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Best Mini Dash Cam – Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 Full HD DVR Review

Updated on November 28, 2013
Mini DVR 0801 dashcam situated behind rearview mirror
Mini DVR 0801 dashcam situated behind rearview mirror | Source

Choosing a dashcam

After a long internet search, I chose the Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 DVR with full HD. It is reasonably priced at just over $100 and fulfils all my needs when out and about in the car.

The first thing that impressed me was its size. It easily fits in the palm of my hand, and when positioned behind the rear-view mirror, is completely out of sight of the driver. This is important because in the UK it is illegal to have anything on the windscreen that may impede the vision of the driver.

The mini-USB cable that leads to the car cigarette lighter power source attaches to the base unit, which is permanently stuck to the windscreen with one of the two sticky pads that arrived with the product.

I am glad they sent two. When I first connected the dashcam to the windscreen, I placed it too high, so that the video was obstructed by the windscreen meshing many cars are fitted with.

That same day I was able to peel it off with the help of some WD40 and use the second pad to re-position the camera base.

The base stays permanently in position, and the camera itself simply slides off in order to take it into the house and check the video on either the computer or the TV, using the HDMI outlet on the dashcam itself.

Eprance mini 0801 for left-hand drive cars
Eprance mini 0801 for left-hand drive cars | Source

I’ve been fascinated with in-car cameras ever since they were first invented over 20 years ago. As a taxi driver at the time, what a boon they would have been, as they not only record events, they record sound and conversations.

Taxi driving is a lonely occupation, because it is always your word against someone else. A camera would have been a silent witness, proving or disproving events as they unfolded, both inside and outside the taxi.

Unfortunately, in those days, in-car cameras were horrendously expensive and involved the siting of a full size DVR somewhere inside the vehicle, to keep a record of events.

Nowadays, we have handy little dashcams loaded with tiny memory cards to record everything that happens while the vehicle is in motion, or even stationary.

screenshot of  video from eprance mini 0801 DVR
screenshot of video from eprance mini 0801 DVR | Source

I love the clarity of the video. You can quite easily read other number plates, especially if you pause the video at any time during playback.

Sound is not so great, but still clear enough to make out. You can use one of the up/down arrows on the dashcam itself to mute sound, so that it does not record.

The aperture on the camera copes with moving from bright sunlight to shaded areas easily, which is important to know. Accidents can happen at any time, any place, and a dashcam that cannot cope with differing light conditions is not much use.

I have tested this camera at dusk, just after the street lights came on, and apart from a darkening of the screen, events are still easily seen.

I have not personally tested it after dark, but if you watch this excellent and informative video by Techmoan, you will see that it copes with poor lighting very well indeed.

mistakenly placed too high on windscreen, this screenshot shows the windscreen mesh
mistakenly placed too high on windscreen, this screenshot shows the windscreen mesh | Source
re-positioning the dash cam slightly lower allows for perfect vision
re-positioning the dash cam slightly lower allows for perfect vision | Source
e-prance mini arabella 0801 dashcam
e-prance mini arabella 0801 dashcam | Source

Connecting the cabling of the dashcam

The Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 DVR comes with enough cabling to feed the cable along the top of the windscreen, down the side, over the dashboard and back into the cigarette lighter, which in my car is positioned in the middle behind the driver.

Being connected to the cigarette lighter means that it only operates when the key is turned on in the ignition. It plays a soft tubular tune when it turns on, and again when it turns off, a few seconds after the key is removed.

Ideally, I would like to buy an extension lead with crocodile clips to connect it directly to the car battery, so that it records all the time. Many accidents take place in supermarket car parks.

There is a 'movement sensor' on the Eprance Mini 0801 DVR which I assume would mean it would only record when movement is detected while the car is stationary.

While the drain on the battery would be only slight, it would be reassuring to buy a solar powered trickle charger for the battery, so that daylight would prevent the battery from going flat.

