2013 has been a flurry of product launches and technological improvements. We’ll be covering great new cameras as well as tech features that will become more common as competition increases.
What to Expect in 2013
Expect more manufacturers to adopt the SDXC format. SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) is theoretically capable of 2 terabyte (2048 GB) memory cards, currently only 128GB cards have been released.
If you’re in need of additional capacity two companies have SDXC cameras available today
Lukas LK-7900ACE – Great camera, see below for more details.
Flexmedia Eagle HD – The Eagle is overpriced due to its poor video quality and lack of GPS.
Companies traditionally focused on GPS devices are finding their market share being eroded by smartphones. In their efforts to innovate many have started to integrate dash camera functionality into their standalone GPS devices. A surge of Korean companies producing their own combo devices can be expected soon.[/threecol_two_last]
Sony Exmor sensors are found in many high end cameras. These sensors turn light into digital information. Most are good in sunlight, only the best provide quality video at night.
Sony Exmor sensors deliver excellent low light quality, reliability and brand recognition. As companies look for ways to outdo their competition you’ll be seeing both better night quality and an increase of these Sony chips.
Extra Reading – Sony Exmor Tech Sheet
Wide Dynamic Range
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) improves video quality when light intensity is widely different. When filming both dark and bright locations at once most cameras can only reproduce details from one area but not both; WDR makes it possible to more of these contrasting areas. One practical use is to view license plates at night. Plates are often reflective and in combination with dark streets make for a challenging scenerior without WDR. Compare the videos below:
Reports of overheating cameras have made thermal protection a big selling feature. Companies have started to better engineer and market this feature especially in Korea. Korean cameras are more technologically complex than their Taiwanese contemporaries but weren’t built to withstand hot, humid climates as found in Taiwan. Should be an interesting race as Taiwanese brands add more tech and Korean companies add robustness.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
ADAS can help make your drive safer. Lane departure and speed warnings are two features of a larger ecosystem being implemented in dash cameras and passenger vehicles. ADAS is a relatively new and unproven field but you can expect more systems being implemented. ().[/threecol_two]
HP and Panasonic have launched their first cameras (big disasters). Given the millions on the market there’s a good opportunity for these established corporations to take their share of the market. Competition is great for the consumer. I’m looking forward to better cameras and reduced prices in the future.
Cameras for 2013
Here’s a selection of some of the best cameras out on the market today.
[threecol_two_last] Aiptek (天瀚) is a Taiwanese electronic manufacturer with satellite offices in Germany, China and the USA. They are well established in Asia, relatively unknown in North America but are known for making well designed products. [/threecol_two_last]
The X5 is Aiptek’s new flagship dash cam. The new and more compact body houses more powerful hardware taking some of the best night footage I’ve seen. Its 1/2.5″ sensor is 15-20% larger than many comparable dash cameras helping to capture more light; combine this feature with amazing WDR (wide dynamic range) and it results in spectacular video performance. [Product Link]
Pricing is about average for these features at $224 as there’s no GPS. [eBay Link] [/threecol_two]
A small upgrade to the earlier Aiptek X3, the new X2 (the model # decreases) adds voice feedback and new stickers. No reason to upgrade if you have the X3 but the still excellent video and heat resistance carries over. [Product Link]
$164 shipped, it’s quite a good pick if you don’t mind the size. [eBay Link] [/threecol_two]
[threecol_two_last]DOD-Tech is a Taiwanese dash camera maker, self proclaimed “#1 Best Selling Car DVR in the World”. They have great R&D and production facilities(see video) but their brand is tarnished due to counterfeiting issues in their earlier cameras. Their more recent offerings are both well engineered and protected by patents against “unscrupulous vendors”. DOD should be a great brand if they continue their current efforts. [/threecol_two_last]
The LS300W is solely designed for low light performance, no GPS, lane avoidance or speed alerts as found in other DOD models. It houses the first F1.6 lens letting in 60% more light compared to the F2.0 lenses found in many high end cameras. The result (judging by their promotional videos) is crystal clear video at night. DOD films in bright conditions, I would wait for reviews before pulling the trigger. [/threecol_two]
DOD TG200 – TG300 – LS430 – LS400
Four separate cameras but for brevity and their similarity we’ll lump em together. All four cameras appear to have great day/night video, they all sport the same sensor/lens. The major differences is if it has GPS|ADAS and the screen size.
Screen size: 1.5″ on the TG200 | TG300 & 2.4″ on the LS400 | LS430. Surprisingly the body size is about the same on all models ; the buttons are smaller on the LS4XX series (far sleeker design IMO).
GPS | ASAS The ADAS systems include lane departure, drowsiness and speed warnings. Speed warnings kick ass, you can set a maximum speed for highway driving and potentially prevent a ticket on days where you are not paying attention to the speedometer.
Prices as seen on DOD-Tech Canada’s website are $230/$240 for the TS300/LS430 respectively and $200 without the GPS. Priced well considering the new feature brought to the dash camera market.
[Canadian Store] – [UK Store]
[threecol_two_last]Lukas is a South Korean dash camera maker, while established only in 2006 they’ve since captured a large segment of the Korean market. They are also IS0 9001 and IS/TS 169949 certified; great indicators Lukas is committed to product excellence and quality control. Lukas has been pushing dash camera development in an innovative and functional direction.
Lukas LK-7900 ACE
The camera impresses me:
1. It’s the first SDXC camera that doesn’t suck. 128GB cards – oh yeah!
2. Engineered to work between -20C/-4F to 70C/158F.
3. Great video day or night.
4. It’s priced to sell, $240 retail in Korea compared to $300 for cameras with similar features.