A year and a half of continuous use. How has Pittasoft DR400G-HDII fared?
Flawlessly…excluding reboots from a failed SD card. I noticed no decline in quality or performance since it was first opened. This was rather surprising given the issues with the original DR400G-HD.
In Q4 of 2011 Pittasoft released the DR400G what was to be one of the most popular cameras on the market. Great reviews, happy owners…until summer arrived. Reports started coming in – failing cameras, unusable video. It was generally agreed the DR400G-HD could not handle the heat. Step in the the DR400G-HDII. Swiftly released in 3Q 2012 to remedy issues with overheating.
I received my unit in September 2012 and has been in constant use since. Let’s go into the details.
[threecol_one_last]Overheating – Original DR400G-HD
Reliability Under Pressure
Reliability is the most important attribute in a dash camera, unfortunately it’s hard to measure with one review. You need time and lots of data points. Problem is by then the camera is outdated but it does give valuable information about the company.
I’ve been extremely pleased with performance of the DR400G-HDII. The camera has been subjected to winter & summer conditions ranging from -20°C to 35°C (>60°C vehicle interior). In near daily use I’ve encountered only two reboots caused by a failing SD Card.
We test each camera inside our hacked toaster oven to simulate the thermal expansion and contraction a camera would face during summer conditions. For the DR400G-HDII the protocol was a cycle of 2 hours heat at 65°C/149°F and 15 minutes at room temperature for 100+ hours.
Great results. No failures while testing. We did notice after a long day of testing that the image sent to the external monitor turned a tinge of purple but upon reviewing the recorded footage there were no changes. After cooling down it reverted back to the original colour.
For this review I tried to find online reports of camera failure. There was nothing significant, mainly DOAs & Software Issues. As the camera has gone through both the Australian summer and the yearlong >30°C weather in Singapore the deafening silence is a good indication there are no lingering issues with overheating.
[threecol_one_last]“Overheating” in the DR400G-HDII
Improvements From the DR400G-HDII
Only the changes made in the DR400G-HDII will be covered as the differences between models are minor. For a comprehensive review see the original post on the DR400G. The review is still relevant for anyone looking closely at the DR400G.
As mentioned above the biggest change is the improvements with heat resistance. An “eco-filter” was added but details were kept confidential despite asking reps from Pittasoft. Regardless the addition has been effective in dealing with the heat.
Pittasoft said the lens was improved, again details were confidential so no details on what was changed. This claim was tested using resolution charts but I didn’t find any improvements in fact I noticed a very slight drop in quality.
DR400G-HD (Original) DR400G-HDII
On the software side a new “high compression” mode was added to reduce file size by 1/3rd. The original video took 55MB for 1 minute of recorded video, compressed it’s 35MB. Compressing video will reduce video quality so I was surprised that the difference was negligible.
For testing we used a ISO12233 resolution chart filmed under identical daylight and night conditions. Screenshots were taken, compared and posted below. You can see the differences in the greater noise in the picture, most noticeable at night. Great addition by Pittasoft. There’s no reason to avoid using it.
Looking at the camera externally there’s no difference in any of the components except the addition of a plastic shroud around the lens. While this could protect the lens I think it was an easy to differentiate the HDII from the original.
Pittasoft used a thick white cardboard box. It does the job, nothing special to look at.
The Bottom Line
Would Buy Again I think the DR400G-HDII has been a fantastic unit. The original design was quite advanced packing the quality and quantity of electronics in such a small area. The HDII has shown Pittasoft can step up and deliver a well engineered product after learning from its past mistakes. My confidence has been more than restored and I’m looking forward to reviewing the successor the DR500 & DR550.