Chortau dashboard camera review

Hey people!

After using the A118 for nearly 2 years, I had to look for a new dash cam when I sold my previous car. One of the reasons why I did not want to remove the camera is that I had to remove back the wire running from the cam, across the top of the windshield and under the dashboard till the cigarette lighter. Hence the decision to go for another unit and a newer model. A hell lot of dash cam models are available on the (online) market and it can indeed take much time to go through them, read reviews and assess the pros and the cons. So, if you missed that dash cam introduction and review, do have a look here – Really important stuff that I won’t be discussing in this post.

Today’s post gonna give an overview of the Chortau (yeah, weird name) dash cam and also, the main additional feature to look for.

New dash cam feature – WiFi

When I started looking for a new dash cam, there was one additional criteria to look for : Built in WiFi connectivity in the dash cam. Plenty of new models now allow you to connect directly to the camera to view the clips, download, edit and share them through your mobile (iOS or Android). That’s pretty cool stuff as you don’t need to remove the memory cards or the dash cam itself to copy the videos to your computer. You can still do that if you have to copy the whole set of video clips on the external memory card.

Whenever I have to copy a video, I need to switch on the WiFi on the dash cam, open my mobile app, browse through the cam’s video gallery, select the clip and click the download button.

Overview of the Chortau dash camera

Having a similar wedge form factor as the A118 / B40, the camera is barely visible from the outside and also from the inside since it is well hidden and concealed behind the rear-view mirror.

Other features are quite standard ones, namely:

  • Video : 1080p
  • Photo : 12 MP
  • Sony IMX323 Sensor
  • Novatek
  • Wide angle view (170¬į)
  • 2 inch screen
  • G Sensor
  • Built in battery
  • and of course, WiFi connectivity

Photo gallery

Points I like :

  • Video quality is very good during the day as well as at night
  • The camera also allows you to zoom in / out so that when you can have the optimal area to record in case your dashboard is largely visible in the video footage.
  • You can switch off the camera’s display screen so that it does not distract you when driving. Very practical feature : My screen is always off.
  • You get 2 extra 3M stickers for the plate which needs to be fixed on the windshield
  • You get a tool (the blue one) to easily install the wiring

I have been using this Chortau dash cam for the past 6 months now and I’m pretty much satisfied despite the areas of improvement mentioned below

Points I don’t like :

  1. WiFi speed
    It literally take ages to download a clip through the WiFi. A 300mb video can take more than 5 minutes
  2. Recording while connected to mobile
    When the camera is connected to your mobile while you are downloading a clip, the camera stops recording. So, you might miss important things.
  3. No emergency lock button
    Unlike the A118 model I owned previously, this Chortau unit does not have a dedicated lock function whereby you can instantly prevent mark a clip so that the camera does not overwrite a specific footage. This lock feature also normally moves that video in another folder. I miss this feature!

Installing the dash cam

No need to look for a technician to install the dash cam. You just stick the camera’s holding plate using the provided 3M sticker glue and then, you run the wire from the camera to your cigarette lighter. So, no wire will be hanging around since it will be neatly hidden on the edge of the windscreen and below your dashboard. It might just take some 15-30 minutes to get this job done.

Built in battery?

Yes, you read it right. I had carefully chosen my previous dash cam because it had a capacitor instead of a battery. This normally means that camera stays on for a few seconds when disconnected from power but the advantage is that the camera should last longer since it doesn’t have a battery whose performance will deteriorate over time. The Chortau’s product specification does mention a lithium battery but strangely, it lasts only a few seconds, just like a camera with a capacitor.

When I reached out the email support recently to clarify this point, they did confirm presence of a battery but of very small capacity.

Video samples

You can watch a short sample file with day and night recordings here :

Photo Sample

Despite that a dash cam’s function is rarely used for taking pictures, nevertheless, here is a sample of picture shot :

My real struggle

I may sound silly but I really struggled with the dash cam for several months.

