WonVon W4K

SawMaster

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This is a revised review and will be updated as new developments occur. It has become apparent that there are issues with the playback of videos with this cam, and I will cover those at the end of this review. Be sure to read and understand that part before considering the purchase of this cam!

10/16/20 Update:
I have just received a new firmware to try- I will report my results this weekend. This firmware disables all ADAS functions so if this firmware is on a cam you buy today yours will not have these features operational.

Blueskysea sent me a W4K for free to beta test and review. Click HERE to see the manufacturer's website. The cam can be purchased through the Blueskysea store on Amazon.

OVERVIEW
This is a new 3-channel cam from Blueskysea, but I didn't have the cabin cam so this review relates only to it's use as a 2-channel cam for front and rear coverage. The "WonVon" branding is a departure from their usual in-house development; they purchased the existing design and refined it, but you will still get the usual excellent Blueskysea support with this cam. It's a small sleek design I like, and with very good vid quality from the front cam should be a great addition for anyone seeking an economical multi-channel cam at a very reasonable price.

BOXING
Please visit the linked websaite above for pics. The cam and accessories come in a fairly solid cardboard box, with the cam protected by fitted soft foam so that even with some crushing of the box, the cam should not suffer damage. The accessories are packed in bags underneath a cardboard shelf. The cam is also protected with a soft foam sleeve which those who remove the cam when parked can use to protect it during storage. The box printing is monochrome and basic, so while it isn't 'flashy' it is still well-designed and no money is wasted on fanciness you don't need. I'd rate the box at 8/10 compared to other flashier ones, but 10/10 as far as function.

MANUAL
The owners manual is in English and Chinese only. It is comprehensive and well laid-out, with only a few spelling errors which are easily understood regardless. The instructions are well explained and easy to understand even for someone unfamiliar with dashcams. With the numerous settings, buttons, and functions it's probably a good idea to keep the manual in the car until you can memorize the details you need to know and use on a regular basis. One of the things I really like about this cam and manual is that you can access and adjust everything with only the charts in the manual and menu using just the buttons on the cam; you do not absolutely need wifi and an app such as many screen-less cams now require. I only wish the diagrams and their details were a little larger for my old eyes to better see. For a dashcam manual, you won't find any that are much better and anything you need to deal with is in there and easily found. I'd rate the manual at 9.5/10.

MOUNT
The GPS mount is slim and substantial. The power cable plugs into it only, there is no power port on the cam. It has a small icon and "GPS" written in silver on the windshield side- not big but not stealthy. I colored over it with a Sharpie marker. (Note: this writing may be eliminated in production versions). The mounting tape is gray in color- I would have preferred black. It is a genuine 3M tape so it should stick excellently. There are contacts in the mount for the cam, which is held in place magnetically. They look like a very good design for long life and reliability. The magnets are very strong, but the cam can be released easily for with a sideways twisting motion. There is a key-and-recess section to hold the camera securely and there is no looseness in this joint- the cam is held solidly to the mount and will stay where you put it. The mount pivots for up-or-down aim, it does not move side-to-side so a central mounting will give the best road-view. With the thin mount and thin cam profile it should mount easily under or behind the mirror in almost every car. It could also possibly be mounted underneath a sensor housing, however that could cause interference issues from or with the GPS, and as most of these are textured plastic and curved, such a mounting may not be wise. Only the 'sticky' mount is provided, and it does have an extra tape included should you want to move the cam system to another car later on. I'd rate this mount at 9.5/10 only because it doesn't swivel.

INSTALLATION
I already had a PS from another cam run to the location the W4K was going, so I used it. Initially I had only the main front cam operating and it booted and recorded properly. Then I wired in the rear cam, and again it booted but a second or two after recording started it shut down and went in to a cycle of boot-looping. I unplugged the rear cam but that didn't help. I switched to the supplied PS and then everything went well and has continued to do so. The supplied PS is larger than usual, so I'm guessing it's also more powerful as that would explain this behavior. I decided to try mounting the rear cam on my big van's rear door frame at the glass. I used a screw instead of the 3M tape, then when I tried tightening the mounting pivot screws, one of them stripped at the threads. I was being careful to not over-torque it being as small as it is, and that worked for the other screw, so for now that one is what's doing all the work. I'll put a nut on the stripped one later but TBH this is a serious issue, arising I think from the thin stamped-out mounting plate not being substantial enough to maintain integrity where the hole for the threads is punched in. Mounted like this I had just barely enough cable to reach the front cam with the rear door fully open. Given that mine is perhaps the longest standard van ever produced that length should be more than enough for almost any install. Another possible issue here is the mount's limited rotation; it can't mount directly to glass and with steeply sloped windows there may not be enough adjustment. Installation rates 8/10 because of the rear mount and because no cable clips are supplied.

