I have bought a dashboard camera for the Defender, for the 2014 trip. It will record video whenever the ignition is turned on, providing us with the opportunity to retrieve any footage that we want to keep along the way. It will also provide some insurance against bogus claims about my driving should there be a collision (or allegations that we ran a red light when it was clearly green – or any other claims to elicit bribes).
There are lots of dash cams out there so, before deciding which one to buy, I checked out the DashCamTalk website which was very useful – http://dashcamtalk.com/dash-cam-comparison/ Having compared the options, I narrowed my choice to two models – the Powerucc Panorama II and the Vico TF2+ Premium. Neither camera has built-in GPS capability but I don’t need that. I already have two devices that will be attached to the windshield seeking out satellites – I don’t need to add a third to the mix. The Panorama camera is only currently available on e-bay from sellers in Korea. When I tried to order one, I was told that the shipping cost to Bermuda would be $180 so that was the end of that and I opted for the VicoVation camera.
I was able to purchase the VicoVation camera from the Spytec store in New York for $219 – www.spytecinc.com They do ship internationally but Bev was already in New York on a trip, so she was able to go into the store to buy it for me and bring it home in her luggage. Once I opened the box and read the instructions inside, I came across a slight problem. The camera takes class 10 SDHC cards, up to 32GB. I was aware of this from the online specs and had asked Bev to bring me one back with the camera. The one I bought was a micro SDHC card with a full-size adaptor. The instructions inside the box (and not on the outside) state that micro SDHC cards with adaptors cannot be used on the camera – only full-size cards! I therefore had to go into town and purchase a full-size 32GB SDHC card at a cost of $70. It would be helpful if this fact was listed in the camera specs available online – or even on the outside of the box.
I’ve spent a couple of hours with the camera and fixed it to my car in Bermuda to test it out. I found that the setting up process was very easy (setting resolution, settling the date/time, etc). The on-camera viewing screen makes it easy to make the changes and the menu options are simple to follow. The camera is powered by a 12-volt cigarette-lighter socket that has a long enough cable to route around the top of the windshield so that it doesn’t have to hang down in full view (I just let the cable hang for my temporary test). The camera can be attached to the windshield in two ways – using the included suction mount or the much smaller adhesive mount that attaches directly to the windshield with 3M adhesive. I used the suction mount for the temporary fixture in my car but I will use the adhesive mount in the Land Rover. As you can see from the photos below, the suction mount takes up a lot more space, resulting in the camera being more obvious. I think the adhesive mount will allow the camera to be partially concealed behind the rear-view mirror. The kit also comes with a quick-disconnect mounting bracket (shown below) that makes attaching and disconnecting the camera a simple process. This will allow me to secure the camera out of view when the Defender is parked, leaving just the unobtrusive adhesive mount attached to the windshield.
Once the camera was mounted to the windshield, adjusting it to capture the correct view was a simple process, using the viewing screen. Once pointing in the right direction, the adjusting knob is tightened so that it doesn’t move. When the ignition is turned on, the camera starts up and immediately begins to record, meaning that there is no need to manually begin recording every time. The viewing screen remains on constantly, so you can see that it is working and capturing the correct view at a glance. The screen also displays the current date/time as well as lights and symbols to let you know what resolution is set, whether it is recording or not, etc. In short – it is very easy to use.
The camera records video files seamlessly, in five-minute segments. Using a 32GB card, you can get 450 minutes of recording at the highest resolution of 1080p/30 fps. By comparison, using the resolution 720p/30fps will give you 775 minutes. The camera records on a loop, so once it runs out of space it records over the oldest files. When connected to a computer via a USB cable, the camera acts as a card reader, allowing you to retrieve any video files that you need. There is a link below to a five-minute video segment that I recorded today, driving around an area of Bermuda near to my home. It was about 4.00pm, so there were areas of dark shadow and areas of sunshine. The camera seems to do a good job of adjusting as I drove out of the shadows and into the bright light. I’ve only played with the camera for a short while but, from what I’ve seen so far, I like it.
Here is a link to a five-minute video taken using the camera – http://bermudarover.smugmug.com/Bermuda/Video/i-vCkL2sH/A