What is a Dashcam?
A Dashcam is like an action camera, but it is powered by your car battery. It is mounted on the car with its lens facing outside the car. It is usually mounted on the front and some have it on the rear as well. It records video footage of your car trip and stores it. It is useful to serve as an evidence incase of accident or any untoward incident. It can also be used to record a beautiful drive. There are multiple variants of dashcam with varied form-factor and features. Some record audio and also store GPS co-ordinates along with the video footage.
The Xiaomi Yi Dashcam
Xiaomi sells camera under a sub-brand name Yi. Yi action cam, with is a Go-Pro competitor is quite popular. The Yi Dashcam is very similar to Yi Action camera in terms of design and dimensions. The Yi Action cam is heavier as it has inbuilt battery. The Dashcam does not have inbuilt battery, but it relies on the car’s power source. It is not available in India. I got mine from Gearbest and imported it from China.
The Yi Dashcam has a very small form factor and is made of plastic. It is available in grey or gold color variant. The grey color is almost invisible when mounted on my dashboard and hence I chose to get it. Though it is made of plastic, it does not feel cheap. It has a good finishing. The lens on the front has a mic below for recording audio. The memory card slot and micro USB port for power are located on the sides. There is a grove for mounting the camera on the suction mount that come along with the box. The back has a 2.7 inch display and some buttons below it to navigate the menu.
Unfortunately the menu items are all marked in chinese and it made no sense to me. Fortunately, the mobile app is in English and the same settings can be controlled from the mobile.
Mounting the Yi Dashcam
Setting up and mounting the Dashcam is very simple and straight forward process. The dashcam can take in memory card upto 64GB and I got a SanDisk Ultra 64 GB to be used in the dashcam. It does not come with a SD card. It comes with a suction mount, long USB cable and a car charger with dual port. Mount the camera on your windshield where it does not obstruct your view. I found a spot behind the rear view mirror in my car and fixed the camera. It must be fitted straight and shake free. The long USB cable must be concealed along the car interiors, so it does not distract you while driving. As the charger unit had dual ports, I can still charge my mobile, while the Dashcam is powered on and recording my route.
Setting up the App
Yi Dashcam app can be downloaded from the Play store. It is optional and you can still use the Dashcam without the App. The Dashcam generates a wifi hotspot and your mobile app will connect to it. The app, when connected, shows a live stream of the view and you can save snapshots if needed. Ofcourse it is not adviced to operate the mobile or the app while driving. The app can also control the settings of the Dashcam and I found it very useful. The mobile app can access the memory from the Dashcam and show you the videos on the fly.
Features and Specifications
The Dashcam can record videos at 1080p at 30 and 60 fps. It can do a 1296p video at 30 fps as well. But I am happy to keep the settings at 1080p/30fps. The lens is wide angle and can cover 165 degrees. It has a f/1.8 lens that is good for low light footage. It has a sensor which can be set for three levels of sensitivity. Basically this sensor will detect any collision or impact and store the moment in a separate folder where it will not be over written. Otherwise the data will be overwritten once the memory is full. 64 GB card can record upto two hours of video on 1080p/30fps.
ADAS or the Advanced driver assistance system can warn you on lane departure or imminent collision. But this feature is useless in India and I have disabled it. Yi Dashcam can record audio but it does not store GPS location.
The footage from the camera has some pretty good quality on both daylight and night drives. The images are not sharp though and sometimes it is not good for identifying number plates as the images are smoothened with a noise reduction algorithm. Check out the samples.
At a price of $70 (~ 5000 INR) it is definitely a worthy piece of gadget for your car. The dashboard mount is propritory and not a generic mount. So if you loose or break the mount, the dashcam become useless. Also GPS location would have been a very useful addition. The video quality is not sharp and stunning, but it does the job. For the price paid, the Yi Dashcam is definitely a recommended buy.
Link to buy