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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 (My recommendation)
Yi Dashcam (also in black)
   
    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%! 

            

 
« Harman Kardon Aura Airplay Speaker | Main | Retro Tech: The 3M Cantata 700 Background Music Machine »
Tuesday
May172016

A great small Dashcam (with a screen) - Vantrue N1

Small dashcams with an LCD screen are few and far between. The Mini-08 range is one of the most common, but suffers from reliability issues. So much so, that I refuse to review any more due to the high failure rates.

So it's refreshing to see a new mini camera that works well. It isn't overloaded with features like GPS or Lane Departure Warning, it's just a good solid sensible little camera that comes with an 18 month warranty.

Of course only time will tell how reliable the N1 proves to be, but I have a lot more confidence in this camera than I would with yet another Mini 080*. 

 

Using the Discount Code YHBTWINU at checkout will unlock the following prices.

Amazon US: $69.99 http://amzn.to/1UJQoFa

Amazon UK: £59.99 http://amzn.to/1PmHysV

Amazon CA: CAD$99.99 https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01A4YUITY

The Deal times are active from: 13th June 2016 00:01 PDT/BST until 19th June 2016 23:59 PDT/BST - or until stock runs out.

If you want to look at some sample clips - then click here.  Do Not Stream These Video Files - they are for downloading - if streamed they look terrible and you'll only have yourself to blame.

   

 

FIRMWARE 14th May 2016

Here is the firmware (I take no responsibility if you brick your camera with this). 
Only use this if the Time and date Stamp is not appearing on your videos and your existing firmware is OLDER than 14th May 2016. There is no need to install it if your camera is already working perfectly.

The file is here - http://pc.cd/eJ9ctalK
INSTRUCTIONS
1) Copy bin file to memory card
2) Put card in camera
3) Turn camera on ....AND WAIT UNTIL IT AUTOMATICALLY REBOOTS ITSELF
4) Turn camera off
5) Take card out of camera
6) Delete Bin File (empty the Trash on your computer to make sure it's gone)
7) Put card back in camera
8) Check the firmware number in the menu to confirm that it has updated to the 14th May 2016 Firmware.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (62)

Just a comment that I bought the – ‘G1W - The cheapest Dash-Cam that’s worth buying.’ - after your review and it has run ever since without a hitch. Never actually had a critical need for it as such yet, but you never know.

May 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKaragan

That's great news...with this one I feel that most of the reported failures might be down to cheap knock-off copies of this camera.

May 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Just tried to order the Vantrue N1 using your Amazon.com link but it's not possible to have it shipped to the UK from there. Bummer!

May 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRifleman

That's correct - this current availability restriction was mentioned in the article above and at the end of the video.
I've asked Vantrue to try and make this available in the UK - and when (if) they do, I'll let everyone know.

May 17, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Just ordered this unit from Amazon based on your review. I appreciate the voucher code. Saved me and is a good deal. I can't wait to test this new dashcam out. I'm new to all these so my expectations still need to be set but I will test out the unit once I have received this. I just want to thank you for your quick and nice informative review.

May 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNewb on Dashcam

Techmoan. Just ordered one on Amazon. Thank you for your excellent review and discount code.

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCtrain24

You mention a firmware upgrade, I just ordered this dashcam and want to have the file ready to upgrade. I cant seem to find where to get the latest firmware though

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered Commentervcr

I would suggest that you don't update the firmware unless you are experiencing any problems. On my original firmware the time and date stamp didn't appear on screen.
I'll post the firmware here - but only if people report similar problems. I do not want to be responsible for people breaking their machines. When I posted firmware in the past, too many people put the wrong firmware on the wrong machines and bricked them. So even though you might know what you're doing, there's too many crazy people out there.

May 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I'm also not finding the firmware update, and I'm also not getting the time and date stamp on my video. Do you have the firmware update?

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I just got my N1 from Amazon. Thanks for the discount code by the way. I do seem to have an issue I think. Unless I'm doing something wrong. It powers fine from the USB port on the camera itself. But the suction cup mount does not power it at all. The charger adapter works and when I scientifically licked the contacts on the suction cup, I get 5V power off it. Also tried a 5V USB phone charger to the suction cup without luck. My firmware is EVA05LHNC.160215.V2

May 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Here is the firmware (I take no responsibility if you brick your camera with this).
Only use this if the Time and date Stamp is not appearing on your videos and your existing firmware is OLDER than 14th May 2016. There is no need to install it if your camera is already working perfectly.

