Since my last review of the Quelima SQ 12 Mini HD camera, there has been some improvements made in their latest mini DVR camera. So could this make their latest Quelima SQ13 Mini HD Camera from GearBest.com worthy of recording your ‘extreme’ events? Let’s find out…
Out of the box the Quelima SQ13 comes once again in a slightly bigger sized dimensions to the SQ12 at 3.00 x 2.80 x 2.50 cm / 1.18 x 1.1 x 0.98 inches. Instead of a wearable mounting clip of the SG12 the SG13 has opted for an adhesive (or screw on) mount with ball joint. This ball joint is magnetic and an additional metal piece is then attached onto it and the camera base, which is also magnetised, then attaches too to that. It’s an odd construction that is surprisingly highly unstable. I’ll add more on this later in my review.
Unlike the SQ12 proprietary cable, the SQ13 uses a standard micro USB port and a cable comes bundled in the box. This USB cable not only charges the 300mAh battery inside the camera, it also allows you to sync up with a desktop/laptop and allow you to browse the media it has captured without removing the SD card from the unit.
The SG13 can take an SD card with a capacity of up to 32GB, class 6 or above. You simply slide a formatted SD card into the side slot and you’re good to go.
Recording status on the SG13 has been improved a lot over the SG12. This is thanks to a suite of LED lights that run along the top edge of the camera. There is still a requirement to press or hold the power and mode buttons down to toggle different functions, but the new display lights do their best to let you know what is being captured and when – kinda.
Other than knowing the device is powered on with the solo power light, the other important light is on the far right, which displays whether you are shooting in camera or video mode. The other two in the middle that show whether night vision and Wi-Fi is enabled are less important.
The SQ13 is still too small to feature an LCD display, so it can still be confusing as to what is going on with the camera and what it is capturing. You have to cast all the colours, flashes of each LED lights to memory is required here, or at least have the manual close to hand in case you need a refresher course on all the SG13’s core functions.
The SQ13 supports loop recording, and the battery will last you up to 90 minutes of recording time, which is 30 minutes more than the SG12. This is thanks to its additional 100mAh battery capacity. 90 minutes is plenty of time to capture a few commutes to work under one single charge, either as a dashboard camera in a vehicle or mounted on a helmet or handlebars of a bicycle.
The SG13 charges via a micro USB port, which means you can take a USB power bank with you to charge its 300mAh battery whenever you need to juice it back up for you return journey. Unfortunately though you can’t charge the SQ13 whilst it is recording.
Without an LCD display, setting up your shot can be a little hit and miss. Thankfully, this is where the SQ13’s new Wi-Fi hotspot feature comes in hand. By simply enabling the Wi-Fi hotspot and connecting to it via its Sports DV and on iOS or Android, you can set up your shot easily whilst the SQ13 sends what it can see to your smartphone screen.
This may be a little cumbersome for the family/group selfie photo (which can also be taken via the app), but when placing the camera on a dashboard or helmet, this is crucial for framing your shot more accurately.
Additionally, you can place the camera within its 10 meter Wi-Fi range and use the camera as a remote spy camera, should this form of use float your boat.
PHOTO & VIDEO QUALITY
Just like the SQ12, you have to accept that something that is as small as the SQ13 isn’t going to win any video or photo quality awards. With a small 3MP CMOS image sensor inside, the SQ13 can capture 1080p video at 30fps and 2K photos at a resolution of 2048×1533, but sadly not at a quality you’ve come accustomed to with the latest smartphones.
The SQ13 has noticeable white balance, whilst with its similar wide angle lens, when comparing results side by side there is very little in the overall quality between both cameras.
The major feature that lets the SQ13 down the most is its choice of mounting solution. Once mounted on my dashboard, it only took one single car journey to realise how useless the magnetic ball joint mount is. The camera itself, although quite lite in weight, is heavy enough to unbalance itself. A simple turn at speed or riding over a speed hump in the road will easily send the camera off balance, leaving the camera facing up capturing the sky or face down on the dashboard. It required continuous adjustment. Something you simply can’t do whilst driving.
This means you have to find, and purchase separately, another way to mount the SQ13 more securely than its bundled solution, such as this DV accessory. Overall, this is frustrating if you think you can use the SG13 whilst mounted out of the box. You can’t.
If you wish to mount the camera whilst it’s recording on the move, you will definitely have to buy an alternative mounting solution. Thankfully the bottom is free from ports and buttons, which allows you to use an alternative adhesive or something else to fix the SQ13 to your dashboard or helmet.
The Quelima SQ13 is certainly an improvement over its older SG12 model; especially with its extra battery life, LED function lights and improved night vision. However they dropped the baton by choose a mounting solution that simply doesn’t work whilst being used for its intended purpose.
Its image quality and more so it’s ISO levels could have also been greatly improved, but for some people the SG13 can still prove to be a tidy little battery-powered action/DVR camera. Its lack of LCD display does hinder its overall functionality, but to add this would increase its size.
With a price tag of £12.90 ($16.39 USD) from GearBest.com, it is priced in a way that will not damage your wallet. Its price also tempts you to take a punt on what could be a handy device in certain situations. Just don’t expect this camera to come close to anything that will look professional or be worth sharing on YouTube. For that, you’ll have to pay five times the price for something that would achieve that goal.