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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
DR02 D - Best Budget Dual Cam
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%! 

 
Tuesday
Mar272012

A Spy Camera Alarm Clock

The stand-out features of this alarm clock spy camera are its 12 hour recording capability and motion activation. One unusual feature that I didn't highlight in the video is that it's the only continuously-illuminated LED alarm clock that I've come across that runs from battery rather than mains power. I don't know how long the batteries are able to power the clock for, because while the camera power dies after approx 12 hours, the clock keeps running, and it still is, a number of days after I finished my testing. 

Many thanks to Gadgetbuy.com.au for supplying this clock/camera. In addition to this clock, they also sell a wide range of spy devices and gadgets from their Australian online store.

 

Wednesday
Mar212012

Two short and largely irrelevant videos. 

I've uploaded a couple of quick videos in the last few days.

The first is a suggestion for a cheap case that fits the new iPad.
Since I made the video it's been discovered that the reason that auto-wake cases that were designed for the iPad 2 don't wake the new iPad is because the polarity of the magnets inside the new iPad have been reversed. This change to the design was done as smart covers could put the iPad 2 back to sleep if they were folded back underneath the iPad. 

The second video is a look at the accessory kit for the RD32II camera (it also fits some other Redleaf RD camera models). The RD32II is a great camera, but the one thing it needed was some way to attach it to helmets...well this kit is the solution to that problem. It took me quite some time to figure out how the belt attachment worked...so hopefully if you do buy this kit, this video will save you some time.

Sunday
Mar182012

£40 Car Cameras Review 1 of 2

One of the more common email questions I get asked is "What is the best cheap car camera that I've tested?". Well I've only really reviewed two purpose-built car cameras, one was a couple of years ago and really wasn't very good and the other, the V1000GS costs over £100.

In case you are wondering what separates car cameras out from action cameras, well they come supplied with a car mount and more importantly, they auto-start and stop when they receive power from a car 12v power adaptor.  

So given the level of interest, it looks like its about time that I took another look at cheap car cameras to see what is currently available. My aim was to get the most amount of features for a price of no more than£40.  I bought two different HD cameras that fit the bill and the first of what will eventually become two reviews is shown below.

The second camera, has already arrived from Hong Kong, but there are quite a few other things that I need to look at first before I put that review together. As a result, it will most likely be a few weeks before I'll upload the second (and last) of these cheap car camera reviews.

Here's the first video...

Example ebay seller links

This Camera

The Next Camera 

Wednesday
Mar072012

Budget Wireless HDMI Transmission - does it work?

The last time I investigated wireless HDMI transmitter solutions a couple of years ago they only transmitted over line-of-sight and cost well over £500. Fortunately things have progressed and there are now a number of more affordable options available.

Whilst looking (unsuccessfully) for the Raspberry Pi last week on CPC Farnell's site I saw that they had a special offer on a generic no-name transmitter-receiver set for £120 so I picked one up. (This has subsequently returned back to its normal price of £156).

I really wasn't confident that it would work, given the lackluster performance of the first generation devices. You'll need to watch the video to see if my pessimism was warranted or unfounded.

UPDATE - 25/08/12 - You can now buy a self-powered HDMI splitter that works well with this device. Blog entry here.

Thursday
Mar012012

My next camcorder - The Sony HDR-GW55VE

HDR-GW55VE in SilverMy favourite camcorder from all the models that I've owned up till now is the Sony HDR-TG3 (aka the TG1 in the US & Japan) it came out in 2008 and I bought one pretty much the first day it was available. It's a 1080i50 premium quality pocket camcorder.2009's HDR-TG7

The next year, Sony brought out the HDR-TG7 (TG5 in the US and Japan). The upgrades were a Capacitive touch screen rather than the Resistive model of the TG3 and a new on-screen interface, GPS Photo and Video tagging and a slightly redesigned case. Strangely the camera downgraded its 5.1 sound to stereo during the upgrade. I stuck with my TG3, and thought I'd wait for the next year's model instead, hoping for a 1080p upgrade. However 2010 came and went as did 2011, both without an update. The TG7 was subsequently discontinued and I really thought that I had seen the last in the line of these upmarket Sony pocket camcorders. Perhaps, I guessed, that Sony assumed that as now people were recording video with their SLRs, compact cameras, smartphones or their bloggie range, there was no need for a camera like this.

