I’m sure I called it the S7 several times in this video by accident. This cam looks very promising – I’m very fond of the user interface tweaks they’ve made. We’ll see how video quality holds up after more extensive testing. I only got to run it quick once last night before it was too dark out. Full review to come soon!
Pairing the controller is simple. Make sure the altitude adjustment is at its lowest point, turn on the drone then turn on the controller. The controller and the quadcopter stay paired after the initial power cycle so there’s no need to reset or reconnect. One of the first things I noticed when I turned on this quadcopter was that it is pretty quiet. There’s a little whine to the engines and the hiss of air but the brushless motors seem to have less engine noise.
As I mentioned earlier this drone is significantly easier to handle compared to my first one, but I’m somewhat glad I learned how to fly on the other one because this one is a lot faster. The handling is tight and turns are sharp. Flying this thing was the first time I actually felt fully in control of what the quadcopter was doing. I had the confidence to take it out in some fairly heavy wind to get a beautiful stormy sunset, and to take it out over water without worrying it was going to fall out of the sky. When it gets near the edge of its range the controller starts to beep. I never flew it out of range or shut off the controller mid flight as I didn’t want to crash it but I suspect that if it disconnects it might fall out of the sky. Hopefully in a controlled way…
Speaking of falling out of the sky, on the previous quadcopter when the battery was low it would just kind of lose altitude and in some cases it would come in pretty hard. If you watched that review you might remember I mentioned that I had no idea how to land the thing. Well, guess what- the instruction manual on the Bugs actually told me how to do it properly! And you know what the best part is? The Bugs also actually tells me when the battery is dying with a loud beep, which gives me a good minute to land it!
This thing can do flips and rolls and they look super cool because of how big it is. It looks almost rediculous, like it’s going to fall out of the sky, but then it manages to right itself somehow. It can even do it with the GoPro on it.
So there are a few small nitpicky points I noticed while flying: for example, the GoPro mount is fairly solid but there is some side-to-side rocking. The cameras stabilization mostly corrects it but if you look closely you’ll see a little bit of shaking. Also, life pro tip: don’t use your action cam Wi-Fi while using the quadcopter as they can interfere and that can cause crashes.
Look I’m not an expert in quadcopter reviewing like I consider myself for cameras, but I know when I’m having fun and this seems like an overall decent choice if you’re looking for a cheaper quadcopter to carry a camera. It’s got brushless motors which last longer than the other type, the build seems to be reasonable and the handling is pretty good.
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Summary: Despite a few little issues with the stabilization and a slight size difference with other action cams, the T5e is an excellent value, from a pure image quality perspective.
This is yet another fake 4K camera based on the Novatek NT96660 processor and a Sony sensor. It does 1440p @ 30 FPS or a weird almost unusable 2880×2160 @ 24 FPS. Despite my critical comments in the video this cam does have some good things about it: I noted that this camera has a wider dynamic range than a few other Sony/NT96660 cams I’ve tested before meaning that bright and dark areas retain details better instead of getting too dark or too bright, but in many cases the video is almost hazy/greyish and colourless especially in direct light. Also the gyro and 60fps modes don’t exactly work. I’m going to play around with some firmware and see if I can find something better and/or hack together something workable then get back to you with a full review.
But is it worth $30? Yes, because at this price it is practically disposable. It’s remarkable that this hardware can be priced so low from a domestic seller. But at its regular price of $50, my advice is to spend a little bit more on something better such as the SooCoo C30.
My recommendation with a solar panel like this is to buy a battery bank and charge them together instead of directly charging a mobile phone or device. The reason for this is sunlight fluctuates, and phones are not as well equipped as battery banks to handle the drops and jumps in current. From my experience with this panel, in bright full sunlight, I got at best just under 1.3A of charging, with an average of around 1000mAh. Given the solar panels rating of 8.5W, this is expected. The panel is rated for a peak output of 1.7A and there will be some loss in circuitry, sunlight intensity, heat, etc. The one issue I noted with this panel is at lower outputs (in the shade particularly), the charge controller makes a quiet high pitched whine when there is not enough light. I also encountered a small voltage drop before the controller decided to stop trying to charge in low light but it wasn’t enough that it would damage my devices – just something I wanted to point out.
In non-technical terms, in direct sunlight it will take approx. 3 hours to charge a smartphone. This panel does not store energy on its own – it will only charge other devices in sunlight. Things like clouds blowing past, a window or intense heat can push charging time a little longer. Since it’s inconvenient to be connected to a solar panel for several hours in a row, I recommend buying an external battery bank with the panel, despite the fact that they take longer to charge. For example, a 10,000 mAh battery bank will take about 10 hours to charge with this panel in direct sunlight. However, charging a battery bank means your phone is not constantly tethered to the panel and you can move freely with it. It is also better for the phone, because this panel does not charge much in the shade, and phones need a consistent amount of power to charge properly. If you want to charge multiple devices at once, or charge better in mixed sun/shade you will need a higher wattage panel.
