Not sure about you all, but I grew up in an age where video cameras were few and far between and they usually had to be hoisted up on the shoulder and supporting with the hand on that same shoulder – so they were BIG. Then, you’d take the VHS cassette (remember those?) out of the machine, so you could watch your home videos on your TV screen with all the family around, back then it was amazing and new. Many fun holidays, trips and memories were captured this way in my family, and those old tapes are still lying around collecting dust, somewhere.
Nowadays, cameras are absolutely everywhere. Phone camera’s, street cameras, cameras on cars documenting the streets, on your laptop and the big eyes ion the sky monitoring us by satellite. Watching the news, real-time details of a crime are broadcast through the footage from a security camera on the victim’s domestic property; many of us laugh at the latest “fails” compilation on a social media site and others pull out their phone to take an instant photo to share with friends or family. It’s a little frightening to think about what can be done with all of these teeny tiny lenses, recording each passing second of our daily lives – but nevertheless they are part of modern life and in some ways, can add value to our lives.
Enter the dashcam. A small windscreen mounted camera which records and stores footage of what’s going on around your vehicle while you drive. These nifty little devices are not new; gaining popularity overseas and with law enforcement to start with, then being used by those of us who spend most of our time on the road, like truckies and now they are filtering through to the domestic market. The application of the data collected from these devices can be as broad or as limited as you’d like it to be. For some users it’s about having footage which may help to determine liability in an incident; while for others it’s just out of interest to document travels and adventures. One thing is for certain, if you can overlook the paranoia-factor, it’s a very useful tool to have on board.
We’ve been trialling a unit from Uniden – the iGO Cam 40. Nicely packaged with almost everything you need to get going, the iGO 40 was a real breeze to set up. The main unit attached to a really high quality suction cup mount which we positioned behind our rear view mirror to minimise line-of-site interruption and allow space for our Tyre Pressure Management System display screen. Powering up was easy, if not frustrating – the old OCD I’ve mentioned in prior articles made the sight of power wires dangling down to the power outlets in the lower console of the GU painful and messy to look at. I have heard of people hardwiring them in – this might be something i’ll consider into the future – but aside from dropping the headlining, I can’t see how it would be a neat installation.
One thing that frustrated me to no end was the fact that there was no SD card included – in essence until I purchased one I couldn’t use the unit. Whilst it was well marked and I found that most units on the market were the same I still couldn’t help but feel a little deflated when I first discovered this. Once I got over that I found a really well designed, feature filled unit in the iGO 40. Customisable to a fault, the core is a full HD 1080p lens which records at 140 degrees width and displays live recording on a 2 inch screen on the reverse of the compact and sleek unit. One feature that I was really excited about was the Parking Mode – essentially the gyro inside the unit can detect sudden vibrations which will actually wake the unit up and automatically commence recording. The idea is to record someone tampering with your vehicle when you’re away from it – any extra security is gladly taken around these parts.
While I haven’t yet had to download or transfer footage from the unit, my understanding is that it is as simple as popping the card into a reader and selecting the appropriate file – which can be selected to record into time based chunks, I’ve got mine looping at 5 minutes currently.
I’ve been really impressed with the concept and the Uniden unit – easy to use, well designed and packed full of features. Whilst it hasn’t been put to practise as of yet, I think I’d be really pleased to be able to look back on footage should I be involved in a collision or an issue where such footage may be the difference between paying an excess or not (yes – I still have to pay excesses too).
As for the privacy bit – I’ve always been one to take things on the chin if I’ve done something wrong, so I’m happy to wear that but I take comfort in the knowledge that I have evidence that may help me with finding an equitable and fair solution should something go wrong. Now I need one facing backwards out of #MobileHQGU!