Smart Black Box Drive Recorder
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- High Resolution (640x480) Color Camera
- Secure Video Recording, 30FPS
- Internal 3-axis G-sensor
- Built-in GPS
- Excellent software for post-event analysis with integrated Google Maps for route tracking, option to convert to KML format and export directly to Google Earth
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The greatest risk while driving is the sheer unpredictability of events on the road. Smart Black Box’s original high resolution color camera (640x480, 30 FPS), Digital Video Recorder, GPS, and 3-axis G shock sensor, the Smart Black Box is as technologically sophisticated as it is practical. Smart Black Box offers to both commercial and private vehicle operators an effective risk reducing means to aid in the investigation process, decrease collateral damages associated with car accidents, encourage safe driving, monitor driving behaviors, and enhance the overall safety on the road. Smart Black Box, an in-vehicle Event Data Recorder (EDR), makes constant recordings of video footages on a loop as the journey continues. A pre-determined amount of G-force will activate the camera recording and put the latest image to memory; 15 seconds prior to contact. Files are recorded directly to a SD card (2GB included, supports up to 16GB). These videos may later be viewed for surveillance purposes or evidence in an investigation. With integrated GPS, Smart Black Box records the speed, time, and location for post-crash analysis, providing concrete evidence for clarifying responsibility. Smart Black Box also provides an easy user interface to extract the data from the unit and transfer to a computer. Our unique playback viewer software makes it effortless to view, analyze, and save video files to your PC. With the increasing amount of external surveillance, from red light cameras to police dash cams, you are constantly being watched and recorded. The Smart Black Box enables you to provide your own evidence of any questionable events with extreme precision. Reconstrucing traffic accidents is effortless with the help of pre-recording techology and the integration of Google™ Maps and GPS. Show that the car accident you were involved in was not your fault (even if you are struck from behind, the 3-axis G-sensor will record the direction of impact).
Top customer reviews
Some Pros: It's hi-def, and it looks like it will suit my needs anyway. Time will tell if it is reliable.
About the camera itself: pretty solidly built (even though it's plastic) and very compact, the software which is used to play back the files and modify camera's settings is very easy to use and has many useful features which are explained well in the properly translated user's manual (overall much better than the software which comes with other similar cameras made by different companies). The video quality is pretty similar to other cameras of this type - good during daylight, bad during dark time of the day. Resolution is pretty average - acceptable for this type of camera, though I'd really prefer (and would gladly pay more for it) a higher resolution, at the very least 720p. The current model seems to record at maximum of 15 fps (frames per second) in a continuous record mode at a 640x480 resolution, which is somewhat strange considering the camera can actually record at 30 fps at same resolution but only in an event record mode (which is not that useful to me since I prefer the camera to record continuously). It cannot record audio, but that's a good thing, at least for me, since I tend to say many bad words when I'm driving alone and someone in front of me is driving very poorly. Overall I'd say I'm satisfied with my purchase, though as I said before, I really wish the manufacturer would improve it by using a better image sensor, with higher resolution and better light sensitivity.
Edit: I've now had this recorder over one year and it's going like a champ. Excellent!
If you don't know, this device is used to record video while you drive your vehicle for accident evidence purposes. One lie and you could be paying thousands of dollars when somebody else is at fault or worse yet be seriously hurt and having an insurance company not living up to its promises.
This review is based on my first impressions after installing, recording, and using the the software to configure and review videos, but not extended use. I will add pertinent information if I feel differently or if the device fails.
I have purchased two of these type of devices in the past. The first one cost 400 dollars and clamped on the rearview mirror. The second was similar to this unit in that it was small and simple with no viewing screen and cost 100 dollars. Buying one of these devices can be quite a pain and disappointment. The first rearview mirror type was good enough, but it weighed so much it ruined my mirror ball and socket mount and essentially would not stay in the up position after about six months. In addition the screen would turn on EVERYTIME I started my car so I was forced to manually turn it off. This became a big pain up until the point that my mirror ball and socket would not hold it up any longer. In addition to these problems the unit's buttons started to stick and basically I blew 400 dollars on a clunky embarrassingly large piece-o-junk. The second 100 dollar unit was made in china and upon taking it apart two weeks after purchase I completely understood why it would not function when the car was hot (90deg day). The inside looked like a mess with low quality workmanship. So at this point I've dropped half a kilobuck and don't have a decent recorder.
