Dash Cam G50 Review

Aug 14, 2014

The G50 (BL850) is a variant of the G55W reviewed here earlier, trading the IR lights and WIFI for better chipset (NTK 96650) and sensor (AR0330).






Several models using the same casing:
The model reviewed here is the G50 priced around 60€. It is equipped with the repectable Novatek NTK96650 chipset and 3MP Aptina AR0330 sensor. It also goes by the name BL850 since Dome Technology started their own brand: BlackView. It has a twin called G55, just adding IR Lights. The "bigger brother" G55W adds Wi-Fi but looses out with a rather average couple of chipset and sensor.




Look'n feel
Like its siblings, the G50 is ideally sized and shaped with a very intuitive button layout, which perfectly fits the Novatek firmware (I realize that the G55W in comparison was less obvious with functions distributed differently, like "Enter" for Menu, M button for Mode) 
The user interface comes in 10 languages (vs 3 for G55W) and the car registration tag option. I tried the French interface, and while not perfect, the quality of the translation is above average, with everything still making sense.













When connected to a PC, the G50 offers 2 modes: Mass Storage and PC Camera. In that mode, it will self-install and appear in the Device Manager as J1455.


The suction mount is easy to fit and has a USB connector which, due to its location in locked position, will force you to place 3.5 cm lower to allow the USB cable to bend against the roof. The picture below makes my point easier to understand. In comparison the G90 mount is better.






Picture/Recording quality:
The Aptina AR0330 3MP sensor delivers a full HD video in 30fps.
NTK96650 goes up to 1920x1080x30fps. There's no 60fps option.
The firmware release is 0519-0330-RD07. It includes WDR/ HDR and an F1.8 aperture to deal with low light conditions. The 6G glass lens contributes to the picture quality and the view angle is 170°.



The video recording can be done by segments of 1/3/5/10 minutes. I've tried 3 and 5 minutes which both produced a perfect, uninterrupted recording. I used a Class10 memory as recommended and had it formatted by the camera. There is a SD/Internal memory switch for that function although there's no internal memory in the G50 (but some NTK 96650 devices do have one). 
There's a choice of 4 resolutions: 640x480, 848x480, 1280x720 and 1920x1080. 720p still gives correct results but I see no point using anything else than FHD.

The frames below are extracted from Full HD videos taken at different times of the day. In most case, we can read the registrations of cars passing by despite the occasional damages done by the compression. As for most car dvr's, night view is the real challenge. WDR adds too much noise and night views are actually quite good without it.

Day, WDR off, at about 50kph
Morning, WDR on,  at about 70kph
By adding too much noise, WDR turns out to be counter-productive. Click for full size.

A DealExtreme.com reviewer has posted a video which gives a good idea of the quality.


Conclusion:
The G50/BL850 uses one of the nicest design in Car DVR's and is very straightforward to use. On that aspect it outclasses the current flagship G90. Like its G55W brother, it doubles as an excellent PC Webcam. The Novatek 96650 does a good job in most situations but WDR is not convincing and best results are obtained without it. It's basically an updated Z7 with a better optics and wider angle.
The sound recording is loud and clear in any situation with no parasite whatsoever.
For 60€ it is absolutely a good buy if you're looking for a reliable and discreet budget dash cam. 

It can be found in many shops including FoxOfferDealExtreme and JooVuu (shipping from UK).

Good:
- A quality product hardware and software-wise
- Good video and picture quality
- Great sound recording quality
- Decent battery life
- Gap-less recording

Not so good: 
- USB plug location on suction mount is not ideal
- WDR too "noisy" to be effective


** As always, thanks to Nikki from Shenzhen Dome Technology for her kind assistance.**
Feel free to email her for further information on that product.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Bubbah , How are you ? How can I get in touch with you because I want to invite you to do reviews for IP cameras.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pan, I was on travel until now with limited Internet access.
      Please feel free to contact me at bubbah@gadgetvictims.com
      Thanks

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  2. So - based on the useful and comparative reviews here of the G50 and G55, and a close study of the customer video on DealExtreme, I ordered a G50 direct from Dome via Aliexpress. And it arrived today, just under 3 weeks. But after unboxing and testing, I had / have a nagging doubt that I'd been sent a G55. The sensor side of the unit has the IR LEDs of the G55. But the screen side does not have the WiFi logo top right, and no WiFi menu on long press of the Go button, or anywhere else.
    It shows as J1455 under 'removable devices', and EXIF data on stills shows 'Novatek camera'. And properties under Windows Device Manager has it as 'NOVATECN- vt-DSC'. All of which suggest it's a G50. Especially if the equivalent on a G55 lists Omnivision / LD6188. The box and the device are anonymous, unlabelled. But handwritten on the address label is G50 scored out replaced with G55 and some Chinese. Odd.
    But if it is a G50, why the IR ring, which as Bubba suggests, would be all but useless on a dashcam?
    I think I'll drop Nikki a question, unless anyone else reading has any comment to contribute.

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    Replies
    1. I just noticed Bubba's firmware reference for the G50. The dashcam I have is the same version. So it's a G50. With IR LEDs.

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    2. That would be the G55 then (without W because no Wi-Fi but same,better, chipset as G50). The LED must be some commercial decision for people believe it is required for a "night vision capable" camera. In reality it is completely useless here.

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    3. Based in a dialogue I'm having with Dome Technology, I think you are right. It's confusing when the product has no label and looks so similar to others in the range. I hadn't appreciated that G55 has the same chipset as G50, as opposed to the G55W.
      The image quality is excellent. I'm very impressed with the short exposure time in normal daylight, which shows reg numbers very clearly when the video is paused.
      My cycle headcam is now only used when cycling - no longer doubles as a dashcam.

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    4. Dohh - I have realised that I've been confusing the G55 with the G55W, assuming it's basically the same model variant, which it actually isn't. Note to self - pay more attention to those pesky little details.

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