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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%! 

 
Friday
Jul012011

1st July Random Update

ACT20 Sample Files

A couple of people have asked for samples of the files from the ACT20 camera to see if these work with their editing package. So I've put a couple of clips - one 7 seconds and one 15 seconds in a dropbox folder (the reason that the audio fades is because my thumb covered the microphone hole).

Right click and save these files to your computer

File 1   File 2 

HD808 #11

The chaps behind the HD808 #11 Micro HD camera got in touch with a nice email. 

They explained their company consists of eight stores on ebay

 eletoponline365   hxelepro360   digitalele889   beetleonline 

power-gps     eletech086    internet-shop365    powerdigital898 

They have a few new styles of keyfob incorporating the same HD808 innards -but with a larger 100-120 min battery and a 'better quality car charger' 

It's clear from their email that they are both the sole manufacturer and reseller of these cameras. That explains why these aren't available anywhere other than eBay. 

I replied to them with a list of requests for any future new models…

My list was as follows;

Flashlight/Bullet Camera Shape

Water Resistant/Water Proof Case

Long Battery Life (2hr+)

Fisheye/Wide Angle Lens (120 Degree)

Optional Cycled Recording

 ……and they responded with 

 "yes,we're planing to make different shapes in the future,and we're improving this HD camera steps by steps"

So keep your eyes on these people. I really like the h.264 .mov encoding on their HD808 camera….even more so, now that I've used a couple of jerky, stuttering, frame dropping .avi mjpeg cameras.

Chinavaison

I've also been contacted by Chinavaison - a China based wholesale retailer that always seems to be the first to get the latest and greatest gadgets. They asked if I wanted to review something for them……. so of course it's on it's way to me. I won't spoil the surprise, but it's the kind of gadget that would make a really good gift. I'll put a review together when it arrives. 

Hopefully this will be the start of a collaboration  - I can quite happily browse their site for hours looking for ideas for things to review, so getting the occasional item for free would really help. Co-incidentally, the week before they contacted me through the site, I'd ordered something from them to review. It's currently on my wrist, telling the time (amongst other things…..) review will follow of course.

That Other Upcoming Helmet Camera review

The other helmet camera that I'm reviewing will take me a while - but unfortunately it already seems to have serious frame rate issues, as well as one really unusual problem. It's a shame, because there is a lot to like about it as well. I'm going to give it a fair crack of the whip, before I commit anything to youtube. 

One More Thing..

There will however be one new review uploaded this weekend - I just need to get James May or Ringo Star in to do the voiceover....

Tuesday
Jun212011

The ACT20 Action Camera

My review of this camera was negatively coloured by the fact that I couldn't edit or convert the footage using my Mac.  I edit all my Youtube videos using iMovie on my Mac and not being able to properly utilise the original footage from this camera meant that I couldn't do an accurate video review.

There is definitely something non-standard about the .avi files created by this camera - however after I posted this video review, I tried editing the footage on my PC in a trial version of Power Director 9 and it worked without a hitch. 

So unfortunately this camera is still not ideal for me - but if you use a PC as your main machine, this camera might possibly be just what you are looking for.

To me, the main headline feature of this camera is the fact that it can record for 3 hours on one charge. The HD808 can only manage about 45 mins and then often stops recording after only a handful of minutes (for reasons that I really can't determine). If I ride my motorcycle to work it's a 2 hour round-trip, so for the moment I'll be using the ACT20 as an incident camera - attached to my helmet. I'll set it to loop-record continuously (in 20 min segments) and I'll only pull the footage off the camera if I need to use it for some kind of evidence.

I think when I make my next video review when my new action camera arrives from Dealextreme, I'll give the ACT20 a bit more screen time to redress any disservice that I may have done to it in this video.

UPDATE: I've decided to add a brief clip below of some car footage with the original soundtrack intact so that you can get an idea about the camera's sound quality. I've also noticed that this camera drops a heck of a lot of frames. From my examinations, some seconds of video only consist of 21 individual frames with the other 9 frames being made up of duplicates. So if you notice the video stuttering or think that the motion seems unnatural, this is the reason.
Sunday
Jun122011

The Video Message Machine

In today's second update, I present to you The Video Message Machine. I had high hopes for this - thinking it would be a fun novelty that might actually see some use. Unfortunately it turned out to be completely useless, purely because of its poor implementation.  

