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If you’ve anytime been in a blow or a austere car accident, you can acknowledge the accent of a birr cam. These tiny car cameras stick to your windshield and silently almanac active footage, capturing all the strange, mundane, and perilous things activity on in advanced of your car. In accession to accord of apperception during circadian commutes, they can accommodate advice footage to law enforcement, allowance companies, and added parties in blow situations, adviser your car aback you’re not around, and sometimes abduction fun videos of you and your accompany on a alley trip.
But with the abundant big and baby companies authoritative birr cameras now, wading through the sea of accessories afore you accept one to buy is a appalling task. Ars advised the newest birr cams and revisited our testing of absolute accessories to aces the best birr cams accessible now.
Note: Ars Technica may acquire advantage for sales from links on this column through affiliate programs.
I can sum up my aesthetics about birr cams in one sentence: the best birr cams abandon in your car, ecology your ambience and abandoned authoritative themselves accepted aback you charge them most. Garmin’s $199 Birr Cam 55 does this absolutely well—it charcoal one of the aboriginal birr cams I’ve tested, and that makes a aberration aback you’re accession out the best adjustment for it on your windshield.
Besides recording high-quality footage both during the day and at night, the Birr Cam 55 supports bend recording, so you don’t accept to anguish about manually deleting old footage from the microSD card. In fact, you’ll abandoned charge to abolish the microSD agenda if you appetite to appearance footage on your computer. The Birr Cam 55 connects to Garmin’s VIRB app, acceptance you to wirelessly appearance and download video clips to your smartphone afterwards affecting the anamnesis card.
In accession to lane departure, advanced collision, and adventure apprehension via its G-sensor, the Birr Cam 55 emits aural alerts aback you admission a red ablaze or cartage camera. This is a acceptable accepted affection of the device, and those who acquisition it advantageous can pay $25 per year to accept adapted map advice from Garmin’s Cyclops service.
But Garmin’s camera-controlling articulation commands absolutely accomplish the Birr Cam 55 account its $199 amount tag. Afterwards any added apps, programs, or services, you can say, “OK Garmin, save the video” to anon save your aftermost allotment of footage. You can additionally ask the accent to booty a photo, almanac audio, and a few added things that accomplish recording and befitting footage easier while driving.
Garmin sells an adapted adaptation of this birr cam—the Birr Cam 65W—but the abandoned added account is a added acreage of view. Garmin congenital the Birr Cam 55 to be a accent that you never accept to blow afresh afterwards installing it, alike in perilous situations in which you charge to save active footage for added review, authoritative it ideal for those who appetite an effective, alert eye with them on the road.
If you attempted to accomplish a added affordable adaptation of the Garmin Birr Cam 55, you’d appear out with the Yi Birr Cam. Often priced beneath $50, Yi’s car camera looks like a bulkier adaptation of Garmin’s device: a beyond rectangle with a lens on its front, a 2.7-inch LCD affectation on its back, and aeronautics buttons on its basal edge. The camera saves footage via bend recording to a microSD card, but it additionally has its own Wi-Fi arrangement and app so you can appearance clips on your smartphone in the Yi camera app.
Aside from their differences in specs and size, Garmin’s birr cam has the account of articulation commands, while Yi’s camera doesn’t accept any articulation functionality. This agency you’ll accept to manually download clips to your smartphone to ensure you accept them for later, or you’ll accept to abolish the microSD agenda and save footage to your PC. The Yi adaptable app is decidedly good—it sections video clips off by date and lets you appearance them in the app or download them to your accent with aloof a few taps. The birr cam’s Wi-Fi arrangement is consistently on (unless you change that ambience manually), authoritative it cool quick to affix to and comedy footage on your smartphone.
There’s a makeshift amusing aspect of the Yi camera app as well, but you can calmly avoid it if you accept no admiration to allotment footage with strangers. The app additionally has a camera settings folio that lets you change the birr cam’s settings from aural the app rather than application the buttons on the accent itself.
The Yi Birr Cam is adequately accepted otherwise: it shoots videos at up to 1296p at 30fps with a 165 FOV, emits lane abandonment warnings aback you accept its “advanced disciplinarian abetment system” on, and saves accident-related footage aback detected by its G-sensor. GPS is one of the few things it doesn’t have, so it cannot brand videos with your coordinates like it will with the date and time. Yi combines the best capital birr cam appearance into a baby accent at a about angry price.
Rear: 720p at 30fps
Rear: 144 degrees
Sometimes it’s advantageous to accept your eyes on the alley advanced of you and abaft you, and Thinkware’s F200 birr cam helps you do that. Adapted and added bunched than the Thinkware F100, the F200 is a automated accent with a thin, about tubular architecture that forgoes a affectation so it can sit unobtrusively abaft your rear appearance mirror. The rear camera bore is the aforementioned that pairs with a few added Thinkware birr cams and it sticks to your rear windshield calmly with its tiny adhering pad.
The F200’s capital camera annal 1080p video while its alternative rear camera annal 720p video while you’re driving. Video affection is absolutely as you’d apprehend from an FHD/HD camera pairing: the capital camera produced hardly crisper, cleaner footage than the rear, but any and all contest accident abaft you will be visible. With the alternative hardwire basic ($29), it can watch over your car while it’s anchored application connected ability and the parking approach feature. With the GPS accent ($34), the camera can acquaint you aback you’re speeding, or aback you’re abutting cartage or dispatch cameras set up on the road.
The F200 has its own Wi-Fi arrangement that you can affix to with your smartphone so you can download video clips and change camera settings application the Thinkware Cloud app. While the camera continuously annal video in accompanying minutes-long clips, you can change its settings so it annal abandoned aback it detects an adventure with its G-sensor or abandoned aback you alert it to application the chiral recording feature.
While you can’t watch recorded clips in the app, you can download any bond of capital and rear video clips about instantly. All clips are adored to the device’s microSD agenda (one alike comes with the birr cam!) but it can be absolutely accepted to accept burning admission to video clips on your smartphone in acute situations.
All of this comes at a reasonable amount for $189 for both the capital and rear cameras. For the capital camera alone, the F200 costs aloof $149. Many will acknowledge not abandoned the birr cam’s affluence of use and the solid videos it can record, but additionally the versatility that comes with it if you’re accommodating to absorb a bit added money.
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