- Separate recording unit makes camera positioning easy
- Full HD recording
- Huge bundled selection of attachment options
- Fixed focus camera
- Mediocre low light performance
- Review Price: £249.95
- Separate waterproof wired camera
- Base unit recorder with 2in LCD
- Video at up to 1080p/25, 13Mbits/sec H.264
- 2,592 x 1,944 still images
- Generous bundle of mounting options
We’ve reviewed a number of sports-oriented camcorders here at TrustedReviews. The Chilli Technologies Action Cam 1 and Action Cam Max offer great value, and the Dogcam Bullet HD Wide provides superior image quality. But getting great footage from any of these devices requires a bit of practice, because you can’t see what you’re recording until you download the files to a computer. Dogcam’s MiniDVR HD is different. With a separate recording unit incorporating a built-in LCD, the MiniDVR lets you see what the camera sees, wherever it’s positioned.
The camera attaches to the base unit via a customised mini HDMI connection, which locks into place to ensure it won’t come loose during use. There is a secondary standard mini HDMI on the base unit, for connecting to a TV. All the controls can be found on the base unit, too, and these are more extensive than is generally the case for bullet cams. You can choose between 1080p and 720p video modes, and 25 or 30 frames per second with each. There are 50 and 60 frames per second options with 720p as well. There are also three quality modes to choose from. You can grab 5MP still images, too.
Arrow buttons let you bias exposure between 2 and -2EV in 0.3EV increments. If you delve into the menu, white balance presets are available alongside the fully automatic setting – two for indoor lighting, two for outdoor. There are separate volume controls for internal and external microphones.
The car mode loops recording when the memory card is full, you can also loop a fixed duration of video, up to 30 minutes, and there’s a separate motion detection option which will grab from 30 seconds to 5 minutes of footage when activity occurs in the frame. You can add a time stamp to your footage to go with this, for serious surveillance video data collection. The button configuration isn’t the most intuitive design out there, with more buttons than is strictly necessary for the functions provided, but there are some useful features here which further expand the usage scenario options.
Video is recorded to SD memory on the Dogcam MiniDVR HD, with a slot on the side provided. A 16GB module will be enough for 2.75 hours of footage at the top data rate of 13Mbits/sec. Aside from the aforementioned mini HDMI port, a multi-purpose mini USB port is also integrated, which can be used to hook the unit up to a power source, data connectivity, and also analog video output via the supplied cable. There’s even a minijack for an external microphone – great if you want to hook up a lavalier for providing narration that is actually audible during your activities
The camera itself is fixed focus, and doesn’t incorporate any controls at all. It’s sealed, so essentially waterproof, where the base unit probably wouldn’t resist a dunking. Dogcam can supply replacement windowed end caps, in case the original one gets damaged, costing £9.95 each.
As with the other Dogcam bullet cam we have tested, the accessory bundle is comprehensive. Pretty much every attachment requirement is catered for. There are a couple of different mounts, supplied with adhesive velcro patches. One hinges and another rotates, but is otherwise static, so you can select the one which lets you point the Dogcam in precisely the direction you want.
A further velcro mount is elasticated and flexible, so you could attach it to a helmet you use all the time. There’s also a mount that loops onto an elastic strap, for wrapping round your head or a helmet you don’t (or can’t) put a permanent fixture on. Yet another attachment is designed to provide a firm hold on a bar or rod – great for connecting to a car roll cage.
The accessory bundle doesn’t stop there, either. Power adapters are supplied for mains and a car cigarette lighter socket. There’s even a wired remote control button for triggering record, which glows red when deployed. This also comes with velcro pads, so you can attach it somewhere convenient, but hooks up to the base unit via USB, so can’t be used in conjunction with a power source.
Both the camera and the base unit incorporate regular screw mounts. The base unit also comes with a plastic holster with a built-in clip. The screw mount on the camera is right next to the location of the cable, which will limit what you can attach it to, but otherwise these screw mounts add yet more options for affixing the Mini DVR HD securely in many different ways.
For our most extreme test, we strapped the Dogcam MiniDVR HD’s camera to a helmet for a gruelling go karting session at The Raceway in London. We were able to adjust the helmet attachment for an optimal track view as we raced, and the device grabbed our entire 30 minutes of track time without missing a beat. You can see a sample of the footage in our accompanying video review. Given good lighting conditions, the footage has the best contrast, detail and colour fidelity we’ve seen from a bullet cam, and it does pretty well in mediocre lighting too.
In our more formal test of low light performance, however, the Dogcam didn’t perform quite so brilliantly. There was some colour and definition visible in our 100W ceiling light test, but footage was not as good as we would expect from a standard camcorder of the same price, such as JVC HD Everio GZ-E205. But no bullet cam we have tested has truly excelled in this area. The Mini DVR HD does better than most, and its other features more than make up for this.
The Dogcam MiniDVR-HD is one of the most expensive bullet cams we’ve tested. But the external recorder with LCD and generous bundle of attachment options really make up for this. It’s a premium product for a premium price. Although low light performance is not as good as budget camcorders costing similar money, the range of situations where you could use the Dogcam to capture action moments is very great indeed. If you’re serious about recording your sporting activities, this camera really delivers.
Score in detail
Image Quality 8
|Optical Zoom (Times)||0x|
|Digital Zoom (Times)||0x|
|Recording Media||SD card|
|Video Capture Format||MP4|
|Max Video Res||1920 x 1080|
|LCD Screen Size (Inch)||2in|
|On-board Storage (Gigabyte)||0GB|
|Audio / Video Out||No|
|Audio / Video In||No|
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