This is listed as an 8.5W solar panel online, but the specs say 10.6W. Little solar panels like this can be alright in direct sunlight but I’d advise, for most cases, to buy something a bit bigger otherwise you’ll just get 1A (standard speed charge) max. That’s not taking into account light fluctuations and whatnot that happen with the sun. This one also made an audible whine at lower current outputs. But otherwise it seems to work fine in direct sun. This power bank does not store power, so a separate USB battery bank would be required if you want to keep energy while .
The Olala 10,500 battery bank is a 2 port portable charger that supports Quick Charge 3.0 output. I’ve owned many battery banks over the years and this stands out because of one killer feature: quick charge. It can make a significant difference in charging speed if your phone supports it. iPhones, might not notice the difference, Androids that support Qualcomm Quick Charge will see the biggest difference. The battery bank is wrapped in metal and has a fairly substantial weight to it. It requires a press of the power button to output charge, it will not automatically start charging with a USB cable plugged in. I used a voltage/amperage tester with this one to measure capacity, current, speed, etc. and the charger had a stable voltage while charging and an 83% efficiency (about average). One thing I wish it had though is quick charge for charging itself – seems silly that it recharges a lot slower than it charges other devices. Since it supports QC output it should support QC input too. It charges itself a little slower than some other battery banks I’ve used – expect about 7 – 10 hours for it to fully recharge itself. Overall, if you want a quick charge battery bank the build and style of this one is pretty nice and its charge speed is consistently quick.
Olala QC 3.0 Battery Review
This is a comparison of the Viofo A118C2 and the Viofo A119. These are two wedge shaped cameras and both mount to the windshield with a flat sticky plate.
Design & Build Quality
There’s only a few differences between their body so I’m going to go over the main ones quickly. There is a slight difference is side. The A118 is a little bit thinner and taller whereas the A119 is wider and flatter. On the A118 the USB port is located on the rear of the camera, instead of the side, meaning that if you are not using the A119 with the GPS mount you will need a 90-degree cable adapter to make the camera more streamlined. The GPS mount on the A118 is added by way of cable whereas with the A119 it is actually built into the plate that sticks to the car. The lens on the A118 only goes up/down while on the A119 it also goes side to side, and finally, the buttons on the A119 are more logically laid out, in my opinion.
Now video quality is one of the most important things. So let’s start with daylight video. And, well, if you haven’t already noticed a difference you’d have to be blind. Apart from the difference in video resolution, there is a noticable difference in the way the cameras process colour. The A118 is duller and everything is greyish, whereas the A119 is bright and lively. The A118 seems to favor its exposure towards illuminating the darker parts of its surroundings whereas the A119 has a more balanced exposure and quite frankly the difference is huge. This is the normal angle I have my cameras mounted at, so that you can see just a little bit of the cars interior, and it doesn’t work all that well for the A118C. I imagine this camera would struggle with dark coloured hoods being in the video. The A119, though, wow, god damn does it look good. The added resolution makes the video a bit sharper although it doesn’t really increase license plate readability due to the lenses wider angle. You can see that the A118C2 really struggled due to its angle once we go into an underground parking lot.
At night, video is more or less the same. The A118C2 has a little bit better colour but the A119 is just a little bit brighter. For practical purposes there’s hardly a difference. When trying to read license plates I get more or less the same results: both cameras tend to expose for the surroundings whereas license plates are white and reflective so it is near impossible to read them on either. In some situations, where I am stopped behind other drivers, both cameras rendered readable license plates but these situations are rare. At night the cameras are more for documenting actual driving than keeping a tab on who drives by.
Audio on these cameras is significantly different. The A118C2 is just garbage compared to the A119. The A118 picks up a lot of road noise and makes everything muffled like the camera is underwater.
Overall, in my opinion, it is worth the extra money for the A119 until Viofo releases a firmware update to improve the exposure rendering of the A118C2 and even then the performance can only be improved so much. The video on the A119 is sharper and it has 1080p60, as well as 1440p.
Design and User Interface
The A118C2s body is wedge shaped smooth plastic. As with other wedge cameras, the camera is mounted to the windshield with a thin plastic plate which makes it rather low profile. The lens housing tilts up and down to get the correct angle once the camera is mounted. The 12 volt adapter is all built into one piece and also includes a plastic cover in case you want to make it look more like a factory install. On the rear of the camera there is the USB and other ports, but not HDMI. The camera has a small bright screen on the underside and five buttons. It isn’t immediately obvious what buttons perform what function especially when it comes to menus, as there is no visible indication of how to go up, down, or select options. Otherwise the menus are pretty typical of this camera style, with all the basic options for exposure, resolution and date/time. This camera does not include a GPS mount, but one can be purchased for it.
