“A great budget dash cam with decent quality HD video recording”
Price when reviewed: £69 from amazon.co.uk
The Tech Spy rating: 9/10
- Full HD 1080p video recording.
- 2.4″ LCD screen.
- Built-in GPS for speed and location tracking.
- 130° wide-angle lens.
- F2.0 aperture for good low light performance.
- G-shock sensor to detect sudden or severe movement.
What’s in the box?
- MiVue 518 camera
- Adjustable suction windscreen mount
- 12v charger
- User manual
I think it’s important to note that a Micro SD card is NOT included but is required. A Samsung 32GB Micro SD card can be purchased for around £10 from Amazon at the time of writing.
Unboxing and First Impressions
The unit is one of the smallest units I’ve seen available and I think that’s a positive thing. Frankly, I’m surprised at the growing trend for the larger screen units at the moment. Due to the possibility of driver distraction, dash cams tend to automatically switch off the screen after a minute or so – a larger screen is therefore only really a benefit when playing back recorded video but has the downside of obstructing more of the driver’s view during normal use.
Let’s start with the operation of the unit – the good news is that it requires no manual operation whatsoever. Just plug it in, and you’re away. There are three basic modes of recording video:
Normal – The unit is always recording in this mode when it has power. If you plug it in, the unit powers up and immediately begins recording. In fact, you can’t stop it recording unless you power the unit off completely. If it’s on, it’s recording. This means there’s no chance of being involved in an accident but missing a crucial bit of evidence because you forgot to click ‘Record’.
Emergency mode – This is activated when the ‘G-Shock’ sensor detects a sudden movement that would typically indicate an accident. In Emergency mode, files are stored in a protected folder on the SD card meaning that they won’t be overwritten like they are in Normal mode. This should give you piece of mind that after a collision, the simple act of driving home won’t delete vital recordings.
Parking mode – This acts in the similar way to Emergency mode. When the car is parked, the unit will record collision video to a separate, protected area on the SD card should the car be struck. This does however require constant power, for which the supplied 12v charger is unsuitable. Most vehicles do not continue to supply power to the cigarette lighter (or accessory socket as I believe it’s called nowadays) when the ignition is off. To get around this, Mio sell an accessory separately to permanently wire the unit up to the vehicle’s battery. If I left my car for extended periods in safe locations like airport car parks, I’d consider buying this.
I leave the unit in the car all the time and always plugged into the cigarette lighter. Rest assured, the unit stops recording videos a couple of minutes after I leave the car and lock the doors and starts recording again when I unlock the car and power is restored. It’s all automatic and means that the unit is never recording unnecessarily.
I began testing the unit with a 16GB micro SD card, but quickly swapped this out for a 32GB card when I realised just how much storage space the files use. The video is recorded at 1080p running at an average of 100MB/min. Data on the card is recycled constantly with the oldest files being overwritten with new files. I found that a 16GB card would only give me a couple of hours recording and I didn’t feel that would be sufficient.
Mio provide a software application for viewing recorded files called MiVue Manager. This is not provided in the box, but is available to download from their website.
It has some nice features such as allowing you to filter recordings by day, by mode etc. as well as plotting the vehicle’s location on a Google Maps window as the video is played.
G-shock data showing 3-axis accelerometer data is also displayed in time with the video and makes for a very involving viewing experience.
If you’re using Windows 10, then files play natively -there are no codecs required. This means that if you don’t want to download the MiVue Manager, you don’t have to.
Files also play natively on my Samsung TV using a USB Micro SD adapter:
Day time footage is great for the price point.
Low light is pretty good too.
It’s a tidy little unit, which takes all the responsibility for operation out of mind. This is exactly what a device like this should be – set it and forget it.
The feature list is extensive, especially at this price point and the video quality is good in both day and night modes.
The MiVue Manager software is particularly impressive for its ability mix in video and metadata in the form of a real time Google Maps location and G-Shock data. I’m sure that if I was involved in a crash, watching the Emergency recording in the MiVue Manager would tell the tale better than I ever could.
The Tech Spy rating: 9/10