USAGE
This cam is very easy to use. The menu is easy to access, it uses large script and icons to show you the sub-menus, and those are both well laid-out and easy-to-read. Compared to other cams the menu here is superb for visibility and for function. The learning curve to use the menu is small, and you won't need to constantly refer to the manual as is needed for some other cams. The buttons are underneath the cam body making access easy and universal, and their functions are printed on the case above each, which is good daytime, but in the dark you'll have to find them by feel which isn't hard to do. I'd rate the buttons at 9/10 with only illumination needed to make them perfect. Overall this cam rates 10/10 for usage.

HARDWARE
Let's get this out of the way- this is not a true 4K cam but it's high-end 2K capabilities are very well developed and you will be hard-pressed to find much difference between the front images and those of many 4K cams. The front lens and Galaxy Core GC4653 1/3" sensor gives excellent clarity from edge-to-edge with only a small amount of edge distortion and an advertised 135 degree diagonal field of view which my measurements seem to verify. It operates at 4MP but this sensor is capable of 5MP. I am getting a bitrate with audio of 25630kbps with the front cam. The rear cam has the GC2053 1/2.9" sensor operating at 2MP with an estimated 110 degree FOV which is below the claims, but is about equal to most other rear cams. Working at 2MP, the clarity of the rear cam is very good, but there is noticable edge distortion. I'm getting a 10700kbps bitrate with the rear cam. The NT96670 processor is one of the latest and uses a MP4 format with the h.264 cocdec. It is actually capable of 4K video but not in multi-channel use. It receives full sun where it is mounted in my van, and with 30C air temperatures the W4K runs warm but not hot, and I did not find any heat-related issues. No ratings given for hardware since it will always become obsolete in time, but this is quite good hardware for today.

AUDIO
The mic is in the front cam only, and is both sensitive and clear. The recorded audio heard on playback is biased toward higher frequencies which eliminates 'rumble' without losing enough 'bass' to matter, but i would like the low-frequency response to be slightly stronger. Audio recording can be turned on or off in the App, cam menu, or by button-press. The system sounds in the cam speaker are clear and loud which I like, but some people will probably find it too loud. It can be muted if desired. I'd rate all this 8/10.

continued on the next post
 
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SawMaster

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FEATURES
G-sensor works perfectly in my cam from high-sensitivity to low. On high, closing a door more than very gently triggers a recording, as does road roughness. On low it takes a very hard door slamming or a hard bump in the road to set it off. Note that there is one setting for both parking and driving. 9/10 rating only because of one setting for parking and driving. (Please note that many times G-sensor sensitivity varies considerably from one cam to another; expect only that yours should work to some degree.)

Motion Detection works far better than most, capturing cars and people walking 10M distant. MD files are recorded at high speed and are not 'locked' but are in the normal 'movie' file folder which means they will get overwritten in time. MD works in 'parking mode' only (see below). It has good sensitivity and few false alarms, but the misfiling could be an issue. 8/10 rating (Please note that many times motion detection varies somewhat from one cam to another; expect only that yours should work reasonably well.)

ADAS partially functions for me, the "TLD" traffic signal and "TSR" road sign detection didn't work for me but the USA has different standards than other nations for traffic signals and speed limit signs so it might work for you. The "SNG" detection which notifies you when the stopped car ahead of you moves does work almost all of the time. These features rarely work well in any dashcam so my 6/10 rating will be close to average for all cams.
NOTE: A firmware update of 10/16/20 disables the ADAS function, so a cam purchased today may not have these features operational.

WI-FI I was unable to use the wifi app as my phone doesn't support it, but I did receive a very strong wifi signal and this uses a rather well-developed generic app so I doubt that anyone with a newer phone will have any problems with it. ?/10 because I couldn't test. Another tester says the app works correctly.

