Review of 70mai Smart Dash Cam Pro car DVR with display and camera rotary unit.
Nowadays, when you see a product in a store, it is often impossible to understand whose development and production it is, what kind of company, whose brand. Nobody has been asking questions about the country of origin for a long time — everyone knows where the planet-wide workshop is located (although there are exceptions among the older generation, who are still wondering if this is a Japanese tape recorder? ).
70mai Smart Dash Cam Pro 1944P Speed Coordinates GPS ADAS 70mai Pro Car Dash Camera WiFi 70mai Car DVR Voice Control 24H Parking
One such case is today’s gadget. It is sold on AliExpress with a name that contains the word Xiaomi , but neither on the product packaging nor on the product page about Xiaomi there is not the slightest mention. It turns out that 70mai is part of the Xiaomi ecosystem, so to speak, a brand. 70mai manufactures automotive electronics under the same name. Among the products offered on the 70mai website are dashboard cameras and several car accessories: a start-up charger (give me a light), a tire inflation compressor, a smartphone bracket with wireless charging and a USB adapter for a cigarette lighter. By the way, the exact same adapter is included with the registrar in question.
Specifications and scope of delivery
The registrar is packed in an almost cubic black box with a laconic print. From the information printed here (model name, 70mai the smallest text on the sticker) it is impossible to understand what this is all about in your hands. Together with the recorder, we received another useful (no) accessory called 70mai GPS Mount Holder. Unfortunately, there is virtually no information about this device on the “native” site. However, the purpose of the accessory is easy to understand from its name — it is a mounting pad with a built-in GPS receiver (Glonass support is also announced).
There is nothing in the package with the GPS site, except for the site itself and empty microscopic instructions. However, there is also a transparent sticker of an incomprehensible purpose, on which, if you look through a microscope through the light, a gluing diagram is drawn and something is written on the topic of electrostatics.
The complete set of the registrar looks richer:
- DVR 70mai Smart Dash Cam Pro
- cigarette lighter power adapter with 3.5 m cable
- adhesive pad
- quick start guide (too short and too small)
- two transparent stickers (electrostatic sticker), one of the same is included in the set with the GPS pad
- flat plastic piece with curved tip
By the way, about the last detail. Thanks to the phenomenal brevity of the user’s manual, the function of this bow is not easy to grasp. Options such as a digging stick for a domestic mole or a table hockey stick — they, of course, please the soul, but they are not like the truth. Only those who have ever laid cables inside a car on their own can understand that this stick can be used to safely tuck cables under the interior trim.
A similar design and, in general, the concept is not difficult to find among the recorders of other manufacturers. An irregularly shaped body with a protruding rotating camera block is one of the best solutions for placement on the windshield.
In the photo, you can see five contacts in the mounting area. Yes, they are designed specifically to work together with a GPS gadget, which also acts as a mounting pad. There are exactly five receiving contacts in its center. Apparently, two contacts provide power to the GPS and Glonass sensors, and the other three transmit information from them to the recorder.
Due to the absence of additional fasteners with a long arm, the recorder is glued very close to the glass. This eliminates vibration and therefore jitter in video recording.
If, due to the inclination of the windshield, the recorder camera lifts up or down, taking pictures of the sky or the dashboard, it’s not scary: a remote camera unit, a gray cylinder with an LED strip, can rotate 90 °.
The front panel of the instrument contains an LCD display and a row of four buttons for frequently used operations. Below is another button, the main one.
On the right side of the case there is a Micro-USB port for power supply, and just below — a slot for a microSD / SDHC memory card.
On the left side you can see the microphone hole and the external rotating camera block.
The branded cigarette lighter adapter works from 12- and 24-volt on-board systems and is equipped with two USB ports of different capacities. The recorder can be connected to any of them, and the second free port is useful for powering other equipment.
The length of the cable attached to the recorder is 3.5 meters, which is more than enough to lay the wire according to the “invisible” scheme in any passenger car.
Mount and connect
The set with the recorder has a plastic mounting platform, but we will use another platform, with built-in GPS and Glonass receivers.