The file is here - http://pc.cd/eJ9ctalK

INSTRUCTIONS
1) Copy bin file to memory card
2) Put card in camera
3) Turn camera on ....AND WAIT UNTIL IT AUTOMATICALLY REBOOTS ITSELF
4) Turn camera off
5) Take card out of camera
6) Delete Bin File (empty the Trash on your computer to make sure it's gone)
7) Put card back in camera
8) Check the firmware number in the menu to confirm that it has updated to the 14th May 2016 Firmware.

May 18, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hey guys! Just contacted vantrue, and they said that this camera will be available in the UK from early June!
As always great video!
Thank you!

May 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSam Parker

Techmoan: I got my N1 from Amazon using the promo code you provided -- thanks!
It did not display the time stamp, so I installed the updated firmware. Success! Thanks again!

May 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

I ordered this dashcam through your link and got the discount as well. Thank you. Yesterday I received this nice email from the support team at Vantrue and thought I would share it with you.


Dear Michael,

Thank you for purchasing the Vantrue N1 dash cam from us!

This is Joe from Vantrue. I am reaching out to you with some hints that I thought would be helpful, as you first use the device. Check below:

1. Installing microSD card
As the microSD card slot of the N1 dash cam is a little bit deep, when taking out the card, you might have to use your fingernail or some tools like tweezers or so to help, just push the card in a little (till you hear a little da sound) and the card will auto pop out.

2. Firmware upgrade
We have just released a new firmware for the N1 dash cam, you could upgrade your device following the steps in this link:
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s392/sh/9ba80643-03ac-43ca-a409-02c45ba5e80b/5d7d15979333d66c

If you don’t receive the link, please reply me on this message or contact us at “support (at) vantrue (dot) n e t”.

Thank you! I hope you have a great journey with your Vantrue N1 dash cam.

Any question, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,
Joe
Vantrue Support Team

May 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike Spille

Hi Matt, great review. I just received mine. Great deal. Thanks.

Do you know if this camera would benefit from a CPL FILTER, if so, do you know of one that would fit this little gem of a camera?

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAmbrose

You would need some sort of magnetic ring to attach a CPL filter - but I don't know if anyone makes one that fits - it's not something I've looked into. Unless the reflections from your dashboard as so bad that the video footage wouldn't clearly demonstrate who was at fault in an accident...I wouldn't worry about it.

May 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I bought one of these a few days ago and it works amazingly, I am so glad I subscribed to you.

May 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterkyle

Techmoan, Thank you for what you've been doing here. Honestly, I almost never post commentary like this You, sir, have been aiding me in my dash-cam research for the last several months. Your reviews and insight have been extremely valuable, ultimately making the case for getting this dash-cam. The Vantrue N1 is exactly as you have presented it... I'm pleased with the product, it's discrete size, and it's capabilities. I reviewed some of my daylight and nighttime videos about an hour ago -- It seems that I, too, will need a firmware update. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

Sincerely, Phil; living in Norfolk, VA, USA.

May 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPhil L

Hey Techmoan, I'm noticing something strange with the camera. Completely intermittently, the flashing red dot in the corner of the LCD would just remain constant, the recording timer would be still, and it wasn't recording. However, the device wasn't frozen, it would easily be fixed by pressing the record button to "stop" the recording, and then pressing again.

I thought maybe the old firmware was the issue so I contacted vantrue and they sent me the updated firmware, however, I have the exact same issue with no change.

Is that something you noticed at all during your review? I want to request a new camera, but if this will just keep happening I'd rather just return it within my 30 day window.

May 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

It hasn't happened to me.
I only have the usual advice as almost all issues with Dashcams are caused by the SD card. ..format the SD card using the in-camera menu....and if things don't improve try a different SD card, decent make, class 10, no more than 32GB.

May 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Code is still active today!

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterthesmalldog

Okay that could be it, as I am replacing another dashcam with similar freezing issues using the same card. However it is a new card that is 32GB class 10, so the specs are good. I'll update with more information when it's resolved.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Not sure if you know anything about cards in general, but this is the card I'm using.