All a device like this needs, is a nice clear screen, three big round colour coded buttons labeled Record, Play and Delete,  a bright flashing light to show that an un-played message is waiting, and good clear sound. The 'Message Machine' has none of these.

If this had been any good, I'd have made a bit more effort with the review - and properly show all the features, but since it's useless I decided to cut the review short. There was no point in wasting any more of your time or mine.

Anyway, below is a video review of something you shouldn't buy…. and here's where you shouldn't buy it from (and no longer can).

 

Sunday
Jun122011

A useful (& cheap) Camera Clamp

It's been a whole month since I updated the site. The problem has been that I will only post an update when I think I have something worth sharing, and for a number of weeks I haven't bought anything remotely interesting (to me or to others).

Even this post is only about a flipping Camera Clamp - and how exciting is that? 

Well, over the next few weeks I hope to have a few more interesting things to share, but in the meantime, if you want a camera clamp like the one shown in the video below and you live in the UK….. follow this link to CPC Farnell. You may be able to buy this from other retailers too. The only reason I bought mine here is because they are a 30 minute drive away from my house so I can avoid p&p.

  

 

Monday
May092011

The Sanyo VPC-PD1 - The best value pocket HD camera (AFAIK).

I’ve always been very interested in 3D and therefore managed to convince myself that the Sony MHS-FS3 would be a good first 3D camera for me to experiment with. I decided that even if I ended up rarely using the 3D functionality – it would still be a good pocket HD video camera anyway.

So I waited patiently for the camera to come out. Eventually, five months after the camera was first shown at CES, 3D footage shot by early adopters in Japan started to appear on youtube. Unfortunately it looked terrible, shaky, out of focus, washed out and blocky.

 

So I quickly cancelled my £220 pre-order for the MHS-FS3 and decided instead to go on a hunt to find the pocket HD camera that offered the best bang for the buck, and I think I found it in the £70 Sanyo VPC-PD1.  

I bought this camera without reading any reviews – this wasn't by choice, I just couldn’t find any. However it turns out that this camera is better known as the VPC-PD2 in the rest of the world, it came out in the last quarter of 2010 but appears to have been largely ignored or forgotten about. This may be a result of its initial high price point of £200. At that price it may be a difficult sell, even taking into account the camera’s additional features over it's competition. However when it is re-evaluated at the discounted price of approx £70 (eBay), it offers outstanding value for money. Video review below.

 

UPDATE 09/05/11

A couple of links.... 

The PDF Manual on the German Sanyo Website

A 2 minute montage of 1080p clips posted on YouTube (this was a special request - Be aware that your computer will need to have some serious horsepower to play 1080p Flash video smoothly).

 

Saturday
May072011

HD808 #11 The Story So Far

The chaps on the RC Groups forum have got hold of another firmware for the HD808 camera and I thought I should post it up here. It's been a while since I did my video review of the HD808 camera so it also seems like a good opportunity to tidy things up a bit.

Firstly, No I didn't brick my camera. When I made the video I thought I had, but it turned out that it only looked that way, I brought it back to life and it's still working today. 

My original review and accompanying text are here  (details of some retailers are included here as well)

Secondly, If you want to know all about the 808 Cameras in general, there really is only one place you should go, and that's Chuck Lohr's excellent 808 website. If you can't see an answer to your question there - then you are asking the wrong question. 

Thirdly, I mentioned this in the review and must give credit where it is due….There is a massive thread on the RCgroups forum all about the HD808 camera. This is where I've downloaded all the firmwares from and the diligent and detailed work these enthusiasts have collated on the HD808 is amazing. If there are any more developments with firmwares for these cameras, this is where you will find out about it first.