To glue the recorder to the windshield anyhow and wherever it is risky business. But you will understand this much later, when you try to set up a joint operation of the recorder with a GPS site. In any case, it should be glued as high as possible and as close to the center of the windshield as possible. Unfortunately, the honorable central place under the mirror has long been occupied by a “regular” registrar, which was installed in a car service. I had to move the review hero a little to the left. Well, above, of course. Here’s what we got.
It looks like the windshield of our car has too much tilt for this recorder: the device display “looks” down, instead of being directed at the driver’s face. Either the design of the recorder was tested on off-road vehicles with a small slope of glass, or it was calculated on a driver of small stature. Anyway, all the same, this display is too miniature to be distracted by it.
To notice the presence of the recorder in the car from the outside, you need to take a good look. In the photo, it is easy to assess the possibility of its detection in comparison with the “standard” recorder, which proudly bulges out with its lens and dimensions. If even this degree of secrecy does not suit the owner, the recorder can be easily removed from the platform and put into a pocket.
But here it should be noted a serious design flaw. In theory (this is really a good idea), the pad glued to the glass on which the recorder is put on should have a power input. Isn’t it logical? What else are contacts in the site, if not for transferring to the power recorder? In our case, it turns out that, although the mount is quick-release, the removal process itself must be accompanied by pulling out the USB cable from the side connector of the recorder. What will remain of the connector and its contacts after a hundred or two of such disconnections and connections, made, as a rule, in a hurry and often in the dark? That’s right, the USB port will fall apart, the contacts will get worn out. And from an aesthetic point of view, this solution does not look very good. The area on the glass left without a recorder is nothing. But the cable with the connector sticking out from the ceiling looks sloppy.
The recorder is controlled by five mechanical buttons. The main one — the widest, located at the bottom — is responsible for the forced switching on and off of the recorder. During the operation of the recorder, the same button turns on and off the display. The other four buttons, lined up in a row, turn off and turn on the sound recording from the microphone, set the flag of an important video, go to the file browser and to the service menu.
The DVR settings menu consists of several sections; navigation through the menu is performed using the same buttons.
However, in the 70mai store you can purchase a recorder with a different firmware, in which, most likely, English is available.
The second control method is voice. The recorder understands four commands: Take picture , Record video , Turn on screen and Turn off screen . Yes, that’s right, in English. The recognition accuracy is quite high, the recorder listens to commands pronounced loudly, quietly, against the background of noise and music, in a male, female or child’s voice. Even the pronunciation of a person who does not know English at all did not prevent recognition. He studied German. At school. 60 years ago.
The third management method is related to mobile devices. The proprietary 70mai application is responsible for this . Before using the application, you need to register with the 70mai service (by the way, why?). The registration process consists in receiving a secret code to the specified e-mail and entering it into the form.
Establishing a connection between the registrar and a smartphone is not difficult, since it is standard: the Wi-Fi point is activated in the recorder menu (it is a pity that there is no separate button for this, as in action cameras), then this point is selected in the smartphone, a standard password is entered (12345678) — and the devices are ready to communicate.
The interface of the mobile application is neatly translated into English. The functions of the application are standard and will be clear to anyone.
What is the advantage of connecting wirelessly to car dashboards? Undoubtedly, in the ability to quickly view and copy recorded videos. No need to remove the memory card from the recorder, no need for a computer with a card reader. Well, watching video on a large display of a smartphone or tablet is incomparably more convenient than on a miniature recorder screen.
The disadvantage of a bundle of a mobile application is that the program, for some reason, does not remember the device once connected. And the connection process, which consists of selecting a device, must be repeated each time.
This is how, almost positively, the chapter on settings and software could end. But these were seeds compared to what lay ahead of us. It’s about the same GPS / Glonass site.
It turned out that it was not enough to connect two devices, the site and the recorder. The resulting symbiosis of gadgets also needs to be calibrated. This is not easy. Not only because the user manual, as well as in other possible sources, completely lacks any information on this topic.
In recent years, equipment manufacturers have en masse refuse to provide their products with intelligible documentation. What is now attached to small household appliances cannot be called instructions, much less manuals (1. Take the device out of the package. 2. Turn on the device. 3. Follow the instructions). In other words: Have you bought a gadget? Sort it out as you want. Search the forums, collect rumors, go with your mind. Oh, yes … You can also search for information on YouTube.
