Carkoler 3 Channel Dashcam Review - $99 Ultrabudget Triple Channel Dashcam

DrekiTech

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Well this is an interesting one. Because if you, like me, are concerned at how they managed to cram a triple channel dashcam of any type into a $100 price INCLUDING a 32GB SD Card AND hardwire kit, read to find out!

[ This review is a work in progress. Stay tuned for more samples! Please take any observations with a grain of salt until the review is completed. ]

Amazon Link Here.
>>> Full Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this camera by the seller for review purposes. <<<

Included in the Box
- Camera and mount
- USB 12V adapter (built in cable)
- External sensor for rear (built in cord)
- 64GB SD Card (Kingston, allegedly)
- Removal tool
- USB 2.0 Micro SD Reader

My copy from Amazon Canada did not come with the advertised hardwire kit that the US version comes with so I did not test that.

Camera Specifications
- 1080p 30 front facing (does not disclose sensor) - 150ish MB per 2 min file *SEEMS TO ACTUALLY BE 25 UNIQUE FRAMES*
- Rear and Interior cam are mixed into one video file (2304 x 648 @ 25 FPS) - 80ish MB per 2 min file
- 720p approx interior
- 720p approx rear
- File naming: FILEYYMMDD-HHMM##-000001R.TS
- SSC8339D chipset
- AVI / MPEG-2
- Not specified if battery or capacitor and not clear through usage testing (it will not turn on without a power cord however)
- 60 day guarantee (lol)

Initial Thoughts
I was highly skeptical when I was approached by this seller. But curiosity got the better of me so here we are.

This camera is plastic, light weight but feels surprisingly solid. Both front facing lenses have a high degree of flexibility for placement as they rotate 180 degrees and turn left/right however I notice that the video files they record are upside down. I cannot find a setting to flip the video (it may exist and I am just missing it. Maybe on the app, will have to test later). On one side there is infrared for interior placement that does automatically turn on at low light levels. There is setting for basic parking mode (requires further testing/investigation) and also some LDWS and ADAS although with the video perpetually upside down I have not been able to get this working.

The user interface is straight forward however the video feed displayed on screen is a catastrophy. When mounted in the car all of the video feeds overlap each other and some are stretched wrong and some are the wrong way around and I cannot emphasize enough how chaotic it is. Getting the camera lined up right required intuition and checking on the computer.

Once set up though, the camera fulfills basic functionality. It turns on and off with the vehicle and records while driving. It seems to get pretty hot.

More info will be here as further testing is done. I look forward to your questions and feedback!

00.jpg

ui-0.jpgui-1.jpg
 
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DrekiTech

DrekiTech

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Front Camera Performance

*Video samples will come eventually*

The front camera is supposedly 1080p but due to the low end processor a lot of detail gets lost in compression noise. There is some smudgy and blocky artifacts that blur anything in motion and make it difficult, if impossible, to read license plates of oncoming cars. I can read plates and some street signs when I am stopped at a traffic lights. In the day time exposure is mostly accurate. I can tell what is going on. And as you'll see in the 3rd screenshot there is actually moments where the camera surprised me. Also I checked a few short clips and there is actually 30 unique frames. But yeah anything at speed sees some rather notable motion blur. Maybe it'll be better in high sunlight (damn these dull winter days).

So far, the video is actually passable. I was expecting way worse. It is pretty on par with other low end 1080p cameras.

Night footage I still need to test because it has been raining more or less non stop...

day-2.jpg

day-3.jpg
day-4.jpg
 
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DrekiTech

DrekiTech

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Interior and Rear

I actually think this is rather clever how the designers managed to cram 3 channels into such a budget dashcam: they made the rear channel one video feed and tinkered with the resolution to make it some wide angle, but effectively lower total resolution than a second 1080p stream.

There's only a single video file generated from these two cameras at 2304 x 648 pixels. Just a hair under 720p each. But you know what? That's entirely fine. The video quality from these cameras during the day is entirely adequate, even if the frame rate is only 25 FPS. Personally I do not need enough interior resolution to see every individual hair on my face. Note that I had to flip one channel to make it right-side-up.

