Review of a good budget recorder AdvoCam-FD4: when developers thought with their heads, not the fifth point

Belarus Alexander Shub is with you again - a leading Russian expert in automotive electronics, including DVRs. Why a leader? Yes, because I really don’t know a single specialist in portable electronics in Russia who would “dig” the topic of development, production and sale of video recorders so deeply. Alas, for most journalists this is a passing and optional topic. With an appropriate approach - without understanding the specifics of devices, with tracing paper and an approach from reviews of smartphones and tablets.

Meanwhile, my experience of testing DVRs is more than five years, and the number of closely studied models has exceeded two hundred. I closely communicate with many manufacturers of DVRs (both company directors and engineering departments), and also advise ordinary consumers on the choice of DVRs. If you want to substantively (keyword!) argue with me regarding my "leader" - write in the comments the names of other experts you know who, in your opinion, are able to compete with me. I will study their materials with pleasure and form my opinion.

In this article, I will tell you about what a good budget DVR in 2017 can be. There are actually only two options for developing an inexpensive device. First: take a ready-made penny model at a Chinese OEM factory (fortunately, there are a lot of them!) And sell it in Russia for 3-4 thousand rubles. Second: to develop a budget model on your own, read - from scratch. Competently combining components, endlessly conjuring over the optimization of hardware and software, testing in every possible way for reliability. And also sell it in Russia for 3-4 thousand rubles.

And now the question is: which way is more difficult and, most importantly, more expensive? The answer is obvious - the second. Therefore, almost no one walks on it today. In Russia, budget registrars are always the lousiest and cheapest Chinese consumer goods. As a result, we have what we have: store shelves littered with tons of different budget registrars. Which, alas, are practically not suitable for more or less high-quality video recording of what is happening on the road. Even during the day, not to mention twilight or even more so at night.

When creating the AdvoCam-FD4 model, which will be discussed in this material, the developers took the second, long and difficult path. That is, roughly speaking, they created a cheap registrar using expensive methods, forces and brains of Russian engineers. For those who either, in principle, do not want to spend money on an expensive registrar from 6-7 thousand or more, or want Agent / Booker to pay only for high-quality shooting (and not for additional options). In general, the developers once again showed why AdvoCam is the No. 1 brand among DVRs in Russia (in terms of sales in 2016).

You can read about how the Russian brand AdvoCam develops its recorders in a separate article on Mobile-Review.com. AdvoCam-FD4 is no exception: this model for 3,300 rubles was also created from scratch in Russia and thoroughly tested for frost resistance (in the freezer) and indifference to the state of domestic roads (on a vibration stand).

And, of course, AdvoCam carefully approached the implementation of the main function - video recording, achieving an impressive result using very inexpensive and almost nameless components.

Step by step instructions. How to save money to make a cool budget autoreg

  1. Hire Russian engineers with 20 years of experience in developing professional video surveillance systems.
  2. Let engineers carefully study the market of components for registrars and select a competent bunch of inexpensive processor, sensor and lens. Experienced engineers can do this. Because, due to their vast experience, they are able to assess the potential of this or that “piece of iron” and are not afraid to work with it. And they will definitely find budget components if they ignore relatively expensive Ambarella-type platforms with a ton of additional chips of various dubiousness. These are not lazy stupid Chinese factories for you.
  3. Next, straight-handed engineers unleash the potential of a budget platform to its fullest. For, as we know, elements simply installed on the board and connected to each other do not at all guarantee the stable operation of the recorder and high-quality video recording.
  4. We are doing everything to test the model for adaptation to harsh Russian conditions: terrible frosts and broken roads. We are assembling a trial limited batch in Russia to eliminate the last "jambs" before mass production in China.
  5. We order a huge batch of devices so that due to the scale of production (remember the elementary basics of the economy), we can reduce costs and get the opportunity to further reduce the retail price tag.
  6. PROFIT!

What did AdvoCam end up with? In short, the most thoughtful budget registrar of the sample of 2017. If longer, read below. I'll make it clear what I mean.

