This review has been a long time in the making. I have never really been one for using a dashcam, however when the opportunity to review one came up I figured I would give it a shot. Here we have the Kitvision Observer 1080p Dashcam with GPS and Wifi. It costs £84.99 from Amazon at the time of writing this review. It seems like it is the complete package when you look at it.
The camera itself is a fairly standard looking box-shaped dashcam with a view controls on the front for navigating the menus. On one side is the input for a Mini USB charger, and an output for HDMI if you wished to output the footage you have recorded to a larger display. At the top is the cutout slot for the suction mount to secure the dashcam to your windscreen and a power switch. On the other side is an AV port and then a microSD card slot for your media to be captured. Finally, on the underside there are some speaker grills for playing back sound. The lens protrudes from the body about 15mm and is slightly off centre. The whole unit is very light at 59 grams. As to the dimensions, they are W 70mm x H 51mm x D 33mm, so fairly compact.
The camera will record at 1080p @ 30 fps/ or 720 @ 60fps. It is also capable of taking pictures at 12 MP, but this is not something I really used as it is not really necessary in my book. The video will be encoded in MP4, which makes for easy playback on nearly anything. In addition to the actual camera unit, the kit also includes a long USB cable with a full-size USB on one end and a Mini USB on the other end. You will also get a cigarette style charger that will support either 1 amp or 2.1 amp output. This is handy in case you need to charge your phone as well as the camera. I found that I had to always have the camera plugged in as otherwise, it would not record any footage at all. Built into the cable about a foot away from the camera end is the GPS receiver, which needs to be stuck onto the windscreen where it can “see” the sky to allow for it to gain a signal.
Here are some pictures of it in situ.
As you can see, it sits quite nicely tucked in behind my rear view mirror. This meant that it wasn’t a distraction while I was driving but I could still get to it if I needed to remove it easily. Here is a picture of the reciever.
This tucked into the corner of the windscreen again quite nicely, and allowed me to then route the power cable down the A-pillar to the charger after going under my dash first. Now when I put the cable in place, it was temporary fitting as I was only using this as a review device. However, if I had been planning to use it for a longer period of time then I would have spent the time making the routing a lot neater.
The actual interface of the camera comprises of 2 menus for the camera side of things and then a settings menu. I have recorded a little clip just below to allow you to see what this all looks like.
As for the footage it records well – you will be pleased to hear that it is not too shabby at all. Here is a sample of some of the footage I recorded whilst on a recent drive from Stanstead after MWC.
Lastly here is some footage from the morning I drove to Stanstead, just to give you an idea of what the camera is like in less than optimal conditions.
So even in lower light levels, it is not too shabby from what we can see in the video above.
Overall the camera is not that bad, however it does have a few areas of weakness that have gotten quite annoying over time.
The first annoyance, and this is one that I could just live with was the constant startup tone as the camera would seemingly turn itself on and off again a lot whilst driving. Now at first, I thought this was down to the motion detection system causing the camera to turn off and then trigger again when it detected movement. So I reset the camera and then tried it again. Now for the first few days the noise seemingly disappeared, however after a few days it was back and being just as annoying. As I said I could live with it, as when I had my radio on in the car, it wasn’t as noticeable.
The second one is more of a concern. For some reason, the onboard clock in the camera would never display the correct time. It was always bang-on in terms of minutes, but several hours out. Again, this is is something that could be lived with. The major concern was that should I ever need to submit footage of an accident etc, then if my time stamp is out by several hours then that footage would be deemed inadmissible in court. At least that would be my suspicion.
It seemed that no matter how many times I did the rest it was would always end up skipping forward or back a few hours. Evidence of this can be seen in the video clips above. The day time film was recorded at approx 14:50 and the morning one was at approx 06:45.
Last but by no means least, was the Wi-Fi access. This was downright awful. In fact so much so that I was hesitant to even mention it in the review. I tried several times to gain access to the camera over a Wi-Fi connection and not once did it work.
Kitvision, I beg of you: If you are going to use Wi-Fi as a way of accessing the camera on your kit, then please build an app yourself and don’t rely upon others to do it for you! I mean this is not something that you would expect from a Wi-Fi enabled bit of kit; being told to download an app from a 3rd party to get your videos and content. Come on, do you honestly think Apple, Samsung or Huawei would try and pull that one?
So what are my thoughts of the Kitvision Observer 1080 Dashcam, then?
I think if you are looking for a cheap way to record your fellow road users when you are on the road, then this will do it. However, if you want something that is high quality, and has the back-end support to allow you to use your recorded footage easily and securely, then you may want to look elsewhere such as this one.
As for me, my hunt still continues.
Here are a few more picture of the camera for you to check out.