As you can see there are similar issues with motion blur and compression on the rear and interior camera footage.

Night footage will be supplied later.

back-1.jpg

back-2.jpg
 
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DrekiTech

DrekiTech

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Right, and here is the Youtube video. Timestamps are as follows:

- Daytime video 2:25
- Low light: 6:00
- Interior and Rear: 7:40

In conclusion: I think it would be fine as far as basic dashcam function goes and the video quality is quite fair for such a low price point. The downside to the video is that it is fairly crunchy and it makes license plates at speed basically impossible to read. The primary function of a dashcam in the sense of recording the road, red lights, street signs, you'll pretty much get the gist of whatever is going on. I can tell most makes and models of cars. Fine details are lost though.

And .TS files are a pain in the butt to edit. I had to convert with Handbrake which caused some issue. The files are flagged as 29.97 FPS in media info but there is only 25 frames per second (no duplication, just only 25 frames) so when reencoding it went from being more-or-less smooth at 25FPS to a bit stuttery in the YT video. Handbrake thought it was outputting at the correct FPS but it was not. The stutter is not there in normal playback.

My main concern with any budget camera like this is longevity. Who knows how long it will last with regular use? My testing ~2 weeks with 30 min daily commute each way does not reflect usage in high temperatures (as it is winter). Unfortunately because the cam is so big, it takes up too much space to keep on my windshield for long term with the other cams I have in my queue to test.

Your feedback and commentary is much appreciated. Thanks for watching!

 

SawMaster

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Good cams can be made at fairly low prices, but when you're doing 3 channels at that kind of price there's just no way to get a good cam out of the deal. I do like how the cam-mounted lenses can be aimed but that's about it for my 'likes'. Dashcams need absolute reliability and good video quality and I don't expect the first will happen as the second certainly isn't there at all. But it will sell because most dashcam buyers have no clue about what is possible as well as what is currently being done with the better and best cams, so they will think it's fine :(

I like the concept of using ".ts" as it puts an end to the possibility of last-file-corruption which has previously been the bane of every dashcam bar none :cautious: Can't speak of using editors with it since I haven't tried that yet nor is it necessary for my purposes. I am currently using it in some cams and indeed most vid player software doesn't do well with it, but as it becomes more common I think the player app developers will sort things out in time.

Phil
 
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DrekiTech

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Good cams can be made at fairly low prices, but when you're doing 3 channels at that kind of price there's just no way to get a good cam out of the deal. I do like how the cam-mounted lenses can be aimed but that's about it for my 'likes'. Dashcams need absolute reliability and good video quality and I don't expect the first will happen as the second certainly isn't there at all. But it will sell because most dashcam buyers have no clue about what is possible as well as what is currently being done with the better and best cams, so they will think it's fine :(

I like the concept of using ".ts" as it puts an end to the possibility of last-file-corruption which has previously been the bane of every dashcam bar none :cautious: Can't speak of using editors with it since I haven't tried that yet nor is it necessary for my purposes. I am currently using it in some cams and indeed most vid player software doesn't do well with it, but as it becomes more common I think the player app developers will sort things out in time.

Phil
The kinds of people who buy an unknown brand camera on Amazon I don't think will be pixel peepers like you and I - and from my general testing the camera will be fine for them. As you stated, long term reliability is the biggest concern, but I suspect the target audience for this camera is people who would buy the generic $30 cams anyways (now you're getting 3 cams for $100 lol) and this is better than almost every cam I've tested at that price point. In terms of good things: the rotating lenses are nice, as well I was actually very surprised with how the twilight and low light footage came out considering the price.

I've got a one of those generic $20 dash cams in my queue right now and yeah; yeahhhhhhhhhh... I'll have fun with that one just because of how bad it is. :)

But yea for us enthusiasts the flaws are far more obvious.

I didn't know that much about TS files before this, except they were used in some of those old DVD camcorders. Good to know that they will not corrupt the file if the recording finished.
 
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