Our case repeats this offensive trend. All the necessary information is “protected” in the recorder, but you can find out about their existence only by turning on the ADAS function (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) in the settings. But here’s the catch: the information is presented on the display of the recorder in the smallest text in English. These white letters are displayed at the top of the display, they cannot be seen if there is a light sky in the frame (it, suddenly, is also on top).
The calibration process is performed in the form of a step-by-step wizard, at each stage the recorder issues a portion of the text:
1. Move the dash cam to align car head with the highlighted area (move the camera to align the center of the car hood with the highlighted area). This means that you will have to tear off the recorder, which was glued to the edge of the windshield, and re-glue it as close to the center as possible so that the camera looks straight ahead and not to the side).
2. Turn the lens to ensure the distant horizon within the highlighted area (rotate the lens so that the horizon is in the highlighted area). That is, you just need to turn the camera unit down or up so that the horizon line coincides with the highlighted area of the screen.
After these conditions are met, calibration will begin, which is accompanied by a horizontal line moving across the screen, resembling a scanner beam.
In this case, a woman’s voice gives the driver a command in English: Calibration has begun. Please keep your speed at 20 kilometers per hour or higher . Excuse me, we’re in the parking lot. What to do, we will cancel the calibration operation and repeat it somewhere on the most unoccupied track (it is strictly forbidden to be distracted from the road by operations with the recorder).
[after a while] No, it doesn’t work. Calibration starts but does not end; the line continues to scan something. And after 8 minutes the recorder in a woman’s voice says a sad “Calibration failed” .
What’s the matter? We’ll have to figure it out (oh, how clear instructions are lacking!). What does the recorder do during the so-called calibration? After all, it does not compare the readings of the GPS receiver with the current speed, no GPS device needs such a calibration. No, there is something else related to optical image recognition — it’s not in vain that the scanner strip walks across the screen. And this is something else, probably somewhere in the ADAS settings.
The paradox is that this information is only available when the ADAS system is up and running! But it cannot work without the performed calibration, which, in turn, cannot be carried out without knowing its essence. Fortunately, during this ill-fated calibration, the recorder continues to respond to button presses, allowing access to previously hidden settings and ADAS help sections. So it is, here they are, these key points, a list of warnings that the registrar can issue:
- Car ahead move
- Lane deviation (> 80 km / h), crossing the lane mark when driving at a speed of more than 80 km / h (LDWS)
- Hit car ahead alert (FCWS)
It is now clear what calibration gives. She trains the recorder, letting him “understand” where the horizon and the edges of the strip are in the frame. With the help of this knowledge and the GPS-platform, the device will warn the driver about an obstacle ahead of the course and about the danger of leaving the lane at a speed above 80 km / h. After plunging into additional ADAS settings, we discovered another recorder ability — a kind of “scene marking”. It is claimed that after turning it on, the recorder “will mark vehicles and lines within the recognition range . “ It sounds incomprehensible, but tempting.
The difficulty is that the calibration process, as indicated in the ADAS setup help section, can take 5–8 minutes. All this time, the driver must drive the car at a speed of at least 20 km / h. This means that in a city with its traffic jams and traffic lights, this is impossible. Furthermore. After examining the points that describe the probable reasons for unsuccessful calibration (especially the 4th point, Lane markings are fuzzy and cannot be recognized ), it became clear that not only the city, but most of the roads are missing. Although they are freshly repaired in some places (asphalt is usually laid during the rainy season, before winter), there are no markings on them. Choosing a fine day and driving along the surrounding roads, we nevertheless found an asphalt area suitable for calibrating the recorder. Along the way, we found out the following.
Two conditions are required for a successful calibration. First: a few minutes of driving along the road at a speed of at least 20 km / h, rare stops are allowed. The second condition, the most important, is that there must be clearly distinguishable road markings on the left and right. It doesn’t matter if they are broken lines or solid ones. The main requirement is their distinguishability and presence on both sides of the strip. In our area, the marking on the left (central) is almost everywhere, even if not in a new state. But the markings on the right could only be found on a relatively new section of the road, the sides of which had not yet had time to be covered with a cultural layer of dust and dirt.
Literally a minute later, driving along such a lane, the registrar in a woman’s voice announced the coveted Calibration succeeded.
Let’s rejoice? Not the time. The ADAS help section contains something else: after a successful calibration, you need to re-calibrate .
