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on December 15, 2011
I have this DVR for 4 days.
The video quality is not that bad at this price. Please see my videos.
I use the following setting: SxGA(HD), 2 minutes file length, Transcend 8GB SDHC card (class 6). There are 6 seconds gap between the files. Something will happen in 6 seconds that you may miss.
37 files X 2 min = 74 min; 7 GB memory used.

The day time video is shaking a lot because my wife held it due to the suction cup could not stick on the windshield more than 15 seconds. I though it maybe the windshield too cold (36 degree F) so I tried it on the dress mirror at home with different methods - clean both side, moisture the cup with water, with alcohol. It always falls down in 15 seconds.

I took out my Gamin GPS suction cup and tie the DVR on it with rubber band. Gamin suction cup sticks on the windshield like glued on it even in the evening with colder weather and raining time.

I took the night video with the same setting as the day video. You only can see the license plate number that at font of you with HIGH mount on a van or SUV. The license plate on a sedan car will reflect the lights that from your car low beam.
I also took a night video in a clear night with / without the head-light on.
The raining night video shows local and high way.
I can hear the conversation with a little background noise on the playback records.

Once, the DVR suddenly stopped record without any reason while I was driving (cigar lighter power code was connected).

DVR was frozen twice in the last day. I had to take out battery to turn it off.

I decide to return this item and order another. It took a while for me to pull out the SD card.

Updated on 12/30/2011
I received a new one on 12/23/2011 and use it every day without any problem.
I set the record time to 10 min the longest record time, and the gap between the 2 files is 10 seconds. I tried both class 6 and class 10 SDHC cards and got same 10 seconds gap. I have to set it back to 2 min with 6 seconds gap. Lost 6 seconds record is better than lost 10 seconds record.

The video quality is better than the video I posted on Amazon. Because after I cut and combined the footages, it lost the quality during the save time. I will re-post the original video late.

Updated on January 16, 2012
The temperature drop to 28 F last night and this morning the DVR completely die because my wife forgot to bring it home and left it in the car which parked outside. I took it in home and let it seat for few hours to warm up and recharged the battery, but the DVR still could not be turned on. Lucky it still in 30 day return period and I always save the package until 30 day return period past.

Now I use $60 Kodak EasyShare Touch M577 14 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD Touchscreen - Black with NAVGEAR Universal Dash Mountas the DVR. The Kodak M577 has 14 megapixels and 5X wide-angle optical zoom, and it easy to record videos in HD (only allow to record 29 min in HD, after 29 min it automatically stop record, you have to press the record button again to start another 29 min record) the battery only last for 80 min, but it enough for 20 min commute each way. The bad is that it cannot record while charging.
3535 comments| 217 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 14, 2011
I have been using my F198 for a few days now [aug 15, 2011]...

In VGA mode it takes a decent picture. This mode is good enough to see stop lights & the cars in the field of view. The wide angle lense provides a very good picture of what is going on, but there is some loss of clarity. You can read the licence plate of cars stoped directly in front of you, and with some time you might pick up a letter/number at a time for moving cars. It is much like a cell phone cam & shows cars pulling in your lane, or crossing the light well.

I set the motion detect mode on. At first it was not active at the time I started recording, but then I stopped the car - powering the F198 down & when I powered back up, it was in motion detect mode. The mode is not sensitive enough & is not acceptable for use when driving, so I advise leaving motion detect mode off.

At VGA resolution, it could record three 15 minute clips on 2 Gb. Then it deletes the oldest file when creating a new file. This process takes 2-3 seconds.

The F198 has a car-off detection & will stop recording when the car is off. This requires a switched circuit. The F198 detects loss of power & properly closes the active file using the battery before powering down. When the power input comes back, the F198 automatically resumes recording. If your cigar lighter is not switched... this feature will not work.

The menu is a bit difficult, so read the directions. The IR led mode works well from about 3-4 feet. similar to filming with a flashlight. You do not want to use IR mode for night driving because you will be recording the windsheid reflection... use standard mode.

The mount did not have a swivel end on it, so you end up extending it more than desired to get the correct angle. A better mount willl lower the profile of the camera in the window.

The LCD screen does not switch off when closed. This would be nice, but my battery did not go dead when recording over night.

I believe I got about what I expected because I first looked the camera up on the internet google/yahoo & also saw a video on you-tube. It is useful & of reasonable quality for the very low price.

Updated Aug 1, 2012: This camera has been working non-stop 24 hrs in my car for almost 1 year. The swevil at the camera connection is a bit loose & can't be tightened, so occasionally the camera may get turned if I drive too rough.
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on May 5, 2014
Yes, it's inexpensive and you do need to reformat the memory card every so often. However, it does the job. I've had two of these going for the last eight months and they both work fine.