When it comes to video quality, daytime video is… well… it’s OK. The 1080p video has a decent amount of detail but it just looks a little lifeless. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by using the A119 for the last two months, but in day time the colours on the A118C2 are dull and the video appears washed out. For example I was filming on a very bright and sunny day but everything looks kind of greyish and colourless. It’s far more apparent when I put the footage side-by-side with the A119, which has extremely vibrant colours and better highlights and shadows. Adjusting the angle of the camera may improve the A118C2 a little more, but if you have a dark hood the camera might cause everything else to be too bright. The A118 does do well in a number of situations though- for example, when pointed into direct sunlight the camera properly exposes everything instead of going too dark. And in mixed lighting, such as in underground parking lots, or in overcast conditions the camera exposes much better.
Night footage from this camera is average to above average depending on the situation. In the city, with lots of street lighting, the camera picks up its surroundings very well and colour is surprisingly good. Please ignore the streaking coming off of the street lights, that is a result of my windshield being beat up. On country roads at night, this camera does not pick up much other than what is directly in the headlights. This is typical of most dash cams in this price range.
Audio quality from this camera is its weakest point. The camera picks up tons of road noise and everything else sounds muffled, like the mic is under water. Even when the car is stopped the audio is not very clear. Here’s what it sounds like:
Overall, my recommendation is to spend a bit extra and get the A119 over this camera. The video quality is higher in daylight, because the A119 does a better job with colour, shadows and highlights, and the night video is close enough to call it a draw. The A118C2 is an OK camera, but there is better value available for just a little bit more money.
When deciding on a dash cam it is important to consider the type of mount it uses. There are several styles of mounts, but I’m only going to discuss some of the more common types: the suction cup mount, the adhesive mount and the rear-view mirror mount. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks, so the goal of this video is to help you decide which one is right for you.
We’ll start with the suction mount. This is probably the most common mount style of the inexpensive dash cams and is found on a number of cameras such as the G1W, the Yi dashcam, and a whole host of other cameras. The biggest benefit of the suction mount is its simplicity. It is easy to install, easy to remove and leaves no residue. This mount uses a suction cup to stick to the windshield, and typically a camera clips or slides into place on a plastic joint. This type of mount is best for individuals who want to use one camera across multiple cars, or for commercial drivers who cannot install a permanent mount into their vehicle. The real drawback to this mount is that it isn’t very low profile and sometimes has trouble sticking to the windshield, especially if you have these little black dots. That can make it difficult to hide behind the rear-view mirror. Also, watch out for this style of suction mount, where the camera screws into place, because this type of mount is a pain in the butt to take the camera off of.
The second type of mount is the adhesive mount. The camera generally clips or slides onto a flate plate, and the plate is stuck to the windshield with double sided tape. Because this type of mount sticks so close to the windshield, cameras that use this mount are often lower profile, such as the wedge shaped A119 or many remote lens cameras. This kind of mount is best for the set it and forget it user – the type of person that has one car and wants to install their camera more or less permanently. The permanance is the biggest downside – this mount can be very difficult to remove. When I wanted to move the camera to another car I had to buy an additional mount.
Rear-View Mirror Mounts
The last type of mount I am going to discuss is the rear-view mirror mount. This type of mount clips directly onto the rear view mirror, or in some cases is a full replacement to the cars factory installed mirror. The benefit to this mount is that it can look like a factory install once the wires are hidden, but the downside is that many of the rear view mirror cameras are made with low end hardware that has reliability issues, for example the first few results on Amazon film in AVI format, and some even some eschew basic safety features such as anti-glare coatings. If you have features such as a power mirror or a backup camera built in, you may lose these by changing over to a rear view mirror camera.
For most users, who want a dash cam in their daily driver, the adhesive mount is the way to go because it is very low profile, stands up to heat and is semi-permanent. The downside is that it is difficult to remove, if needed. The suction cup mount is good for a first dash cam or for one that will be used in multiple vehicles. Just keep in mind that if you have these little black dots it is hard to hide the camera behind the rear-view mirror. Rear view mirror cameras, I wouldn’t currently recommend getting but that may change in the future.
This USB power bank resembles a normal battery bank, but it has a “unique” feature that makes it potentially deadly. The hottest I measured this battery at was about 80°C / 175°F – and lithium ion batteries do not like heat.