Going to the menus was really a pain as the menu button did not work. I repeatedly had to use that button for several times, and press everything else before being able to go to those menu to switch on the WiFi or change settings. I even contacted the seller who told me that he does not have such problems and it might probably be a humidity issue.

Then, exactly 2 weeks back, I got in touch with support to figure out if there was an issue. Well, they replied back to tell me that you first need to press the “Ok” button to stop the recording and then, press the “Menu” button to go to those screens. And you know what? It worked! I was like… so stupid for months!

The mobile application

Depending on dash cam models, you might need to use specific free apps in order to connect to the device. This information is normally available in the user manual. I did try numerous apps but none other work except the one specified. This Chortau model connects to an app called RoadCam.

Screenshots of the app :

 

Summing up

Now that I have gone quickly through the main features of the Chortau dashboard camera and also, the dedicated iOS / Android app, RoadCam, it is now time to give a final verdict. Overall, I like the camera despite it lacks the emergency lock button. WiFi speed is also an issue but at the end of the day, it does the job slowly. I guess that we cannot expect much from such devices. I would love to review or get feedback from another similar dashcam with WiFi connectivity. I did not experienced any lag while going through the camera’s menu or even in the mobile RoadCam application. I also loved the responsiveness of the Chortau support through email. They reply to all queries and they are very helpful to clear any doubts you may have regarding the camera.

I did not mention the price yet. I paid the unit GBP 50 + GBP 18, amounting to a total of GBP 68 (Approximately Rs 3200). And it took less than 2 weeks to be delivered after being shipped from the Great Britain. FYI, I paid around $70 for my previous camera 2 years back. I just hope that this Chortau unit will last for some time and it won’t disappoint me.

That’s all for today.

Bye ūüôā

 

 

[Video] Terre Rouge Verdun entrance to Ebene – Just invent your traffic rules

What I will show you today is not unusual if you use the Terre Rouge Verdun road every morning.

While the majority of drivers queue up to enter Ebene, a bunch of drivers prefer to

  • Drive on the motorway layby
  • Come in front of vehicles whenever they like
  • Change lanes along solid white lines
  • Change lanes on roundabouts

All these above, just to show that they absolutely do not give a fuck to all other law abiding drivers.

Case study : Toyota Yaris – 4442 JU 15

This guy really annoyed me this morning. Fortunately, I have my dashcam recording and when I came across him on the roundabout, I informed him to have a look at Facebook. With chances, he will probably read this post. So, a big hi!

Here’s the video:

If he ever thinks to complain to the police? Please do. Don’t forget to bring a copy of this video too.

Case study : Peugeot 208 – 4513 JU 14

New video captured today by the dashcam!

This car was lady driven and changed lanes on the roundabout itself while tens of other cars were queuing up.

 

Impacts?

As mentioned in my earlier post, education is indeed a failure in our society. Such persons need to be penalized and fined but unfortunately, the above scene happens everyday, even with 2 to 3 police officers posted there but without much help as one of them is regulating traffic on the roundabout while the other one just stands among the traffic cones.

So, what really happens :

  1. The huge traffic chaos and parking problem right in the “cyber” city Ebene causes a long queue to build up onto the Terre Rouge Verdun road everyday. And as shown above, a large bunch of drivers do not care about having to wait like other drivers. They feel that they are more superior, hence their own decision to bypass rules and breach laws. This p*ss*s off other persons who are waiting on the right lane.
  2. With cars waiting to enter the right lane, the traffic on the left lane comes to a halt. Now imagine 10 vehicles doing the same thing. That halt can sum up to several minutes in worst cases. This prevents road users on the left lane to pursue their road towards the motorway in the direction of Trianon. This traffic jam on the left lane is pretty un-necessary, purely caused by the above mentioned drivers. And this pisses off people on the left lane too.

Results: Every driver (whether on left or right lanes) gets p*ss*d off!

