Review: NanoCam+ NCP-MIRDVRHD2 rear view mirror dash cam

Para Dox

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NanoCam+ NCP-MIRDVRHD2 dash cam review:

I have not been able to find a single post, review, or comment on any NanoCam+ branded dash cams anywhere on the internet, so I thought I would share my experience with the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 for the benefit of others interested in this model of dash cam. (NanoCam+ is A.K.A. NanoCam Plus, and is not to be confused with the totally different company NanoCamPro)

I am new to dash cams, so please view this review in that context. This is a detailed, clinical, ‘warts and all’ review. If anything I have said is proved to be mistaken, incorrect, or product defects are later fixed, I will update this review.

I will not bother discussing the specifications and information you can find in the user manual and product data sheet that can be download from the NanoCam+ website at: http://www.nanocamplus.com.au .

I do not have the depth and breadth of dash cam knowledge to accurately benchmark the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 specifications against other dash cams, so I will assess the dash cam in terms of meeting my requirements and its video quality in terms of number plate readability. I have compared it in our two different cars – the Daewoo Matiz and Ford Falcon XR6.

My dash cam requirements:
# .... Requirement ......................... Requirement Met
Must have:
1. Discreet appearance .................................. Yes
2. ‘Affordable’ (low-medium price range) ..... Yes
3. Front and rear facing cameras .................. Yes
4. Readable number plates day and night. .... Yes​
Nice to have:
5. Parking mode ............................................ Yes and No
6. GPS ............................................................ No
7. Australian retailer ...................................... Yes​

1. Discreet Appearance:
Requirement Met: Yes

The NanoCam+ NCP-MIRDVRHD2 front-facing camera is a discreet rear view mirror with an embedded heads-up display. The rear-facing camera is tiny, installed high on my rear windscreen behind the dealer sticker, and barely noticeable. However please refer to my comments on its Park Mode indiscreet behaviour in the ‘Park Mode’ section below.

I require discreet appearance and behaviour because there are periodic car break-ins at our apartment complex. The car parking area is open to the public and not secured or monitored. Last time I spoke to them, the North Sydney police said they get 40 to 50 car break-ins in their jurisdiction each Friday and Saturday night.

2. Affordable
Requirement Met: Yes - Acceptable

This dash cam is for our old Daewoo Matiz (year 2000) second car, which is parked in an open, insecure, break-in prone area, so I did not want to install a high-end expensive dash cam.
The dual-camera NanoCam Plus NCP-MIRDVRHD2 cost AU$230, which averages out to AU$115 per camera.

It should be noted, however, that there are a few dash cams advertising similar technical specifications that can be purchased online directly from Asia or Australian ‘grey market’ importers for between 1/3rd and 2/3rds of this dash cam’s price.

3. Front and rear facing cameras
Requirement Met: Yes

The NanoCam Plus NCP-MIRDVRHD2 is a dual-channel, two camera dash cam system. With most dual-channel dash cams, both the 720p rear camera and the 1080p front camera video is fed into the one image processing chipset, and from what I have read, this is how ‘affordable’ 2-channel dash cam systems generally work. I have asked NanoCam+ to confirm if this is the case for the NCP-MIRDVRHD2.

The advantage of image processor chipset sharing is that it lowers cost, maintenance, and installation effort.
The disadvantage is that video quality suffers due to the sharing of image processing power, and the bitrate is often reduced to avoid overloading the memory card.

I notice a significant difference between the quality of the video from the two NCP-MIRDVRHD2 cameras compared to the video quality from the more expensive, higher-end, and independent Mini 807 and DOD LS470W+ dash cams in my XR6.

4. Readable number plates day and night.
Requirement Met: Yes – Acceptable for our Daewoo Matiz

Depending on lighting conditions, number plate quality, and lane positioning, the:
  • 1080p front camera loses number plate readability at about 1.5 to 2 car lengths from the lens.
  • 720p rear camera loses number plate readability at about 1 to 1.5 car lengths from the lens.
  • Side lane plate readability on both cameras is hit and miss, sometimes clear and sometimes unreadable.

