A118-C Novatek 1080p HD dashcam review

{ 15 comments }

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It’s a cloudless night with a full moon and you’re driving along a deserted road in the middle of nowhere with thick forest on both sides of the road. With the windows rolled down you can hear your tires crunching over the gravel as you drive slowly. The sound almost puts you into a trance but you are suddenly alerted when a huge hairy thing runs across the road in front of your car! Before your brain can understand what you have just witnessed, the thing has disappeared into the woods. What was it? A bear? A hunter in a ghillie suit? Bigfoot?! If only you had a dashcam installed in your car, you would be able to review the video footage! The A118-C Novatek 1080p HD dashcam is an inexpensive camera that attaches to your windshield and automatically records your travels and cryptozoological creatures as you drive. Let’s put it to the test – minus the creatures.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

Hardware specs

Angle of View: 170°
Screen Size: HD 1.5 inch Screen
Built in image sensor: 3MP
Video Resolution: 30FPS@HD1080P and 60FPS@HD720P
Video Compression Format: H.264 compression mode, and MOV format
Size of Recording File: 90MB/MIN@1080P
Storage Mode: microSD card – Max 64GB
Built in anti-shake feature
Built in G-Sensor

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Package contents

A118 Novatek Dash Camera
Cigarette Power Adapter with 13ft Cable
3M Adhesives
Cable Cover
Cable Clips

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The A118-C Novatek 1080p HD dashcam differs from other cameras I’ve reviewed by its wedge shape and windshield attachment method. The camera is made of black plastic and has a micro SD card slot and microphone on one side.

The specs say you can use a 64GB card, but from what I’ve read elsewhere, it only accepts a 32GB card unless you’re able to format a 64GB card through the device. The camera uses 90MB per minute, so a 32GB memory card can record approximately 5 hours of video.

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On the opposite side of the camera you will find a small reset button. You’ll also notice a knob on both sides of the camera. This knob allows you to adjust the angle of the dashcam camera lens.

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The camera features a lens that captures a 170 degree image. That is pretty wide, so we’ll have to check video footage to see if there are any fish-eye effects due to the wide angle.

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The top edge of the dashcam has three ports. There’s an A/V out, GPS input, and a micro USB power port.

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There is a 1.5 inch color display that is used to view live and recorded footage, and configure the camera’s settings. Below the display is a row of buttons that are used to navigate the menus. Navigation is pretty self explanatory, but note that pressing the center button while the camera is recording will save the video files in a special folder on the microSD card.

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Some of the settings that can be customized include: date/time, time zone, auto power off time…

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The resolution can be changed from : 1080FHD 1920×1080, 720P60 1280×720, 720P 1280×720, WVGA 848×480 and VGA 640×480. There are also settings for video recording length. This can be set to 1, 3 or 5 minute clips. Three minutes is the default setting. Other settings include HDR, EV and more.

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The camera automatically records video as soon as you start your vehicle. The display will then show the date, time, resolution mode, audio mode and GPS availability. Note that you will need to purchase the optional GPS module if you want speed info added to the video clips.

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Installing the camera in your vehicle is pretty easy. Instead of using a suction cup style mount, the A118-C Novatek 1080p HD dashcam uses a plastic clip that sticks to your windshield using 3M adhesive. The power cable routes upward so that it can easily tuck under your headliner. Depending on where you mount it, you can use the cable cover to hide the cable.

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I didn’t use the cover, but the result is a nicer looking install than all the cameras I’ve reviewed in the past. It almost looks like it’s a stock feature of my MINI Cooper. An advantage of using the 3M adhesive is that it should stay in place better than a suction cup.

Once everything is attached and connected, you can insert a micro SD memory card in the slot, start your car and it will automatically begin recording video and audio. The camera will record for a set length of time and will then create a new video file and so on until the card is filled. When there is no longer any space left on the micro SD card, the oldest video will be deleted to make room for the next new file.

This camera is equipped with a G-Sensor that has been designed to detect sudden acceleration shifts. If there is a sudden acceleration shift as a result of sudden braking or an accident, the A118-C will detect it and will save the video segment and lock it from being written over.

I wasn’t willing to test the G-Sensor feature by getting in a wreck or slamming on my brakes, but I did use the dashcam for several weeks. Here is a short video showing night and day time video.

See it in action

This camera does a respectable job. That said, there are some issues. With night time video, lighted signs and license plates are hard to read because the elements are too over exposed when the EV setting is set to the default value of 0.0. I later set it to -1.0 and the results were better. Video shot on a sunny days has issues too. You will notice the circular rainbow effects when driving into the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this graphical artifact with other cameras I’ve tested.

When it’s all said and done, I think The $80 A118-C Novatek 1080p HD dashcam is a good value for the money. It installs cleanly in your vehicle and does a decent job recording your adventures, even if your adventures don’t include bigfoot.