Finally, I've re-organised my firmwares and they are linked below….if any more turn up, I'll add them to the bottom of this post. Note that firmwares 2-4 are iterative…i.e. FW2 removes the time-stamp, FW3 removes the time stamp and adds continuous recording, FW4 removes the time stamp, has continuous recording, and reduces the flashing brightness that was very evident under certain lighting conditions. 

The instructions for upgrading the firmware are as follows…

I suggest you use a card reader and a fully charged camera.

Download and extract the zip file. Get the file called "FW96630A.BIN" and copy it to the root of your memory card. Put the card in the camera. Tap the On button and then wait for the yellow light to come on, this should take about 5 seconds. Turn it off again and remove the card from the camera and then delete the "FW96630A.BIN" file from the memory card and put your card back in the camera - that's it.

I have tested all these firmwares on both my HD808 cameras without any issues - but remember that Flashing your firmware has a risk attached to it - it could go wrong and you could break your camera. Many have succeeded but some have failed..

 

FIRMWARES

ALL FIRMWARES NOW DELETED FROM MY SITE

(Too many people were reporting errors with these firmwares - so I've removed them)- Please get any Firmwares directly from the RC Groups Forums instead - Links Below 

 

UPDATE - 20 MAY 2011 

There have been some new firmware developments on the RCGroups Forum. Rather than repost these again - I'd prefer to link everyone to the source. The people over on the RCgroups forums are able to provide a lot more information, detail and ongoing support regarding the HD808 camera than I could hope or want to do.  I really prefer to review a device and move on to something else - rather than continually revisiting and revising. So I suggest that from here on in you keep your eye on the RCgroups forum  for future updates on this camera - and here is the link to today's new firmware.

You can see a video of a successful firmware update below.

 

 

Saturday
Apr162011

"The Smallest 720p Camcorder in the world"

After being impressed with the 720p HD 808 #11 camera I decided to see if I could find another mini 720p camera, but one that wasn't designed as a covert spy camera. It's still early days for mini HD cameras and the choices are limited but I found a few Chinese eBayers selling a camera called the Y3000. I thought this camera would be an interesting one to compare with the HD808 because the 808 records its video in the .mov format whereas the Y3000 records as .avi. This meant that the cameras were definitely different internally from one another.

The design of the Y3000 is clearly a copy of the Chobi Cam One Camera, albeit with a number of improvements, the most notable of which is HD rather than VGA recording. I was interested to find out if the lens on the Y3000 could be swapped with one of the optional Wide Angle or Fisheye lenses designed for the original Chobi One.

When the specs are compared against the HD808, the most notable difference is that the Y3000 features cycled recording. This means that the camera splits its recordings into short file segments, in this case 3 minutes, and then re-records over the oldest file whenever the memory card is full. Depending on your requirements this could be either an essential or an undesirable feature.

[EDIT] - Now available from Dealextreme - Product Link Here for approx £27

or eBay here -

I suppose most people just want to know if this is a better camera than the HD808. Well it's a little bit less clear cut than that, so I'll try and present the case for both cameras and let you make your own mind up.

My video review is below.

I've got a gallery of re-sized pictures taken with the camera HERE

Below are a few thumbnails of these pictures which link to FULL SIZE unmodified originals.

 

HOW TO CHANGE OR DELETE THE TIME STAMP (info provided by Bob in the comments - thanks Bob)

To set the time and date of the Y3000 you have to put a text file in the root of the SD card. The name of the file must be TIME.txt.

The content of the file is a string of text like this:

2011.11.25 08.12.00 Y

This means "set the current time and date to 25th November, 2011, 8:12am, and ("Yes" ) show the date".

If you were to put instead

2011.11.25 08.12.00 N

This means "set the current time and date to 25th November, 2011, 8:12am, and ("No" ) don't show the date".

So, open notepad, write the string, save to the root of the SD card as "TIME.txt". Put the SD card in the Y3000 and power on the Y3000. That's it.

Tuesday
Mar292011

A look at the Mira Ball Message Display Globe

This is a review that very nearly didn't happen. 