Please refer to the attached frame grabs from the Daewoo Matiz and XR6 video recordings. I have mostly grabbed the frames at the maximum distance at which the same-lane number plates are readable to show visibility range, with side-lane vehicle plates for comparison. All the shots are taken during city driving at speeds under 60Km/hour, (our usage profile), and so they do not take into account high speed motion blur and distance travelled between video frames during a high speed accident. The night shots are mostly stationary or very low speed, so do not account for additional motion blur when the shutter is open for longer at night to allow more light to hit the image sensor.

The NanoCam Plus NCP-MIRDVRHD2 just meets my minimum plate readability requirement for the Matiz, however I would prefer higher plate readability in the XR6. The Matiz is a hatchback with no boot, and almost no engine compartment, so the dash cam can record a number plate right up to the point of impact. The XR6 has a large, high boot compartment with a spoiler on the back, and a large engine compartment, so visibility of a number plate is lost at about one car length from the rear lens and ½ car length from the front lens. Dash cams in the XR6 need to be able to read number plates at around an extra car length distance to achieve the same number plate capture-length window as in the Matiz. We use the XR6 for our long distance high speed trips, for which we require higher quality video recordings than this dash cam offers plus GPS functionality.

Neither front nor rear camera has an optional CPL filter available to reduce glare and window reflections.

5. Park Mode:
Requirement Met: Yes and No – Functions as designed, but for my real-world usage requirements it is not ‘fit for purpose’. I have chosen to disable Park Mode and not use it.

The value of enabling the motion sensor is limited, because:
I/ When parked in busy locations, the motion/movement sensor triggers frequent (sometimes continuous) recordings. Enabling just the G-Sensor to trigger on physical impact is the only practical busy location Park Mode setting to avoid filling up the microSD card with junk recordings and unnecessarily flattening the dash cam battery.

II/ If Park Mode activates when parked in our relatively quiet apartment block parking lot, the screen turns on and there is a loud tingle sound on startup and shutdown. This attracts unwanted attention to the dash cam, especially at night when all else is very quiet and the screen shines like a beacon in the dark. If Park Mode is activated, by either G-Sensor or Motion Sensor, I want a criminal to be recorded and not know that the dash cam exists. There are no menu settings to turn off the screen and startup/shutdown notification sound when in Park Mode. The dash cam is designed to be physically discreet by masquerading as a rear view mirror, but when it is meant to be stealthy in Park Mode it behaves in-discreetly by alerting everybody visually and audibly to its presence.

III/ There is no hard-wire kit available to provide permanent power for the NCP-MIRDVRHD2, and so Park Mode with Motion Sensor switched on takes its toll on dash cam battery charge. I tested battery life by fully charging the battery with a battery charger, and then timing it while on continuous record with just the main camera and a static scene. Under these conditions the battery lasted 48 minutes before the dash cam turned itself off.​

However, when installed in a car with the supplied cigarette lighter charger and the dash cam running in normal driving mode, and attempting to charge as it is recording at the same time, the battery does not seem to charge properly, robustly, and fully. When powered up, the screen shows a yellow lightning bolt charging symbol inside a full green battery charge symbol that does not change size to indicate the actual charge level. The charge symbol only indicates the actual charge level briefly on dash cam shutdown. Because we only do a lot a short trips in this car, the battery never seemed to fully charge, it seemed to go flat quickly, and it was difficult to recognise these causes of the low battery problem.​
 

Attachments

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Para Dox

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6. GPS:
Requirement Met: No - Feature not available

The NCP-MIRDVRHD2 does not have GPS functionality, therefore there are no GPS coordinate and speed stamps on the video recordings.

