Dome Z7 Review - Cheap, Small (<$50) 1080p Dashcam with issues - Supplied by Gearbest

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Right then, another new dashcam from the folks over at Shenzen Dome.

Thanks to Gearbest for supplying this one.

This is a cheap ($49.89 at current times before any discounts) dashcam - the build quality on this is surprisingly good for the price (we're talking $10 cheaper than the G1W here when it's not on offer).

The camera is available here:
http://www.gearbest.com/car-dvr/pp_68776.html
Day video quality is fine, night time video has more MPEG compression / artifacts than I've seen before but at the same time it's brighter than a lot of AR0330 devices though which at this price is pretty much expected.

Samples provided in the posts below. It basically reminds me of a cheaper G90 as performance seems similar in terms of brightness and white balance etc.

This thing is small - we're talking smaller than the Transcend DrivePro which it looks quite similar to in the fact both are square boxes - if they lost the reflective plastic, chrome and the LED lights it would be quite inobtrusive behind the windscreen.

Like most cameras in the last year, it's built on the Novatek NT96650 platform and the Aptina AR0330 (not a bad thing at all!)

Stock photos:






And then comparisons to other cameras to give you an idea of sizes:

IMG_0811.JPG
IMG_0817.JPG
IMG_0818.JPG

Feature list:
  • 2.0 inch LCD screen, 1080P FULL HD video
  • Advanced H.264 photography compression technology
  • 4X digital zoom
  • 10.0MP image resolution
  • 140 A+ grade high-resolution wide angle lens
  • 30 frames per second for smooth video flow
  • Support HDMI full HD video transmission
  • Seamless loop-cycle recording function
  • Motion detection function
  • G-sensor function
  • Support TF memory card, up to 32GB (not included)
  • 230mAh lithium battery
  • Novatek NT96650 CPU
  • Aptina AR0330 3Mpixel CMOS
Bitrate Information:
  • 1080p/30fps - This camera records at 12Mbps - day or night recording makes no difference.
upload_2014-8-12_22-57-42.png

Box contents:
  • 1 x Dome Z7 Car DVR
  • 1 x Car Charger
  • 1 x Bracket
  • 1 x Micro USB Cable (not mini like most - I'm not sure of the longevity of these)
  • 1 x User Manual
Mount details:

Mount wise it seems to use a similar size to the GT680W mount in that it's a smaller T bracket than the LS300W type cameras use - however it didn't seem to fit with the GT680W one I have.

Ports and buttons:


File locations:
  • Data is written to \CARDV\MOVIE like most NT96650 cameras.
Firmware:
  • This camera shipped with firmware 2014071901
 

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Menu options:

The configurable menu options are contained below (note, use the REC button as OK when navigating the menus):

Video/Image/Audio

Decode Format: H.264
Video Format: MOV
Video Resolution : 848 x 480, VGA (640 x 480), 1080P (1920 x 1080), 720P (1280 x 720)
Video System: PAL, NTSC
Video Frame Rate: 30fps
Video Output: HDMI
Image Format : JPG
Image Resolution : 2M (1920 x 1080), 1.3M (1280 x 960), 8M (3264 x 2448), 10M (3648 x 2736), 5M (2592 x 1944), 3M (2048 x 1536)
Audio System: Built-in microphone/speaker (AAC)
Exposure Compensation: -4/3, +4/3, -2/3, +5/3, -1, +1/3, 0, -5/3, -1/3, +1, -2, 2/3
White Balance Mode: Tungsten, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Daylight, Auto
Functions

Loop-cycle Recording : Yes
Loop-cycle Recording Time: Off, 1min, 3min, 5min, 10min
Motion Detection: Yes
G-Sensor: Yes
HDMI Output: Yes
Interface Type: HDMI, TF card slot, Mini USB
Language: French, Simplified Chinese, Deutsch, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, English, Russian, Italian, Portuguese
Other

Frequency: 60Hz, 50Hz
 
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Conclusions:

As of November 2014 there is an issue with the focus drifting on these - https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/z7-focus-issue-depending-on-temperature.8516/

This is probably down to cheaper components being used to get the price down to the $37.99 level it is now - I had similar problems with the DOD LS460W camera which was over $200 in the UK and I sent that back for the same reason - although that was in 30C weather - not 10C!

So all the footage you've seen so far was taken with firmware 2014071901

This is brighter at night than a lot of the cheaper NT96650 / AR0330 cameras which is due to the WDR - there is more noise than normal in the video but it's actually good in the pitch black and should be fine for insurance purposes.

This camera reminds me of a cheaper small brother to the G90 in that some of the ways it behaves are very similar in terms of adjusting light levels and in the overall picture it produces.

I've compared this to some G1W footage and this definitely appears brighter at night - I'll do a side by side with the A118 for further comparisons.

If you're on a budget this is not a bad buy at all with good day footage similar to most cameras these days and bright night footage, although not the most detailed but at this price as good as you are going to get.

