Dashboard cameras are fast becoming a must-have for drivers. They record footage in case of an unhappy event (read crash), many insurance companies accept them as proofs for identifying accident liability, can be used to record trips for fun and, last but not least, can passively assist you while driving.
There are many car camera models available on the market to choose from, and even more manufacturers are turning to this niche every day. Today I’ll walk you over one of the top mid class DVR models (read packed with features but with a decent price) out-there – The PapaGo GS 330 or USGoSafe 300 as it’s sold in US. If you’re eager to see it in action, scroll down to the bottom of the post and check the 4 trip tests I did (sunny and rainy day as well as clear and rainy night) and an unboxing clip.
I used this camera for the past 2 weeks now and it was a pleasure to test it. It is compact, easy to mount and un-mount from the windshield holder (the holding mechanism was a bit stiff the first few tries, but after a couple of uses it worked perfectly), it’s made of solid black plastic (no danger if you drop it), very simple to operate (basically it starts recording as soon as you hook up the power source or start the engine if the charger is already plugged in) and set up. The four buttons below the LCD serve navigation in the menu as well as to use the emergency recording function or turn the screen ON/OFF.
The beauty of a dashboard camera or car DVR as some call it is that once you did the initial setup there is no need to tweak the settings like you would with a handheld camcorder. It simply stays in it’s place and records what’s in front of the car. That’s it. So, as recording quality counts mostly with a such gadget, I’ll let go through some of the dashcam features below and I invite you to check the video tests at the bottom of the post for the real deal – recording in action!
Let’s dive into it. As this camera is fully loaded with features I’ll list them in bullet-list form for easier following:
- A 5MP sensor matched with a F2.0 lens offers great day time recording and performs very well in low light conditions
- Three quality recording modes: full HD 1080p recording at 30 fps (frames per second); HD 720p at 60 fps and 30 fps
- 142 degree wide viewing angle helps recording the entire road in front of the car as well as a good part of the sidewalks (you know … in case some crazy stuntman tries to pull one of his tricks when you pass by and jumps in front of your car!!!)
- Connectivity – the GS330 offers a regular HDMI plug, a classic AV plug (output available in PAL and NTSC), Mini USB for power and PC data transfers, Micro SD card as storage unit for the recorded videos
- 2″ LCD screen for playback videos, live recording monitoring and camera setup
- Motion detection mode – leave your car in the parking and if the G Sensor feels someone bump into your car the GS330 will automatically start recording
- Stop And Go – this is a cool feature. If your anything like me, your stops at the red light are full SMS and browsing sessions. The Stop And Go feature monitors the car in front of you and when it detects it departed lets you know via a beep that it’s time to let your friends alone and start driving
- Lights Reminder – Detects low light conditions and let you know via a beep and a visual display that it’s time to turn the lights ON
- Driver Fatigue Alarm – You can set this feature to remind you to take breaks every now and then to avoid driving fatigue
- Speed Restriction Signs – this is another cool feature – the car DVR constantly monitors the sides of the road and notifies you whenever it notices a speed sign. The new speed restriction is also displayed on the dashcam’s LCD screen.
- Cycle Recording – the dash camera saves the recorded file every 5 minutes and automatically starts a new one. The last 10 files are saved on the Micro SD card and, when recording an 11th file, the oldest one is overwritten. This way, by cycling the files, you always have available the last 10 recording (that’s the last 50 minutes of your driving trip)
- Auto Bump Files Copy – this features automatically saves the files when a hit/bump/accident is noted by the camera. This way, if you’re involved in an accident, you’re sure the recorded files are not overwritten by newer files and you can use them in your defense
- Emergency Recording and Snapshots – Simply press the Emergency button on the camera and it will record a new fill which will not be included in the cycling recording
- Auto Start – If you decide to leave your dashboard camera in the car, simply start your car in the morning and the GS330 starts recording automatically
- Mounting Options – Windshield mount (included with the GS330) and Dashboard (a dashbag is needed for this option)
Take a minute and check the test recordings below to see the Papago USGoSafe 330 in action and let me know in the comments your take on it or if you have any questions about it.