Finally, last month I finally decided I couldn't wait any longer and bought a Sony HX100V superzoom. I needed a camcorder/camera that utilised 2011 rather than 2008 technology. A much wider angle lens, significantly better low light capability, GPS, AVCHD 50p, plus features like sweep panorama and a tilting screen all meant that this camera was the best replacement I could find. After using it for a while I began to wish that Sony had tried to find some way of incorporating this technology into their pocket-friendly TG style case. HDR-GW55VE in Black

Well to my surprise, the 1st March 2012 brought a long overdue and unexpected update. The catchily named HDR-GW55VE. Sony are touting the 5m water resistance as the headline feature of this camera, but to me the big features are all from my wishlist. 1080p 50 AVCHD video at 28Mbps, a wider angle 29.8-298mm lens and 20.4MP stills. Take that last spec with a pinch of salt it's only a 5MP sensor - albeit still a big step up from the old 2MP sensor. Most importantly to me though is the fact that its all still in that gorgeous pocketable case, with the vertical orientation that I insist on in all my camcorders (I explain why this is important at the start of this old video).

So thank you Sony for making my next camcorder, I was beginning to think that you'd forgotten about me.

Update 26 April 2012 It's going to be called the HDR-GW77V in Japan.

Tuesday
Feb142012

The 1080p Jumbo Camera

People have been expecting me to have a look at this camera, so who am I to argue....here is my review. If you want this camera, it's available on Ebay  Price at the time of writing is approximately £38 ($59). 

Moving away from the Jumbo 828 for a minute....I've got to reiterate how much the HD808 #16 camera has improved since my review. I managed to kill off my original #16 camera during testing, so I ordered a new one from  on Ebay and when it arrived I installed the latest released firmware. Everything that I mentioned as being less-than-perfect during my original review of the #16 has been improved/addressed and fixed. If you were to ask me what the best micro HD camera is today I'd have no hesitation in still recommending the 808#16. I really hope that the manufacturers of the #16 manage to find a way to put it into a proper action camera case soon. 

Monday
Feb062012

The Rii Mini Keyboard vs The Lenovo N5902

In this video I decide which of these two HTPC keyboard remotes I like the best. Purely based on the specs, the Rii Mini should have the advantage because of its bluetooth capabilities, however, as is often the case, it's a little bit more complicated than that.

Monday
Feb062012

What's my favourite <insert category> camera?

I often get asked what my favorite cameras are,  so I thought I should put my recommendations in a place that everyone could see. 

Car camera? 

None - I've only tested two purpose built car cameras, one cheap generic model that was supposed to be 720p but was just upscaled 640x480 and the other one, the 1080p V1000GS, worked well for me during testing, but lots of people have since reported big problems with it.

Mini Camera?

The HD 808#16. I may have had a couple of issues with it during my test, but that was  pre-production model. Since then firmware updates have improved and resolved any teething troubles. Second place is the Jumbo 808 - but there is a new 1080p Jumbo model supposed to be on it's way to me and if that does proper 1080p,  has a wider angle lens and a longer battery than the #16, it could claim the number 1 position....stay tuned.

Action Camera?

TIE - The RD32II & The Crocolis Extreme Cam Both produced very good results for me, but both have issues. The Crocolis records totally unusable sound and the RD32II creates video that I can't import into iMovie without re-encoding. Neither are perfect, and your choice depends on what you need to use them for. I haven't tried the GoPro, Stealth or Contour cameras, so I cannot do a comparison with these. If you have the money, you may well be better off with one of these more expensive options.

