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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%! 

            

 
« 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)

Yes, the recording settings are set to the following:

Resolution: 1080FHD
Loop: 5 Min
HDR: On

I am using a Samsung 32GB EVO SDHC Class 10 UHS1 U1 Micro SDHC

June 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRick

Unfortunately it sounds like you have a camera with a manufacturing fault. I've heard from a number of viewers who bought the camera using the offer and are very happy, and I can't imagine a factory manufacturing good models for review and bad ones for buyers as they would cost the same to make and all the bad ones would get returned under guarantee as they fail to match up to the demonstrated quality of the reviewed cameras, and this would bankrupt the operation. No one would benefit.
A more likely explanation for the fault you are experiencing is that the lens probably isn't properly aligned...a manufacturing fault....and as long as you have removed the protective plastic film from the lens (I had to ask as it wouldn't be the first time) then I suggest you return it immediately for a replacement.

June 3, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hello again sir, once again thankyou for your helpful reviews & comments.
I now find myself in the position of choosing between the vantrue N1 or taking a punt on the unproven Xiaomi-Yi-Smart-Car-DVR.
My outback circumstances have not changed, nor has my significant feeling of great customer support from vantrue. It's not even much of a price issue as I truly do believe this is a solid product. It's a question of most environmental suitability (outback temps etc). Another reviewer put the Xiaomi-Yi-to a test in an oven heated to a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit), for one hour. The video quality of the unit was significantly hampered but once cooled down the quality of image & performance were at the former standard. That's satisfying to me because our car is kept in a carport out of direct sunlight & is air-conditioned.
The vantrue is a proven performer, my impression is that it has very good video qualities, the Xiaomi-Yi records in a higher resolution on paper, you have reviewed both, does it in fact have at least equal performance?
I'm a great fan of the KISS PRINCIPLE (Keep it simple stupid) and the vantrue N1 is the epitome of this. The Xiaomi-Yi does have troubles, big ones actually eg the latest firmware update on the international version renders the app unusable with the dashcam (use it without the app until it's sorted).
I'm thinking that given the solid performance of the companies other products eg the action cam it's worth a punt, that the troubles the YI has are only teething troubles and will be sorted out.
In your valued, respected & considered opinion which dashcam of the two has the overall better quality footage in typical circumstances, sun in camera, night etc?

June 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bourke

You have to have to remember that a dash cam is only there to capture video of who did what in an accident - so any slight change in image quality will not impact upon this ability.
Both cameras capture clear sharp video in all lighting conditions - the Xiaomi has a slight edge in absolute darkness.
Basically both cameras will do the same job.

June 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thank you sir

June 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bourke

Rick, one rather silly thought. I finally got around to installing the Vantrue today and when looking at the videos, noticed that the videos were horribly blue and terribly soft. I then realized that I had left the protective little bit of plastic over the front lens. Have you removed that bit of film?

June 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBroseman

I finally had some time to download some videos to my PC and found my Vantrue N1 also suffers from tremendous softness. I've posted the sample here. I've contacted Joe at Vantrue to see what they can do. Some tests initially without the camera mounted in the car seemed sharper. I'll need to check more carefully.

The image is particularly soft on the left side a slightly better on the right side. You can tell near the end when my car is parked in the following video. The leaves appear sharper on the right side. Copy the link below and paste into the address bar.

https://youtu.be/sn4G3h9bVYQ

June 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBroseman

A sharpness change from one side of the image to another is the sign of a cross-threaded lens. This was a problem experienced on some keyring cameras in the past. It's a manufacturing fault. I recommend getting it replaced.

June 10, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

In your review you mentioned that there would be a promo code starting June 20th. Do you if that is still the case and if so where could it be found?
Keep up the good work.

June 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercharles

Please re-check the article - new links have been added.

June 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks

June 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

Hey Techmoan, not sure if you remember my situation with the freezing dashcam, but after purchasing the samsung card and ditching the sandisk card, the camera is working perfectly now. Thanks for the tip! Thought you may want to know in case another problem like this comes up!

June 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Firstly I just wanted to say thanks for all your excellent reviews. I've been looking for a dashcam for a while and stumbled across your site a while ago but hadn't seen an item that seemed to meet my criteria. I was looking at the Xiaomi Yi car dash cam but the heat/focus issues put me off along with potential import duties and difficulties with returns if required.

When I saw the review of the Vantrue N1 I was impressed but was only on sale from Amazon.com and they didn't ship to the UK. When I saw it was available from Amazon UK I was a little disheartened to see the higher price meaning it wasn't quite as competitive with the recent offers on cams like the Transcend 200 and 220. When I saw the recent offer codes for the UK I decided to go for it.

First impressions are good but after reviewing more of the footage over the last few days following the commute to and from work I've noticed that the video can be very soft and blurry at times with what looks like lots of compression artifacts. This tends to be a higher speeds along roads where there is a lot of greenery. Pausing the video looks even worse and doing so in an effort to make out a number plate for example shows that it's impossible to read. This is a shame as for the most part, especially at slower speeds around built up areas, or even higher speed on the motorway it's generally very good. In these scenarios pausing the video you can still make out number plates relatively easy.

