Thread DetailsLast Edited by CheckYourLights January 22, 2016 at 08:08 PM
First a little bit about me for anyone who cares. A number of years ago I was involved in an accident where someone backed into my car. Thankfully there were witnesses around and I was able to get their information, but this got me thinking. What if no one else was around to see it and the person claimed I hit them, or what if a witness lied or forgot details.
I had a compact point and shoot camera. I bought a Dash mount for it, and it was a mess. It always needed charged. It didn't loop sometimes it didn't focus correctly and footage would be a blur. So I went on Amazon blind. I had no idea what was what. I typed in DashCam, and one of those DVR-027 cameras popped up [This one. Don't buy this ]
I bought it and couldn't have been more excited to get it in the mail. I set it up and it was a horrible experience. The camera had no sound, rough video during the day and useless video at night. I then decided to not buy another camera until I knew what was what. Luckily for I had come across DashCamTalk and took in as much information as I could.
I have been a member for just over three years at this point, and after being burned by that knock off DVR-027 (and a real GS8000 as well) I have developed a bit of a passion for getting good information out about as many cameras as I can get my hands on to help others not go through the same headaches I did.
I have used quite a few cameras. Some I have purchased completely out of pocket. Some I bought at a discount in exchange for an honest review. Some have been given to me by retails to review, and some have been given to me help find bugs and test features before retail release.
As mentioned above I have an honest passion to help other drivers find good cameras that work for them. While I am lucky enough to get cameras for the sole purpose of review I make it a point to never play favorites If I don't like something about a camera I'll make sure to note it.
First up an Abee M7 to look at. I was excited to get a hold of this one because it uses the Novatek 96660.
Video of Menu
Chipset: Novatek 96660
CMOS: 1/3 inch 4.0MP Brand OV4689
Battery: Built-in Lithium 470mAh
USB Plug: Mini
Screen Off: 30 seconds, 3 mins
Loop:2,3,5 Mins (No 1 min)
WDR: Has its own menu setting for Off/On
Parking Mode: On/Off
Emergency Lock: Locks entire loop segment and places it in a separate folder
Audio Chanel: Mono
Audio Codec: MP4A
Audio Bitrate: 96kbps
Video Codec: AVC1
Video Container: MP4
Video Bitrate: 20077kbps (Roughly 20Mb)
Size: 292.7 Mb (Per 2 min file)
Card Used: Gigastone 128GB (GS-2IN1C10128G-R)(Seems to work okay)
Projected Recording Time: 14.5 Hours
I'm sure most members know what a DashCam is, but for those who don't contrary to the name most attach to your window and are a set it and forget it device that record while you drive. Different drivers use them for different reasons. Some like to record trips others use them on the race track as a cheaper alternative to the higher priced action cameras like the GoPro and the third use them to capture every day driving in the case of an accident to have a video of the events that took place.
Why can't I just go and pick up the first one I see?
Up until only a few years ago it was rather hard to find a decent camera. Between confusing information on similar looking cameras, and some sellers being unsure or outright lying about what they sell trying to push cheap junk on to users. Looking for a good camera and not getting ripped off was a hassle. Plus some like the one in my A/V have a few bugs
I'll try to go into a few important basics so that everyone can make sure they get a decent camera while still getting a good deal.
Important specs to look for
When looking for a camera there are many choices. Once you decide what you need in your camera (WiFi, Screen, Resolution,) there are a few things to look for.
First off finding what processor is inside the camera you are looking at is extremely important. A seller may lie about what is inside a camera to try to get you to buy it. There are countless eBay ads and Amazon listings that lie about how good a camera really is.
The most easy give away is that a camera records in.avi. There are only one camera that records in .avi that i know of and is decent. It is the BlackSys CF-100. If you look at a listing and the camera records in .avi it will almost always be a red flag to stay away. These cameras use a cheap processor usually the NT96632 or NT96632 these use interpolation at 1080P at 25FPS and are best used at 720P regardless of what a listing or box says.
The NT96650 can do 1080P and the newly released NT96660 can do 1440P other popular good processors are the Ambarella A7L-A series that are found in cameras that are slightly more expensive then the Novatek NT ones.
Second knowing the CMOS can be important. the Sony Exmor IMX322 tends to provide better night time video then a camera with the Aptina AR0330 found in a lot of those NT96650 cameras. However the NT96650/AR0330 combo provides good video for the money.
A lot of cameras will claim they have night vision. This is really just a buzz word. You should look for a camera that uses WDR or HDR (Wide/High Dynamic Range) If a camera advertises Night Vision or mentions IR LED lights it is a bit of a red flag. IR LED lights will actually make a video look worse because they will reflect off the glass in your car.
Ease of Information
If you are having trouble finding information on a camera then that is another red flag. You should have no problem finding information on a decent camera. Reviews with actual specs in them, clear product information, and lots of video can easily be found if the camera is really worth a look. Some manufactures will try to hide information. They claim it is to protect the product, but a lot of the information is already out there as it is so this is can be seen as an attempt to keep users from finding out that a camera uses lower end hardware. Garmin tends to do this with their cameras.
So what should I buy?
Well this depends on what you need and are willing to spend.
If you just want to get by with the best camera for the least money I would recommend a B40/A118, This camera is rather small and has the NT96650/AR0330 combo.
If you want to look for something a little better look for an Ambarella A7LA50 processor and Omnivision OV4689 CMOS sensor based camera like the Mini 0805. This is another rather small camera with good video, and it can shoot in 1296p
There are of course other cameras that are even better like the Street Guardian SG9665GC that features the Novatek NT96655 and the Sony Exmor IMX322 CMOS sensor making it the best choice if you want the best night video possible.