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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I purchased a dashboard camera two days ago at a truck stop on one of my cross-country treks.

I thought it would be fun to play with, and Lord knows I see such incredibly bad driving in front of me....I'm sure I'll eventually capture some Youtube-worthy footage-- Like this:


I'm planning a full article on 'em, but wanted to get a few notes down before I forget:

Key features to CONSIDER:

Does it automatically turn itself on/off when you start the motor?
Does it have a built in screen, or are you FORCED to connect it to a PC to view anything?
Does it have an ACCIDENT button you can easily press to secure the recordings?
Does it have an EVENT button you can press to mark/store interesting stuff you see en route?
Does it have a G-sensor to halt recordings if an impact is detected, god forbid?

Is GPS annotation important to you? Voice?
Does it have enhanced IR / Night vision capability?
A super-wide angle lens MIGHT catch a driver drifting into your lane..
Does it have a second, rearward facing camera?

How impossible are the instructions to understand. Read the Amazon reviews and you'll see LOTS of models have utterly incomprehensible instructions--- including the one I bought...

The units I've evaluated ranged from $3.99 (an App for the Iphone) to $299 --- a top of the line model. Mine cost $99, $79 with mail in rebate at Love's fuel stops, and has MOST of the important items above.

The $3.99 iPhone app is missing key features, of course, like auto start-stop.

Every Chinese electronics mfr and their brother is in the dashcam business (hundreds of offerings on Amazon), and most of 'em REALLY suck. As always, actually learning how to USE it is as important as features and buttons. As far as I can tell NONE of the fully-featured ones are easy to use...yet!

I had to pull over to the side of the road and review the impossible-to-understand directions a half dozen times. And I STILL do not know how to manually LOCK the files when a non-G force accident occurs -- probably the single most important thing I need to know!

I have ALMOST got the seven different buttons figured out and the very specific order in which they must be pushed to accomplish certain tasks.

More later....
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Addendumb: The most expensive units include image stabilization. But to READ a license plate on the recorded video you need (at least) 60 frame-per-second. (When you freeze video it's blurrier than a still photo and the fisheye lens doesn't help matters any. Suggestion: VOICE annotate the license #....

Most units offered TODAY will only do 30fps at 1080P, have to step down to 720 to get 60fps.

Night vision, IR is...basically impossible. Some units have IR diodes mounted on them, only problem being is that a glass windshield blocks IR. So you can forget about getting usable video at night.

I've read the Amazon reviews on the Garmin, Cobra, and a half dozen others. None of these dang things passes muster. ALL of them have serious QC problems and bad manuals. Lots of issues with SD cards, overheating in parked cars, not correctly overwriting files once the SD card fills up.

At this point in time I would suggest getting the $3.99 Iphone (or Android) app, a windshield mount, and using that until a newer, more reliable, better thought out generation of dashcams becomes available.
 

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I'm planning to buy this thing next spring

http://store.driftinnovation.com/drift-stealth-2

..unless an even better model comes to market before then.

I like it because it is very small & weatherproof right out of the box. No need to stick it in a waterproof case unless you want to take it underwater.
It has wifi connectivity, so you can use your smartphone to review videos (nice big screen!) & also to frame/compose the camera placement. I like this better than a unit that has a built-in display because, well you can't even SEE the built-in display when it's attached to your helmet... How would you set proper camera angle, other than asking someone else to look at the display for you?
It has the "endless loop" DVR mode that records a looping video, and only "saves" stuff AFTER you press the save button, so yes you should be able to capture any event that the unit saw during your trip.
It also has a remote available that you can strap to your wrist.

So far it's the front-runner of models I've been reviewing.

I know GoPro is the industry benchmark, but I just don't like the boxy format, and they're DAM expensive too! May they do take the best video quality, but the price is unreasonable (for my needs)
 

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Lead Astronaut
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405 Posts
Another feature some cameras have are automatic accident detection. No idea HOW they detect it, but it exists.

So you can forget about getting usable video at night.
Sony current makes the best cmos for quality night/dark video recording. I think it's the new Exemor or Exmor sensor or something like that, apparently the night vision on it is extremely good.

Been thinking about getting a dashcam as well that I can swap between my truck and the bike. Maybe after xmas I'll finally pull the trigger.

Dan
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Another feature some cameras have are automatic accident detection. No idea HOW they detect it,

Dan
Ahh, that's what the G force sensor does. Any acceleration/decel in any direction over "X" G's and it will halt the endless loop recording.

Typical auto accident is 10-200G's.

Apparently if you hit a deep enough pothole you can trigger it.

Since the Iphone has a g-sensor, it conceivably COULD mimic this feature of a dashcam, but it will never have auto start/stop unless someone builds a box to send a bluetooth signal to it from the auto cigarette lighter...

It seems to me Hero is in the BEST position to offer a dashcam conversion option, accessory kit, whatever.

What I find is that:

Ease of use
Simplicity of Setup & Controls
Quality of Instructions - you shouldn't NEED any!
Reliability and Quality of construction
Operating environment...like a 150+ degree car parked in Phoenix summer sun
or Canadian deep freeze...
Accepting a wide variety of SDHD cards or CLEARLY indicating to consumers those which WILL work. One model reportedly makes it "quite difficult" to eject the card!

just aren't there yet on ANY dashcam, including the $300 Garmin. Even the quality of video isn't there YET if the consumer cannot discern a license plate in the recording. Thing should take a still photo every 1/2 second to supplement the video, if necessary.

And those are ALL things Hero has mastered.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Black Friday Special

Radio Shack has a $49 Cobra dash cam as a Black Friday special. I picked one up just to review, stay posted.