At this point I started thinking very deeply about what I wanted in a dash DVR/accident recorder. At first I insisted that it have a screen so I could show the cop at the accident scene, but have since back pedaled on this requirement based on the tradeoffs. I have looked at many of these units and ultimately they either record video files a computer can play (avi's, mp4), record files that software has to be used to review (the smarty black box is like this), and or it has an on-board screen for review. Most of them use removable flash memory. I'll add that the smarty's software allows you to create avi's that both my mac and pc play.
Here is my list of attributes:
1. It must be very small and unobtrusive so it does not block driver visibility and is not obvious from the exterior of the vehicle. Who wants to be the dork with the big bunch of electronics on their dash? Plus many of them will prevent you from using a sun shade. Higher visability = more theft.
2. It must automatically start recording when power is applied (power port or hardwire into fuse box) and not require me to touch it to turn off a screen or start a process.
3. It must overwrite the flash media automatically when it runs out of storage
4. It must warn me if it is malfunctioning (buzzer)
5. It must have a very wide angle lens to maximize field of view (angle you can see)
6. It must be reliable
7. must be able to review files at accident scene
8. Basically I should be able to completely forget that I have this device in my vehicle and only worry about it when its memory card needs replacing and it warns me or I want to look at video.
9. It must be very easy to install and have a reliable mount that does not fall off every other day.
I finally found the smarty black box and it's almost perfect. based on my initial assessment, I would say its size is very manageable with frankly a brilliant mechanical design and mount. It uses what appears to be high performance 3M adhesive tape for mounting and it appears to be VERY sturdy once installed. I'm guessing it's going to stay put, but I'll come back and add edits to the end of the review if it turns out to work poorly. The threaded ring (what you see in the picture is three parts assembled) that holds the body to the mount loosens and allows you to rotate the body (and lens) at very fine increments (small mating teeth in body mate with teeth in mounting ring). The software allows you to configure it to record constantly when powered on or record only an event as indicated by the g-sensor shock or user button push. I want to record constantly. Another reviewer complained that when used on constant record mode (when powered) that it will only do 15 frames per second. I think the reviewer is mistaken to think he/she needs more than 15 frames per second. First of all this is merely an evidence recorder, not a movie recorder to watch on your TV with smooth playback. Since the flash media will eventually need to be replaced due to being overwritten thousands of times, recording at slower frame rate makes the flash memory last longer and reduces costs and hassle. I set mine to 10 frames per second because I think it will provide me with enough video to make my case while not "wearing out" the recorder. It starts recording automatically, it automatically overwrites files if configured with the software to do so, it has a buzzer that indicates an "event" or g-shock (sensitivity is adjustable with software) as well as flash memory failure buzzer, the lens is extreme wide angle....... basically the smarty black box is everything I wanted except I can't review the files on scene.
Considering all the options I think the smarty black box is a poor man's excellent recorder. I recommend this recorder and if you must have the ability to playback video on scene buy a cheap netbook (software only works with windows). All of the other cheaper recorders I have seen fail miserably in multiple areas.
I do agree with another reviewer that the video quality is marginal, but that could be in part due to the fact that the lens is super wide angle which introduces distortion. I would rather have wide angle over less distortion purely for the fact I want to record evidence of what happened, not necessarily confirm a license plate number (it's a trade off). You can not make out a license plate because the video quality resolution/lens is not optimized for detail, rather wide viewing area. The other review's comment on sensor quality has merit, but I think the price and features are optimized. It certainly could use a better lens and sensor, but I'm not sure I want to pay 50% more for that. This is basically a 200-300 dollar recorder that will allow me to say "no I didn't run that light" or "that person swerved out of their lane not me" or "I was not speeding". The nighttime video is below average, but I still defend the configuration as well designed cost/video quality. More frames per second and more resolution means more data and shorter flash memory life.
Keep in mind what you want this device to do and how much you want to pay for it. Sure it would be nice to make out fine details, but for the most part I want a basic evidence recorder that shows my lane position, speed, stop light signal status, the other drivers behavior. If you want a full blow evidence collection system you need a remote mount DVR, several cameras, and lots of installation grief. This device on the other hand is a breeze to install and use, does not tear up your vehicle to install, and stays out of your way while you are driving..... that pretty sweet.
I'm expecting it to be reliable based on external construction/design and software quality, but that's admittedly a guess. If it gives me any problems I'll edit my review.
Also the software is very nice.
Records location, speed and G-force all the time. This product can be your witness should the unlikely occur.
I purchased two of the units; my experience with the K.C.I support was very good.
I am very pleased with the quality of the units and PC reviewing software.