DOD S1 Plus Tech Car DVR Review

Discussion in 'T&AA - Travel and Anything Automotive' started by JD666, Feb 12, 2015.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Car DVRs or Dashboard Video Recorders, or Digital Video Recorders have become increasingly popular over the past few years. A very interesting concept that allows one to record the view over the front of his/her dashboard (essentially the road ahead) and in some cases the view of the road behind as well. This comes handy as video evidence in the event of an accident, or any unfortunate incident related to the vehicle or the driver. With a spate of insurance scams in Russia and the United Kingdom, these devices have become a must have in protecting oneself from unwanted legal hassles or issues.

    Similar to what we've all seen on TV shows like COPS, DVRs also come handy in capturing crimes and in recent times incidents and accidents like, the amazing Meteor in Russia or the unfortunate Taiwan Air crash.

    Before we delve further into this particular DVR, a bit of history into how they work and what all can be captured, and why would you need one.

    1) Recording -

    DVRs vary in the functionality they offer. Helped by cheaper Chinese knock offs, there are a few thousand of them on the market. Good brands are BlackVue (possibly one of the best), Garmin (Just entering the market) and Polaroid (Also coming up with a line up).
    The recording modes can be 720P or 1080P, with some cameras offering a pseudo 1080 resolution. The good cameras will offer 1080P by default and those are the ones to look out for. Also an important feature is the degree of video coverage that they provide. Most DVRs will offer 100-120 Degrees of field of view, but the good ones offer 170 and higher degree field of view. The higher the better, since it will allow video coverage of the sides as well.

    They also offer recording options like Audio (so your chit chat, and banter would also be recorded). The audio recording can be switched on/off by pressing a button on the side of some DVRs. So be careful when you sit in a car that has a DVR!

    Higher end models, also offer GPS info,speed information and G-Sensor, which is recorded with the video in one corner of the screen. This can again be toggled, and can be quite handy for those looking at converting their neighborhood into a racetrack (We do not endorse racing on public streets at all). Your drive can then be plotted onto Google maps for review and sharing. Be warned, if your speed is being recorded, and you are in an accident (and over the limit), it might work against you. So record all this additional information at your own discretion.

    Some DVRs offer Dual Camera setups, with a camera hooked up to the rear windscreen, recording the video at the rear of the vehicle simultaneously with the front camera.

    Chevrolet is probably the first Manufacturer offering a Performance Data logger on the new Corvette, that provides built in recording functionality with G-force, position, speed etc.

    2) Storage -

    Some DVRs have built in storage (16-32G:cool:, while the vast majority that I have seen use a SD or a MicroSD Card. Generally these cards are not bundled with the recorder, which account for their much lower pricing. For a proper Full HD recording experience, you need a fast Class 6 or higher SD card. So don't scrimp on that if you planning on investing in a memory card.

    3) Playback and Saving -

    These DVRs record the videos in user-selectable video file of duration ranging between 1 minute to 10 minutes. Files are recorded virtually with no break and are saved in sequence. Once the recorder reaches the capacity of the card, it erases the oldest video and starts recording from there. Similar to an Aircraft Cockpit Voice recorder, it saves the last 1-4 hours of video, depending on the memory card size and video format being recorded in.

    For playback, there are a variety of options. Most DVRs have an A/V out that connects to your TV and provides playback from the device directly. Generally there is a small LCD in the DVR that allows for instant playback off the device. The higher end models, offer Wi-Fi connectivity that allow you to either view the video on your Mobile phone, or download it directly to your PC if you are in the vicinity of your vehicle. This method is generally used for Recorders that cannot be removed easily.

    4) Others, misc information -

    For prospective buyers living in hot regions, or areas that get a lot of sunlight, it would be useful to check the operational temperature range of the DVR before investing in one. Temperatures in the Middle East for instance, can top 75 degrees C easily (inside a vehicle), and this can damage your DVR. Alternately, also look at ways to protect the lens of your DVR if you have to leave the vehicle parked in direct sunlight for a long time. This affects cheaper, lower quality DVRs more than higher end one, but is always a prudent option.

    Now that I have filled your heads with all the information necessary to convince why you should also buy one :D here's a review of the DOD S1+ Tech Car DVR -

    DOD tech apparently has an official presence here in the Middle East. So I ordered this online thru Sharaf DG. The package arrived in 2 days, and was in top shape -


    Information on the packaging -

    DOD 01.jpg

    DOD 02.jpg

    If you can read the information in the top left of this image, you can see how this device offers 1080p resolution, by recording in 1440x1080p resolution, which is done by using rectangular pixels rather than regular square ones. This would give you a 4:3 resolution video instead of a 16:9.

    DOD 03.jpg

    The reverse of the package.

    Mentioned specs are -

    2.5 inch TFT display
    1 Mega Pixel CMOS image sensor
    4 IR (Infra Red) LEDs
    Wide angle lens upto 100 Degrees
    Recording modes are 1080i, 720P and WVGA
    Video Codec - H.264
    File Format - AVI
    Zoom - Digital - 4X
    Cyclic Recording
    Built in Mic
    Built in speaker
    Power input - Mini USB
    Power requirements - 5V, 1Amp
    Weight - 110 Gms (without mounting)

    DOD 04.jpg

    DVRs generally come with the necessary accessories for mounting them to your car windscreen. This is no exception. I prefer the ones that offer a removable mounting (suction cup type) than a permanent one, so that I can switch DVRs between cars, and also remove them when not needed for a long time.

    Moving on, the contents -

    DOD 05.jpg

    DOD 06.jpg

    Typical packaging with little to no protection against bumps or knocks. The cardboard box has a decent amount of strength but there is nothing to keep the DVR from getting knocked around.