I really want to ask the developers of the recorder and the GPS site: why ? Why do you need this exciting quest? Why do other car recorders, taken “out of the box”, without any calibration quite successfully cope with these trivial standard functions, warning of a possible lane departure or approaching an obstacle?
That was good news (no). Now the news is bad (yeah) The module, which took a lot of time and gasoline to calibrate, turned out to be unnecessary. It does almost nothing. GPS tags, speed and acceleration are not shown on the display or in the video. There is simply no data in the video files that could be extracted by third-party programs. The registrar does not warn about leaving the lane (although this is not surprising with our “lanes”). The recorder also does not signal a possible collision. The operation of the module can sometimes be detected only when in a traffic jam: an English-speaking woman hidden in the recorder issues a warning that the car in front has started moving. Well, at least thanks for that, now you can read a book in a traffic jam, and not look into someone’s stern. True,
When power is applied, the recorder turns on automatically, video recording starts two seconds after the recorder is turned on. When the power is turned off, the DVR will finalize the current video file and turn off. The recorder can be turned on forcibly even when the power is off, in which case it will continue recording until the energy reserve in the built-in battery runs out. This reserve is enough for 55 minutes of autonomous recording in H.265 Full HD mode. In the parking mode with the motion detector turned on, the recorder could last much longer on the battery. However, the battery life in the parking monitoring mode is for some reason limited by software. The available maximum is 50 minutes, after which the recorder will turn off.
During a long video recording, the body of the device heats up slightly. Below are thermal images of the device taken after several hours of continuous video recording with the display on. Testing was carried out in room conditions with an ambient temperature of approximately 24 ° C.
It can be seen that the case heats up the most in the area of the metal contacts for communication with the GPS pad, here the temperature reaches 45 ° C. This temperature poses no danger to the electronics. True, there is a risk of additional heating of the case by the sun’s rays in the summer. But cooling will help here, because on hot days the driver probably turns on the air conditioner, blowing cold air onto the windshield.
The codec used to compress the video stream is very sensitive to movement in the frame. So, in videos where there is almost no movement or there are no details, the video bitrate drops significantly from the average values. But as soon as the movement appears, the bitrate level rises to the maximum. This bit rate saving is extremely useful for video surveillance, as it saves space on the memory card. And this behavior is fundamentally different from the work of codecs built into ordinary video cameras or action cameras, where there is no task to save space on the memory card and where the average bit rate is maintained at the same level regardless of the nature of the picture.
The recorder saves video files to a standard MP4 container during recording. The number of frame size options depends on the selected codec.
Frame size, frequency, bit rate
- 1920 × 1080 30p 15Mbps
- 1280 × 720 30p 15Mbps
- 2592 × 1944 30p 20Mbps
- 2560 × 1440 30p 20Mbps
- 1920 × 1080 30p 14Mbps
In addition to this main video recorder, the recorder simultaneously saves the same clips, but with a smaller frame size, 640 × 360. At the same time, the frequency remains the same as in full-size video, 30 frames per second, and the bit rate reaches 2 Mbps. These files are used for playback on a smartphone when viewed in direct mode.
As you can see, the frame rate in all modes is exactly the same, 30 frames per second. There is no frame rate selection item in the recorder settings. There is only a point where the frequency of the region’s power supply is set (50 or 60 Hz).
The resolution of the video created by the recorder camera reaches 1600–1700 TV lines on the horizontal side of the frame in the older shooting mode (2592 × 1944). A more precise definition of the resolution is hindered by pronounced aliasing (stepped contrast boundaries). Along with a decrease in the frame size, the resolution also decreases, but it falls unevenly, but in a sinusoidal manner. So, in Full HD mode, the resolution is already 900–1000 TV lines.
Even from this synthetic testing, the following conclusion can be drawn: for the permanent operation of the recorder, it makes sense to use the largest frame size. Only it gives details comparable to full-fledged camcorders and cameras that shoot in 4K. Yes, this mode requires more space on the memory card, but you hardly need to worry about saving. Unlike stationary video surveillance, mobile does not need to store records for weeks or months. As a rule, an important video fact is captured just now, this very minute (an accident or other event). If you don’t waste time, you can copy the required incident record without fear that this video will be overwritten by new records.