Video Features

The most important thing for any recorder is video recording. It is generally accepted that Ambarella chips are a sign of high class for "regs". And they are really good and even beautiful. Beautiful - and very expensive. So, by definition, you cannot make a budget registrar with the top “stone” Ambarella. How did you get into AdvoCam? They used an inexpensive and relatively unpopular GeneralPlus GPCV2159 chip in conjunction with a JX-F02 matrix and a 6-element f/2.0 glass lens. The 2-megapixel JX-F02 matrix has a physical size of 1/2.7", so that the area of ​​each pixel is quite large - 3 x 3 microns. For comparison: many "state employees" have a 1/3'' or 1/4' matrix format ', that is, it is smaller, while the aperture is f/2.2, which means that the light sensitivity is lower than that of AdvoCam-FD4.

As a result, the developers managed to compensate for the use of an inexpensive chip and integrate the components in such a way as to, roughly speaking, squeeze all the juice out of them. All possible and even IMPOSSIBLE. And in practice, AdvoCam-FD4, which is offered at a price of 3,300 rubles, writes video rather than as a state employee, but as a middle-class registrar for 5-7 thousand rubles. Suffice it to say that the readability distance of the numbers during the day reaches 12-15 meters, at night - 8-10 meters. This is a result that is more typical for models of a higher price category - from 5,000 rubles.

The maximum recording resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 frames per second (Full HD 1080p). Recording starts automatically when the engine is started and stops when the engine is stopped. If desired, you can set a delayed start, there is also an option to manually start shooting. The viewing angle of the lens is 120 degrees diagonally; three lanes and roadsides fall into the frame.

You can stamp the video with time, date and car numbers.

I would like to note that AdvoCam-FD4 has a G-sensor, which automatically protects "emergency" video fragments (their length can be 1, 3 or 5 minutes) from being overwritten. That is, you braked sharply or your car turned around - and the piece of video recorded at that moment will not disappear anywhere. At the same time, AdvoCam-FD4 also has the ability to manually protect video fragments - using the button.

The battery life is about 15 minutes, which is normal for budget recorders. Although the previous model, AdvoCam-FD One, it was all 45 minutes - an absolute record among state employees.

And finally, I will add that AdvoCam-FD4 can act as a webcam for a computer. Just connect the recorder with a cable to the USB port - and that's it, you can chat on Skype. A separate webcam with video quality of this level costs 2-3 thousand rubles. That is, it costs much more than half the price of AdvoCam-FD4. Actually, this is the question: maybe, if you need a "webcam", you should take this registrar?

And what about the Chinese registrar for 3-4 thousand rubles? The readability distance of numbers in a straight line is one and a half to two times shorter - no more than 8-10 meters during the day; nothing is visible on the night video; battery life - no more than 10 minutes; stamps cannot be applied to the video (or the choice of stamps is extremely poor); work as a webcam is not provided.

Appearance and controls

The recorder has a black body made of soft-touch plastic. Such plastic, I must say, is very different. It seems to be almost the same to the touch in different devices, but! Sometimes it collects dust, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it wipes off quickly, and sometimes it doesn't. My tests have shown that in AdvoCam-FD4 it just doesn't collect any garbage and doesn't wipe itself to a shiny state after a month of regular carrying in your pocket (and hence friction against other objects). For a budget device (with a price tag, let me remind you, a little more than 3 thousand), this is a very worthy result.

AdvoCam always uses its own OneTouch control scheme in its recorders. This means that access to the most requested functions is carried out with a single click on the button. That is, without many minutes of scouring the interface. AdvoCam-FD4 is no exception: with one click, you can take a photo, mute the microphone and start recording video. And the rest of the management is well thought out. The “M” button, the top one, depending on the situation / context, switches modes (taking a photo or video), protects the file from overwriting, or allows you to exit the settings menu. The arrow keys are for menu navigation and zoom in/out. The OK button activates the camera shutter when taking a photo and starts/stops recording in video capture mode.

Please note that the control keys are located on the right side of the case. On the same part of the registrar that looks into the interior of the car, there are only signs. Why are the buttons positioned the way they are? The fact that the buttons are located on the right side of the body, made it possible to install a large, as much as 3-inch screen in AdvoCam-FD4. Yes, by the standards of smartphones, this is, of course, very small. But by the standards of registrars, especially budget ones, the display is simply huge. Typically, models in this class have 2.4-inch screens.