7. Australian Retailer:
Requirement Met: Yes

The NanoCam+ dash cams appear to be exclusively sold by Super Cheap Auto, so the purchase is protected by Australian consumer law and an Australian warranty. Country of manufacture is China

Software:
The NCP-MIRDVRHD2 does not come packaged with any software, however the MP4 video recordings can be played on other 3rd party dash cam software applications. I used the DataKam Player Registrator Viewer without any problems.

Heat Damage Resilience:
One advantage of the rear view mirror design, is that the main camera assembly is mounted well inside the car, up high near the ceiling, and shielded from the sun by the car’s rear view mirror. This protects it (and the battery inside it) from direct sunlight. I have also been able to mount the rear camera out of direct sunlight. This is especially important in order to prevent heat damage from the hot Australian sun.

Problem - Power plug pushes hard against the ceiling of the XR6:
The power plug metal charging pin (similar to those on Nokia phone chargers) that plugs into the top of the rear view mirror unit is twice as long as it needs to be, and makes the power plug stick up twice as high as it needs to.

This is a major problem, because when installed in my Ford Falcon XR6, the power plug pushes hard against the ceiling of the car. When adjusting the position of the rear view mirror, the power plug is pushed against the ceiling of the car with such force that there is a concern that it could bend the power pin or damage the socket that it plugs into. If the pin was just 4mm shorter so that the body of the power plug sat flush against the dash cam housing, then this problem would be resolved.

Problem - 32GB microSD cards lose storage capacity over time:
Regular formatting required. Frequent formatting is required if Motion Sensor is enabled.

Please refer to the attached spreadsheet table of my test results (‘NanoCam NCP-MIRDVRHD2 test data.pdf’). After testing with two different microSD cards (a Sandisk Ultra and a Samsung EVO+), it appears that when the dash cam deletes the locked SOS files created by the G-Sensor or Motion Sensor, it does not release the flash memory space for use by subsequent recordings. Eventually, the available flash memory is gradually consumed until the user manually re-formats the microSD card. I expect that this can only be fixed with a firmware update. This loss of usable storage capacity does not appear occur when the dash cam deletes normal recordings as new ones are created, so it seems to me that the problem is not caused by filesystem fragmentation.

If Park Mode is enabled in busy loactions, and SOS files are frequently deleted to make way for new ones, then frequent re-formatting is required to restore the microSD card flash memory to full usable capacity.
I repeated the test about six times. I found that the microSD card always reports that it is full to 32GB capacity when in the PC’s memory card reader, but does not always contain the full reported GB of files (as proved when the whole microSD contents are copied to the PC’s hard disk). During testing, the dash cam created a maximum of 54 SOS files, then started deleting the oldest one to create each new one. The worst test results showed only 13GB usable storage space remaining of the 32GB total capacity.

Both microSD cards were verified as genuine using the Android ‘SD Insight’ app on the Google Play Store. They were both formatted using the SD Association’s ‘SD Card Formatter’ utility, then reformatted using the dash cam ‘Format’ menu option. They were also tested in a different dash cam and worked with no problems.

The dash cam appears to employ H.264 compression. It creates 1080p FullHD video files at the rate 100MB/s, which is the same rate as my DOD LS470W+ and Mini 807. The 720p rear camera storage consumption rate is 50MB/s. Combined the rate is 150MB/s, which correlates to the three hours of travel video footage that can be stored on one 32GB microSD card. Driving around Tasmania (where I bought this product) during Christmas holidays, the combined SOS file deletion loss of storage problem plus the genuine SOS files themselves reduced the usable storage capacity to only ½ hour of normal recorded video. Because I did not have my PC with me, and was unable to note the exact file statistics, this occurrence is not included in the attached spreadsheet.

I have disabled both Park Mode and the G-Sensor function in the menu to prevent this loss of usable storage capacity problem. With three hours of recorded video, in most accident situations I could retrieve or manually lock the important recordings before they are over-written, so I don’t need the G-sensor. Park Mode I will have to live without.

Note: I do not know if other NanoCam+ dash cams are based on the same firmware, and therefore whether or not this and other problems mentioned in the post are thereby replicated across the NanoCam+ range.

