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                   Monday, January 14, 2008 - 4:02PM

New high-definition dashcam

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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Yesterday I installed "Dashcam 2.0" in the car, upgrading the old one that I've been running since July of last year. The new camera is an SD-card based 720P unit that shoots full 1280x720 HD video, encoding the footage in H.264 to the memory card. I bought a 4GB card that will hold two hours of video. When the card gets full, I just delete it and start over - much simpler than rewinding a tape! The whole unit is easily detached from the mount that I made, allowing me to carry it around as a leisure use / backup camera. Credit goes to my brother Matt for this find.

The new camera has a few issues (as expected for a low-end consumer model) such as terrible audio quality, no optical zoom, no focus, no image stabilization, CMOS rolling shutter and low codec bitrate to name a few. I won't be using this to shoot storm video! But for a dashcam, this thing is perfect for the job and is a 1000 percent leap in quality over the old RCA to VHS system. Here is a test-run of the new dashcam from this morning on I-64 in Charleston. To save space, I turned the audio bitrate WAY down on this WMV - so the sound in this clip is a lot worse than the actual source (though it is bad to begin with).

As for the old camera system, I fulfilled my original plans to have two camera views by moving the cam to the back window - giving me full-time front and rear cameras while I'm driving.

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