Whether it’s overcoming fake insurance claims or recording general tomfoolery on the roads, dash cams are getting increasingly pretty popular year on year. By simply fixing a recording dashboard camera to your front windscreen it can help capture all the nasties that occur on the road ahead of you and settle any police or insurance disputes that you may unfortunately encounter whilst behind the wheel.
The Xiaomi 70mai Car DVR Camera from GearBest.com is our second Xiaomi 1080p dashboard camera that we have tested. It’s amazing that it crams some impressive features in its rather slim casing. Having tested the camera for a few weeks on the UK roads, is the 70mai a decent dash cam? Let’s find out…
Out of the box the 70mai comes with everything you need to get started, minus a micro-SD memory card that’s required to record the captured footage. Inside the box you’ll find the tubular shaped camera itself, which is a nicely designed low-profile piece of technology, that comes attached to its own mountain solution.
Inside it’s black tube casing there is a Sony IMX323 CMOS image sensor and enough processing power to continuously loop through a cycle of 1080p video. Unlike the mojav camera we’ve previously reviewed, this particular dash camera doesn’t feature an LCD display screen. This allows the 70mai to carry a smaller form factor, whilst having no display screen can help reduce any further distractions whilst driving.
To mount the camera there is a clear static resistance film that you stick to the windscreen, and then the 70mai camera attaches itself to it via an adhesive pad. There is also a lengthy single USB cable, that plugs into the supplied USB port 12v adaptor to supply power the unit – this device is not battery charged. With plenty of accessories thrown in there are enough options to mount the 70mai dash camera exactly where, and how, you want it.
Once the camera is mounted I took the camera on a few weekly daily commutes which involved regular day and night driving. Luckily I didn’t have the need to rely on the camera for any road incidents, yet is always a good feeling knowing that the dash camera has your back should any incident occur.
With the Sony 1080p image sensor, with its F2.2 aperture and 130 degree field of view, the images captured on the 70mai reflect its fairly low price tag. Colours are bright and can contain less life-like colours, whilst its wide fixed aperture can mean a washed out sky with nighttime captures that lack detail and depth. This is not to say that the 70mai takes bad video, it good for its price range, just not great if you are expecting the latest smartphone video quality.
Thanks to its H.264 compression, video quality is good whilst also being efficiently stored on my 32GB Class 10 SD memory card. A maximum of 64GB is supported, however there is no SD card bundled – so you have to source your own. I recommend getting at least a Class 10 speed SD card, and the bigger storage of memory card you can afford, the more captures you’ll be able to hold on to before it gets overwritten.
Thanks to the camera’s built in voice control, you can take photos and stop and start audio recording by simply saying certain key phrases. This feature can be a little hit and miss. At times I have had podcasts or the radio on and presenters or DJs would say words over my in-car speakers that would trigger these commands.
It’s nice to be able to capture photos from the camera via voice, as it saves you going through on-screen menus to capture or even reaching out to the device, where you should have your hands on the wheel.
Without an LCD display, to control the camera’s settings and features you have to depress its single side facing function button to initiate its Wi-Fi hotspot. Once connected to the camera via Wi-Fi you can access its settings menu and live camera feed using the 70mai app – downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS or Google Play Store for Android.
Setting up through the app is a breeze and the ability to see the camera’s video helps aid installation and controlling its point of view. Recent video captures and photos can be browsed and download to your smartphone, for permanent safe keeping. This process has some long waiting times whilst files between 150MB and 300MB where being saved to my iPhone – so if time is precious it will be much faster to remove and insert the SD card directly into your desktop computer, and save them off the SD directly.
Once you do have your recordings downloaded to your smartphone or desktop, you’ll soon notice that the capture quality is pretty great for this camera’s fairly small price tag. You may assess this camera’s quality more strictly depending on what kind of detail you feel it is important to capture. If it is the capture of licence plates of oncoming traffic, or being able to read from white roadside signs, then the 70mai dash camera may not be for you – you’d be better off spending more money on a 4K resolution dash camera with a better lens and sensor.
The captured video can appear very high in contrast and a little too bright at times. This makes it ideal for nighttime driving, but even then, some of its nighttime capture can have a loss in its dark details. During daylight captures, most of the time I wasn’t able to read oncoming white licence plates, or even large near-side white road-side signs. These are both areas that I would have thought would be very handy to have when submitting any footage for legal/claim proceedings; but if its general captures of oncoming traffic, date, time of day, car type and its colour, then the 70mai will serve you just nicely.
Its built-in G-Sensor can be toggled between off, low and high settings. Once a jolt or shock has been detected, the 70mai will store your latest recording into its ‘event’ area for safe keeping, where it will not be overwritten by its continued loop-cycle recordings.
Due to its cost, the 70mai doesn’t come with any built-in GPS. So it will not track your vehicles’ speed – a feature that also could be in your favour during any legal proceedings or insurance claims.
In conclusion, with the 70mai its the simple case of ‘you get what you pay for’. Retailing for just $32.99 (£26) from GearBest.com its sleek, compact design and decent capture quality can stand amongst one of the better cameras in its price range. It’s capture can be a little bright in daylight and its black levels may not be as detailed, but to get anything better will cost you much more than double its asking price.
If you’re on the look out for a stylish, cheap and simple dash camera that you can, very conveniently, access via your smartphone, then the Xiaomi 70mai dash camera is worth your attention.
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