Friday, 9 October 2015

Dashcams - The Hard Truth

Living in a big city with people who can't drive is the reason I got my first dashcam. I had a voucher for somewhere and it cost about $25 after discount. It was big and bulky and the video quality was pretty average but it worked. It looked like this:

I figured that better video quality would be good for whatever the camera would be used for. If you want it as a silent witness to any road incident you need good quality to read number plates and get the details. If you want it for scenic views it needs to be HD at least.

That took me to the G1W-C. Great video quality and good reviews all round seemed like it was a good choice. It cost around $70, and video looks like this:

The G1W-C has its issues. You'll notice from the video above that the time and date are up the whoop. That's an issue when you pass footage onto the police like in the case above. Took some effort to verify information of when and where this crazy stuff happened. There are also big gaps between each clip on the camera and it doesn't always record. Both of those are definitely an issue if you want it to get you out of a tight spot.

So next, after reading heaps of review I thought I would try the Dome G30B. It was cheap, had an emergency button so you could save incidents at the touch of a button and included a rear camera.

It seemed good at first. It remembered time and date, video quality from the front camera was good and it was a compact unit. Then it went downhill. The rear camera quality was shocking, the unit was very fussy about memory cards and despite multiple claims that it featured 'Loop Recording' it just gave up as soon as the memory card was full. The device still said it was recording but it wasn't.

This turned out to be a big issue when the old lady was rear ended and the guy drove off. She got the number plate of the person who did it but it then becomes her word against there's and we're left with a $500 insurance excess until the other party accept they were at fault. Not a problem if you have a dashcam with rear camera to capture the evidence but as you guessed it the card had filled up some days prior to the event and we didn't have the evidence that would have made things so much easier.

I dealt to the dome in an appropriate manner as shown below:

So I found myself needing a solution that was going to work reliably and be there when I needed it. The budget Chinese cameras are a false economy. You need something you can rely on when you need it. I decided that I needed to spend more money on a camera. I needed to buy locally and it needed to have a warranty.

The local options were the Navman MiVue 580 or the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH. The Navman goes for around $300 and the Blackvue around $585. As it happened, the day after the hit and run the Navman was on special at $200, so it was a done deal. I did take a look at the Blackvue and it is an impressive bit of kit with some awesome cloud features coming soon so I will probably end up with one eventually.

The Navman has been installed for a couple of days and so far it has been very impressive. It's solid, great build quality, awesome video and so far just works exactly as it should. It also features GPS so tracks speed and plots your route on Google maps making following footage a breeze. The emergency record button works as expected and so far I have nothing bad to report. After my experiences so far I remain skeptical but hopefully when I come back with a long term review of the Navman in a couple of months I'll feel the same way.

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