Frugal Dash Cam Part 1

The idea of a dash cam conjures up a litany of Youtube videos from the annals of bizarre and zany things happening in the Russian Federation.  Russian military equipment flying around, people kicking out windshields, it’s the wild west over there and dash cams are basically stock because the high levels of fraud (why do people idolize Russia so much?).

Dash cams are awesome and I think the mere idea of having a dash cam is frugal.  If you can afford to drive, you can afford to protect yourself with a dash cam.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that 9 out of 10 times people have good intentions and try to make the best decisions, but in the long run you get lots of situations where accidents occur.  Accidents can occur for a variety of issues, inattentive people,  equipment failure, failure to understand the intentions of other drivers, and when hundreds and thousands of dollars are at stake people start pointing the finger pretty quickly.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to have an objective piece of evidence to exonerate you? It’s called a dash cam.  See the video below:


This happened in Toronto, an attempt at insurance fraud.  While these cases are relatively rare, accidents are not, and the blame game is pretty common.

So when it comes to frugality and dash cams, there are two things you can do.  You can buy the bargain basement deal dash cams, which can get as cheap as around $40, but then you typically have to supply a memory card regardless, which adds $15-$35ish depending on what memory card you want.  While the cheap dash cams are cheap, I’m not convinced they are frugal, so readers may be surprised to see that the dash cams I am prospecting below are in the $100 range, factor in a memory card and we are talking $130-150 before it’s all said and done.  But since the primary use of a dash cam is to provide reliable footage in case of an incident, you want the reliability to be 100%, and we all know that cheap electronics are shit tier when it comes to reliability.  So my ultimate advice is, to spend a little more on something that will work when you need it to.

So a little back story, I got a dash cam for Christmas,  I’m not even sure what it’s called because the packaging was pretty non-descriptive.  It just says “1296 Super HD” on it, but I’ve seen models that look like it reviewed on dash cam resources.  The dash cam preformed quite well, the footage was excellent, it was compact, had GPS and all the other bells and whistles, but then like many other electronics, it decided to stop working.   I never got an official diagnosis, but I suspect it had something to do with heat.  Compact electronics seem to be shit tier when it comes to heat distribution.

Long story short, I need a new one.  One that will last, will be reliable and won’t cost me my kidney.
So, I do what I do, I started a spreadsheet and I started inputting the specs and the prices to drum up a good candidate.  Below is just a small sampling of three dash cams that I considered more in depth:

The candidates

Blacksys CF-100 (dual), a dual set up (front camera and back camera) advertised for $89 USD, but before I really discuss the specs, they won’t ship to Canada from so I went on and the same camera, same seller, was selling it for $ 843.69 CAD…… So, anyways, next model…

YI Smart Dash Camera Car (Model: YI-89006)

This camera has caught a lot of attention from reviewers and dash cam aficionados.  It’s billed as “best value” on /r/dashcam, and the Canadian Price is $99, plus $5.37 shipping.  This camera does 1080p at 60 fps, which means, the more fps, the more smooth video, albeit with the trade off of more storage required.


Model Price shipping Max Resolution Viewing angle On-board Storage G-Sensor GPS Screen average Review Reliability Indicator Power URL
YI Smart Dash Camera Car 99.99 5.37 1920x1080p (60 fps) 165 None, SD up to 64 GB Yes No 2.7″ 3.9  unknown Battery

This dash cam has a few bells and whistles, a WiFi mode that lets you connect your mobile device to view videos straight from the camera.  Sounds interesting, but realistically I would probably never use it outside testing purposes.   It also has a lane departure warning system built in, sounds interesting, but I would suspect it would be clogged with many nuisance alarms, and I don’t really see how it would be useful outside of a highway setting.  This camera also does not have a GPS function, which is a downer for me.  I like collecting data, so I want a GPS data logger.   But if you were on a strict budget, you could forgo a GPS data logger without compromising the function of the camera.  This camera is a def contender for purchase. But it’s obsequious mention, puts me off, I suspect some excellent marketing and paid reviews.

Viofo A119 1440P 30fps Car Dash Camera

This dash cam came out in summer 2016, so a new comer.   The big feature of this camera is the fact that it shoots in 1440P 2K, resolution and 1080p 60K.   It has a wide angle lens like may other dash cams.  It’s big selling feature is the fact that it has a capacitor instead of a battery.  Which means two things, you can’t use this without it being plugged in, and unlike a ion lithium battery which is vulnerable to heat, a capacitor is not, which means it has improved reliability.  This one is a strong contender.

Model Price shipping Max Resolution Viewing angle On board Storage G-Sensor GPS Screen average Review Reliability Indicator Power Link

Official VIOFO® A119 Car Dashcam

121.95 Free 1440p  160 0  Y Y  2″  4  Unknown Capacitor


Spy Tec G1W-CB Black Capacitor Edition Dash Camera

I saw some people look kindly to this one, probably because it’s price point.  It seems to be fairly comprehensive, but a lot of reviews have indicated poor reliability.  This one will probably not be the one I choose.

Model Price shipping  Max Resolution Viewing angle On board Storage G-Sensor GPS Screen average Review Reliability Indicator Power Link
Spy Tec G1W-CB Black Capacitor Edition Dash Camera 85 Free 1080P 120 0 Y N 2.7″ LTPS LED 3/5 low


Also remember that a memory card is pretty much always required: look for a class ten card, don’t skimp out on the card because that will compromise the recording integrity of the dash cam.

Next article?  Review of the one I bought.

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