Dash cams are the type of gadget that once you setup, you hope you never need to use it. That’s because they are typically only used after you’ve had an accident or witnessed some other unusual event while driving. I like having a dash cam in my MINI Cooper because I never know when bigfoot might run out in front of my car on my way to work in the morning. Seriously though, have you seen some of the insane dash cam videos on YouTube from Russian drivers? I doubt I’ll ever capture a meteor falling to earth, but if one is in my sight line while I’m driving, the event will forever be immortalized. The latest dash cam that I’ve been testing is the Cobra Drive HD Full HD dash cam. I reviewed an older model ( CDR900 dash cam ) two years ago and it remained my favorite until recently, so I was curious to see what new features were been added to their latest camera. Let’s find out.
What’s in the box?
Cobra Drive HD dash cam
Windshield mount with GPS module
Long micro USB cable for the car
Short micro USB cable for your computer
12V power adapter
Quick start guide
The Cobra Drive HD dash cam retains the small size of previous versions. It has a two-tone grey plastic housing with a brushed chromed accent around the ultra wide 160° lens that records 1080P full HD video.
The other side of the camera has a two inch color display with a row of buttons along the bottom edge and a red button at the top. The bottom buttons are used to navigate the user interface and the top button is the emergency recording button. Pressing it will cause the video to be marked so it will not be overwritten by the continuous loop recording.
On the right side of the camera is a micro SD card slot and the GPS connector. An 8GB micro SD card is included with the dash cam. Note that the camera only supports up to a 32GB card.
On the opposite side is the micro USB port which is used with the included cable and 12V adapter for power in your vehicle. A shorter cable is included to connect the camera to your computer. There’s also a HDMI output that you can use to connect the dash cam to a TV or monitor to view video clips on a larger screen.
On the bottom edge of the camera you’ll find a microphone and a reset switch.
Along the top edge of the dash cam is slot for the quick release mount and the power button.
The windshield mount that is included with the dash cam has a small GPS module attached to it with a short cable that connects to the GPS port on the camera.
The addition of the GPS cable and the fact that the USB power cable attach to the sides of the camera instead of the top causes the installation to look a little tacky in my opinion.
The Cobra Drive HD’s user interface is easy to understand and navigate.
There are four different settings menus that allow you to customize the dash cam’s features. There’s video, general settings, iRadar settings and language settings menus.
Some of the settings that you can change include video resolution which can be set to:
1080P 1920×1080 30 fps
720P 1280×720 60 fps
720P 1280×720 30 fps
You can also change the video recording loop time from the default of 3 minutes, to 5 or as much as 10 minutes. The camera can be set to action cam mode which disables the loop limit.
You can change the sensitivity of the G-Sensor which detects when you have a collision and will mark the video as an emergency video so it won’t be overwritten.
The Parking mode can be set to off, 5 or 10 minutes and allows the camera to continue to record after you’ve shut off the engine when it detects the G-Sensor or motion.
Other features include Bluetooth to pair with your mobile device and the iRadar app, toggling iRadar alerts, embedding GPS location in the videos and toggling speed info in videos.
In addition to continuously recording your driving exploits, the Cobra Drive HD can also be used with the iRadar app on your iOS or Android device. This app will show your location on a live updating map which also shows traffic conditions (see the middle image above. The green lines are normal traffic and the red lines are slower traffic).
The app is also supposed to alert you to speed traps, traffic cameras and live police locations. I have been testing this dash cam with the iRadar app for several weeks now and have yet to have the app notify me for any of these alerts. That’s because this is a community driven app. If no one in your area is using the iRadar app then it will be almost useless to you like it was for me. You can read more about it here.
The way it works is that you’re supposed to report through the app when you see police, traffic cameras, etc. There’s a screen in the app where you can do this. This sends an unsafe message in my opinion. You shouldn’t be screwing around with the app to report that you just saw a cop while you’re driving…
The app will also act as a mapping app that will let you put in an address so you can get directions. This feature is pretty much useless because it doesn’t give you voice prompts or even list the next turn on the screen. I find that strange because the maps are marked with a Google maps water mark.
One feature noticeably missing from this dash cam, which was in the previous model, is WiFi video viewing and sharing. That feature was a little clunky / clumsy in the first Cobra dash cam I reviewed, but I’m surprised that they removed it instead of improving it.
How well does the Cobra Drive HD dash cam capture video? Let’s see it in action:
Videos are saved in .MOV format and look ok. Definitely not the best I’ve ever seen, but not the worst either. It’s tough to read license plate numbers and street signs, and the wide angle camera exhibits some edge warping that is noticeable when driving by buildings. You can see this issue in the video above if you start paying attention at the 3:15 minute mark. Keep an eye on the top edges of the buildings as I drive by them. When I’m side by side with the buildings it looks like the tops are curving in on me.
The best features that the Cobra dash cam has going for it is that it can also be used as an action cam and it has GPS. I had hoped to be impressed by the Cobra drive HD Full HD Dash Cam (CDR 875 G), but I really wasn’t. It’s an ok dash cam, but for the price you can do a lot better.