This is my latest gadget, one for the car.
After witnessing an accident the other week, I decided to re-visit my earlier plan of having a dash camera.
My first attempt was disappointing, the unit in question was quite cumbersome, stood out like a sore thumb but worse still had a slight issue where it would require setting up each morning, which at 7am on your way to work isn’t what you want to be doing.
Anyway, after much internet trawling I discovered this Nextbase camera on offer in Halfords for £44, my logic is its only £44 so if its not great I can always find another use for it.
So what do we have?
A small(ish) camera with a 2″ screen on the reverse, standard 12v lighter socket plug (with a generous amount of cable) and a suction mount. Instruction manual included but no micro SDHC card.
Smaller than alot of other units I’ve seen and feels pretty well made, buttons seem a little loose though and the camera housing at the front seems pointlessly patterned. Needs an additional purchase of a micro SDHC card.
Setup & fitting.
After a short charge from a standard 5v mini usb charger, Setup was easy. Simple menu driven screen accessed from the buttons on the back, easy to grasp and only ever 1 level deep.
First thing was checking the Nextbase site to find there was a firmware update, downloaded the file, followed the simple instructions and 5 minutes later it was on the latest and greatest version.
Now to install in the car…..
Finding a suitable mounting location isn’t as easy as it seems, I wanted to go directly behind the rear view mirror but several things got in the way.
- The raised black sunshade dots behind the mirror mean the suction cup doesn’t stick.
- Gets in the way when mounted on the righthand side of the mirror.
- Quite visible in most locations.
Initially I set it up to mount on the left of the mirror, I also ordered a 12v to 5v convertor with female usb connectors – along with this I installed a 3 metre mini usb to full size usb so that its hard wired to a switched (acc) live.
The view of the road was good but it did stick out light a sore thumb, to get around this I ordered a 60mm wide x 2mm thick acrylic disk from ebay and using 3m tape I mounted this to the black dots, this gave a smooth surface for the mount. This has helped hide the unit to a point but the overall dimensions mean its still not as hidden as I hoped.
The unit powers on when the ignition is started (and powers off when the ignition is off), you get a reassuring beep and the screen comes on, depending on your settings the screen will either stay on or go to sleep after a set period of time. The unit then automatically starts recording.
On the 720p settings with no audio it uses around 100MB per minute, the unit will override early recordings (except protected recordings from either the G force sensor or manual protection).
The video quality is pretty good, very little vibration through the camera and virtually no noticeable skipping – number plates are readable close up but blur very quickly as the distance increase but for the actual events it films you can easily identify vehicles, landmarks etc.
Well actually yes, the first week I had great footage with nothing missing, but the second week there were gaps – random stoppage of a recording and then nothing until the next power up of the unit, it happen 3 times in the footage I had (3 days filled a 32GB card for my journeys). I have re-formatted the card and tweaked the settings (loop is 3 mins per vid instead of 5 and I’ve turned the screen back on as this was the main setting difference between the first and second week).
I’m still not decided on this yet, I was happy until the missing footage but I’ll keep an eye on things and report back.
UPDATE – 24/04/2015.
After running this for a couple of weeks with the original settings I’ve found the same thing has happened again, in the past 3 days alone its failed to record nearly 2 hours of journeys. I’ve checked the card for bad clusters and formatted again. Next will be a different card.
Night driving – have just done my first bit of actual night driving since having the camera, the picture is OK and will still show whats happening, but don’t expect any great level of detail.
I must remind myself that this cost £44! I think I may use it to film the cat all day and see what she does.
UPDATE – 26/04/2015.
Different card, same issue – this time I monitored the unit and as far as it was concerned it was happy and doing its job. An email has been sent to Nextbase describing the issue, lets see what they suggest.
UPDATE – 27/04/2015.
Well the conversation with support was pretty much along the lines of its a faulty unit and return it to Halfords, which I have done this evening.
Shame really, the unit had such potential – I will get a different camera, hopefully one that will last longer than a month!