What actions need to be taken?

It doesn’t take really much to solve this problem. The existing police officers just don’t care because they were never assigned the duty to fine these drivers. However, just post 1 or 2 additional police officers at this particular spot and you will notice the difference. Suddenly, everyone will prefer waiting in the queue. But please, these police officers should look out for these drivers, not just stand there like the one who can nearly be mistaken for a traffic cone just on the Ebene flyover.

I will also push this video to the Citizen Support Unit and the Mauritius Police Force¬†to see if any action is taken as many drivers prefer to ignore these as*hol*s to avoid getting into any fights or verbal threats but unfortunately, these as*hol*s just don’t care. As days go on, the number of as*hol*s will increase as they can see that nothing is being done to solve the problem, so why should they wait in the queue??? That’s logical and at the end of the day, we will end up with more as*hol*s because of the inaction of the authorities and police! This is why the situation gets out of control and ends up in road rages and accidents, just like in Goodlands some days ago. Read the article here if you missed it!!!

Please don’t forget to share!

Thank you for reading. Cheers!

#Dashcam : My first video of someone throwing trash outside a vehicle

As promised in my dashcam review back in April 2016, I have finally a video footage of someone throwing her litter outside a car’s window, as shown above. While driving from Rose Hill towards Ebene, I noticed the woman sitting in the rear left seat of the car throwing a piece of paper (which looked like toilet or tissue paper) outside of the window.

I immediately pressed the “lock” button on my dash cam so that this specific video is protected and saved in a different folder.

Some 100m away, the same passenger threw a second item, much larger than the first one. This time, I decided to take some action : I drove closer to the car and started horning madly.

Unaware of what was happening, the driver waived his hand at me as he thought that I wanted to overtake his vehicle and making unnecessarily noise at the same time. He also showed some signs of aggressiveness as he braked immediately. At that point of time, I guess that he literally meant :

“Ki to presser ta couyon, envoler!!!”

I then got even closer to his vehicle and shouted

“Ta macr*, sa fam derriere twa la p zette salet√© par la fenetre”…

As shown in the video, he immediately turned towards his rear passenger to probably shout at her or to confirm what I just said. The man calmed down, steered his car slightly to the left and courteously showed me a thumbs up with his hand :

Sorry driver of the car Nissan Sunny EF 231, please educate your passengers next time.

I know that you are not to be blamed but I needed a video to post. Right?

Another similar video

It took more than one and a half year to capture someone red-handed with a solid video footage but however, my dashcam did witness another similar case back in August 2016 : Fortunately for the driver of the Hyundai 4527JU12, it was only a small plastic wrapping.

Dashcams to fight against indiscipline

As mentioned in my previous post about road accidents, the usage of dash cams can indeed make people more alert on the roads as they will  keep in mind that they are constantly being watched. Just like people automatically show an irreproachable behavior in the presence of the police, dash cams will contribute to making our roads safer too : No more overtaking on solid while lines, no more parking on  double yellow lines, no more vehicles taking wrong lanes in order to escape traffic.

Bref, less irresponsible drivers, less accidents. Isn’t this what we want?

And again, you don’t need to be a highly paid road security adviser to suggest such ideas!

Are road infractions increasing due to police inefficiency in enforcing law?

Today, a car took a wrong lane in front of me.

Typical day you would say and thousand of drivers experience the same situation every single day. I agree. But when two police officer witness this specific road offense and one of them only waves his hand at the driver, then you start asking yourself questions. Is the police force becoming so tolerant towards drivers? And above all, are these 2 specific police officers only gossiping on this roundabout instead of taking any action? What are their roles?

Fortunately, I have the above dashcam video to prove what I just wrote.

