The guys from Annke sent me this very dash cam. It’s just £59.99 which is a lot less than it used to cost.
Yes, yes, I know there’s lots of dash cams out there and this one might seem a bit on the expensive side, but it’s actually properly worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, the manual is utterly hopeless. I tried reading it, but it was one of those terrible Chinese / English mash-ups. This basically resulted in me not bothering with many of the settings but, as it turns out, that’s actually OK. The setup is really simple – a pad sticks onto your windscreen and the camera slides into it. That suck-on mount is really rather strong and well-made. It sticks on and then attaches firmly after you rotate the small knob on the top. Then, by just sliding the camera on, it attaches itself and it’s easy to slide off when you need with the aid of a catch on the front.
The camera itself is powered by a miniUSB cable which comes with it and, at the other end, plugs into your cigarette lighter. Having tried it, the power needs to be there most of the time as the internal battery isn’t enough.
The camera itself is quite a beautiful thing and, due to that attachment on the top, it looks like an old-school camera with a flash attachment up top. The back of it has a 2.7″ TFT LCD screen and, down below, buttons to navigate around the camera and control things. The lens up front produces really good imagery and packs HDR with motion detection. Yes, motion detection. Best turn that off though (as it is as default) and the lane-drift detection system which it also has. The manual, in fact, tells you that it’s perhaps best not to turn that on… which is weird. Indeed, here in the UK the lane-detection system got utterly confused by most street furniture and pretty much everything else. After precisely 37 seconds of random beeps it was something I ended up turning off… which again, was the default setting anyway.
The resolution, with the DVR, is shockingly good. At 1296P the resulting videos were really clear when I grabbed the microSD card (not supplied) out the side. The 178 degree lens captures everything from in front and around you, so even cars parallel with your drivers door can be seen through the lens. Not bad, not bad at all.
The camera works by continually recording 5 minute clips (as default – you can change that) and then, when the storage starts getting full, it’ll remove the oldest one and slot in a newer one on the top of the stack.
On the front of the camera, if you do have an accident or something bad happens on the road, you simply whack the “Event” button and it’ll store a clip in the “Events” folder (as opposed to the “Live” folder where your rolling footage is kept. It’s important to note that, if something bad happens and you don’t press that “Event” button, you can always find the appropriately time-stamped file in the “Live” folder. The only thing I found here was that hitting this would record just a few seconds before the event.
The camera also has a G-sensor which (despite what I might’ve said in the video) apparently locks the files in the event of an emergency. A motion detection system will start recording when your car moves and then stop when nothing happens. Not a bad idea that, because it’s quite annoying to have to turn the thing on and off all the time. I personally left it recording all the time. I’ve got some lovely footage of car-parks. :)
You can also set the screen to turn off after a bit, which is good when you’re driving at night time.
However, as this is produces video, I figured I’d do the rest of the review in video. Here’s an overview…
..as much as I’d like to show you some thrilling footage, I didn’t really come across much in the way of “terrible” driving, apart from a few people pulling out in front of me. Over the space of a couple of weeks, here’s what I got..
I tried to make things a bit more interesting by turning on the on-board microphone and taking you on a tour of a tricky set of roundabouts / traffic islands in Cannock. They’re known locally as the “silly isles” because you have to go in various different lanes whilst navigating the thing…
Here’s another overview, which kinda revisits some of the points I made in the earlier hands-on video, but it could be interesting nonetheless.
Here’s some example videos of various road conditions. First, a very small lane with lots of twists and turns..
Some speed humps…
A well-priced and sturdy camera which, although I left most of the functions disabled, worked well throughout testing. I had a few minor issues with it when I recorded lots of events in one journey (probably filling the “events” folder before the 5-minute “live” clip had finished looping to the next file) but it produced great quality video and pictures. There was no wobble, no video choppiness or bouncing and it was great to see the video captured and stored even when you forgot to press the “event” or “save” button on the front. The only bad point was the fact that, after pressing that button, you find just 5 seconds of “previous” footage has been saved. This means that, if you’ve just had a near miss and pressed that button, it could very well have not been captured.
Get the Annke X8 Dash Cam from Amazon. The only thing I wanted was a magical way to tidy the power cable. I had it dangling out of the camera but there was sufficient length in the lead to let you tuck it into your dash or around the windscreen trim.