True, this maximum frame size (2592 × 1944) gives a non-standard aspect ratio, 4: 3. Due to the large viewing angle (140 ° diagonal) with such a recording, the camera almost completely captures the dashboard, which is completely unnecessary in the recording.
The registrar imprints the 70mai logo, as well as the current date and time into the video frame. These values must be set manually in the device settings, remembering to monitor their relevance (any quartz watch is always a little behind or in a hurry).
Thanks to the high resolution of the DVR camera, every little detail can be discerned in the video under good illumination. License plates become distinguishable at a great distance, and the direction of movement of the observed car is not important: due to the good sensitivity of the sensor, the camera sets a short shutter speed. And as you know, the shorter the shutter speed, the clearer the frame.
Automation controls the exposure of the frame well. So, even with oncoming bright light (headlights, sun), contrasting details along the course of movement remain intact, do not light up.
But, we repeat, this quality is possible only with a sufficient level of illumination and low speeds.
Exactly the same will happen at dusk, and even more so at night. In such conditions, do not even dream of getting any discernible outlines of fast-moving objects.
In conclusion of the conversation about the quality of shooting, we present our traditional freeze frames taken from day and night shooting from one angle in motion. With their help, it is easy to understand what is the difference between day and night shooting.
We must admit: in comparison with most of the inexpensive car recorders available in our market, the device in question records exceptionally well. Such a high quality of shooting is present, perhaps, only in top branded devices and in no less branded action cameras.
An important addition: during the recording, the recorder divides the material into segments of one minute, as all recorders do with the “circular” recording mode. It is noteworthy that there are absolutely no gaps at the junction of two video files that are formed by our recorder. The owner does not have to worry that some kind of incident will happen at the moment when two files are joined: the recorder records everything that he sees.
The recorder as a separate independent gadget is just a camera that can imprint the current date and time into the frame. The registrar has no other functions, except for the possibility of connecting with a smartphone. And it could have the ability to warn about leaving the lane, or to imprint coordinates, speed and other data into the frame. I could be . If the developer had brought to mind this described GPS-site, with whose calibration we pretty much suffered. More precisely, the connection between the site and the registrar.
Perhaps the additional functions that work smoothly include the built-in G-sensor with a three-stage sensitivity setting, as well as a parking recording mode with a motion sensor. By the way, we immediately switched the G-sensor to the low sensitivity mode, because at the middle level, the emergency recording is activated on every bump.
The sound in the video recorder is recorded in AAC with a bit rate of 128 Kbps. The built-in microphone does not “mumble” or “hiss”. Every sound in the car, including the soft speech of the driver and passengers, is clearly recorded and clearly distinguishable in the recording. There is no booming or cutoff characteristic of cheap microphones.
There are no exemplary gadgets. The studied DVR is pretty close to ideal, if not for a few “buts”:
- poor aspect ratio in the maximum shooting mode
- inability to adjust the tilt of the recorder body
The list of pluses that should be noted is much more complete.
- almost instant start
- high resolution video recording
- good sound quality
- anti-shake mount
- rotating camera block
- control via built-in Wi-Fi adapter
- smart mobile application
- sufficient brightness and good viewing angles of the display
- loud built-in speaker
- parking mode with motion sensor
- low price
And only two points are difficult to attribute to a specific category. The first is the lack of image and exposure adjustments. Whether it is a plus or a minus is up to the user to decide, however, we note that we are not dealing with a video camera for shooting films, but with an ordinary recorder. Its task lies in the banal fixation of what is happening, and not in the colorful presentation of the material. If we were talking about stationary observation in a room with constant illumination, this is another matter. But the car is in motion, the time of day is changing, so what about manually adjusting the exposure every few minutes?
The second feature, which cannot be attributed to positive, but it does not climb into a pure negative: inoperability of the GPS site. Since this site is purchased separately and at will, it is not entirely fair to blame the registrar for the lack of a full connection with an additional gadget.
We will not tire of repeating: a good recorder should work on the “plug and forget” principle. This is how 70mai Smart Dash Cam Pro works. You remember about it only when you see some kind of incident that requires saving or uploading to YouTube. In such cases, the possibility of wireless communication of the recorder with a mobile device is very useful, this seriously saves time.