I'm going to face it rearward!
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Cobra CDR820 Dashcam Review

Radio Shack has a $49 Cobra dash cam as a Black Friday special. I picked one up just to review, stay posted.

I'm going to face it rearward!
The el-Cheapo Cobra CDR820 SEEMS to be the best dash cam of all I've looked at, especially for a motorcyclist. It's VERY compact. It could even be helmet mounted It's smaller than a Go-Pro --- although probably not weatherproof. Probably do fine behind a windscreen. I wish I'd bought it first!

The Cobra has a tiny screen, just enough that you can make sure you're recording and aim it properly. Auto start/stop. It has a SAVE button you can hit in the event of an accident as well as a G-sensor. Controls are tiny but much better thought out than the other unit - and fewer of them. Suction cup mount AND standard camera tripod "screw" in the bottom so you could figure lots of ways to mount.

I reckon you'll have to undo it from the windshield the first few times till you know what button is where. The button icons are tiny. Microscopic.

The manual wasn't great; it didn't tell me which buttons to press to set the date, time... but it wasn't too hard to figure out. Some controls are not intuitive like using the RECORD button in playback mode to start/stop. Scary! But as a result it doesn't requre 8 separate buttons like the MobileSpec.

Supports 1080p at 30 frames per second or 720 at 60fps. Same as the rest. Like most dashcams you can ALSO use it as a still camera. Unit is designed to download .avi to PC, but numerous programs can be had to download/convert for Mac.

If you need a dashcam to capture passing meteors and Youtube worthy rollovers, THIS is the unit I'd recommend you start with. FWIW the 820's bigger brother, the 840, includes GPS annotation.

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Cobra-Electronics-CDR-820-Professional/dp/B00K7ZN0LO[/ame]
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Innovv C3 Camera System

This one just showed up on my radar:



[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Innovv-Camera-System-Motorcycle-Waterproof/dp/B00O4E9GKS[/ame]
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #13
The Innovv C3 seems nice, but it sounds like it might be a little complicated to update firmware for most people.
What have you heard/read about firmware updates?

I read some reviews of the C3 on another site that mentioned updating the firmware to take care of some bugs. The posts were all 4-6 months old. I ASSume by now they've got most of the bugs worked out.

And I'm always happy about a product with the ABILITY to be updated with new features... I'm running out of $ to buy and test these dashcams, gonna have to try and get a demo unit from the mfr to go any further with this.
 

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Driftless Rider
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I've been using a Drift 720HD that I bought on closeout when the Drift1080HD came out several years ago.
I chose the Drift for most of the same reasons that NordicMan mentioned (although the 720 is not smart phone compatible.)

I am also considering stepping up to the Stealth 2 in the spring.

Mounting hardware and the rotating lens gives you almost infinite options for camera placement. The remote is nice with the only limiting factor for my 720 is being able to see the small LED on the top that shows if it is recording. Some models offer a small LED on a cord that you can plug into the camera and mount in a place that you can easily see. Not sure it the Stealth has this option as I couldn't find it on the Drift website. It has an audible beep, but that is not loud enough to be heard at speed or with ear plugs in.

My 720 suffers from issues with sun flare and gets fuzzy when trying to keep up with sun/shade transitions (such as riding on a tree lined road on a sunny day) And the image is a bit washed out in bright sunlight, with sunny blue skies often appearing white. The later Drift models are said to have better light filtering and the faster frame rates will improve the sun/shade transitions as well.
 

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Justa anutta Human......
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728 Posts
I have the Drift HD Ghost....
Trees look fuzzy at speed at times depending how the sun is.
Very picky on what sd card u use.
Very flaky software issues....
Gunna buy a Go-Pro soon n toss the Drift in a lake.
 

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Drift Stealth 2

I am satisfied with Drift Stealth 2 I bought several months ago. It’s so small that sometimes I forget I have it attached :) And speaking of memory – I don’t have to remember to charge it every day because of 3h battery life. I use it when going to work, so I need it to be ready all the time.
 

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I am satisfied with Drift Stealth 2 I bought several months ago. It’s so small that sometimes I forget I have it attached :) And speaking of memory – I don’t have to remember to charge it every day because of 3h battery life. I use it when going to work, so I need it to be ready all the time.
This unit has pretty decent reviews and Amazon has a few different packages available starting at only about $120 and free shipping.
 

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ZAMM Fanatic
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2,732 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Couple of thoughts about dashcams after using 'em for a year.

Auto start/stop, (when your cigarette lighter socket goes hot / cold) is critical. You don't want to have to constantly turn the thing on/off.

This rules out the software-only apps for Iphone, etc.

The tiny onboard screen's benefit isn't so much for reviewing footage as it is simply to re-assure you the dang thing is recording.

Ya need to know how to PRESERVE footage in an accident. Some cams have a g-sensor, impact sensor, and do so automatically. With others, simply yanking the cord out will stop the recording, and prevent what you've got from being over-written. Bottom line is you need to know and at least once PRACTICE recovering video so when you really need it...

Too many controls is bad. The first unit I bought... now lives on a shelf.

A button/control to annotate, mark, and save the last 15 minutes (hey, that was pretty scenery!) will allow you to use a dashcam LIKE an action-cam and is very worthwhile.

Cheers!
 

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This unit has pretty decent reviews and Amazon has a few different packages available starting at only about $120 and free shipping.
Yes, I've seen them. I think about buying another one and link both through Wi-Fi. I haven't tried such a combination yet, but I've read it's possible.
 
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