Dashcams are pretty useful at times, especially when you’re one of those unfortunates who spends most of their working day sitting in a vehicle of some sort or another. A well positioned dashcam can mean the difference between proving your innocence in any traffic incident and getting stuck with a bill, or worse.
The new breed of cameras for cars now use the higher resolution camera, as with this Mini 0803 Ambarella A7 Dashcam. The result is much crisper footage and better responsiveness in low light situations, which is perfect for cameras which can be used in a vehicle at all times of day and night.
We were sent one of these to test recently, and while we were very impressed with the quality of the camera footage, we were less than happy with some other features of the product, including a rather flimsy window/dash mount, which we felt would be prone to breaking after a few months use (unless you were prepared to leave it in place).
The specification of the camera is pretty solid, with true 1080p resolution, 135 degree viewing angle, speaker and mic, motion detection and GPS and G-Sensor built in. This means that the device can really deliver some solid all round performance, not only in terms of video quality, but also in-car services, such as GPS mapping your journeys, customizable video looping, automatic triggering on abrupt events such as a bang, and audio recording etc.
The dashcam accepts microSD cards up to 32GB, and is supplied with an adhesive mount, cigar lighter power cable, USB cable, an extra mounting pad and a user guide. Getting to grips with the on-board software was also fairly easy, although we did find that the user manual and settings options didn’t always match (for instance the model we were sent had no webcam function installed, where the user manual said there was). Here’s a recent review done by another test site in Australia.
The Mini 0803 Dashcam offers extremely good video quality for the price, and all the functionality you need for in-car DVR work. We did however feel it was let down by a rather cheap feel, with the quality of the mount (and the lack of a removable suction mount) being too flimsy for long term reliability. We also had times when the camera would shut off for no reason while in operation in the car, we’re not sure whether this was because of heat or something else, but it did make it difficult to think of it as a reliable unit.
The camera is priced at $88.99, but we’re unable to recommend it until these issues in terms of build quality are addressed.