We have already told our most curious readers in the world about the company Yi Technology, which produces video recorders sold, including under the Xiaomi brand. And they did a detailed review of the Yi Ultra Dash DVR, which is distinguished by its rich configuration and modern capabilities. Today we’ll talk about a rather old one (it has been on the market for several years), but that’s why the well-deserved model of the Yi Smart Dash Camera DVR, which, by compatibility, is the most popular DVR known under the Xiaomi brand.
Appearance, Design, Ergonomics
The recorder is made in a strict and compact case made of shockproof ABS plastic, in the style of an action camera, only the amount is on top and not the bottom.
On the front panel there is a lens and a microphone, on the back there is a display and 4 buttons with a short stroke and a distinct click. On the right (if you look at the recorder from the driver’s seat) there is a micro USB power connector, on the left – a microSD card slot and a hidden reset button.
Traditionally for Xiaomi, there are Chinese (“for internal use”) and international versions of the registrar. The Chinese one is usually sold with a suction cup, and in other countries, the recorder comes with a mount on 3M double-sided tape (there are also promotional kits with these two mounts). There is also a bike or motorcycle handlebar mount, but it is sold separately.
There should also be a charger and a cable in the box, but the device didn’t come to my test without a box, with only one mount without branded adhesive tape (glued to the one that was at hand). The installation of the recorder on the holder is simple, the mount is standard and quite reliable.
The assembly of the device is solid, the case steadily endured several falls both in the passenger compartment and on the street, escaping with small dents. The golden color of the case is beautiful, but as for me, in this case it is inappropriate – the registrar in the car can be seen very far (even at night), it simply catches the eye, attracting thieves. Therefore, I do not risk leaving it in the car even for a short time, I always take it with me. There is also a less noticeable gray version of the device. But the light case has its own plus – it will not heat up so much in the sun (and this is important, given that the recorder is installed in the most visible place and contains a lithium-ion battery, which does not like overheating).
Features and basic functionality
YI Smart Dash Camera exists in three versions, slightly differing in functionality. The most noticeable difference is the viewing angle of the lens. For the tested version labeled A1015, it is 165 ° (in the other two – 120 °). On the one hand, this allows us to see not only the moment of the accident but also what preceded it, who was driving from or from where, what light was on at the traffic lights, what signs were on the side of the road. On the other hand, such a viewing angle faraway objects, so you can confidently read the car number or see some small details only from a short distance, in addition, the image has strong geometric distortions such as “fisheye”.
The aperture ratio of the lens is high – F1.8, all 6 lenses are glass. The electronics is represented by the ON Semiconductor CMOS sensor AR0230CS with a size of 1 / 2.7 “with fairly large pixels (3 × 3 μm) and the top-end 2-core Novatek NT96660 chipset for this class of devices.
For video storage, a microSD card with a capacity of 8 to 128 GB is used (not lower than 10th grade in terms of recording speed, but better than UHS-1), four folders are created for video on it – the first (MOVIE) for ordinary recordings, the second (EMR, from the English emergency ) for “emergency” – if the built-in 3-axis G-sensor (aka accelerometer) feels shocked or shock, the current file is saved in the EMR folder. The third and fourth folders contain copies of the files from the first and second, but with a reduced resolution – when viewed on the display of the recorder, these files are opened.
Next to these folders, I also found the Photo folder. It contains 2 photographs that I did not take because neither the menu nor the instructions for the registrar mention the photography function and there is no button for it. But there is a folder and a photo in it too. The riddle.
The video is saved as files in MP4 / H264 format for 3 minutes each on a removable memory card, if there is not enough space, the oldest recordings are overwritten. When you enter the settings menu, the recording is interrupted and after exiting from it, a new fragment starts. The registrar requires a card of at least 10th class with a volume of 8 to 64 GB. Available space on the map is distributed between regular and emergency videos in the ratio of 7/3. The accelerometer, which selects “emergency” records, has three levels of sensitivity. At the maximum level, it is triggered by the slightest concussion, on average there are fewer false positives, but there are still many, and only the minimum level turned out to be suitable for use.
It may not be the most convenient, but as simple and logical as possible. The display is not touched, all functions and settings – only buttons. The pictograms on the buttons indicate their functions in the recording mode, that is, in the normal mode, which turns on after loading. The first button on the left manually, without the accelerometer signal, records video in the “emergency” folder, the second serves to stop and resume recording, the third allows you to view saved video clips, the fourth briefly calls up the settings menu, and pressing and holding it turns the recorder on and off – this is useful in those cars where when the ignition is turned off, the cigarette lighter power is not turned off.
In the menu navigation mode, the two middle buttons allow you to select the desired parameter, the right one changes (looping around) its value, and the left one closes the menu. The indicators show the process of recording and charging, which is convenient if the option to turn off the display is selected – at a glance it is clear whether the recording is in progress (orange blinks) or it is paused (solid), the battery is charging (solid red) or fully charged (solid).
Here I will consider all the available recording modes with their advantages and disadvantages.
2304 × 1296 RUB 30 fps
This is the maximum resolution of the camera, it is just so many pixels that its photosensitive sensor contains. Extra pixels in excess of the standard 1920×1080, in theory, are intended for electronic image stabilization, but Yi Technology quite logically decided that stabilization is not needed for a car with its soft suspension, and involved all the pixels of the matrix for better image detail. This recording mode gives the highest quality picture, but “eats” about 145 MB of space on the map per minute. A 32 GB memory card, according to the manufacturer, is enough for 3 hours 12 minutes.
