Pateker FVL9 Dash Cam Review
- Excellent daytime video quality
- Adequate night video quality
- Acceptable still photographs
- Straightforward user interface
- Reliable over long-term use
- Built in battery lasts long enough to snap a few photos or a short video once the power is unplugged
- Size makes it visible from outside the car
- GPS available but not included
- Poor mounting system
- “High Resolution” still images are just lower resolution photos that have been upsized
Summary: The Pateker FVL9 Dash Cam does all the things that a car blackbox camera should with excellent video quality and high reliability. It makes a great day-to-day dash cam if you don’t need features like record while parked or built in GPS.
Where to Buy
Pateker FVL9 Dash Cam:
Build Quality & Appearance
In terms of a dash cam, the FVL9 is pretty standard fare. It is made of black shiny plastic that is well constructed but the glossy plastic picks up fingerprints like crazy. The screen is adequate resolution, but not HD. The buttons feel nice and the device is pleasant to use. There’s one thing worth mentioning: the camera is quite big. When installed on my windshield there’s no way I could hide it behind my mirror and in the city I live in I wouldn’t keep it permanently installed in my car for fear of my car being broken in to.
Another thing I noticed immediately was an issue with the mounting hardware. While the actual piece that sticks to the dash was fine, the connection between the mount hardware and the camera is just a piece of plastic that slides into place. There is no clip that holds it, only friction. I worry that this plastic piece will wear down over time.
The most important part of a dash camera is its video quality and this is a section where the Pateker FVL9 delivers. During the day the video is extremely sharp, full of color and detail. It transitions from light to dark sections with ease and does an excellent job handling exposure. Overall, I found it averaged slightly dark, but there is an exposure compensation setting to fix that. Occasionally I noticed a loss of detail from compression but it didn’t seem to be an issue on faster memory cards.
At night, the video is adequate. It’s not as bright as some cameras I’ve tested but it fared significantly better in brightness and detail than most; and compared to my GoPro Hero HD, the difference is astounding.
Audio is great when the car isn’t moving. When it is moving, it seems to use some sort of noise cancellation – and because my car is quite loud that means it takes away almost all sounds including my voice. It isn’t strong enough to pick up voices from outside of the car, but it will at least record whatever you have to say.
Here are some video samples. Click for full resolution:
The still photo quality of this camera is adequate for capturing quick images. That being said, I almost immediately noticed that the actual resolution of the still images is somewhere around 3 MP, so there is no point setting the camera to 12 MP because the images just take up more space for the same overall quality. (Editor’s note: The sensor is actually 3.5 MP)
Here are some samples. Click for higher resolution:
The color and exposure of the images is great and there’s even an antishake setting that helps when it is darker out. They’re of comparable quality to a lower resolution mobile phone picture (think HTC One M7/8) in terms of noise and detail.
The built in battery of this device is only meant to last a few minutes to document the aftermath of an accident. For this purpose it delivers acceptable and I found myself able to film little clips and wander around my house for at least ten minutes before the FVL9 started warning me that the battery was empty. This should be enough for a quick accident scene clip and a few pictures – about what a dash camera is meant for.
Screen, Buttons & UI
Even though the button layout is a bit strange, once I figured out what each button did I had no problem navigating through the cameras features. In fact, for this type of device it was very straightforward. This is a big win for this camera compared to other cameras in its field.
The camera has worked perfectly with loop recording, overwriting, power on recording and any of the standard dash camera features. Even the G sensor works like it should with 3 settings for sensitivity in case one of them has too many false positives. I set it to ‘low’ which rarely activates, but with a 32GB card in the camera if I have an incident I don’t have to worry about clips being overwritten anyways.
This camera is based around the Novatek NT96650 Processor and the 3.5MP Aptina AR0330 sensor. This is a good thing as this sensor and processor combination is known to produce great image quality for the price.
One initial negative thing that I noticed was the power cable is built into the car adapter. This is problematic for people like me who only have one lighter jack in my car and would like to charge a phone and use the camera at the same time. I have contacted Pateker to let them know my suggestion to include a Lighter Jack to 2 USB port adapter and a long separate cable. In the meantime I’d advise purchasing a long mini USB cable and a multi port plug if you plan on permanently installing this in your car and do not have a spare lighter jack.
Price at time of review: $118.99 CAD
The Pateker FVL9 does what a dash camera should do quite well: it has excellent video quality and decent still images. It exposes right, starts and stops when it should and has acceptable audio. A few quirks keep it from being perfect, but it will be a trustworthy addition to my car.