    DOD 07.jpg

    Contents beneath the DVR

    DOD 08.jpg

    The following items were bundled along with the DVR -

    DOD 09.jpg

    - Mounting bracket with 3 way adjustable mounting. Very sturdy and durable. Impressed.

    DOD 012.jpg

    - A/V Cable (3.5 mm to RCA -Video and Mono audio)

    DOD 010.jpg

    - Car charger with about 2 meters of cable length (didn't measure). Enough to hook up to the DVR and route the cable around the ceiling of the vehicle to prevent any obstruction or intrusion.

    DOD 011.jpg

    - USB to Mini USB for data transfer and or charging

    DOD 013.jpg

    - Battery for power backup when switching off. Most DVRs have a Nokia type battery, that can actually be swapped for an actual Nokia battery. A little bit of searching online revealed I can replace this with an 750 mAH Nokia battery, that would offer better life and back up.

    - User Manual in English, Russian and Arabic (The Russian bit is necessary for their main market)

    - A DOD tech windscreen sticker for your car, that I would not be seen dead in. Probably it would act as a deterrent for potential scamsters who recognize the company :D . You can see it in the first pic, didn't warrant an individual picture.

    Now the actual DVR -

    DOD 014.jpg
    On the side with the display screen folded.

    DOD 015.jpg

    Screen extended with all the relevant information displayed on the side. This device also has features like Motion Detection (starts recording when the camera detects any motion in the frame being captured), File Lock on impact (Locks files and keeps recording when an impact is sensed by the G-sensor), Manual File Lock (Allows you to lock files that you do not want it to over-write) and Image Capture (can take images instead of video).

    DOD 016.jpg

    Looks just like a mini Camcorder. The buttons from Left to Right are - Audio on/off, Recording, Playback/mode button, Menu button, Power and 4-way Joystick.

    DOD 017.jpg

    The speaker grille and the mounting bracket. An interesting find, that had me messed up for quite some time, later.

    DOD 018.jpg

    The underside of the DVR houses the A/V jack and the USB jack.

    DOD 019.jpg

    The sensor with 4 IR LEDs. I would realistically expect a range of about 3-5 feet at the most. Also shining thru the wind-screen, I am not sure how much would it capture. But my best bet would be - Next to nothing.

    DOD 020.jpg

    The camera can be rotated in a 180 Degree arc to capture video on the sides as well. Theoretically this gives it a 280 degree field, since you can rotate the lens to capture any un-toward incident on the side, but only 100 Degrees at a time.

    DOD 021.jpg

    Fully rotated to the other end.

    DOD 023.jpg

    The SD Card slot. I used a 4GB Class 4 SDHC Card from SanDisk. No issues with either the 1080i video or the 720P video. Though the recording times I got were -

    - 100 MB for a 2 minute video file (no audio) at 720P

    - 130 Mb for a 2 minute video file (no audio) at 1080i

    This gave me a capacity of about 56 minutes on a 4GB card at 1080i and 72 minutes at 720P.

    Which is more than sufficient for daily recording, my commute to and from work is about 30 minutes one way.

    For longer driving distances (like a road trip) higher memory capacity cards are recommended.

    DOD 024.jpg

    The Joystick and indication. When the device is charging, the purple light as captured is shown. Once charged, the light changes to Red (to indicate recording).

    The Joystick allows one to set the exposure (while recording) from -3 to +3. Also allows you to switch the front IR LEDs on or off. It also allows you to zoom in and out of your video frame.

    Same bits work when using the image mode.

    DOD 025.jpg

    A close up of the features again.

    DOD 026.jpg

    Video as shown on the display. Looking at it clockwise starting from top left, the information being displayed is -

    - Video mode
    - 2 minute loop file
    - Audio is being recorded (indicated by the music note)
    - Seconds into the recording
    - Resolution of recording
    - INT - Internal memory is being used (which is 3 MB, no use at all)
    - Batter status
    - Current time and date
    - Exposure setting.

    After inserting the battery and charging the device, I found a glaring flaw. The windscreen mount clips to the same side as the battery cover -

    DOD 022.jpg

    However the cover is so flimsy, it fails to hold the DVR in place. I found a hole on the battery cover, where a screw should be. Not finding one bundled, I tried a variety of small screws lying around but nothing worked.

    Thankfully I had not thrown the packaging away, and started trawling thru it. Guess what I found -

    DOD 027.jpg


    I put the screw in after the battery and the whole assembly was more robust than before. Not as much as I would've liked it to be, considering the bumps it would have to endure, but still robust enough to function.

    DOD 028.jpg

    Battery life -

    I got about 25 minutes of recording on the built - in battery before it went full dead. Which is pretty sufficient for regular usage. The Ford that I drive, has a 12V socket that is operational even after you switch the car off. I could hook it up to that, however risk draining the battery for prolonged times. For now, the built in battery suffices. I just have to remember to pull out the 12V charger from the socket.

    Video samples -

    Yep, what the whole deal is about. Well for the price, (3,500 INR on sale), it is pretty decent. It will record number plates in the day time and that is about it. Night time shooting needs more experimentation with Exposure settings, which I will as I use this device further. Here are 2 samples, one of a 1080i Night and the other of a 720P Day.

    Note that the day mode has a lot of glint/reflection since the sun was behind the vehicle when this was being captured.

    And night mode -

    I'll keep adding samples as I take them. For now I'll give this device a rating of 3 out of 5. This gets the job done, but don't expect mind blowing performance and you are in the right zone.


  2. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Disclaimer -

    Forgot to add this bit. Use of Car DVR is akin to someone recording the road from a mobile phone camera. However there are always certain regions/areas that prohibit photography and video capture. Be aware of these rules/requirements, before installing and using one. It would be best to use a removable DVR, so that if you are in any such region, you can disconnect and stow it away.

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