I find myself with a conundrum. I have a gadget to review, but for the life of me, I don’t know what I would use it for. Nevertheless, I’m going to take it on a ride and maybe I’ll have an aha moment. It is available through Etronixmart.
Here’s the description from the retailer’s website:
Another new in car camera- Etronixmart010 Portable Car Camcorder. It allows you to take video recorder in Day/Night Selectable modes. Thus, Etronixmart010 carcam will help you capture clear images in low light environment once adjust to Night modes. At the same time, it will continue to record while being charging. With its 270 degree Swivel LCD display, it is very convenient to take video/photo in different situations.
Finally, it is alo a very good portable digital camera. Get one back home and find what other surprise you will get.
Now that we have that cleared up
- LCD display: 2.0inch LCD(4:3)
- Lens: 140A+High resolution wide angle lens
- Language selection: English. Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Russian
- Video resolution: VGA/D1/HD(1280×960)
- Video format: AVI
- Image resolution: VGA
- Image format: JPG
- Memory card: Micro SD (not included)
- Microphone/Speaker: yes
- LED light: Dual super bright LED
- TV mode: PAL/NTSC
- Frequency: 50HZ/60HZ
- USB Port: USB2.0
- Power input: 5V 500MA
- Battery: Rechargeable Li-ion
I comes with most everything you’ll need to start recording your vehicle escapades, with the exception of a micro SD card. The device has no onboard memory. The windshield mount worked very well.
On one side are a set of function buttons.
On the back is the micro SD card slot. You’ll notice that the image is inverted. This can be flipped using one of the function keys, however, that also flips the graphics.
On the other side are some more function keys and the mini USB port. The port is used to supply power and charge the internal battery as well as connect the device to a PC.
A look at the bottom reveals the slots for the window mount and shows the lens which has 180 deg of adjustment. The 2 white dots on either side of the lens are L.E.D.s that provide illumination for the night mode.
The device is a car camera, so I stuck in one of my cars. You’ll probably notice that I positioned it low on the windshield and there’s a reason to do so. When I had it higher up, I would get underexposed video because the device appears to average the scene for exposures and when higher up, the frame has mostly sky, no matter how I adjust the lens.
The included mount seems very secure having a suction cup with a lever. In the hundreds of miles I drove around with the camera, it never fell off. I didn’t need the power cord plugged in for most of my tests, because the internal battery provided several hours of operation. The battery can be charged with either the included 12v cable or the included USB cable and wall wart. However, if you have the 12v cable plugged in , the camera will turn on and off when the 12v power is switched on and off.
The above clip was shot on an overcast day in the camera’s HD mode and demonstrates some of the issues with the camera. Firstly, you’ll notice that the exposure changes dependent upon how much of the sky is in the frame. Also, the sound has a consistent buzz and it’s not the engine of my hybrid car. It was in battery mode for the entire clip.
When recording videos, one selects a recording time of 2, 5 or 15 minutes. If set in motion sense mode, these clips will be repeated until the memory is full and then stop with a memory full message.
It took a while for me to get acclimated to the buttons on the camera, especially when it was mounted on the windshield. When mounted the graphics are upside down. Another issue is the night mode, which when enabled turns on the L.E.D.s. They were rather bright, but all they did was glare on the windshield. Perhaps I’m using this thing wrong and should be recording myself driving because then the L.E.D.s are quite effective.
The camera can also take still photos and above is an example. I won’t be replacing my still camera anytime soon. I did notice when uploading this photo that I have the date wrong. It should be 2011, which brings up another point. The menu structure on the device is a learning experience. The manual that came with the camera leaves a lot to be desired. With some patience and lots of time, I was able to figure out most functions. For the picture mode these include a self time and burst mode, which take 3 shots at a time.
Using the display, the videos and stills can be previewed without attachment to a computer. Again, figuring out the button sequences kept me busy for awhile. If you wish to download the files to a computer, the device can be plugged into a usb port using the supplied cable and it will look like a removable drive.
After using the Portable Car Camcorder for several weeks, I’ve come up with some ideas how this might be practical. It could be used as a security device to video someone who might want to vandalize your car. You could keep and eye on your teen when he/she takes the family car out for a spin. If you’re prone to frequent moving violations, you could record your interactions with law enforcement while they are writing a ticket. Of course, if someone takes the micro SD card or the camera, you’ll have nothing