I can only put the problem down to the bitrate possibly being too low. It just seems like too much is changing too quickly and it's struggling to compress it adequately. I see the bit rate is around 12.6 Mbit whereas on the review of the Vantrue R2 it was around 18.1 Mbit although I appreciate that was a higher res too. However what I also noticed was the R2 had options for video quality (normal, fine, super fine) and in that review it was left on super fine. I don't know if it can be done but I think they could potentially overcome this issue if they were to offer an updated firmware on the N1 which offered similar video quality options as the R2 allowing you to increase the bitrate. I for one would certainly prefer to loose some recording time in order to have higher quality recordings and by having the options it at least gives people the choice.

I'm in two minds about keeping it for this reason as these are the type of roads I travel on the most during my long commute each day.

June 17, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Hello, just FYI I get "The promotional code you entered cannot be applied to your purchase." when attempting to purchase through Amazon US.

June 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

Recently bought N1 from Amazon UK with discount code.
A comment on the connection to the window attachment. When I push the camera onto the window mount it doesn't lock. To make it lock I have to push the release tab and it clicks in and is then quite solid. I wonder if some problems some are having and even the rattling are down to this.
Just a thought.

June 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Hi, as the two discount offers were coming to an end I bought the Vantrue N1 from Amazon UK for £59.99, and also the Nextbase 212 with case & SD Card from Halfords for £48.99. I only intend to keep one & can't decide which as they have very similar features. Any advice please ? Many thanks.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I have never used the Nextbase 212 - so I just don't know.

June 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks for the reply Technmoan. You rate the N1 highly though, yes ? I know it's not very scientific, but going by RRPs of both devices, the Vantrue does seem a more "premium" device ? Any sample footage online seems fairly similar between these two. Similar method for mounting too. Biggest obvious difference is the size of the screen. Anybody any comments on these models or on similar models by the same manufacturers ? Grateful for any thoughts . Thanks again.

June 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRic

I bought this through the Amazon offer, and so far so good. My only problem has been setting the time and date, as each button press seems to skip two units of time, instead of one, so it's impossible to set the correct day and hour etc! Anyone else had this problem - should I try the software update? Matt seems a bit cautious about recommending the update...

June 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

I believe the update does fix that problem...so if your camera firmware is older than the one I've posted...I'd suggest giving the update a go if you feel happy about the process.

June 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

I've just checked the software version, and it seems to already have a version dated 14th May 2016 - 'EVA05LHNC.160514.V1'. Could someone confirm whether this is the most up to date version? If so, I still have the problem where I can't set the date and time accurately...
Otherwise a quality little camera with great video quality.
Thanks, Karl

June 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

I had a similar problem with my first firmware...the easy solution was to hold the buttons to advance the days rather then press them, if you release them at a point near-to or on the number you can get from advancing on even number to advancing odd numbers, so 2,4,6,8 becomes 3,5,7,9 etc...with two mins of trial an error, you'll have the date and time set.

June 30, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Thanks, seems fine today and managed to set time and date with no problems.

June 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

I seems to have be having issues with the N1 like Rick.
I am getting videos like these - very blurry :( or am I being silly?
https://youtu.be/3OWkXtzPEL0
or
https://youtu.be/cDmxmKTHkJY

@Rick, did you have any response from Vantrue? I am going to get in touch too but wondered what they did for you?

July 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJT

My N1 takes great video for the first 15 segments. After that, all the files say they are corrupt or in the wrong format. I tried changing the card but the problem still persists. I have tried finding a email or number for Vantrue for technical help with no success. Any ideas?

September 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I bought this dashcam based on the helpful review on your youtube channel. This is my first dashcam and generally am pleased but I did have an issue with the mount for the camera. after a week or so the camera started flopping around in its mount. It had lost the friction needed to keep it from moving. My solution was a bit drastic but I ended up super glueing it in place where pivot ball is. I am happy with the results thus far.

September 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul R

Hi Techmoan, I have just ordered a N1 today and then watched your video, a very good vid nice and descriptive on the device the best review so far. The reason I purchased the dash cam was because the cheap old one interferes with the FM and DAB radio when it is switched on, so my question is did this dash cam cause interference on your cars?
Hope to here from you soon

Kind regards
Jason

November 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason Forster

Don't worry about replying, received the N1 today and it DOES INTERFERE with Dab radio, I will be sending it back..

November 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason Forster

I was going to say that I've never had any dashcam interfere with the DAB radio in my Mini. It must be something to do with where they put the aerial.

November 27, 2016 | Registered CommenterTechmoan

Hi Techmoan
Thank you for your reply, yes it's been frustrating with the dash cam choice. The wife has a BMW-MINI but without Dab and the old dash cam interfered with the FM radio on hers now remove all ok again. I have a BMW and fitted the aftermarket integrated Dab interface a Autodab unit which Bmw also sell at silly money, at first I thought the problem was with the Autodab so changed the unit under warranty and fitted a new screen mount Dab aerial with still the same result, the power lead was upgraded shielded and choked with a BMW USB cigarette charger. It was only by chance I found it was the dash cam, read a lot of reviews on other dash cams yours being the best so far, so looking at the cobra cams and Trancend as they are FCC rated but saw your review and went for the N1 but it was the same it interfered, the power cable is routed no where near the Dab,Fm aerials but only when you power up the dash cam even with it in my lap with the power cable interference, I have charged phones and portable Dab radio and no interference even touching the Dab aerial with the other devices while charging, Oem equipment does seem to protect against interference. Thinking of trying the cobra ones and hoping they don't interfere. There is a lot of forums complaining about interference with dash cams.
Thank you for listening to my moan 👍

November 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason Forster

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