An example of a daytime recording at 1296p:
An example of recording at night at 1296p:
The camera has the function of expanding the dynamic range of WDR (e-HDR). The video is actually always shot with a resolution of 2304×1296 pixels and a frequency of 60 frames per second, but the frames are combined in pairs. As a result, we get 1296p 30 fps, but with double exposure, that is, the image is less noisy, more detailed and with a better study of dark areas, this is especially noticeable at night. The remaining resolutions (1080p and 720p) are obtained by interpolating the original video shot at 1296p.
1920 × 1080p 30 fps
This mode is set by default. Only and in it works ADAS – the driver assistance system described below. The memory consumption in this recording mode is 106 MB per minute (4 hours 17 minutes on a 32 GB card)
Example of recording in the afternoon at 1080p 30 fps:
An example of recording at night at 1080p 30 fps:
1920x1080p 60 fps
This mode is different in that the WDR function does not work in it – this is clearly seen in the example of night video in comparison with other modes. But the high frame rate gives a smoother video sequence and allows you to enjoy the smooth slow-motion video (on the phone or computer, the recorder itself does not know how). One minute of recording takes the same 145 MB on the memory card as in 1296p mode.
Example of recording in the afternoon at 1080p 60 fps:
An example of recording at night at 1080p 60 fps:
1280 × 720p 30 fps
This mode was added to one of the firmware updates. As in the case of 1080p, it is implemented not by cropping the frame, but by interpolation, so the viewing angle is the same as in 1080p, but the decrease in resolution is accompanied by even stronger compression with a noticeable loss in picture quality. One minute of recording, in this case, takes only 37 MB, that is, on a 32 GB card you can save almost 15 hours of video. I can not think of any reason to use this mode as the main one, but it can come in handy if you need to fit on a single memory card an entire long trip or a whole day of traveling around the city. True, this is not quite the intended use of the DVR, and in case of an accident, it will be more difficult to disassemble the details of the incident.
An example of recording in the afternoon at 720p 30 fps:
An example of recording at night at 720p 30 fps:
The optics of the recorder are quite fast, but it is not protected from glare and overexposure. This applies to incoming sunlight, and glare on cars in the frame (when the sun is behind), and reflections on the windshield – examples in the gallery below.
A polarizing filter can fix these problems, but it is not available and installation is not provided, so the most advanced owners of YI Smart Dash Camera get such a filter with an appropriate diameter and fix it to the lens as best they can. If you are a fan of such improvements, optimizations and custom firmware – you have a direct road to the w3bsit3-dns.com forum, where there is simply a lot of information on this DVR.
These are just those thanks to which the registrar has the word “Smart” in the name. These include, first of all, the driver assistance system ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System). The registrar analyzes the picture from the camera, and signals about two potentially dangerous situations:
Care of the car aside for a marking line. To do this, the registrar must be installed correctly and, of course, the markup should be clearly visible. The first is simple – you need to combine the cross in the center of the screen with the horizon, and the second condition is far from always satisfied. If nevertheless, this function works, the following picture appears on the screen:
and a voice alert in English that I couldn’t accurately recognize by ear.
Too fast approaching the car in front. Since the registrar does not have a radar/rangefinder, the distance is determined, apparently, based on the size of the object in the frame recognized as a car, and the approach speed is based on the speed of increasing its size. Therefore, the reliability of this function is also not one hundred percent, but often it works on a case in really dangerous situations. The warning on the display looks like this:
and the voice says “Keep a safe distance, please!”
Unfortunately, in urban conditions, with the markings blocked on most roads, the first function is of little use, and the second, with constant acceleration and braking at traffic lights (and especially in traffic jams), starts to annoy quite quickly, so pretty soon I turned off ADAS. On the suburban highways, this assistant will be more useful – after all, a monotonous ride on a good road lulls to sleep, here voice warnings can wake a dozing driver and save him from an accident.
Another feature is the driving log. At the end of the trip, after turning off the ignition, a sign appears on the screen with the number of sudden accelerations, sudden braking and dangerous approximations, at which the distance monitoring function worked. The duration of the trip is also indicated here. This data is displayed in just a few seconds, and you cannot manually display it on the screen, but if desired, you can find it on the memory card in a regular text file in the hidden DrivingInfoFile folder. The whole driving history is stored there, I just don’t know if there is any limit on the file size.
To interact with a smartphone or tablet, the registrar has a Wi-Fi access point. Using the Yi Dashcam application, you can display a picture on the screen of a smartphone or tablet, change settings, view the recordings and upload them. When viewing directly from the camera, the video is taken from folders with the index “_s”, that is, reduced. To view a recording in full resolution, you must first download it.
The firmware update is done “over the air” via Wi-Fi using the same application.
The recorder has a lithium-polymer rechargeable battery with a capacity of 240 mAh, but in my copy, it seems that it is already “tired” and it lasts no more than a minute after turning off the power. But this is not a problem – since the recorder receives the main power from the vehicle’s on-board network, the battery is needed only for normal shutdown (without losing the current recording) in case of a sudden power outage. If you come up with the idea of using a YI Smart Dash Camera on a bicycle (a suitable amount can be purchased separately on the manufacturer’s website), you will have to use an external battery (power bank).
In the dry residue
YI Smart Dash Camera is a good “people’s” video recorder with all the necessary functions and a quite decent recording quality. I did not find any significant contraindications to the purchase of this model with a budget of up to $ 49.99 for this price. So if you are not ready to give more than 60 USD for a DVR, you can safely take this registrar; on Aliexpress from $ 32 and even cheaper as part of promotional offers.
3 reasons to buy YI Smart Dash Camera:
lack of competitors in terms of price/quality and price/functionality;
the good recording quality, including at night;
the ability to access records from a smartphone.
1 reason not to buy YI Smart Dash Camera:
You don’t like too wide a viewing angle, which greatly distracts objects in the frame.