I have taken to parking the car up facing away from the sun. Solar heat can seriously shorten the life of small electronic devices.

I would then place the battery charger in the rear of the vehicle where the sun would be welcome.

screenshot of video at dusk
screenshot of video at dusk | Source

Specifications of Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 Full HD DVR

 
 
Image Sensor
1/25" 2M/5M CMOS
Chip
Ambarella A2S60 1080 P 30FPS
Lens
135 Wide Angle
External Memory
Built-in TF card (up to 32Gbs)
Internal Memory
Built-in 4 - 32Gb (optional)
ISO
Auto
Display
1.5" TFT
Still Images
JPEG
Videos
H.264 (.MOV) and choice of lower resolutions
Audio
Built-in Microphone/Speaker
White Balance
choice of settings including auto
Exposure Compensation
-2.0EV~+2.0EV
Time, Date
On, off, date and time watermarking functions
Output
HDMI HD Audio-Video Output
PC Interface
USB 2.0 (High Speed)
AV Output Format
NTSC/PAL
Battery
Internal Lithium-Ion Battery
GPS
On/off

In anticipation of the arrival of the Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 DVR, which is shipped from China and so takes several weeks to arrive, I bought a class 10 32Gb TF memory card.

When the dashcam arrived, a note in the packaging recommended getting one no higher than a class 6, because the device would have trouble coping with the speed of a class 10. Mine seems to be OK so far, but if you are thinking of buying one, this is worth noting as there is no mention of it on the Amazon site.

The dashcam has full GPS capabilities and records the longitude and latitude of your position at all times. I am not sure what software to use to play this back on a computer at this point, but it’s of little importance when no accidents happen.

If an accident happens, you simply press the down arrow to stop that video-clip from being loop recorded over. This is not the easiest thing to do when the camera is situated behind your rear-view mirror, out of sight, but a large memory card (which is deleted on a regular basis) should ensure there is always enough space to keep recording, at least until you get home.

You can of course unhook the camera and show the video clip to any attending police officers. The screen is tiny but perfectly viewable. You can also take still images of any vehicle damage after the accident. You have 12 minutes or so of power left in your dashcam after unhooking it from your car power source.

I think a really important consideration when buying a dashcam should be its invisibility to chance thieves. The Eprance Mini 0801 Ambarella A2S60 DVR is perfect because it is almost impossible to see from outside, being so small and neat and black.

I have small hands, yet the mini 0801 DVR fits easily into my hand
I have small hands, yet the mini 0801 DVR fits easily into my hand | Source

There are some obvious white markings on the camera where it proudly announces to the world that it records in full HD, but a little bit of black tape took care of that.

I had some trouble accessing the menu at first.

According to the instructions, all I had to do was press the up arrow to the right of the controls to open the menu, but it would not do it. I finally got the menu to open when I removed the memory card.

Then I was fiddling around with the choice of video settings, when a message came up, RESET TO FACTORY SETTINGS YES/NO. Well, NO obviously, but there wasn’t a NO button. In a panic I hit OK, and the language changed to Russian. If this happens to you, just switch it off using the side button and re-access the menu at a later date.

I didn’t think of that, and now the language was wrong. Luckily, I was able to scroll through the menu and using the up/down arrows eventually found the word ‘English’ which changed it back. Whew!

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    • Christmas Shopper profile image
      Author

      Christmas Shopper 3 years ago from the Milky Way

      I seriously considered buying the GoPro Hero 3, but it seemed like overkill for a dash cam because it is the best action camera there is. Plus the high cost of the GoPro plus screen makes it a security risk as someone would want to steal it from a car. The eprance camera is perfect as a dashboard camera, IMO.

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 3 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      Nice hub. For years I've owned GoPro equipment and really like their stuff. My biggest pet peeve , however, is the older model doesn't come equipped with a view port. So, for the price the Eprance Mini 0801 looks like a better deal. Thanks for sharing! ~ Vote up for useful.