SanDisk Ultra SDSDQUAN-032G-G4A 32GB UHS-I/Class 10 Micro SDHC Memory Card With Adapter

Any reason you would think this wouldn't work well? I used it in a GW-1C and now this Vantrue with issues on both. I had sandisk replace it once already bc I did blame the card at first, but now I'm not super sure.

I'm not asking you to be my tech support haha, I just know you are much more knowledgeable than I am and may know something about sandisk that I don't.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Of course I can't categorically say it is the card, but the evidence suggests so. Given that you've had issues before I'd certainly recommend trying a different model.
I used to have issues with Sandisk cards in the past and switched to Class 10 Samsung cards (Amazon links on the right) and since then I've not had a single compatibility problem with any device.

May 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I appreciate your time. I used your affiliate link on the right and purchased a Samsung card. I'll update with any new results.

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

VANTRUE WILL SELL TO CUSTOMERS IN AUSTRALIA I'M PLEASED TO REPORT.
I'm in the South Australian outback and I've decided on getting a Vantrue N1 as an improvement to my current camera which is a $40 cheapie, mainly used as a guinea pig trial to learn about dashcam's and see if it interested me. I still travel frequently and regardless of whether the collision was with a Kawasaki or a kangaroo footage of the incident is a nice thing to have.
My choice of the vantrue N1 is greatly influenced by the extreme temps here, the small size is a smaller heat catching profile, the metal heat transference strip and the small battery all work in its favour. I'm not paying for something that I'm expecting to have eventual poor performance from (I've now had the $40 cheapie through all 4+ seasons without trouble, even its battery) and the only foreseeable circumstance within reason for needing a battery is to take a photo of collision damage etc from outside the car anyway in which case I'd use my smartphone. For the same reasoning I think of infra red night lights on dashcams as a joke. My cheapie has 12 of them and they are useless.
I looked on Amazon, found no vendors who'd ship to Australia, left a comment asking for such a vendor and got a response from vantrue itself, some emails later and a deal has been struck, they'd ship it to Australia if I paid the freight (about $23au). I must pleasantly say that responses were prompt, service efficient and courteous. This last point was a clincher for me as it built confidence that if something were to go wrong the support would be there. Some other dashcam manufacturers haven't given the same level of customer support (based on 6 months of seeing reviews etc). I must also say that the email address given me brought up Chinese writing and not English, it isn't a company site it's just an email address. Nonetheless it worked and I got a response (in English). If you look on Amazon America at the vantrue N1 comments you'll see this exchange.
The email addresses are :
vantrue@yeah.net
support@vantrue.net

May 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bourke

Just a followup. My N1's inaugural test was a road trip last week from San Diego to San Francisco for Maker Faire. My suction cup mount power issue self resolved magically and works fine now. Go figure. I also got the e-mail from Joe at Vantrue via Amazon. I upgraded the firmware from EVA05LHNC.160215.V2 to EVA05LHNC.160514.V1. This solved some bugs. For example, before upgrading I was having issues entering the plate number because the numbers/letters changed on both the press and release of the buttons. So I'd get every-other character for each button press. New Firmware fixed it. As far as recording video, it worked great. Thumbs up!

May 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Works great, I like that it has motion detection in parking mode. I pulled the blue bulb out of the charger, it lit up my car when parked at night. Thanks for discount.

May 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Techmoan,

I've been watching your videos for a long time and appreciate your reviews. I finally pulled the trigger on this one after your review and thought it was a great deal with the Amazon code. I figured the video quality seemed superb because the plates were legible! Unlike some other cheap ones before.

The camera was installed last night and I was able to utilize it during my commute to and from work today. After pulling the videos from the SD card and playing them back on the computer... The video quality was very soft in comparison to the ones you've posted as samples. The plates number were only legible if cars were within 3-4 feet in front and the same for street names. The edges of buildings, trees, cars, etc... were all very soft or pixelated where as your samples were very sharp.

I had similar issues with Paul (above commentor) with the scrolling letters. I've also updated the firmware hoping it may resolve other issues as well but it did not.

I'd hate to think that they sent you a different version (Public Relations/Promotional Model) to review and sell a lesser model to the public or maybe just a bad apple out of the crop.

Will be contacting Vantrue about this.

June 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Rick, did you check hour settings to confirm that you were shooting at 1080p?

June 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBroseman

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