Mini Dash Cam Review - I can't recommend this camera as it has not been reliable and the power button gets stuck in the ON position even when the key is taken out of the car.

April 15, 2014
I got one of these ebay special dash cams to try out. I drive a small car and it seems that way too many people just want to run me over no matter what. My other camera required me to charge it and use a bulky mount and I had to turn it on and off manually. In short, these cameras have gotten smaller and cheaper and I can hardwire it to the car and it will turn on and off every time I turn the key. So aside from testing for what settings give me the best videos, and adding a card for recording, there's nothing else I need to do. It just seems to work. So this is what this camera looks like. I got this model because it doesn't use that large bulky suction cup mount. Just a 3M double sided tape on that small square area to hold the camera. This makes it a nice small profile which is hardly noticeable in your car from inside and outside. Prices range from a few cents up to ninety something dollars on ebay, so it depends on what you want to spend or budget allows. The cheap one works fine for now as it stays in the car, at least until they get much better both in the day and night time.


I really like the form factor as it's small enough to fit behind the mirror. There are many different versions and are also more expensive and has better video at 1080p. Mine says that, but the videos are AVI's which I really don't mind since they are smaller anyway. The more expensive camera I believe makes MOV files but they are also larger. You can also remove the higher price one that also has a gps option on it. Mine only has a g-sensor built in and it's not removable once you stick it on which I am fine with it as I just want to leave it there and have it working.

Here's the very first video of it. It came in this box, but it's just a box they sent it to me in. Sorry about the slightly blurry video, I don't know what happened.

Here's my very first daytime video test. The date is wrong and the camera I got had it near the lower left corner which is fine but kind of in the middle and a bit small on this camera which can be good or bad if you don't want to look at it. Mine just happens to be a bit off. I believe I had it at 720 here not the highest resolution, but as you can see it was viewable.

Here's my first night time test...So far it's viewable but not clear as you can't read anything. So these cheaper ones still need a bit of work to make them work better in the low lights. Unless you want to fork out more money for the more expensive one. I almost forgot that the more expensive one also has an LCD built in. These cheaper ones don't, but I'm fine with that as it keeps the inside low key at night and in city lights.

This one is a big more on a darker street with some lights. The number on the top left is just the file number.



Here's a motorcycle to give you an idea of what you can see.

The good thing is that these type of cameras are getting smaller and better in video quality without distracting your view. Depending on your car you can install them behind or near your rear view mirror. It just takes a while to route the wires and actually connect them. Once that's done, the rest is having a monitor you can plug into the video out and change the settings. You can use any laptop with a usb dvr if you don't have an external LCD. My car windshield has a slight blue tint on the top so I installed the camera just below that so I wouldn't see the blue tint. That worked great and the camera is still not noticeable. I also installed it on the driver side of the mirror so I could have easy access to it by just moving the mirror. So far this has worked just right. The last thing I forgot to mention is that the power wires has a small 3A fuse. I wanted to make a note of that here in case it goes out on me one day and I have to replace it.

Here's what the menus on mine look like...


In short, I hope I never ever need it, but it's nice to know it's there.


Here's a review from techmoan. This is the more expensive 1080p version with GPS on it.


Update
May, 3, 2014

After using this for a bit, I have found out that not having an lcd can be a bit of a pain trying to get the settings correctly as you need to plug in a monitor if you don't have one built into your car. So I want to get another cheap one, but I'll look into one with an lcd to test that out. This one works fine, but not having an lcd is both a good and a bad thing. Good because it's very low key, but bad if you have to tweak it a few times before you settle on any settings. You mainly want to stick with 720 as this will give you the longer recording and wider view. other than that it does what you need it to do.

In short, I do hope they come out with a version with blue-tooth so that you can make all the changes you need from an app, now that would be very useful, oh and move the sd card to the side instead of the bottom so it doesn't just drop on you. I'm right handed so I use the button on the left, but you can turn it to the other side and the card would be on the top it seems. Either way, the side slot should solve this problem. I just need to find one without the bulky mount and that just uses a double sided tape to mount it. I'm not sure they have the one with lcd and a stick on mount as I just can't find one. I have only seen the glass suction cup type so that doesn't help. I also want to hard wire it to the other car just like the first one too but the ones with an lcd use a usb cable instead. In short if you want to pay for the more expensive one, then you'll get all of this on it otherwise you are stuck with the cheaper one and no lcd that has everything except an lcd and lower resolution.

June 20, 2014
There is a new version with better night video with a minor audio bug, but they're getting there.


Update
August 24, 2014
I finally got an lcd on my stereo and yesterday when I tried to change the settings on the dash cam I noticed that the button on the end isn't working. This is what has been causing a problem with the camera. Unfortunately I couldn't figure out a way to take it apart when I first got it so I just installed it. Now I have to take it down again and figure out if I can even fix it without breaking it. So I keep an eye on that and check your camera once in a while and not just forget about it an assume it's always working. I found out it wasn't recording.


Update
August 28, 2014
I finally figured out how to take this down without having to take off the mount and also managed to get the button fixed. Apparently it was barely on there and everything is working fine again after I re-soldered the button. The tabs are tiny, but I found that the the reason it would stay on was that you can manually turn on the camera when the car is off and apparently it stayed in that mode when the button got pushed in. So it just kept running and that would have killed the battery eventually. In the end it's working properly again so I'm happy but they do need to really fix these things.


Update
October 13, 2014
I have unplugged this camera. I found it will just stay on even when the key is off. As it turns out, the button gets stuck and I can't use it to turn it off. In short this camera would work fine if the button worked, but even with my fixes it just doesn't. It seems the case doesn't even fit correctly causing this problem. So I have completely unplugged this camera as it just keeps running and draining so it's been more of a headache than anything. I guess I'll wait until better ones come out. Last time I checked it, it wasn't even actually recording, so it hasn't been reliable either.

1 comment:

  1. There is a new version of the more expensive dash cam with better night video, but still a minor bug with the audio as you'll see in the video.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LWOq62cY6U

    ReplyDelete