But Does It Blend?
Most dash cameras stick with a traditional dark and rectangular design. FINEVu bucked the trend starting in late 2011 with the CR200HD. It was bright, barrel shaped and unlike anything else on the market. It was soon followed in 2012 with the more demure CR300HD. These were the first products released by FINEVu. Has it been successful? Read on after the jump.
From the packaging to the cameras in action you get the sense everything has been thoughtfully designed and engineered. Start with the cameras, extremely stylish from the cheery CR200HD to the elegant CR300HD. On one side a tough matte plastic, a glossy sheet caressing the other.
Worth Every Penny
It’s the small attention to quality and the overall finish that push a luxury status. You start to notice the attention to details: the holes behind the oblong vents, the button texture, the small rubber pad on the mount. The camera is nicely put together all the parts fit together snugly so there are no gaps which can indicate sloppy tolerances or poor quality control. The packaging is also really nice, it’s a pleasure to open.
As can be seen in the CR200HD and FINEVu’s other products they are not afraid of color. In Korea there are few vehicular break-ins so there is less a need for a bland palette. While the style is polarizing it is in demand. I’ve had many conversations where they wanted something that looked modern and beautiful.
Great Mounting Hardware
The integration between the camera and the mount is fantastic. The camera effortlessly locks and releases but remains secure until you remove the camera. Easily missed is the small rubber pad helping to dampen vibrations. The mount while designed for use with 3M windshield tape can accept a suction mount (not included) through the tripod mount found at the top. The ball portion is also covered with a rubber material which helps to secure the camera during intense movement.
Simple Yet Effective
Removing the LCD screen simplified and restricts the interface on the camera. There’s no LCD screen so you need a PC (sorry apple users!) to change the settings. Strangely enough there’s only a third party Android app to change the settings.
The CR200HD had a good interface but I missed the mute button found on the CR300HD. The CR300HD has everything you need and displayed using symbols which is much better compared with the color codes on the CR200HD.
The settings program was easy to use. Disabling the shock activated video lock essential as even small bumps would trigger the lock on the least sensitive setting. This is something I found in common with many Korean cameras (how smooth are their roads?!)
Both cameras are a pleasure to operate, there are a few annoyances which detract from the experience.
Both cameras start in just over 30 seconds which is long considering the speediest cameras are under 10 seconds. FINEVu’s newer cameras take just under 20 seconds. Once started both cameras will light up and a voice sounds off letting you know everything is functional. These flashing lights are distracting and cannot be turned off.
If only every camera spoke
The voice notifications are terrific, there is a prompt for every situation. This allows anyone unfamiliar with the camera to understand what they just did absent a LCD screen. Most importantly if the camera fails you know right away which happened with a failed SD card in the CR300HD.
The CR200HD is harder to operate as it lacks the intuitive symbols found on the CR300HD. You need to memorize what actions each preforms (long and short presses) as well as the colours blinked which represent the device status. On the CR300HD it’s much easier as well as providing additional functionality.
As an added option you can purchase a combination GPS & battery saver the FG-100 for the CR300HD. The GPS works well enough even amongst highrise buildings. The battery saver is a great device. FINEVu cameras are engineered to be amongst the most battery efficient models (losing the LCD help) and having a two-in one device to prevent power loss when connected to the battery is a nice feature.
The CR200HD when released in 2011 had excellent image quality. In image quality tests the CR200HD preformed quite well and was close to the CR300HD in performance.
Oversharpening is one of FINEVu’s hallmarks which can be seen as a fuzz around the borders of objects. In the tests run it doesn’t add to the resolution and can make identifying license plates more difficult. Below are the image comparisons taken both day and night under identical lighting conditions for both FINEVu cameras as well as the more modern DOD-TECH LS330W.
Today both the CR200HD and CR300HD pale compared to other cameras. Their image quality is now equal to cameras worth around $100-150. I would like to have said they aged well but camera quality especially at night has really caught up.
Reliability has been excellent in two cameras. The CR200HD has gone without a hiccup, not one reboot in near constant use since it was first opened. Funny enough the 720P Blackvue DR-380 was equally excellent. The CR300HD had some additional issues, it rebooted on occasion but after replacing the SD card there were no further issues.
While doing reviews it’s important to look at the failure rates worldwide. Going through various forums, email, vendor reports there have been no issues related to the camera.
FINEVu has succeeded in its attempts to differentiate itself from the market. Compact, functional and really well made. While their cameras might lag a little behind the competition in video quality it has few competitors in the thoroughness of design and attention to details. Handling FINEVU’s cameras you can see this is a company that doesn’t just improve but actively evolves their product line. Look forward to our future reviews.
If you are looking to purchase cameras check out the list of official dealers. eBay will have decent deals on FINEVu products but aren’t official channels, if anything goes wrong good luck getting support.
Disclosure: The test units were provided by Alex from BlackBoxMyCar who is the authorized distributor for Canada.