There isn’t a day when I can say that I have not seen other drivers committing road offenses. There are so many people who won’t hesitate to overtake on solid white lines, park on double yellow lines, stop on yellow boxes, take wrong lanes to avoid queues on roundabouts. You probably also came across someone at a pedestrian crossing having to wait for a long time before vehicles stop to allow him / her to walk to the other side :

 

The list is so long and I have so many dash cam video footage that I regularly need to empty the memory card. However, it is true that ¬†you won’t see such offenses being made when police officers are standing round the corner of the street or a police vehicle parked nearby.

Despite the increasing number of police units being created and yearly recruitment of police officers, the majority of police officers on the field are sufficient only to regulate traffic during peak hours. Road checks should be more frequent, police officers should be posted at different spots to fine drivers committing offenses. Why does the police have to choose a specific day to deploy all officers on the road? I am hereby referring to one of their initiatives.

I seriously think that law enforcement is not the priority in the country.

 

Mauritius Police motocycle rider now with helmet action cam

Another quick post : Several days ago, I posted on Facebook that I came across a woman police officer with an action camera attached to her helmet. Fortunately today, I managed to grab some seconds of video footage just at the time, she was going to (most probably) fine a driver.

That’s all for today.

Be careful, you are now being filmed on the roads!

Need a reverse camera for your vehicle?

camera slots

Hello people!

Before ever thinking about having a reverse camera, I drove my previous car for nearly 10 years without even having reverse or front sensors. Except for a few light scratches, I never felt the need to have any additional ‘gadgets’, until I purchased a brand new car fitted with a whole set¬†of sensors. It was a complete change and reversing the car became even more fun (well, I won’t lie but the car got scratched only 1 week after its purchase). No need to make fun of me, because I believe that a vehicle¬†without a scratch, is comparable to¬†those lying in the showrooms, barely with a few kms on the counter. After a few more scratches (yes!), I decided to buy a reverse camera.

Prices

money

If you have a good amount of bucks to invest, you might probably consider buying one of the latest multimedia players with built in wifi, maps, mp3, high quality screen and a reverse camera. Prices might usually vary from Rs 8,000 up to Rs 25,000 on average. If you are in this category of people, just get into a electronics / gadgets shop and order one. The guys will even install the device for you. Meanwhile, click here to read other posts in my blog.

However, if you have less than Rs 3,500 in your pocket and you still want a reverse camera, continue reading below… Even better, I can get you a complete kit for half that price, let’s say an average of Rs 1, 500 for a decent set of camera and screen!

So, continue reading….

Making a choice

For days, I documented about the different types of cameras and other technical aspects one should know. Briefly, there are 2 types of sensors used in cameras

  • CMOS – Cheaper
  • CCD – Much better quality and obviously, the one you should buy!

A stand-alone monitor on the dashboard or a monitor in the rear view mirror? I took quite some time to take a decision but I finally opted for a monitor on the dashboard itself. If I hadn’t already a dashcam installed, I would have probably purchased a rear view mirror with a built in monitor and dashcam. So, it’s your choice.

Next, other aspects to look for

  • Camera angle
    Always look for one with a wide angle for better coverage of the back of your vehicle
  • Performance in low light
    Better high quality cameras produce good results at night while some cameras come with LEDs which automatically switch on in low light
  • Mirrored image
    This is important because it ensures that you are viewing a live video with the correct point of view
  • Automatic switching on when gear is put in reverse
    If you buy a camera or a monitor which needs to be switch on at a push of a button, believe me, you won’t remember to switch them on after 2 days.
  • Wired / Wireless
    While wireless cameras are much easy to install, they are not recommended because the quality of the image might get disrupted with communication / transmission frequencies. A wired camera is much preferred.
  • Guidelines on the screen to easily spot if you are reversing the vehicle correctly

Where can I get a good deal?

I have been around several shops in the island and the prices for a complete kit (camera, monitor, wires) start as from Rs 2,500. And in most cases, you don’t even know if whether they are good CCD sensors or whether they provide good results! Additionally, you should also cater for¬†installation costs (¬†Rs 500 to Rs 1000).