I remember seeing the Olympia Infoglobe many years ago, but wasn't able to buy one as it didn't make it to the UK and the US model didn't work with the UK phone systems. I suppose that disappointment must have been at the back of my mind when I ordered the Mira Ball from Hong Kong. For some reason I wanted one, but I didn't know why. I can now say that after struggling with it for a few weeks, I am now officially over it.

The problems with the Mira Ball were numerous. The software needs Windows XP to run, (it wouldn't install on Windows 7). The pictures the Mira Ball displays are a maximum of 24 pixels tall in  .BMP format and using a primary colour palette.  When I started to look for interesting images that matched this criteria I drew a blank. I don't have sufficient talent to  draw my own pictures. I also wanted to show some animations - but again the only images I could find were animated GIFs, usually in the wrong dimensions and the wrong colour palette.  I tried to convert these, mostly without success.  

In the end, I spent far too long messing about trying to find something interesting to put on the device for the mediocre results that I achieved. The juice just wasn't worth the squeeze.

I nearly deleted the footage I'd shot for this review without editing it, but in the end decided that I should have something to show for the amount of time I'd spent - so here it is. A brief look at a device that I really shouldn't have bought.

 

 

Monday
Mar282011

Why your iPad needs a Matte Screen protector

Recently I dropped my aluminium Apple remote onto my iPad screen. It tore a hole in my screen protector. The iPad's screen itself was undamaged but I was still absolutely gutted, why? Well when I had applied the screen protector a number of months earlier I'd managed to do it perfectly, straight and with no dust or bubbles. This was a feat that I thought I might not be able to repeat and my misgivings were well founded.  The next day I attempted to apply my spare screen protector, completely messed it up and ended up throwing it away.

I decided to make do and use the iPad commando style - and experienced a miserable couple of weeks with the original unprotected glossy screen. The glass screen just felt wrong, fingers seem to squeak across it rather than slide on top, games were made more difficult, fingerprints were everywhere and most distracting of all - the reflections. Oh the reflections, if I wanted to look at my own face all the way to work, I'd stare at my train pass. My iPad had become much less fun and was bordering on being unusable in some situations.

So finally I couldn't stand it any more, I bit the bullet and ordered another screen protector. The same model as before - a Mediadevil Matte Magic Screen Protector. Hopefully this time I'd be able to apply it correctly, the future of my iPad/sanity depended on it. 

Find out how I got on in the video and see for yourself what a difference a matte screen makes.

 

Thursday
Mar172011

The Dotklok (a fun piece of Clock-Art)

I splashed out on a clock called the Dotklok. I bought this via Etsy.com and this was the first time I'd come across this website. 

It tuns out that Etsy.com is a website set up for small business people to advertise and sell their own products to individual buyers. It reminded me of a massive arts and crafts fare, but with cooler stuff for sale and instead of each stall holder getting a small booth or a table, they get a professional looking webpage with proper payment facilities.

I bought the Dotklok as soon as I heard about it, fully expecting the boot of Atari's lawyers to stamp down on the sale of a clock that can tell the time via a game of Pong© (™). This hasn't happened yet (and I hope it doesn't), the Atari brand has changed hands so many times, they have probably forgotten who owns what anyway.

Since the demand is there why don't the people who own the Atari rights, licence someone to make official Pong Watches and Clocks  - I'd buy a Pong watch tomorrow. The idea of telling the time using a game of pong is a stroke of genius, it's such a perfect concept, it's fun, retro and practical, all at the same time….and at the moment, it's a missed opportunity.

Anyway, click through to see my hands-on look at the clock, I wouldn't really call it a review because I'd already made my mind up about it before I bought it.

 

Sunday
Mar132011

My £50 alternative to the GoPro HD

I wanted to find a way to mount an HD808 keyring camera to my motorcycle that didn't involve using duct tape. I'm not very good at making things, and therefore have to instead rely on repurposing off the shelf ready-made products.  

I ended up utilising a couple of Microphone holders and the end result is surprisingly effective. 

Before anyone says it, yes I know that this isn't anywhere near as good as a proper GoPro HD Hero, it doesn't do 1080p or 720p 60fps, it doesn't have a 170 degree fisheye lens and the battery life is poor. It does however cost about a fifth of the price......