Pens, watches, sunglasses and other spy cameras?

No idea. I'm not really into spy cameras, it's been a long time since I've tested one and so I can't comment on which is the best.

Wednesday
Feb012012

The Lenovo N5902 HTPC Keyboard Remote

When I reviewed the Lenovo N5901 Keyboard Remote in April 2010, there were very few similar devices to choose from. Back then the Logitech diNovo Mini pretty much had this market all to itself. The diNovo costs £99 and if the user reviews are to be believed, appears to have relibility issues. So when the Lenovo N5901 turned up for less than half the price of the diNovo mini it was a very welcome addition.

However things don't stand still for long and towards the end of 2011 Lenovo released a revised model called (appropriately enough) the N5902. So in this video I'll highlight the differences between the old N5901 and the new N5902 and find out if the new model is a worthwhile upgrade.


IMPORTANT UPDATE 01/02/12 - The USB dongle does infact work on a Mac or a PS3. I stupidly trusted the manufacturer's info on the box and believed that this was a Windows only device.....but surprisingly when I plugged it into the PS3, it worked straight away and even the PS key is mapped to the Windows key. The Mac works equally well. So I apologise for the incorrect info in the video, when the Rii keyboard arrives, I'll be sure to include more information about this undocumented feature in that video, together with a demonstration.  

Sunday
Jan222012

Using the 3G ZTE MF10 WiFi router to solve a broadband problem

Its a good job that I like trying to solve problems....because I seem to do a lot of it. Latest problem...find a cheaper alternative to my father's current broadband setup. His current ADSL connection is only running at 800kbps due to the old copper phone lines on his street. It also disconnects regularly due to interference on the line. He is a very light internet user so data caps and limits are not a concern...but I'd like him to have enough allowance to download security and operating system updates to his PC without concern. This sounds like an easy enough problem to solve....except for the conditions. 

1) No software or drivers must be required on his PC..because it runs Ubuntu and attempting to troubleshoot Linux is my idea of hell. So an Ethernet connection is required. 

2) It should 'just work' - requiring no additional connection steps by the user. 

3) Avoid using his old rusty crackling phone lines. 

Well, luckily for me, Three Mobile stores in the UK have recently started selling the ZTE MF10 home 3G Wifi and Ethernet router. This was the piece of the puzzle that enables me to slot all the other pieces into place. So in theory I can now use 3G Broadband in the home, in the same way that a normal wired ADSL connection was used previously.

So the question is, does is work and is it as simple to set up as just plugging all the pieces together and turning it on? Watch my short demonstration video to find out. 

 

....If you've seen the clip above, you'll see that it does work and it works well. Of course all this relies upon having a good strong 3G signal. Assuming that you do, and your usage falls within the limits there are some other reasons why you might want to go down this route rather than the traditional wired alternative. 

Firstly there is no need for a monthly telephone line rental, you could disconnect your phone entirely. There is no 'installation fee' there is no need to wait in all day for an engineer to turn up in a van. You can relocate it in seconds (within the UK) and you aren't tied into long agreements....etc etc. 

Now of course prices could go up in the future, but they could also go down.  However I think it's more likely that as the average user consumes more and more data per month, the low data user will benefit from cheaper costs per GB.

Anyway, I hope this has given you something to think about. I still need my 50 meg connection. But for those people who just want to stay connected at a low cost and with minimal fuss, this seems like a good option.

Sunday
Jan082012

The RD32II 1080p .h264 Sport Cam

 

General

This video took a lot longer than I anticipated, but here it is. I've uploaded part 1 in 720p and part 2 in 1080p. This was to avoid oddballs asking what was the point of doing a 720p review of a 1080p camera (as happened with my Extreme camera review). However this isn't really a solution to the problem because Youtube's 720p and 1080p video both bear very little relation to the footage that was originally shot by the camera.

