The DR32 dash cam, sometimes referred to as the 808 #18 DR32 DVR, is a Chinese camera manufactured by Hetai Digital Technology. The camera has very good picture quality during the day and good picture quality at night. It records 1080p at 30f/s with an average bit rate of approximately 12,000kpbs. The video quality is quite impressive and likely one of the best for a $100 camera. Note that the price has been recently raised to $140. This camera comes with a G-sensor but does not come with GPS. The camera is not the smallest at 66.6x 60.6 x 33.0mm and the form factor is not the most discreet.
When this product was first introduced, it came with a large suction cup mount, that placed the camera low on the windshield. This made the camera not discreet at all. After hearing the user complaints, the manufacturer started selling this camera with a much smaller adhesive mount. Most vendors are selling the adhesive mount for this camera now. In the picture below, the original mount is on the left and smaller adhesive mount is on the right.
There is speculation that nearly identical / identical versions of this camera are being sold under different names:
- Patriot F3 (one owner flashed the Patriot F3 firmware on his camera and it worked)
- Essilor i5
Given the excellent picture quality and initial $100 price tag, this camera quickly became popular. However some issues were identified.
Many early purchasers of this camera complain of very poor audio quality. When stopped, the audio quality is usually fine but when driving, there is a lot of distortion in the sound. The following video demonstrates the problem.
The manufacturer quickly released a firmware update to address the problem.
The audio quality has improved with this firmware but it is not perfect.
Some users report that the camera leaves color trails particularly with bright red. This is not a major problem and you can see a screenshot here.
After the firmware update to correct the audio issue, numerous owners have complained of the camera freezing up. This has yet to be resolved
Mounting the Camera
Some pictures of the original suction cup mount.
Disassembling the Camera
Should I Purchase?
This camera has excellent video quality, likely one of the best for a $140 camera (note that the price used to be $100). Unfortunately, the manufacturer is still working through the bugs. The audio has been improved but it is not perfect and the freezing issue is a concern. The manufacturer appears to be quite responsive in addressing these issues. The camera is not the most discreet. If you don’t mind the size and form factor, this could be a best buy once the bugs are worked out. See our complete comparison on the dash cam comparison page.
Where to purchase for lowest price
WARNING! MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR FIRMWARE ARE PERFORMED AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE TO YOUR DASH CAM AS A RESULT OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
Firmware Update Instructions
- Format the MicroSD Card using the DR32 Menu (for more information please read the manual).
- Copy the DR_32.BRN firmware file into the root of the MicroSD Card. This DR_32.BRN file is inside the ZIP archive which you downloaded.Insert the MicroSD Card to DR32.
- Power On the camera and make sure recording function works well.
- Enter Playback ModePress MENU Key and UP key at the same time till message ！Firmware Update is shown on the screen. (About 5 seconds) FW is upgrading when the red LED is blinking.
- When the LED light turns off, FW updating is complete.Press Reset key to restart the Driving recorder.
The latest firmware version is FW20130122-1. This firmware improves the audio (but does not fully address it). There have been reports that this firmware causes the camera to freeze. Other owners have recently complained that the menu system gets corrupted with this firmware. Please take this into consideration before upgrading.
Note that the Patriot F3 firmware has worked for one owner of this camera.
You can download the English manual here.
Published: April 24, 2013
Last Updated: July 5, 2013