The good folks at BlueSkySea have sent me their 1080p dashcam to review. It’s a sub-£50 dashcam with built in WiFi and a 150° field of view.
Let’s take it for a spin!
Unboxing and first use
Video resolution: 1920×1090 formatted to play back at 1920×1080.
Audio: 16KHz AAC stereo – although seems to be mono. Just about good enough to clearly pick up voices in the car.
File Size: 100MB per minute.
Basically fine. Need to be relatively close to see numberplates. Not too much glare.
Picks up a reflection of my dashboard, but that’s unavoidable. Good wide field of view. Colours a bit washed out.
The default password for all these cameras is
1234567890. It’s better than the combination I have on my luggage – but it’s not great. Anyone driving near your car will be able to take your photos and videos. They’ll be able to stop recording and format the disk. I suggesting changing the password as soon as possible.
As with lots of cheap hardware, the android app is sub-standard. The interface is basically fine – but doesn’t look like any Android app I’ve used before. Parts of it haven’t been translated from Chinese.
There’s a fair range of options to play with, everything from timestamps to lighting frequency.
It can be a bit confusing to use – I still don’t know what “Capacity Allocation” is – but you’re only likely to use it to set up the device once.
Annoyingly, you can only view today’s videos in the app. There’s no way to retrieve the videos recorded in the past. Make sure you download recordings as soon as you need them.
The camera module is the Sony IMX323. It’s an older chip, but one which promises good low-light performance.
There’s no battery built in. Instead, the unit comes with two “super capacitors”. Basically, they retain enough power to safely finish recording and shut down the unit when the car is turned off.
The whole thing is powered by Grain Media’s 8135S – a SoC which provides the video encoding and WiFi.
You’ll need to provide your own micro-SD card. I recommend the SanDisk Class 10 32GB.
Finally, there’s a small microphone and speaker. The mic is a bit muddy, but it’s not intended to pick up anything more that ambient noise and your voice. The speaker lets you know when the camera is recording – and any other status messages. My electric car is silent, and I struggled to hear it.
For £50 this is a pretty good dashcam! Video is clear, and low-light performance is adequate. I didn’t crash my car while driving (lucky!) so I couldn’t test the G-Shock sensor.
If I was going to nit-pick, the only flaws with it are:
- No GPS – would be useful to have photos and videos geostamped for evidence.
- No rear camera – but at this price, you can buy another to stick in the back.
- Quite talkative – I couldn’t find away to stop it from chattering about what it was doing!
- Large file sizes can be a pain if you’re in a hurry to download them.
- Comes with a short USB lead – but that will depend on the layout of your car.
- App is poor – but you’ll rarely use it.
But those are minor points. You switch on the car, the dashcam starts recording. Need a video from it – open the app and download. Simple to set up and simple to use.