The CDV300X, equipped with the Ambarella A7, is a wish come true!
The CDV300X (aka SG7LA50G) dashcam costs around 104€,
almost twice the price of the A118, but uses the superior component and has an embedded GPS module as standard. The 3MP sensor can capture in Super HD 1296p (2304 x 1296 @ 30fps).
The box content is standard: the camera and its cradle, a USB cable, a power adapter for the car and a notice. However, according to this same notice, the package should also contain a CD with a GPSViewer software. While the excellent Registrator Viewer will do the job fine, it would have been interesting to see how that other software worked. So far I could not obtain a copy of it.
The base has an USB port and a button to release the camera. It is affixed permanently to the windscreen with a 3M tape.
No matter how close to the rooftop the cradle is placed, there's no problem to take the camera off it. The angled USB connector provided plugs on the top side of the base and is barely visible. The only point to keep in mind is to ensure that the camera lens is still located within the wipers area.
|CDV300X with USB power on the base.|
|A118 with GPS and power connectors.|
The firmware version tested is V0.4.7. A nice-looking user interface gives easy access to all the features. The parking monitor and time lapse are interesting ones but the weak battery which lasts less than 5 minutes makes them unusable.
The button layout is straightforward with a larger one for locking a critical video sequence.
Some security options that you are unlikely to use are: low light warning, fatigue warning (alert after 6h driving), and the Playback in password which just locks the access to the device playback menu with a 4-digit code. The files are still directly readable via USB.
A small annoyance: the jingles at startup and shutdown cannot be disabled.
As expected the camera starts recording as soon as the engine starts, but the GPS requires a delay to become operational, and where the A118 was ready under 1 minutes, the CDV300X will take around 4 minutes to get the fix from cold start. However, once started it gives an accurate position and speed reading. The trip data is saved in gprmc format as separate text files and not embedded in the video, which, for me, is a good point.
The 170° f2.0 6G lens gives a clear picture and the mp4 video format can be read with the GPS and G-sensor data by the all-mighty Registrator Viewer. I've mainly used the 1296p resolution with WDR, so far in poor lighting condition. The picture compression is a bit too strong which puts the quality under any generation of G90 for instance, but remains acceptable most of the time.
This is also visible in a video sample found on youtube.
Otherwise the video plays smoothly with no gap and a neat sound quality.
The CDV300X dashcam costs around 104€, almost twice the price of the A118, but the price tag is justified by the superior components (Ambarella A7LA50 / Aptina AR0330CS ) and better overall design. It is a well-thought and high quality all-in-one dashcam.
Except for the rather weak battery, it is hard to fault. The format is ideal and most discreet. The docking station allows an installation on the highest point of the windscreen if so wished. The manufacturer, TCL, is best known for the excellent motion cam SVC200. However it was impossible to contact them by any mean. Therefore I think that the StreetGuardian version, the SG7LA50G (if it goes ahead) might be a better choice with regard to the product support.
- Excellent form factor
- Easy installation and removal of the unit
- Gap-less recording
- Mini-HDMI output
Not so good:
- Weak battery: less than 5 minutes of autonomy
- Not enough autonomy for using Parking Mode
- Jingle on Power on and off cannot be disabled
- GPS a bit slow to kick-in (~4 minutes)
- GPS Player CD mentionned in the manual is not provided.
Links of interest:
Firmware discussion (Dashcamtalk)