Problem: Matiz rear view mirror came off the window.
Not a fault of the dash cam, but poor adhesion of the Matiz rear view mirror to the windscreen. The NCP-MIRDVRHD2 feels very light to hold, but never-the-less the weight is a consideration. I glued the mirror back on with the special purpose rear view mirror glue that can be obtained from auto spares shops. This problem did not occur in the XR6, even though I was manipulating its mirror with much more force than in the Matiz.

Documentation:
There are a few issues with the documentation:
  • The NCP-MIRDVRHD2 user manual does not contain a 'Contrast’ section. It contains two 'Exposure' sections, one of which I expect should be titled 'Contrast' instead.
  • The user manual does not have a ‘Motion Sensor’ section in the manual, and omits mention of it on the page 17 ‘Menu Options’ table.
  • The NanoCam+ Product Data Sheet table of features indicates that the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 does not have a G-Sensor but it does have one.

Warranty courier cost:
This is probably standard practice, but something to keep in mind:
Up to four courier charges to be borne by the dash cam owner – for example, my nearest Super Cheap Auto store is on the other side of Sydney from where I live. If I did not want to drive there myself, it could cost about AU$68 in courier charges, (4 x AU$17/courier) for a warranty defect rectification.

Excerpt from the user manual:
“In order to claim the warranty, you must return the product to the retailer from which it was purchased or if that retailer is part of a National network, a store within that chain, along with satisfactory proof of purchase. The retailer will then return the goods to NanoCam Plus.
NanoCam Plus will repair, replace or refurbish the product at its discretion. The retailer will contact you when the product is ready for collection.
All costs involved in claiming this warranty, including the cost of the retailer sending the product to NanoCam Plus, will be borne by you.”​
 

Attachments

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Para Dox

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Notes regarding the attached frame grabs:

  • The front camera video recordings have an all-over slight blue hue or tint with the default White Balance setting on ‘Automatic’. Obviously, this does not materially impact the use of the video recordings for legal and insurance purposes.
  • The slight fuzziness across the top 1/20th of the rear camera Matiz photos is caused by the dash cam looking through the bottom of the dealer sticker on the rear window.


Questions to NanoCam+:
As of writing this, I have not received answers to these questions I sent by email to NanoCam+ (competitors make some of these specifications freely available):
  • Does the firmware use H.264 compression?
  • Lenses:
    • Does the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 have glass or plastic/polymer/acrylic lenses?
    • What are the makes and models of the lenses in each camera?
  • Are there any firmware updates?
    • If so, where do I find them?
    • How do I upgrade the firmware?
  • Is the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 a re-badged OEM camera? – if so – what is original brand/OEM?
  • Who designed the NCP-MIRDVRHD2?
  • What make and model #’s are the image processor and image sensor chipsets in the NCP-MIRDVRHD2?
  • Do the two cameras share one image processor chipset ?
    • If so, is the image processor’s processing power divided between the two cameras, reducing video quality compared to a dedicated image processor per camera (as some other 2-channel dash cams do)?
    • Is the bit-rate from each camera reduced to reduce the risk of exceeding the microSD card data transfer rate limits (as some other 2-channel dash cams do)?
  • Are you able to obtain a firmware update to fix the problem with 32GB microSD cards losing storage capacity over time?
  • Park Mode:
    • Is it possible to stop the screen turning on and the loud tingle sound on startup and shutdown when in Park Mode? This attracts attention to the dash cam, especially at night, at a time when I want a criminal to be recorded and not know that the dash cam exists. ‘Mute Audio’ and ‘Screen Auto-Off’ do not do this.
    • If not, could this be incorporated into a firmware update?
Support:
The product is supported in Australia by ‘Directed Australia’ (The ‘Contact Us’ form on http://www.nanocamplus.com.au , telephone number 03 8331 4800, and email: service@directed.com.au flow through to company: ‘Directed Electronics Australia’).
The SupercheapAuto Product Assurance Officer contact details are on their website.