Updates 07/02/15

Although this dashcam doesn’t have the best image or night vision, I continue to use it because I like the way it mounts to my windshield. It’s less obtrusive than other dashcams that I’ve reviewed. It’s also one of those set it up and forget it type of gadgets that run in the background and are only needed when they are needed. I’m looking forward to trying newer cameras with more bells and whistles, but until that happens, this one is getting the job done.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by SPYTEC. Please visit their site for more info.

 

Product Information

Price:$79.95
Manufacturer:SPYTEC
Pros:
  • Clean install
  • Easy to use
  • Built in G-Sensor
Cons:
  • Requires some EV adjustments for best image
Posted in: Camera Gear, Car Gear, Reviews
{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Chris K April 10, 2015, 10:10 pm

    I purchased one of these through Spytec by way of Amazon and thought it was pretty great — then the weather started getting a little colder and I discovered that the device refused to function when it got any colder than ~40F or so, which was kind of disappointing.

    I asked Spytec about it and their only advice was to unmount it and warm it up in the house before using it (which would be hugely inconvenient, honestly). They refused to honor any sort of warranty for it, even though I’d only had it for a couple months.

    So buyer beware, I guess… or if you live in a nice warm place where it never gets below ~50F or so it’ll be fine. This poor construction/poor quality in cold weather is well documented on dashcamtalk so it doesn’t seem like my experiences with it are particularly unusual.

    • Julie Strietelmeier April 11, 2015, 9:04 am

      @Chris K thanks for letting me know about the temperature issue. I didn’t run into that problem because it’s finally warmed up here in Southern IN.

    • Spy Tec May 14, 2015, 2:32 pm

      Hi Chris K,

      Sorry about your experience trying to obtain warranty support. If you could reply with your order number, I can investigate what happened with your order and how we can best assist you.

  • Dave May 14, 2015, 1:23 am

    I purchased an a118-c from Spytec. Worked great for a few months. Now the screen freezes at the Welcome screen on start up. Spytec support gave me a couple of things to try, none of which worked. They have no interest in replacing it or trying to fix it.

    This was the 2nd dash cam I have purchased from them. It will be the last.

    • Spy Tec May 14, 2015, 2:31 pm

      Hi Dave,

      Sorry about your experience. If you could reply with your order number, I can investigate what happened with your order and how we can best assist you.

  • CAMS October 19, 2015, 11:45 am

    i just purchased the A118 dash cam and i installed it in my car and it records when the vehicle starts up the only problem is i can’t open the videos on my mac i have tried many times but it says the MOV file is not a video format … how i can review the videos on my mac with a correct format !!!!!!!!!!

    it records but files don’t open …. so what should i do ??????

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 19, 2015, 11:49 am

      Try loading them into Quicktime on your Mac. They should play just fine. If you still have problems install VLC from https://www.videolan.org

      • CAMS October 19, 2015, 2:33 pm

        thank you Julie for your help but forgot to say that VLC, QuickTime and other programs couldn’t open the files ….. it says ” The file is not a movie file” OR ” unidentified codec ” … !!!!

        really confusing !

  • CAMS October 19, 2015, 3:27 pm

    i have 64GB card, and just read that the 32GB fits it, true ???

  • CAMS October 19, 2015, 4:31 pm

    I tried now 32GB but it says ” wrong size ” OR ” card full ” it’s new one and how both cards don’t fit the dashcam and they are new and work fine for other files like Music, pics and so on !!!!!

    i think the problem comes from the format MOV because it records on the 64GB but when i play it on mac it shows the time and plays with no sound but black screen !!!!!!!!!

    • Julie Strietelmeier October 19, 2015, 4:36 pm

      I don’t have this camera hooked up any longer and am not sure where it is, but there should be a way to reformat the card through the menus on the camera. You might want to try that. Are you using a card reader to try to play through your Mac? Have you tried connecting the camera to your Mac using a USB cable. It might show up as a mounted drive.

  • Richard L. June 19, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Very nice review, Thank you.

    I have been using the battery version for years. It will reset in very hot weather and not record unless the setup is run again.

    The capacitor version works well but will not remember the date when powered down for more then a night The camera will record despite always reading 2016/01/01.

    The battery version worked well with a lighter/USB adapter and 10′ USB cord (not supplied). The capacitor version does not operate correctly with the same setup and requires the supplied power cord with its limited reach to function correctly.

  • don July 19, 2016, 8:36 am

    I purchased A118-C from Spy Tec. Initially, it did not work, but customer service walked me through a few diagnostics. Ultimately, they helped me do a firmware update and it’s worked great since. For the money, I think it is a good buy and Spy-tec was top notch. Don – Rochester, NY.

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