I've converted the video and then editied it and then converted it again and then uploaded it to youtube which converted it again - you can therefore appreciate the fact that the footage you see on youtube doesn't really do justice to the quality of the originals. For example, the Youtube clips start off jerky and then smooth out after a few seconds...the originals of course don't do this.

This isn't a unique problem, if you read any photography magazines they are reviewing multimegapixel cameras and printing credit card sized sample shots on low dpi paper. Car magazines don't let you test the car out, AV magazines try and describe sound quality etc etc.... So like those examples all I can really do is give you an indication of the quality, not a direct demonstration of it.

As I mentioned in the video - the .h264 avi files created by this camera could not be imported into my iMovie so I had to spend a day converting them using MPEG Streamclip into .mp4 files. This was a major inconvenience and something that will probably stop me from using the camera again in the future. Now I'm using a Mac with iMovie. I haven't tried these in Final Cut or any PC editing package, so they may import fine into other editing packages.

Downloadable Test Clips

Therefore  to enable you to test out the original footage from this camera with your own editing packages or just play back some unmolested clips - I have uploaded a few short clips. These are all 1920x1080p 30fps clips you can download them here.

If you just want my opinion and all you want to do is film clear sharp HD footage and don't want to edit it on a Mac in iMovie, then I would strongly recommend this camera. I know that I mentioned the footage had a blue tinge, but unless I had put it up side by side with the Extreme cam, I don't think I'd have noticed it and I also wouldn't have noticed how much more vibrant the colours were on the RD32II either. The footage is very smooth without a dropped frame in sight and the sound quality is totally acceptable for a camera of this sort.

More Info

If you want to see the Camera on the Manufacturer's page here is a link. You can look at the specifications here, which tell you things like you can fit 41 mins of 1080p or 720p 60 video on a 4GB card, the recording battery life is 2.5hrs (it's 1.5 with the torch lit at the same time), charge time is 3 hours and the camera weighs 86g.

Photos

I'm really taken with the 5MP fisheye photos too, they can turn out surprisingly well. My technique when taking a photo is to take four or five shots of each scene, pointing the camera at a slightly different angle each time. When I get home I download the photos and choose the best framed picture of each scene. It reminds me of the days of getting films developed and hurriedly flicking through the envelope of photos hoping that I managed to get a good shot or two - but without all the expense. I've uploaded a gallery of photos from this camera here.

Where can you buy one.

I've seen this camera on sale for about $145 or £90 including shipping (budget for import duties too) which seems a little bit high, although it's early days - something like £75 would seem even more right. Whatever you do though, don't get it mixed up with the original RD32, that one takes 720p mjpeg video and isn't a patch on this. Look out for .h264, 1080p and laser mentioned in the specs- and don't expect it to always be called the RD32II either. 

Places I've found selling this camera are below (Dealextreme also sell the mounting accessory pack).

Ebay

Yellow Camera At Dealextreme 

Black Camera at Dealextreme

The Accessory Pack at Dealextreme 

Part 1 and 2 of the review are below - but view these full screen in HD to get a better idea, and don't try to view the 1080p versions on an old computer unless you have a fire extinguisher at the ready.

 

 

UPDATE: 15/01/12 Importing the Video into editing packages - For iMovie users, you may want to try out a piece of software that was suggested to me by a reader - FLVCrunch, an easy way to convert the files into MP4s which can then be imported into the Apple editing package. Also look in the youtube comments for people reporting back with their results when using other software - the clips from this camera are reportedly working fine with Windows Live Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere and Vegas 9.0b.

UPDATE: 17/01/12 I've had a few requests for downloadable 720p 60fps Clips - which is understandable as youtube can only display 30fps as can my editing package. So ..here is a link to a single clip (24mb)....and here is a zip file containing that clip and another five as well (173mb). If your computer is anything like mine, you may only get the full 60fps effect if you view these full screen. 

UPDATE: 01/03/12 Dealextreme now stock this camera & The Accessory Pack (Essential for mounting it to things other than a bicycle) Links have been added to the sellers section above.