I have reached out to both the NanoCam+ team at ‘Directed Electronics Australia’ and the SuperCheapAuto Product Assurance Officer to raise the NCP-MIRDVRHD2 problems and questions discussed in this post. First contact was the beginning of February 2017. During my dealings with both companies the staff have been friendly and amicable. As of submitting this post, a month has elapsed and I have received no formal responses to these questions and issues. When I receive a response I will update this post accordingly. I hope that the next version of this dash cam is improved as a result of raising these issues.

Summary:
I have mixed feelings about the NCP-MIRDVRHD2. On one level I like it, and it fulfils my fundamental requirements. On another level. I am disappointed with the basic design issues discussed above. These should have been easily identifiable and surmountable in the product design and development phases, and some of them could probably be fixed now relatively quickly with firmware updates (which is industry standard practice). I would also like more ‘value add’ in return for paying the ‘Australia Tax’ over and above simply honouring the mandatory Australian Consumer Law warranty requirements – I purchase from an Australian retailer in the hope that they have properly vetted overseas manufacturer product quality, and they have a special relationship with the overseas manufacturer that facilitates problem resolution via mechanisms such as firmware updates.

I accept the limitations of the technology, that most dash cams in this price range probably have similar or their own unique issues, and that the dash cam industry in general in the low to midrange price segments still has some scope remaining to progress up the product maturity curve. I do not have the time nor the inclination to repeat this review process for every dash cam in this market segment with the hope of finding one that is perfect.

Would I buy another one? ..…. Yes – if the above problems were fixed in the next product release.

Would I have bought one if I knew then what I know now? ….. I would consider buying two or three different Australian ‘grey market’ and/or direct from Asia dash cams, testing them, keeping the best one, selling the remainder second hand, and ending up paying the same or a lower price.

Most regular consumers this product is aimed at would not have either the time, skills, or inclination to go through what I have gone through to flush out the problems and optimize the product. Nor should they have to. It should be ‘plug and play’, ‘set and forget’.
 
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jokiin

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Too many ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I would think most have what you've asked won't get answered as it's info that is not generally shared with consumers, the bugs you found are things they should address though
 

Agie

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Too many to list here (psst, Viofo, Chupad, Xiaomi, Mini )
Thanks for sharing this review mate good stuff and good to see cameras that may not normally see the light of day , reviewed here
 

Richie

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Purchased a similar dash cam last weekend, the nanocam plus NCP-MIRDVR, this is a single, front facing camera version for which i have been unable to find any reviews and have been experiencing some interesting problems after installing it;
Firstly, the dash cam appeared to overheat on a mild winter's day, preventing it from turning on completely until cooled hours later.
Secondly, when exiting the car the cam remains active in park mode briefly, this is interfering with the signal from my remote, meaning I am unable to lock the car remotely.
Thirdly, the radio signal is severely affected in outer metro areas, far more so than normal, causing the main experience to be static until the cam is completely unplugged. At the moment the camera is currently wired via the left hand passenger side, but this will be altered to see if there is any difference.

Car is a Holden Commodore VZ 2004 v6 wagon
 

jokiin

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Too many ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
better to take it back to Supercheap and get your money back, it's not something you're going to be able to work around
 

Hillbilly

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If OP read the ad on Supercheap it says this so is wasting his time trying to get it to stay on without power

*Dash cam requires a constant power supply; battery is only designed for emergency power

Op says he is new to dashcams which is a bit obvious as plenty of good cameras with HD rearcameras and GPS for less money and better quality than this thing
 
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jokiin

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Too many ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If OP read the ad on Supercheap it says this so is wasting his time trying to get it to stay on without power

*Dash cam requires a constant power supply; battery is only designed for emergency power

Op says he is new to dashcams which is a bit obvious as plenty of good cameras with HD rearcameras and GPS for less money and better quality than this thing
3 years on, I'm guessing he's moved on since then
 
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