As I mentioned earlier, if you are more adventurous and you want to have some fun, you can get a very good complete kit for only Rs 1, 500 on eBay, Amazon or AliExpress. Once again, the price difference between purchases made online vs local shops is huge! They practically make 100% profit!!!

ebay

A very interesting advantage is that you can choose a camera mount for the exact model of your vehicle. No need to drill holes or glue the camera, it will fit exactly in slots already present. And if you have a couple of hours to spare, you can even install the camera by yourself and save those installation costs.

As a complete novice, it took me some 5 hours to get everything working in my car (and a few screws left behind).

How to install the kit yourself?

wires

Although I initially sought the help of a friend to explain how to connect the wires, the process isn’t that difficult. It sure takes time but you get to know your vehicle much better, especially when you need to remove each piece of plastic covers to see how to pass the wires lol. A large amount of tutorials are available on the net to explain the steps from A to Z. Some of these tutorials even show you how to remove the covers and do the wiring for specific car models!

To sum up the wiring procedures, there’s only one power source for both the camera and the monitor. These 2 devices are powered up when you switch on to the reverse gear. Thus, a positive end of the wiring kit is connected to the white reverse lights at the back of your vehicle. The other end of the wiring kit can either be connected to the chassis of the vehicle or even to the negative terminal¬†of the reverse lights. However, some camera kits might have 2 separate power sources for the camera and the monitor. While the power cable is usually black in color,¬†a¬†yellow cable carries the video signal from the camera to the monitor.

Some tips

Take measurements for camera slots

measurements

I always learn from my mistakes and I always grab the opportunity to use my blog in order to share my experience to prevent the same mishap for others. For this reason, I advise you to take your time when choosing the camera casing. If you are purchasing online, you have good chances to get the exact model for your vehicle. Unfortunately, the camera casing did not fit my vehicle (despite the product description said so) and I had to use my Mac Gyver skills to fix the camera. The seller did apologize and sent back another cover but since the camera was already securely fixed, I did not install the new camera housing cover.

Be careful

playing with leds

I don’t mean to scare you but you should not be frightened¬†to break anything or end up¬†blowing any fuses. In fact,¬†some months ago, all interior lights in my car stopped working after I tried¬†to change¬†the bulbs to LED ones. After digging the internet and manuals, I finally located the blown up fuse and replaced it with a spare one available on the board itself. For this reason, as a precautionary measure, I purchased a set of fuses just in case they might come handy.

Fortunately, the installation process of the camera kit went smoothly.

Additional purchase

securing wires

You should also buy a set of straps like the one in the picture above. It allows you to securely and easily attach the wires to existing cables. Do not strap the wires altogether until you are sure that the installation is nearly completed. You might find the need to undo everything if ever you are short of the cable, even by a few centimeters. This happened to me but this did not make me lose hope.

Reversing the vehicle will never be the same again

Dashboard camera monitor

Now that you have a (working) camera kit, you might feel possessing some super powers whenever you need to put your vehicle in reverse gear. However, I highly recommend you to check for the surroundings, more specially on the sides of the vehicle. If you rely solely on your monitor screen, you might ignore other hazards around your car and eventually end up banging the side of the car to a wall or a pole. Remember, you have a camera only at the rear of your vehicle, not on the sides. However, if you really want to have several cameras around your vehicles, you will be glad to know that this is totally feasible and on top of buying a few additional cameras, you will need another device which will merge the video signals before broadcasting them to your monitor.¬†Anyway, I don’t have any plans to grab such setup for now.

The most important thing is that at the end of the day, my camera kit was working flawlessly and it had cost me roughly Rs 1,600 only! Yay!

