviue because of EMI issues and I am now trying to get a Lukas 7950 (hardly stealth). Fortunately The initial installation will be in an RV in Canada, I then intend to bring it home to UK and fit it in my car. Dashcams are a lot less expensive there so I will let you all know how I get on. My car has DAB and I love it as the FM reception where I live is awful. There could be more dire consequences of EMI in modern cars as "fly by wire" technology is now used for all sorts functions. I also have a reversing camera built into the rear number plate and parking sensors that in theory are used to auto park (never tested or used). I do wonder if a dashcam EMI could affect any other features.. Keep up the good work Matt I hope the manufacturers read all these comments and take them into account for future products.

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterIan

@Ian reading is one thing, comprehending is another

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjokiin

I have just bought a K1S and wonder if the two cameras can be swapped over. I prefer to to install the box in the boot so it is out of the way but I would need to use the rear camera in the front screen so that the cable will reach - the rear camera comes with 6 meters of cable whereas the front camera only 3 meters.

In his reveiw Techmoan states that the two cameras appear to have different colorus lenses - so does it matter if I switch them around?

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterchris

Front and Back Cams not same bit rate,
back is lower, however your idea will work

Techmoans Review i recall mentioned Front has Faster Transfer Rate

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

This seems to be an amazing system but I do have a question. Since there is a rear camera, is there a quick and easy way to use this camera system a back up camera when going in reverse, say by pushing a single button?

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael G

@Michael G I have the screen set down low next to the steering column and I can use it as a reversing camera, which I have done when I was in a tight spot.
There is a mode button-the startup screen shows both camera views, then one push show only the front and another push shows only the rear.
It has such a wide field of view that I have the rear camera so I can see the rear bumper of my van and still see any cars within a few metres of the van.
But it is a small display for using as a reversing cam.

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrett

@chris - the cameras are on a regular micro-USB cable, so there shouldn't be any real reason why you can't buy a micro-usb extension cable to add a bit of length to the front cable - just make sure that the join is taped up tight to ensure it can't come apart.

@Techmoan - I'll look into removing the GPS from the camera - if that helps the DAB then I'll be happy as, if I'm being completely honest - the speed cam alerts are irritating! I'm going to build a tolerance of 10% of the limit into my copy of the camera script to see if I can make it a little less eager to alert but I can forego them for DAB reception if it comes to it.

@Michael G - not that I'm aware of. You can switch the display to show the rear cam only but the field of view might make it a bit unsuitable for reversing.

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Reversing Cams not a bad idea

i was thinking, about that using the front cam on the back due to the short length cable
to mount in " boot " . You Would Have A Clearer Image of the guy on you A**
most of the trouble i encounter comes from the rear. it might be a good idea to use the Better of the Two Cams on the Back

i know it is backwards thinking, and way to suppose to go, but it does have merit

that is a great idea, the easy to find longer length USB CABLE and connect it up / plug and play
thanks for that suggestion, as it solves the issue of mounting the brain anywhere

HOWEVER how long can that cable go before the video is degraded?
that is the question, hope someone tests it out with an update.
see how long you can go with it, let us know, how far from brain will the cams transmit?

April 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEric Edwards

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