23 July, 2017 - After a few weeks of everyday use some quirks in this device have become more apparent. My earlier review is still relevant, but these additional items have caused me to reduce my rating; mainly because they impact (in my opinion, anyway) the safe use and...
23 July, 2017 - After a few weeks of everyday use some quirks in this device have become more apparent. My earlier review is still relevant, but these additional items have caused me to reduce my rating; mainly because they impact (in my opinion, anyway) the safe use and overall usefulness of this product.
The most irritating aspect is that the unit just turns itself on with the slightest motion. Even with the ''motion sensing'' feature turned off. When taking the camera off the windscreen, I first turn it off. It turns back on as I remove the suction mount, and again as I store it away in the console. When I get into my car each morning to go to work, I can hear the dashcam''s ''power on'' tone from inside the console. This isn''t a BIG deal, but it is somewhat annoying that the unit seems to be reacting as though the motion sensor is still enabled.
On the flip side, and even MORE annoying, is when the unit turns itself off after I''ve begun my trip. This doesn''t happen a lot - maybe one trip in twenty - but I won''t fiddle with the thing while I''m in motion, so I have to wait until I''ve stopped, or pulled over to the side of the road - to turn it back on. The camera has a ''screen-saver'' setting that''s supposed to turn the rear display off after a few moments, but I''ve never enabled that feature, and confirmed that it''s still off, so the camera really is simply powering off.
I purchased the GPS unit for this dashcam. I like the additional information it adds to the output video. It''s a bit slow to acquire a satellite connection - 3 to 5 minutes is the average, but other than that it works quite well.
The camera is really flaky when transferring video files to your computer and you can actually lose files. It happens when you leave the SD card in the camera, and you use the ''mass storage'' option to connect computer and camera. The camera will power itself off after a few moments, and if you happen to be transferring files when it does, the active file will disappear from the SD card, and won''t be on your computer. To safely transfer video files, remove the card from your camera, and use a card reader to insert it into your computer. Then you can safely transfer files over.
All-in-all, I still like the device, but I no longer look at it as ''a great camera at an exceptional price''. Now it''s more like ''well...I got what I paid for''.
===== Original Review =====
I''m normally pretty dubious about ''Brand Name'' tech goods that come at a bargain basement price, especially on Amazon, where knockoffs and shoddy goods abound. However, the camera was the same price on the Amcrest website, so I decided to give it a try.
At unboxing, I was surprised at the very small size of the camera unit, and I couldn''t imagine that such a tiny device was capable of the listed specs. The camera came with the windscreen mount, a USB cable, a micro-SD card (16GB), a cigarette-lighter style power cable, a manual and a quick-start guide. There was supposed to be a rubber washer that went on the windscreen mount locking nut, but that was nowhere to be seen. Right out of the box (after installing the SD card), the camera powered up and began recording. I plugged it into my computer, and the camera immediately recognized it was plugged in. It offered me the option for ''Mass Storage'', and by selecting that option, Windows opened an Explorer window. The camera saves it files as .MOV by default, so the built-in Windows media player could handle them easily.
When mounted on my windscreen the wide angle lens takes a bit of getting used to. In the center of the screen objects appear to be very far away until you get very close. I couldn''t see stoplights until I was right under them, and then it was difficult to determine the color of the light. The camera captures both posts at the edge of my windscreen, and what appears to be an overly large portion of my vehicle''s hood. The distortion that is inherent in wide angle lens'' becomes more apparent as you pass them - overhead bridges, walkways, powerlines, etc., begin to curve down at the edges of the screen. I was concerned at these aspects, but as it turned out, these are due mainly to the very tiny display on the camera; once I played the video files back on my computer the picture was bright, sharp, and what couldn''t be distinguished on the camera''s rear display became readily apparent when played back on a larger monitor. The wide-angle distortion I was so concerned with was hardly noticeable during playback, and I quickly forgot about it.
The controls are a bit dicey to use while you''re driving, until you get used to them. The manuals aren''t very good at explaining all of the features; I was looking for a graphic that explained what the on-screen icons represented, but that doesn''t exist. Reading the manual through a couple of times will help you infer what they''re for, though. I definitely won''t be messing with the control buttons much while driving!
The Wide Range Balance feature works fairly well, but it does have some issues when heading into the sun. I did notice that brightly lit clouds overhead are somewhat washed out, and this bleeds down into the scene on the ground, even when the sun wasn''t in the picture. However, the video was still very sharp and clear enough that I could read license plates and street signs during playback.
The only real negative I can see with this device is when you choose to remove the camera from your vehicle when you leave it. The only way to attach the camera to the windscreen mount is to screw it on, and then ''lock'' it down via the locking nut. It would have been nice if the two pieces fit together via some kind of clamp mechanism that made the camera easier to remove without disturbing the orientation of the windscreen mount. Carrying the camera by itself away is easy; it''s so small it fits into a pocket or carrying bag. The camera plus the mount is a much different story. Plus you have to reorient the camera every time you want to record your trip. I don''t really want to leave the camera in place during the day due to the intense Florida sun and the heat in the windscreen area - not too certain the camera can withstand that kind of heat buildup.
When I purchased the device, it too came with the outdated firmware. As other reviewers have pointed out, finding the firmware update on the Amcrest site is NOT easy. Once I found the download, though, flashing the camera was pretty easy and straightforward. The instructions tell you to remove the SD card from the camera, copy the .bin file onto the card, reinstall it into the camera and turn it on. When the camera eventually powers back on, use the camera controls to delete the .bin file. I did it a little differently; with the camera powered on and plugged into my computer, I initiated the mass storage option which opened a Windows Explorer file folder view. I copied the .bin file into the folder, and powered the camera off. After unplugging it from my computer, I powered it on and the camera flashed the new firmware in less than 10 seconds. I turned the camera off, and removed the SD card in order to use Windows to delete the .bin file. Unfortunately, Windows reported that the disc was corrupted, and offered to repair it. After the repair, the .bin file wasn''t there any longer, so apparently Windows didn''t like the .bin file for some reason and deleted it. The disc worked fine after putting it back into the camera, however, so it worked out. Next time, though, I''ll follow the manufacturer''s instructions.
Notwithstanding, I like this device very much; so much, in fact, that I decided to purchase the GPS unit that goes with the camera. I''ve been lucky over the years, and haven''t been involved in any crashes. Lately, though, several near misses where other drivers ran red lights, stop signs, and ignored yield signs caused me to decide to pull the trigger and purchase a dashcam. I''m very pleased at the quality of the camera itself and the video it produces; I think it''ll serve me well should I ever need it. I may even decide to purchase a second unit to handle rear-view duties.
No ''free or reduced cost in exchange for my review'' here. I paid the full price listed on Amazon for this device, and my views and opinions are my own, based on my use of the device. I hope these experiences will help you as you shop for a dashcam.