Dashcams. Love them and hate them. The typical dashcam sounds like a great idea until you buy it and try to use it. They all seem to suffer from at least one issue that makes them more trouble than they’re worth. I received a pre-release version of the 70MAI Smart Dash Cam and gave it a run through to see if it solved any of the typical issues. Interestingly enough, it did.
Dash cams are supposed to record the road ahead and what happens. But most of the time all they capture is the boring stuff of everyday driving. The trick is to record and preserve those critical moments just before, during, and after some kind of accident, and to save enough detail in the image to be able to use the footage as documentation of the incident. Here’s what the 70MAI does to answer those issues.
Instant on and delayed off
The 70MAI gets power from the car’s 12 volt lighter socket. It’s important that the USB cable that connects the camera to power gets plugged into an outlet that’s only live when the car is turned on otherwise it would be recording full time.
This cam has a near instant startup time so within about 2 seconds of switching on the ignition I heard the pleasant sounding voice announce it has begun recording. And when the ignition is turned off there’s a delay of about 10 seconds that records what happened after I parked. Those few seconds at each end could be the difference between capturing an important event or missing it.
The camera records continuously but segments the video into 1 minute clips. That makes it simple to identify the short clips and review them without having to scroll through hours of video when looking for a specific place or event.
One thing I would like to see included in the video is GPS information so that both the time and location are identified. That would also allow me to patch together a sequential video of a trip and lay out the route.
Videos are clear and detailed at 1080P HD and I find the color rendition to be much better than I expected. And even though the wide angle lens covers 130 degrees the distortion doesn’t interfere with understanding the scene.
The still images have good color and detail.
There is only one button on the camera and I’ve only used it for initiating the setup of the cam and performing software updates. That’s because the main controls are done through voice prompts and the companion smart phone app.
There are only a few voice prompts but they are just whats necessary. They include:
- Take picture
- Record video
- Record with sound
- Turn off WiFi
- Turn on WiFi
All the voice prompts to work flawlessly and without the need for me to shout at the cam. I’ve found the ability to snap a photo simply by saying “take picture” great for capturing a quick view of an interesting section of road or grabbing a shot of some jerk’s license plate after they did something stupid.
More control can be had through the companion app that connects via WiFi. It’s possible to preview the cam’s image for setup or adjustment, view the recordings that have been saved to the TFT card in the cam, and control things like whether the WiFi is on by default. My cam has a 16GB memory card that will hold about 1.5 hours of video but you can replace that with a 64GB card that will hold up to 6 hours of footage before the oldest clips are removed and replaced with new ones.
Other controls available via the app include steeing the WiFi password, adjusting the sensitivity of the G-sensor (the one that knows when you’ve been in an accident), speaker volume, system time, and formatting the memory card.
The design of the 70MAI is interesting in that it is cylindrical allowing me to position it behind my rear view mirror.
That makes it difficult to detect and less prone to being stolen when I have the convertible top down in a parking lot. The 3.5 meter long USB cable allowed me to route the wire inside the rubber edge molding around the front windshield and under the dash to the lighter outlet, making it nearly undetectable and not hanging down across the front window. The standard package comes with a ‘static sticker’ intended to be placed on the inside of the windshield and then the camera mounted to it. My box didn’t have that sticker so I mounted the cam directly to my window glass. That works fine until I want to remove it.
I’m impressed with the 70MAI dash cam in its ease of use and the quality of its images. I can only hope that I never need to make use of the ‘event’ videos that are triggered by being hit or some other form of accident. You can see more and register for preorder using their Indiegogo campaign here.