PARKING MODE
You MUST have the optional B2W-type hardwire kit (HWK) to use parking mode. There is a "time-lapse" mode available in the menu which could be used instead, but it turns off card-looping and is too much bother to use for daily parking. With the HWK parking mode switches on and off reliably. Going into parking mode the screen comes on, the 'REC' icon drops, then the screen goes dark. Going into driving mode the screen comes on, the 'REC' icon begins flashing, then the screen goes dark (screensaver). Only G-sensed files get 'locked', but both that and motion detect will activate recording when parked, and one minute's recording is saved at what appears to be 4X speed which can be slowed down in your player. Very short time between event detection and recording of around one second. The cam was as warm as when recording regularly, so in hot climates with the car closed you might have problems, but so would most other cams. Only pre-bufferring does a better parking mode than this, but it doesn't pre-buffer so just a 8/10 rating here.

VIDEO
There has been a special player released for this cam which I haven't tried yet. All I can say right now is that I experienced 'stuttering' on playing these vids with the usual vid players, and some like VLC and Windows players will not work. My best results were with PotPlayer and Dashcamviewer, which greatly reduced the 'stuttering' but did not eliminate it. I will revise this section to reflect my results soon. PLEASE READ THE ADDED SECTION AT THE END OF THIS REVIEW.

One video issue I have relates to viewing. Playback on my old cheap laptop stutters badly with all the usual video players. WDR doesn't seem to do much, but it's not greatly needed either as the vids follow brightness levels well without it.
Video clips and comparisons posted on the pages below.

LIKES
The menu is perfect, no reading glasses required. Slender and stable mount. Very long rear cam cable supplied. Loud cam speaker. Small attractive form-factor. No chrome or oversize lens ring. Very good vid quality with the front cam, and good for the rear. Easy dismounting. Angled cable plugs. Very good value for the price. Very good support from the manufacturer. Very good parking mode.

DISLIKES
Gray tape on mount. "GPS" written on mount (may be eliminated in production units). LED Indicator for recording not working. GPS issues. Playback and APP not suitable for old devices. Rear cam pivot screws very delicate and mount adjustment limited. Occasionally the cam asks to format the card after having it out for viewing or at random. It doesn't seem to matter either way but probably best to format when notified to do that. Also when using the ciggie-plug PS to switch the cam on if there is any momentary loss of power, sometimes the cam will indicate 'recording' on screen, but won't be recording to the card. Plug the PS in with one solid smooth motion and you shouldn't have any problems.

VIDEO ISSUES ADDENDUM
My old computer gear is maxxed out at 1080p and it is not capable of processing data quickly. In the testing of this cam I was reliant on input from others regards the mentioned 'stuttering' on playback. When I first posted this review, all the input I had was that the other people involved were not experiencing playback problems, which led me to believe that it was only my old computer gear causing the 'stutter'. It turns out that this is not fully the actual situation, and I apologize for my mistakes. I do my best to be totally honest in my reviews and this is not a happy moment for me at all. Here is what I have found out so far, and I will continue investigating this and I will post it all here for you so that you can decide for yourself.

This cam records in h265 for the front cam and h264 for the rear cam. The h265 format is relatively new and to play vids in that format requires newer and faster computer gear than many people have. If your computer, tablet, or phone does not handle h265 well you will not be able to use the usual dashcam video players and obtain satisfactory results. Blueskysea has released a player for this cam which you can download HERE. I have now tried the player and it is not performing any better for me than any other. Perhaps it will work better for you. I highly advise that you try it for yourself before purchasing this cam to be certain that the results are satisfactory for you.

Here I must also point out that many Insurers, Police agencies, and Courts cannot process anything newer than h264, and the general advice given today is that it is best to record in h264 because of that. There is no option given in the menu of this cam to change these formats, so for now this is a very important point to be aware of.

Because of these issues I am not comfortable in recommending this cam until this issue is resolved. I do not believe that using a special player for this cam is the proper solution, as many of us have paid for special dashcam players (or use their free versions) to obtain the benefits of GPS tracking and mapping, special data displays, and the other features those players give us. It seems that nearly every other decent cam can work reasonably well with those players and i honestly believe that this one should do that too. Blueskysea works hard to develop their products and has done that quickly in the past, so I truly believe this will get worked out properly in the end, but it is up to you to decide whether this cam is for you until that happens.

I really do like this cam- it does many things very well, especially the parking mode and the very good imaging obtained from the front cam. I have no problem in recommending it to anyone seeking a good 2-channel cam at a reasonable price as it does very well in every other way, but I must leave it up to you to decide whether this cam is for you. I am going to continue using mine as I am happy with what it does for me.
 