Tips:

1. The menu while it's recording video is different that when it's not. Press the right (i.e., red round dot) button to stop recording. Then you can change your options.

2. Understand than by pressing the aforementioned button you can switch to the modes of still photos, still photo playback, record video, and playback video. Many of these have heir own menus; play with them until you're comfortable.

3. One complaint I see is the battery life. The fix is get a Nokia BL-5C Extended Li-Ion Battery. Make sure it's genuine Nokia. You can have one shipped to your door for less than $5.

4. Purchase the 32 gig memory card (make sure it's designed for video).

5. Set the resolution as low as possible (you're not shooting a movie ya know, Spielberg).

6. Depending on how long your average commute is, set the recording time appropriately. I don't choose anything less than 15 minutes (I don't want to miss anything).

7. If you set the recording mode to motion sensitive, the display screen will show a progress bar at the bottom of the screen letting you know how much recording time you have left. That way, you never need to worry about running out of recording time without knowing it (yes, that happened to me until I figured out the solution).

Enjoy my video! And no, I'm not from Russia.
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on May 30, 2013
At first the camera worked fine. Everything was working for a whole week. I had to take it down because i wanted to mount it by the rear view mirror and tap the power from the mirror power. Then i found out that this camera actually takes in 5V, not 12V that was being put out by the rear view mirror electronics. So I mounted it back and just routed the long power cable that was included. This was about a week ago. Then just yesterday, i was driving on the freeway and smelled something burning. I saw smoke coming from the camera and had to quickly unplug the power. But the smoke kept increasing! I had to unmount the camera and remove the battery, all the while trying to exit the freeway. I thought the battery was going to explode! It looks like the smoke was coming from the battery contact area. I had bury the battery in sand to make sure it didn't start a fire. This could have been disastrous if it started smoking and caught fire while i was away from the car. It could have burned my car down.

Do not buy this device. Very dangerous. Your car could burn down. This thing uses a type of battery that could cause a small explosion when shorted. Be warned!
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on September 15, 2011
I bought this as a way of protecting myself in my cab. I have the camera pointed inwards so I can see my passengers, and if needs be (which I hope never happens) identify a run-out or worse, a robber. The picture quality is pretty good, for the price. The night vision feature is decent. The audio completely sucks, sound is really garbled can't understand anything hardly being said, which means I won't be producing my own "Taxi cab Confessions". All in all, the purpose I bought it for, it works well enough.
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on July 20, 2011
Using this item for 2 weeks. It creates new files any 2, 5 or 15 minutes of recording (you can choose). It has 3 quality modes (VGA, DL, SxGA(HD)). Tried sxga, but the fps amount is not enough and the picture is intermittent, not comfortable to watch.
VGA has too low resolution but movement is smooth. The best choice for me became DL mode.

Picture quality is not impressive. You can recognize the licence plate number of the cars only near you. And it's almost impossible to do in the night on moving cars. Night vision is pretty good, but the headlights of oncoming cars create large white holes on the picture. The same with the stop lights of the cars in front of you.

Plastic is very low quality, but I didn't expect more for this price.

The dashboard mount works perfect, you just have to make the surface wet a little, and it will hold like with glue.

Not bad device but I'd like it to have better picture quality.
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on May 24, 2012
This is my first dashcam. I bought it with pretty low expectations, but so far I've been impressed. It is cheaply made, but it does what it claims to do, mostly. There are several similar cameras on Amazon that I suspect are really all the same camera, repackaged into different bodies with slightly different firmware. I like the rotating screen on this one, and I like the buttons on the screen instead of on the side of the body, like some of the others.

The instructions don't match the actual menu options, but it was reasonably intuitive once I figured out that the blue "Record" button was also "OK/Select". My camera arrived with English already chosen.

Video quality is about like what youtube used to be like in the early days. You can see what's going on and identify people or cars nearby, but reading a license plate or picking out fine detail just isn't going to happen unless it's really close to the camera. Mine had three resolutions, labeled VGA, D1, and HD. VGA and D1 appeared exactly the same, except that D1 has a wider field of view. HD is clearly not actually high definition, it just (badly) upscales the D1 footage to a 720 pixel frame height. It adds no clarity or extra detail - it's just bigger and takes up more storage space. I chose to leave the camera on D1, which is clear enough for my purposes.