The difference from the 3-inch can be described as follows: the feeling is about the same as after switching from a feature phone with a monochrome 1.5-inch display to a smartphone in 2007. That is, the 3-inch display is much larger (almost 4 centimeters diagonally) and radically more convenient. And for setting up the recorder, and for the initial viewing of the video.

I will briefly describe where AdvoCam-FD4 has what is on the case. Above - a socket for mounting, a miniUSB port and a power button (when held for a few seconds). It also (when pressed quickly) “extinguishes” the screen so that it does not irritate the light during night trips. The power cable is connected to the miniUSB. With the help of miniUSB, the recorder is connected to a computer.

On the right side of the case is a slot for a microSD memory card. AdvoCam-FD4 can work with cards up to 32 GB.

On the part of the device that faces the road, there is a lens and a speaker. The latter is required to view video with sound. The sound of AdvoCam-FD4 is quite clear, without wheezing.

I didn’t have any complaints about the assembly - it’s all an honor. This is understandable: as I said, AdvoCam spends hours and days testing their recorders on vibrating stands and in freezers. Therefore, special attention is initially paid to the thoughtfulness and reliability of the design. Otherwise, the registrar simply will not pass the tests necessary for launching in production, falling apart in the process.

And what about the Chinese registrar for 3-4 thousand rubles? Management of the level “go there - I don’t know where, bring that - I don’t know what” (that is, most often the management is ILLEGAL); screen up to 2.4 inches; low-quality "soft-touch", which collects dust and wipes; often - squeaks and backlashes of body parts.

Delivery set

The box from AdvoCam-FD4 is made entirely in the tradition of this brand. This should be understood as follows. On one of the sides of the box there is a table with the ratio of the duration of videos of different quality and the size of memory cards. That is, in the store you can immediately select and buy the flash drive that you need. On the other side of the box is a description of the assignment of the recorder keys. What does this mean for users? For example, the fact that in most cases, to master AdvoCam-FD4, you can not resort to reading the instructions. (I know, I know that not everyone likes to read manuals!)

In addition to the recorder itself, the box contains the following accessories:

  • suction cup mount;
  • cigarette lighter power adapter with 3m cable;
  • hooks for laying cables around the car;
  • instruction with good printing and no stupid typos;
  • Warranty card.

I will describe a couple of important points. First: the cable, as I mentioned above, is three meters long. This means that its length will be enough for the interior of some Gazelle, and even for a scheduled bus.

Second: AdvoCam-FD4 has a very convenient and thoughtful mount. It consists of two parts. One contains a suction cup for glass, the second - a mount for the registrar itself. The parts are connected using a hinge, which is fixed with a special “nut”.

After “aiming” the recorder on the road, the “nut” is tightened, and the camera does not go astray from vibration when driving over bumps in the road. At the same time, AdvoCam-FD4 can be rotated along the vertical axis without any effort - for example, to record a conversation with a police officer looking through the driver's door window.

And what about the Chinese registrar for 3-4 thousand rubles? An ordinary box made of cheap cardboard with no useful information; a cable with a maximum length of two meters, which is not enough for trucks and buses; hooks for laying the cable are not included in the kit - do not even wait; the registrar will independently change its position when driving on broken roads due to the flimsy and initially loose mount.

Output

At the very beginning of this review, I pointed out that the Russian AdvoCam-FD4 is the most thoughtful budget recorder of 2017. Indeed, it is so. Sophistication is manifested in the configuration, and in the presence of a large (3-inch) screen, and in the selection of components responsible for video recording. But most importantly, the salt of this registrar - the video is recorded with quality at the level of registrars 1.5-2 times more expensive, with a price tag of 5-6 thousand rubles. At the price of the model of 3,300 rubles (as much AdvoCam-FD4, let me remind you, costs). Yes, and the software component did not let us down - I'm talking about the algorithms of the camera, and about the user-friendly interface, and about stamps on the video.

All these little things and NOT little things make AdvoCam-FD4 a great option for those who:

  • is not ready to part with a really large amount for the sake of getting a registrar with decent video recording quality. If you are ready to spend only a couple of thousand on auto-registration, you better look towards AdvoCam-FD4, and not the faceless army of penny disposable Chinese cameras;
  • wants to get only and exceptionally high-quality shooting. Not LDWS / FCWS, not advanced parking mode, not speeds and not many other minor features, but detailed recording with a clear picture both day and night.