I finally ponied up some of my hard-earned cash to purchase a dashboard camera. As I’ve said, on Philippine roads, there’s no such thing as too much insurance. In cases of collisions or crime, dashcams can give you the evidence to sort things out. Or it can be a nice source of entertainment in case you happen by something funny on the road.
After taking a look at the various dashboard camera brands and models in the Philippine market as of this March 2016, I decided to get the G1W-CB.
A colleague, who also owns a Transcend 220 DrivePro, first mentioned to opt for a capacitor type dashcam so that I wouldn’t have to worry about battery issues like battery life, replacement/serviceability, and bloating due to our climate and the G1W-CB variant is among the models available that’s powered through a capacitor.
The G1W, in general, also comes in recommended by various car forums and websites though some reviews might point out the reliability of more recent variants.
Not wanting to break the bank with spiffier models and only in need of a spartan dashcam that documents our daily commute, the G1W-CB’s price tag was surely a huge factor for me to get one. Priced by various sellers from PHP 2,800 to 3,500, I figured I can take a gamble on potential reliability issues if the seller gives me a decent warranty period. Something is always better than nothing.
- Sensor: Aptina AR0330
- Processor: Novatek 96650
- Lens: Fixed-focus
- Zoom: 4x Digital Zoom
- LCD Display” 2.7 inch 16:9 TFT
- Viewing Angle: 120
- Output: HDMI
- Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps, 1280 x 720 at 60 fps
- Recording Cycles:
- Audio Recording: Built-in Microphone, ACC, 512 kbps, 32 kHz, mono
- G-Sensor: Available
- Storage: Micro-SD card, 32GB (supported), 64GB (unofficially)
- Power: Capacitor-type
- Accessories: Suction holder, 12V cigarette port charger (5V, 1000 mA), Mini-usb to USB cable, manual
The problem with many products today is the user’s manual. Like man products manufactured in China, the user manual isn’t much help to get yourself really acquainted with the product. It’s a good thing that you can find a more comprehensive English manual for the G1W-C from SpyTec. Still, any person used to technology can fiddle with this camera and figure their way around.
The camera has six buttons – power, menu, record (also functions as the “Ok” button when in the menu), mode (to switch between video, still, or playback), up, and down that navigate the various functions.
The most work that I had was to set the time and date and recording loop duration to 5 minutes instead of the default 3. You also have the option to set the plate/license number in the time stamp in the video. At least it has the option to take in 7 characters, ideal for the new plate system that we now have. I just left it in default since I might have to transfer the camera on board whichever car I might drive for the day. I might have to save up again to have all our vehicles equipped with dashcams.
I had a 32GB Transcend micro-SD card handy which is a good thing since the camera doesn’t come along with storage. Among the models available, only Transcend packages storage to come along with their cameras so you have to factor storage into your budget if you’re looking for one.
I just popped the card into the camera’s slot, plugged the charger into the 12V lighter slot, and it was good to go. The camera automatically turns on and off with the ignition (the moment the 12V lighter port gets and loses juice).
The capacitor is reported to be able to carry a charge for 3 days to keep information like time and date before needing to re-set again.
The camera is cheap so it does go that you don’t expect it to be built like a tank. And it isn’t built like a tank. It is mostly made of lightweight plastic. Be careful with the clamps and holder system since it feels like excessive force might snap them apart. The buttons are responsive but take care not to push them with vigor for the same reason. Tear downs of some of these cameras show that internal components are held together by adhesive tape.
I recommend getting the optional rearview mirror clamp since I really don’t trust the suction-type holders to last for that long. The suction cup “rubber” usually gets brittle especially when you car is exposed to our heat.
Here are samples of daytime and nighttime captures from the camera:
At 1920 x 1080 resolution and 30 fps, it’s more than enough to document your travels. The badges, plates, and even conduction stickers are visible from two to three car lengths away. Reflection from your own windshield can be an issue though as can be seen in the video.
One concern I have is how it deals with reflective reflective at night. Depending on how your headlights illuminate what’s in front of you the glare can be enough to obscure the details on plates. At certain angles, though, they can be very readable.
So far, I am pretty satisfied with this camera. It is pretty good at what a dashcam should do – take decent video with sharp details. If you are looking for more features, you can definitely do well with pricier models but the video quality of this with its price makes it the cheapest camera to consider. Bar any reliability issues, this comes recommended to those looking for a barebones and cheap dashcam.
Thanks to ItemShop.ph for the dashcam. They have the G1W-CB for sale at PHP 2,880.