Review: Roadhawk DC-1 (1CH)

My First Impressions on Roadhawk DC-1 (1CH)

For almost a year, I have been using the MiniDVR3 recorder with a bullet camera system to capture all of my in-car footage, so this is the first time I have used a “proper” Dashcam system for this review where it captures video footage, GPS logging and also G-Sensor trigger. And this is all bundled together into one small unit, measuring at just 9.5cm x 7cm x 2.5cm – small enough to fit behind the rear view mirror, where it doesn’t get in your way when driving.

Inside the box, it has all of the bits and pieces to get you started with Roadhawk very quickly. These includes: adhesive mount, power cable (plugs to cigarette socket) and 5 x adhesive cable clips, 4GB SDHC memory card, install CD and finally, the manual. For this review, I am going to use the Roadhawk DC-1 Suction Mount (available separately) as it will allow me to use it in different cars so moving the Roadhawk unit around will be easier for me without having to use up the 3M adhesives pads.

The first thing I noticed was that there is no power on/off button on the unit as it is powered from the cigarette socket using the power cable that came with the box. So when you turn the engine on, the unit will be powered on itself. However for some cars where the cigarette socket is “live” at all the times, the unit will be left powered on & recording, which is in the case for my car, so it’s recommended that you unplug it when not in use as it can drain the car battery.

Once it’s powered on, you will see there are two LED lights. One is the ‘REC’ LED and the other is the ‘GPS’ LED. As soon as there is a good GPS link, the green light will come up. If you’re out of the GPS coverage, it will turn into red light. The ‘REC’ LED will come on instantly as soon as it gets power. And it will start recording on a constant loop cycle. The beauty of GPS is that it auto-updates the date & time on the Roadhawk system, so the Roadhawk just “works out of the box”.

By default, the Roadhawk DC-1 unit is set up with these settings set as:

    Video Quality: High Quality
    Recording Mode: Infinite Mode + Event Mode
    3G Sensor: Low Sensitivity

You can change the recordings settings to Infinite recording if you want to record the whole journey or just Events where it will record 20 seconds worth of data upon G-sensor trigging off or by pressing the “E” button. I feel the default setting of “Infinite Mode + Event Mode” is good enough as you will be able to cover both of them because I have found a few cases where the G-sensor failed to be trigged off, perhaps the sensitivity was not strong enough. But I was able to grab the video footages from the Infinite recording files, assuming it has not been overwritten.

Speaking about the “E” button, this is the “Emergency” recording – this is handy when there is no impact or the G-Sensor has not been trigged off, you can use this button when you saw something happening that you want capturing, you press this button to start recording. It will save 10 seconds before the event and also 10 seconds after the event to generate 20 seconds worth of data (Video, GPS and G-Sensor). I have used it a few times to do some testing and it seems to have worked well.

I also have found the 3G-Sensor set as Low Sensitivity is good enough to capture the events that I wanted it to do so. I guess it’s all depends on the types of roads you’re on or the type of car you’re driving. Setting this to High may generate some false events, so it’s best to play about with various settings until you’ve found the “sweet spot” but I would recommend either Low or Normal Sensitivity.

In order to change the settings of the Roadhawk unit i.e. the sensitivity of the G-Sensor, video quality, etc, you would have to install the software on your computer to adjust the settings. However the drawback of this is the software is only available on Windows platform.

All videos are saved as MP4 file format where it stores all GPS and G-Sensor data inside the files. This is where the Roadhawk software comes in as it decodes them for your viewing & playback with all of the GPS & G-Sensor data. However, it’s important to mention that you can still view the files without the Roadhawk software, just that you will not see the GPS/G-sensor data. It might be possible to use 3rd party tools to extract them.

Video Sample (Don’t forget to change it to 1080p)

What’s included in the box

    DC-1 Camera
    Camera windscreen adhesive mount
    Instruction Manual
    DC-1 Power cable
    4GB SD card
    5 x Adhesive Cable Clips
    Software install CDROM

Specifications

    Camera: 1.3 Mega Pixel CMOS 120deg lens Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
    Video: 640×480 @ 30fps
    Audio: Internal Mic (can be disabled using the software)
    GPS: Internal GPS module and antenna
    G-Sensor: Internal 3D G-Sensor (Collision, Q-Break, Q-accel detection)
    Data Storage: SD Card (min 512mb, max 32GB SDHC)
    Power Supply: DC 12v – 24v

My overall thoughts

The Roadhawk DC-1 is a nifty small device that could save your bacon when involved in an accident/event as this is your permanent witness, backed up with GPS data, G-Sensor data, date & time stamp and Google Maps outlay. It’s not a surprise this is welcomed by large insurance companies and also large fleet companies who want to reduce their costs. A must-have device if you do lots of driving. My only downside with this is the 1.3MP camera, however I have been told by Roadhawk that an HD unit is coming soon, around Jan 2012 or so. But it’s very important to remember that HD is not a requirement for this as you can still capture all data required, good enough to be used as evidence for police/insurance reports or other uses.

Good

    Small unit, can easily sit behind the rear view mirror
    Easy to mount
    Includes GPS
    Includes G-Sensor
    Google Maps overlay
    Easy to use Roadhawk software

Bad

    A bit low quality video (1.3MP, 640×480 @ 30fps) however still good enough to capture the whole event.
    Roadhawk software is only available on Windows. But you can still playback the MP4 files on any platforms.

Rating – out 4 of 5

Link to purchase – http://www.dogcamsport.co.uk/roadhawk-dc-1-in-car-camera.html

And if you use the Promotional Code of HTDC05, you will get 10% off from the price.