If you have any questions, please use the comments section. I will gladly reply as far as possible. Also, if you have any experience or tips for the installation process or the camera kit, please share.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

What are dashcams, their features and review of B40 / A118 model

As written in my previous detailed post about AliExpress, my dashboard camera reached home exactly two weeks after its purchase. I was pretty excited to give it a try as I have been checking out dashcams since a very long time but I was pretty undecided if I really needed one or not. Same story for a smartwatch but right now: I still haven’t found very strong reasons to buy one yet.

For now, grab a snack or a drink (or both) koz I’m gonna start my (lengthy) review ūüėČ

What’s that thing?

 

Dashcam B40

For those who haven’t come across one, a dashboard camera is a device which is usually fixed in a vehicle to continuously record everything happening in front of the camera lens. While most people install the device on the vehicle’s dashboard to record whatever happens in front of the vehicle, some people do fix them at the rear too. Interesting to note that some models even have two cameras, one of which can be used to record what’s happening in the car itself. I guess that these models are more useful in taxis for example. Usually connected to the cigarette lighter socket, most camera models are powered when the ignition is switch on and they are turned off once the driver switches off the ignition.

Why a dash cam?

Don’t worry! This is one of the questions I usually need to answer : “Ki to pu faire r sa?”

There are various reasons why one would want to install a dash cam :

  • A dash cam is helpful in case of accidents.
    Since it is permanently recording video, viewing what happened before the impact can be useful, for the police and insurance companies. I read that in Russia, dash cams are nearly a necessity / requirement demanded by insurance companies.
  • Security
    You probably saw video recordings of police officers stopping vehicles and proceeding to the arrest of drivers. Well, in the USA, police vehicles are equipped with dash cams. Similarly, any citizen can use such cameras for their own safety.
  • Capturing incidents
    Someone in front of your vehicle threw their trash out of the window? Or perhaps, a bad driver is harassing you or probably some other driver did a risky manoeuvre? No worries, the dash cam is here as back up!
  • For fun
    Used as an accessory, the dash cam is nearly a gadget too. Video amateurs can used the video recordings to create time lapse videos for uploading beautiful scenery captured during a long drive.

What to look for when purchasing a dash cam?

Dashcam B40 box

I have personally never seen any shops selling such devices here in Mauritius but nevertheless there are actually hundreds of models on sale on the internet, whether on eBay or AliExpress or any other online shops. Important to point out that while most of them are manufactured in China, there are a few well known brands in the market too. However, the most important criteria to look for is definitely not the brand name but rather the device itself.

 

Dashcam B40 box

 

I will list what I have in mind right now :