The G90 big brother camera offers better night performance over this camera but at almost twice the price. A dashcam is a good investment and if you don't like the form factor of the G1W, and can't afford the form factor of the A118, then this is a good compromise as any of these are better than nothing.

Pros:
  1. Super cheap - $49.89 at the time of writing
  2. Very good video quality in the daytime and handles dusk well
  3. If you like bright night video, you may like this camera as the footage is brighter than the G1W footage I've compared it too.
  4. Good build quality
  5. WDR functionality to improve night footage
  6. Dome have a track record of improving firmwares so it is assumed this camera will also improve throughout it's life
  7. No GPS options available (some would view this as a con!)
  8. Easy access to the Micro SD to remove the card easily for viewing footage - just pop it out from underneath.

Cons:
  1. Newer batches seem to have focus issues with it drifting in just 10C weather - I can't recommend this camera when it has such a basic issue
  2. Night footage shows lots of MPEG artifacts. I didn't notice these on the G1W which uses the same bitrate. Potentially it could be overly aggressive sharpening or noise reduction but when you compare screenshots it still seems to be doing well in terms of what detail it is capturing so this is swings and roundabouts - a brighter image typically generates more noise.
  3. Numberplate reading at night of reflective numberplates is blown out by HID headlights - see Niko's explanation of why this is here - http://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/reading-license-plates-at-night-hid-xenon-standard-bulbs.1444/ - there's not much you can do about this.
  4. Bling chrome front and LED lights unnecessary for Western market - great if you want to take a picture of something without a flash light though but 99.999% of the time you'll leave the LEDs turned off.
  5. No GPS options available (some would view this as a pro!)

Middle of the fence:
  1. The mount seems to use the same plastic sucker as the G90 - however this is slightly bigger and as the camera is smaller and lighter hopefully the mount won't have the same problem with falling off
The camera is available here:
http://www.gearbest.com/car-dvr/pp_68776.html
 
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To show how some of these cams compare at night here are some screenshots - only the Mobius and Z7 are directly comparable as they were taken at the same time so the others are just for reference:

You can see the Z7 has the most MPEG / compression noise in the picture and the LS460W the least which going purely off the price is to be expected seeing as you could buy almost five Z7s for the price of an LS460W (and is the DOD five times better? No.)

Z7:
z7 1.jpg

Mobius 0.47:
mobius 1.jpg

LS460W:


GT680:


G90:
 
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I've updated the review with confirmation that this uses the Aptina AR0330 CMOS sensor.

Gearbest have contacted me to say this product will be going on promotion soon which will bring the price down, and they are also looking to start doing group buys for forums like this which again will bring the price down (depending on numbers)!

If any of you would like any particular footage or comparisons to any of the other cameras I have let me know :)
 

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More than I can review. ;)
Didn't see this review before.
I liked Z7 more than the G1WH.
Haven't driven at night yet so that's coming next.
 
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I'm looking forward to seeing how you get on mate - it's a good little camera to be honest - tried it in lots of weather now and it's been fine in all so far.
 

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More than I can review. ;)
I'm looking forward to seeing how you get on mate - it's a good little camera to be honest - tried it in lots of weather now and it's been fine in all so far.
Yes, I like it better than g1wh.
Night video has some blue blotches in dark areas but other than that, better than g1wh.
I'll add more videos of rainy day and night in my comparison thread.
 
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Noticed these are on offer at Gearbest at the min for $41.99 including free shipping!

Use code DOMEZ7 to get that price.
 

chris-s

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Blackvue DR750S-2CH and many chinese dashcams
Thank I've just seen this thread after posting here :oops:

Anyway, thank you for your job about this new dashcam :!)
 
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I think as it's so thin you may find it's very good for using where you have the G1W - just be careful of the heat as these do get quite warm due to the size - I had no issues with it overheating but my car blows air to the dash cam area anyway - if it's hidden on the A pillar without a breeze I'm not sure how it would get on.
 

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My purpose is also to use a T-power (or similar) to have a continous recording during parking.
As it will not be in direct sunlight, I hope it will not heat too much !
 

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More than I can review. ;)
This Z7 would be very interesting for a discrete lateral dashcam for my personal vehicle.
This is what I did into my job's car :
https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/lateral-dashcam-with-g1w-g1wh.5903/

What is the FOV compared to a G1W or G1WH ?
Both mention 140 degrees but if you check screenshots in my thread, Z7 has slightly wider FOV, may be 5 degrees.

https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/gearbest-com-dome-z7-dashcam-review-and-comparison-against-g1wh.6849/#post-82157
 
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@chris-s has reported drifting focus issues with two new Z7 cameras at just 10 degrees Celsius - a lot of cameras do suffer this problem in the heat of summer but I've not heard of many suffering at such low outside temps.

If focus changes would be an issue for you (and they probably would annoy 99% of people), do not buy this camera for now. I didn't see this problem but it's possible components have been changed to get the costs down to the prices they are now.
 

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