Well after the disappointment of the last dash camera I had another look around and found some interesting things.
- A lot of the current dash cams include massive screens.
- Most of them have lots of logos, stickers and shiney bits.
- Cheap clones are everywhere.
I still wanted something small and discreet yet reliable, up popped the Snooper offering. Having had a couple of Snooper camera/radar detectors over the years and always finding them to be well built and reliable I started to have a look around for details on this, I found a few sites selling them but virtually no reviews, they appear to be a missed option when you search for dash cams.
First things first, size check – all the websites (including Snooper themselves) list the dimensions for the actual DVR but not the GPS mount (the top square box in the picture above), so I emailed Snooper and explained what I was after and if they could provide the dimensions of the GPS part – I had a quick response giving me the details of the DVR only, so I asked if these were the dimensions of the DVR or GPS, again a quick response confirming they were the measurements for the DVR. I emailed back asking for the dimensions of the GPS, now I’m assuming the have gone off to find a ruler and will get back to me but as yet this hasn’t happened. Anyway, I found this being advertised on Amazon so asked the same question and again very quickly I had a response, from the seller, with the exact dimensions of the GPS unit!
As you can see in the picture, only the one logo and no in your face shiney bits – so far so good.
Looking around at the prices and I found that most places sell this at either £149.99 or £99.99 – Snooper themselves sell at £149.99. The amazon seller was £99.99 but delivery was approx. 10 days. So I ordered from one of Snoopers authorised resellers, Snooperdirect for £99.99 and it arrived the very next day.
Whats in the box?
- The DVR.
- GPS mount (with 3M mounting tape)
- 5v Cigarette lighter power cable.
- 12v hardwire kit, USB cable.
- USB to Composite Video cable.
- 8GB Micro SDHC card & adaptor.
- CD Instruction manual.
Tiny, OK its not that small but at 7 cm long and only 3.5cm wide/high its a tad smaller than the previous camera I had, even the GPS mount is only 5.5cm by 3.5cm. The DVR has a feel to it, quality and far from cheap, the main body being made from metal giving it a decent solid finish, and no unlike the Nextbase camera the buttons on this don’t wobble around but feel sturdy and secure.
This one fits directly behind the rear view so is very discreet, the GPS mount has 3M mounting tape so no suction issues.
As it doesn’t have a screen I thought setup would be a pain, but after a quick charge of the battery and the simple prep of the 32GB card I wanted to use, it was time to change some of the default settings – included in the box is a USB to video composite cable, this connects to the unit and to relevant connector on your TV, from here you have access to all the settings (inc. the card prep I had already done). The hardwire kit also has a composite video connector so you could plug it into the aux video input if your head unit has one, or video in on a suitable monitor.
I managed to get the angle in the car perfect on the first go, but this was more from the experience of the previous camera. Next was to wire in the hardwire cable, personally I’ve hardwired this to a switched live (acc on) source so that it only records when the engine is on and ignores the automatic parking mode (which can’t be disabled). The cable is routed along the A pillar and tucked in the headlining.
I was planning on connecting it to a permanent live and install a switch but there was no circuit within easy reach in my car without panel removal.
When the unit powers on (and off) there is a confirmation chime, the power button glows, the MIC button (if enabled) glows and the REC button flashes blue to say its recording and has connection to GPS.
To view the footage is simple, eject the micro SDHC card and insert into the adaptor, when plugged into your PC you will see a small 120MB partition on the card this contains a snooper exe file which is the viewer, this gives you all the footage on the card. Pick your trip and press play, you see the footage in the main windows, speed above it, G-force below and a Googlemaps screen with that recordings ‘trip’, this also updates as you play the footage.
You can also fix any broken files, sharpen the image, take snapshots and export to avi files. My 45 minute trip to work took about 6GB of space so around 130MB per minute, which was a little more than the Nextbase camera. The video footage is clearer with more natural lighting, no jumping at all. I’ve not used it at night yet but it does have 2 IR LEDS to help with night use.
Just over double the price of the Nextbase but its more than twice as good, so far I’m impressed by its use, size and build quality. This unit is one to consider if you are shopping around. I’ll update this once I’ve done some night driving with it.
Just a couple of points to note –
- The Snooper site (but not the manual) mentions voice guidance for user setup – can’t find this so I can only assume its a typo from a different unit on their site.
- Parking mode – this works when you hardwire to a permanent live, but as there is no option to disable this I’d guess its just continous recording.
Update – 24/05/2015.
Night driving – kind of a mix really, where there are street lights its not too bad, on an unlit road however, pretty much nothing at all and I have some stupidly bright driving lights too!
But as most of my night driving is in lit areas and the daytime is still great then I still like this unit.
Update – 03/02/2016
So lets have a quick revisit to this.
Night driving/low light – not even worth it, effectively this isn’t a huge amount of use for properly identifying things in low light conditions.
Power – well is an interesting thing, my 12v acc socket as a lot of cars comes on when the ignition is at position 2, the unit powers on, you then turn to position 3 to turn the engine on and the socket loses power whilst this happens which causes the unit to turn off and start charging – if you have a car with stop/start then this may cause a problem. I’ve installed a switch which allows me to turn the unit on/off once I’ve started the car.
Update – 16/06/2016
Bye bye Snooper you’re gone!
After installing Rexing camera for rear facing and being impressed, I bought one for the front and after running them both its clear, sorry to say the way more expensive Snooper beats the Rexing in only 1 thing, the build quality (single piece aluminium body vs plastic) – everything else (picture quality, setup, ease of use, power issues, included features and night use) the Rexing stomps the little Snooper into the ground and films that in full HD too!
Update – 09/08/2016
I added footage from this unit to my YouTube channel – just search for GFR2 Reviews and look at the playlist for Snooper.