  • Build quality and price
    When reading reviews prior my purchase, I noticed that the more expensive devices were not always the ones with a better build quality. It is no use quoting the premium brands commercializing dash cameras since most of us here have probably never heard of these names. However, some more popular brands generally well known are Transcend (USB pen drives), Cobra (Speed detectors) and Garmin (GPS devices). Sometimes, Chinese products are rebranded by popular brands and their prices climb really high.
  • Camera Mount
    According to my guess, probably 75% of dash cam models use suction cups to hold the camera to the front windscreen. It is probably the easiest way since it can be removed very easily and practically leaves no marks. However, I believe that they might not be very convenient and practical. With the weight of the camera, heat and vehicle’s movement, you will probably need to secure the camera often. Among the remaining percentage, a majority of the drivers mount their cameras using another accessory to hold the camera to the rear-view mirror. However, you need to make sure that the camera and the rear-view mirror mount are compatible. And lastly, very few camera models are held using an adhesive to the windscreen. Don’t worry, more details below as that’s exactly how my dash cam is mounted.
  • Screen size
    Dash cams come with screen of various sizes, as small from 1.5 up to 5 inches. Naturally, the bigger the screen, the more the camera will be visible to the passengers but also, from outside of the vehicle. Large screens are useful if you plan to view the videos directly on the dash cam itself but on the other hand, cams with the smaller screens are more discreet.
  • Recording angle
    Before I read reviews, I had no idea that different models had different recording angles too. Directly related to the camera lenses, larger angles allow recording of a wider field of view and hence, capturing more of the surrounding. However, some wide angle cameras produce distorted videos.
  • Video resolution quality
    Cheaper models usually offer mediocre quality video recording, most rendering them useless, just when you needed them! For some more money, you can grab a 720p camera or even, 1080p. Many cameras do offer various recording qualities in their setup menus, giving the possibility to record more videos on the same card.
  • Audio recording
    Having audio recordings on the video can be useful for some but I have personally disabled the option on my camera.¬†I don’t need a spy in my car ūüôā
  • Battery / Capacitor
    Probably most of the camera models available on the market have a built in battery which is continuously being charged when connected through the cigarette lighter socket. After the ignition key is switched off, they will eventually run out of juice and power off a few seconds or minutes later. Some newer models (like my camera) now come with a capacitor instead of a battery. These capacitor models are said to withstand a large range of temperatures, with no over-heating and manufacturers claim a longer life as performance of batteries normally decrease with time. However, the disadvantage with capacitor models is that the camera instantaneously shut down after ignition is switched off.
  • Loop recording
    Most camera models automatically overwrite the oldest files as the memory card fills up. Be sure to choose a model with loop recording or else, you will manually need to delete videos each time.
  • Locking files
    The advantage with most cameras is the ability to lock a video file from the camera itself to prevent the camera’s software (or firmware) to overwrite this specific file when the memory runs out of space. This can be useful especially when you need to protect a file which you might need to view much later on.
  • G-Sensor
    The G-sensor ( or accelerometer) is able to detect any sudden changes in velocity or movement. They are useful in the events of accidents as the impact can trigger the automatic locking of files at the moment of the accident
  • Date Time stamps
    Date and time recorded directly on pictures can be annoying sometimes but in dash cams, these date time stamps are very important.
  • GPS
    Cameras equipped with GPS are able to record exact coordinates while recording the video. This feature also enables automatic calculation of the speed at which the vehicle is moving and these data can be useful in the events of accidents. Some cameras without built in GPS give the possibility to connect external GPS modules and hence benefit from the same advantages.

My choice

Dashcam B40 screen

 

After spending several hours (and days) reading reviews from the web, I have finally chosen to buy the model commonly known as the A118C or B40c. With practically no Amazon sellers shipping to Mauritius and high prices on eBay, I finally created an account on AliExpress for my first purchase on the shopping platform. I grabbed this model for a total of $66, hence approximately Rs 2400.

The package includes

  1. An unbranded microsd card of 32gb,
  2. A box to hide the cables
  3. A hard wire cable to connect the camera directly to the car battery).

However, the storage card got damaged when I tried connecting it to a card reader, lol. The cable box is pretty unnecessary since the cables are not much visible in my case. As for the hard wire cable, it is still in the box as I’m still wondering whether to use it or not.

 

Dashcam B40 hardwire cable
Dashcam B40 hardwire cable

 

Dashcam B40 cable box
Dashcam B40 cable box

 

Manufactured by Tiesfong, this specific model is sold under different names (depending on the brand), hence at different prices. As for my unit, it displays the brand “BlueSkySea” when booting up. Since it is the capacitor model of the A118 / B40, the name is prefixed with a “C”. It switches off about 2 seconds after the ignition key is switched off.

My first impressions when I unboxed it : wow, it’s so small and gets lost in my large hands, as pictured below. No brand names, manufacturer details or anything on the box itself or in the user manual. The build quality is quite good and the stuff looks durable. However, only time will tell.