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SawMaster

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I am adding back the original vids I have recorded with this cam as links to the raw files I placed on Google Drive. These were taken with the original firmware which was updated so PLEASE do not rely on these alone to decide what you think of the videos with this cam. I will be posting new vids shortly.
FRONT CAM old FW
REAR CAM old FW

New vids below recorded on the latest FW

RAW FILE
Mostly cloudy WDR off (parked till 0:30)

RAW FILE
Rear Cam with above video

RAW FILE
Break-of-dawn WDR off

RAW FILE
(rear cam with above- sorry for the raindrops)

The following vids are recorded @1920*10890p for both cams. Bright low sun on one side. WDR off
RAW FILE

RAW FILE
 
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SawMaster

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RAW FILE
Night time 1920*1080p WDR off

RAW FILE
Rear cam for above (sorry for the very dirty window)
 
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Paul Iddon

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Looked a bit stuttery in the first video - and Stats for Nerds shows some dropped frames?
 
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SawMaster

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Looked a bit stuttery in the first video - and Stats for Nerds shows some dropped frames?

My old laptop is cheap and pushes hard to do 1080p so I couldn't properly play these, and I got massive stuttering with all but PotPlayer and Dashcamviewer programs because of that :( Even those platforms were more than my laptop could handle at this bitrate, but were almost smooth :rolleyes:

So I can't say one way or the other. Remember YouTube compresses these and they're not yet in HD unless you adjust playback settings. So can you look at the other two for me and let me know what you (and everyone else) sees? Also the raw files are linked under the respective vids and open for viewing via Google Drive. I'll have some more footage with the new firmware later today and tonight for comparison ;)

Thanks for your input Paul (y)

Phil
 

Paul Iddon

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It stutters in the raw file too Phil...

Card write speed or processing?
 
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SawMaster

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Samsung EVO select, two different ones, both tested 100% and worked in other cams. I've never pushed them, this hard before as all my other cams are lower res and bitrate. I really don't know what it could be...

Phil
 
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SawMaster

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Going to the store shortly so I may grab a better card if they have any.

Phil
 

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Be interesting to see if anyone else testing sees similar.
 
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SawMaster

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Another tester with better gear and a factory rep have seen these vids from me, and nobody mentioned any anomalies. So I really don't know what's going on :(

Phil
 

Paul Iddon

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Might just be the uploads need more time m8. Will check again later.
 

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More than my wife thinks I need.
Be interesting to see if anyone else testing sees similar.
Another tester with better gear and a factory rep have seen these vids from me, and nobody mentioned any anomalies. So I really don't know what's going on :(

Phil
I just downloaded the first sample you posted and it has really bad stuttering and pauses using DCV or WMP. Same computer plays 2 channel SG videos using DCV with no problems.

Edit: Downloaded the 'Test1' file and it's the same - not as bad as the first sample but definitely there.

Edit2: Installed PotPlayer and playback characteristics are the same.
 
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kamkar

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I confirm ( looking at the first video in raw format )
Using my computer, which can play 8K footage just fine, and using pot player, there are random stuttering every few seconds ( not consistent )
So something are fishy with the camera as it seem to repeat the same frame some times and not just 1 time but more like 3 times.
 
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SawMaster

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OK thanks folks :love:

Let's see if we can get this worked out. Rather than leaving the bad vids up, I'm going to pull them for now and repost when we get something better to work with.

Phil
 

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Sound even more strange if thats the case.
 

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Looking forward to it.
 

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It is smooth when playback with the supplied player on my computer!
That might depend on your definition of "smooth", people here are looking for perfection ;)

Stepping through the video 1 frame at a time, it seems that sometimes there is a duplicate frame which causes a slight pause in the video, only on the front channel, the rear channel is perfect. When it has a problem, it seems that every 30 frames it sometimes adds the duplicate, but there are also long periods where it is perfect.

Just a frame timing issue.
it has really bad stuttering and pauses using DCV or WMP
I think this is probably because the video is encoded in an H265 4K file, and some older computers+players will struggle to decode it smoothly. (Being able to play 4K H264 smoothly does not mean that a computer has the hardware for H265.)

Try playing it on a 4K TV if you have one... still an occasional duplicate frame, but definitely not "really bad"...
 
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Stepping through the video 1 frame at a time, it seems that sometimes there is a duplicate frame which causes a slight pause in the video, only on the front channel, the rear channel is perfect. When it has a problem, it seems that every 30 frames it sometimes adds the duplicate, but there are also long periods where it is perfect.
I will release the player Google drive link for testing very soon...
Player for Windows:
w4k gps player for Mac
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MTn3lq2Gd5EKcqNpUZqPjjWFbah3bPJD/view?usp=sharing
 
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