The camera can record in 2min, 5min, or 15min files. There is approximately 2 seconds of lost time between files, regardless of the size. I find this to be acceptable, so I left mine on the 15min setting to minimize the amount of lost footage. The files are very large, about 980MB per 15min. I have a 32GB class 10 SD card in it, which holds about 8hrs worth of footage. I wish it was better compressed, but if something happens that I want to save footage of, I will probably be able to pull the SD card within 8hrs of driving time to copy it off. I haven't filled up a card yet, so I haven't tested the looping, but I expect that to work fine.

The auto-start/stop feature works properly, which I was very glad to see. You have to have a switched 12V socket that only turns on when the ignition is on. When it senses power, the camera turns on and begins recording after about 3 seconds of "boot" time. When the power is shut off, it continues recording for about 5 seconds, then powers off. If power is restored during that 5 second shutdown window, it continues recording normally and does not shut off. This means that starting your engine does not cause it to stop recording, and neither does turning the engine off and then turning to key to "On" to run the radio. But, if you turn the car off and leave it off, it will stop recording and power down. I was not able to "confuse" the camera by cycling the ignition switch or doing anything that I would normally do while driving/parking. This feature works well.

The camera has a good wide field of view, both vertically and horizontally. It easily captures both sides of an intersection and the traffic light above you. There is a very slight fish-eye effect towards the edges, but unless you're looking for it, it's not noticeable. The camera tries to auto-adjust its brightness, with limited success. Under some conditions, this can cause the image to flash between light and dim as it tries to find the sweet spot. This is distracting, but it looks worse on the tiny built-in screen than it does later on a PC. I didn't try the IR illuminators or the motion activated feature, but I have no need for them, so I don't really care if they work or not.

The sound recording is pretty good for a low-end camera and clearly records conversations inside the vehicle with some road noise in the background. Having the windows down does introduce a lot of wind noise, but you can still hear what's being said if you listen closely. Sometimes, the sound will skip for 1/4 second or so for no apparent reason.

The suction mount it came with was actually pretty good. It grabbed on securely and I was unable to get it loose without pulling the release lever. I have it mounted right below my rearview mirror, which gives it a great field of view without getting in the way. It also came with an extra-extra-long 12V power adaptor. I'm planning to run the cord under my headliner, around the windshield, and under the dash to keep it out of sight.

For the price, I'm impressed at how well this camera works and everything it does. Time will tell whether it develops problems, but if it continues to work, I will be buying another one for my wife's car and my motorcycle.
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on April 11, 2012
DO NOT BUY

i bought the SainSpeed F198 on march 15th 2012.

the camera was a bit awkward to figure out at first, but you get used to its setup quickly. it only turns on automatically when you start your engine
---IF YOUR TYPE OF CAR DOES NOT HAVE ALWAYS-ON CIGARETTE LIGHTER, my car and all other cars i have driven have an always-on lighter/power port, no big deal, just plug it in before you start driving.
---NIGHT VISION DOES NOT WORK, I.R. reflects off of glass, and I.R.-off shows only blobs of light at night.
---VIDEO QUALITY IS GREAT FOR DASHCAM, however, it is not HD quality like it said. there is no noticeable difference between the 3 video quality levels except for the file size, so only low quality mode makes sense. suction mount works perfect.

i returned it on april 8th

the day before i was about to order another one,
---MY SainSpeed F198 DIED, IN LESS THAN 1 MONTH!!!
I'VE SEEN CUT FLOWERS LAST LONGER THAN THIS CAMERA! very very displeased with it's lifespan.
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on March 21, 2015
I had exceptionally low expectations given the price but it has been working as intended for a few months now. A couple notes: it does not have an exceptionally wide field of view. A higher quality dash cam will give you a wider field of view, more like a fish-eye lens, but compensating for the distortion. This one captures only what is directly in front of you. So in the context of something like documenting if that car at the intersection stopped at the stop-sign after you did, it's not likely to capture the scene. Also, it's low light capabilities are essentially largely non-existent. It will capture hazy images and things like headlights or brake lights, which might be fine for a lot of purposes; just don't expect detail like you get in daylight. When this thing breaks I'm going to open it up and see if those clear LEDs on the front are even hooked up to anything. I toggled the settings where they supposedly turn on and there was no change. Also, before buying, look around Amazon for the best price / seller. Judging by the fact that same product images are used, this unit is sold under many brand names and in seemingly countless different listings.
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on August 7, 2017
Don't waste your money or time. I fully understand it cost $14 and I did not expect super quality but a functioning item would have been nice. It did not turn on or off automatically when the vehicle was started or shut off. Also after a couple days of use it started to freeze up when the menu button was pushed and the only way to reset it was to disconnect power and take out the battery. Now the menu button would work and allow you to go through the motions to set the date and time etc etc but as soon as you were done with that and pressed the menu button again it would freeze up again. This item is JUNK!!
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