Dashcam B40 size

 

Mounting the camera

Dashcam B40 mounted

 

With a wide angle view of 170 degrees, the camera mounts directly to the windscreen with the use of a 3M adhesive sticker. Fixing the camera is pretty straight-forward :

  1. Stick one side of the double-face adhesive to the mount bracket.
  2. Stick the other side of the adhesive to the windscreen.
  3. Slide the camera into the mount bracket.
  4. Connect the wires (and hide them if you wish)

Dashcam B40 from outside

 

I personally chose to hide it behind my rear-view camera for multiple reasons :

  • Only the camera lens is visible from the outside
  • Even the car passengers can ignore the existence of the camera unless attention is paid carefully.
  • Hiding the power cable isn’t¬†a difficult task neither since the cables run along the top of the windscreen and then down through the pillars.
  • The small 1.5″ screen lies behind the rear-view mirror, it neither obstructs my view nor causes any distraction while driving.

The wide angle view allows the camera to capture practically the whole width of my windscreen without any visible distortion in the videos. The vertical angle (height) is large enough to capture the bottom of the windscreen up to the sky. It all depends where you fix the camera and also, how you position the camera lens whose angle is adjustable.

Video quality

The video quality is very good during day time with satisfactory performance at night, without any need for dedicated IR lights or any other LEDs. Despite that color and saturation levels are correctly calibrated by default, these can be modified in the set up menus. Licence plate numbers are easily read, even when filmed under different lighting conditions (bright / cloudy days). Configured at 3 minutes by default, the length of videos can be also be configured for 1 or 5 minutes loops. I have noticed that a 3 minutes video at the highest 1920x1080p at 30 frames per second produces a video of an average of 230mb. So, a 32 gb micro sd card can approximately hold 5-6 hours of continuous video recording.

While video recording up to 1080px is possible, the camera also allows shooting of picture with a resolution of 4000px wide! Whenever I need to view the captured videos, I either need to slide the camera out of the glued windscreen mount or eject the micro sd card out of the camera. The adhesive mount looks strong and reliable for now. A spare adhesive is also provided in the box, just in case something went wrong.

Buttons

dashcam_recording

There are 5 physical keys found just below the 1.5″ screen (listed left to right) :

  • Power
    Short key press : Turn screen on and off
    Long key press : switch device on / off
  • Menu
    Switch to menu pages
  • Emergency / Ok
    For selection when browsing menus or to manually lock a file during recording
  • Rec
    To move up in menus and to start / pause video file during recording
  • Mike
    To move down in menus and to turn audio recording on/off during videos.
    Double key press switches to recording / viewing mode
    Short press from menus to switch to recording mode and vice-versa.

I admit that the keys are confusing during the first minutes with the device but once you get used to the buttons and the modes, using the device becomes more consistent and easy.

Glare!!!

Dashcam_glare

The only problem I have found with the A118C/B40 dash cam is the amount of glare in the bottom area of the videos. I have read that this is normal because of the angle and position of the camera. When light hits the dashboard, the reflection appears on the windscreen, accounting for the glare. As drivers, we often have to face the same problem but fortunately, we can use the sun shade. Looks like a small piece of (polarized) film can solve the problem if placed just in front of the camera lens. I need to try this out!

Video samples

Here’s a very short compilation of the recordings to show the quality of the videos and also, to demonstrate the wide panoramic viewing angle :



For info, all videos will be uploaded to my youtube channel.

Conclusion

Dashcam B40 from outside

While I have been using it for only 2 weeks, I have not anything spectacular to show you, except some idiots crossing the motorway at Camp Chapelon and a stupid cycling against traffic along the motorway at Roche Bois. I also have some video footage of the Prime Minister’s vehicle and police escorts but I bet that you probably come across them often too. But the day my dashboard camera captures someone throwing his trash outside his car, expect a blog post. For now, my advice is to fix the camera in your car, hide the cables and forget that it exists. Let it do its job but randomly monitor the camera to make sure everything is running perfect.

Although this is my first dash cam, I’m pretty sure that it’s a value for money product. Reviews about this item are pretty good all over the web and as compared to other models, it is nearly invisible but yet, very powerful. Avoid cheap cameras as sooner or later, they will let you down. The worst thing that you rely on them and the day you might need it, you might be disappointed.