Review: Uniden iGO CAM 850

image

We can all agree humans make terrible drivers. Until the robots take over for us, we face the daily challenge of avoiding other vehicles on our roads. When unfortunate accidents do happen, it’s far too easy to get into a he said, she said debate about where the fault lies. What better way to prove your innocence than by capturing the whole event on video. Uniden has a great product, the iGO CAM 850 that allows you to record from 2 cameras at once. A 3rd camera can be connected and mounted at the rear of your vehicle, which works great for reversing, or inspecting the front suspension of that idiot tailgating you.

Hardware

The device features a 2.7″ LCD Colour display and is shaped similar to a rear view mirror.  It’d be fantastic to see Uniden create a version that could actually replace your mirror.  The screen is wrapped with two independent & adjustable Full HD 1080P Ultra Wide Angle Cameras. These are easily rotated and can be position to look out the front window, rear window or any place in-between. You may consider pointing one camera out the side window if you regularly experience issues with people overtaking you on the right or cyclists on the left.

The Reverse camera with Bumper Mount and 6 Meter Cable (Included), can also be selected as one of the two recorders. In future versions, you could see Uniden allowing recording from 3 cameras simultaneously, but for now it’s just two.  With cameras hard mounted to vehicle driving over variable surfaces and usually poor Australian roads, the cameras do a great job with stability thanks to an anti-shaking function for ultra clear recording.

The setup is quite easy, mount the camera on the front window, connect the power cable to cigarette or power connecter in your car, add the GPS antenna (usually on your dash) and you’re almost done. The rear camera takes a little more effort. The 6 meter cable to the rear camera needs to be run through under the center console, under the rear seat, into the boot then out an air gap, the be mounted under the rear bar. The good news is the video will be flipped on your display so it appears right side up.

The camera records records footage onto a  Micro SD Card which isn’t included, but are seriously cheap these days. You will want a decent sided card (I used a 32GB card) given that you’re recording 2x720p  videos at once. While both cameras are capable of 1080p individually, that’s too much to process for the relatively small form factor of the device.  The 720p video is more than adequate should you need to identify cars and number plates around you.

If your car has an in-dash display that supports  HDMI In, then you could connect the iGO CAM to the display using the device’s HDMI Out Port. This would allow you to use the 7-10” display in your car to view the cameras and recordings, rather than the inbuilt 2.7” display. More commonly this HDMI out port would be used to connect the camera to a TV and playback an incident. Thanks to the GPS sensor, you get the full picture of an accident with GPS tracking. This will record everything from the direction you were travelling, to your lat/long coordinates as well as your speed.

With the help of a built-in G-sensor and the device’s Collision Detection Mode, the camera can also detect a change in motion which will instantly trigger recording in the event of an accident. Great if you forgot to start recording before throwing your elbows out for the morning commute to work. If you’re thinking how the camera gets power to record if the car is parked and turned off, the answer lies in an internal rechargeable battery, this won’t last forever, but will get the job done.

The cameras are great during the day, but what about capturing video at night? Uniden have thought of that, a night vision option allows you to capture events all times of the day or night.

Uniden

Extra use cases

The Uniden iGO CAM 850 is absolutely marketed as a tool for road safety and accident risk mitigation, but there’s actually another great use for these cameras. If you’ve ever been to a track day, you’ll know that car enthusiasts are desperate to capture their day and their car’s performance. Mounting a number of GoPro video cameras around the cars body is a very common event, great for multi-camera edits later. But when it comes to recording inside the vehicle, it’s incredibly difficult to find mounting points unless your serious enough to have a roll cage. Cable tying a tripod on the back seat isn’t unheard of and something I’ve been guilty of myself. A far better way to caption events in the car like driver and passenger reactions or the view out the rear window, is to use this iGO CAM 850.

In future versions of the product I’d love to see them add the ability to rotate the camera on the Y axis, as well as the X. This would allow for a great shot of your gear shifting or handbrake action. Whether it’s just a bit of fun to share online, or for the task of analyzing a run and cutting fractions of seconds from a lap record, this could be a whole new market for the product. It’s very rare to see two high-quality cameras packed into such a small form factor, even dual Go-Pro’s make for a clumsy configuration in comparison.

image

Software

Let’s make this very clear, Uniden is definitely not a software company. The iGO CAM Player that’s available free from their website allows you to import the video and watch it back next to geolocation and speed data. The interface design is far from revolutionary or modern, but it does get the job done. It’s much more utilitarian and is definitely one component of the product that could be improved in future releases.

To get the software to load a video, I had to edit a .ini file to update the video location. By default the application looks at a user path that doesn’t exist (probably the guy who created the app). Most users are not going to work this out themselves and this definitely needs to be fixed.

Video

There’s no better way to show you the capabilities of the iGO CAM 850, than showing you videos taken directly from it. These samples were taken at 720p as both cameras were recording at the time.

 

Price and Availability

The device is available now and is available from a wide range of retailers at a suggested price of A$199.95, look around online and you may find it as cheap as A$184.00

Overall

This is definitely a solid device and delivers on the features it promotes the most. Traffic accidents are always a stressful time and anything to assist the process of resolving the blame game is definitely welcome. A few years back I returned to my car to find a bullbar shaped hole in my front bar. The jerk took off without a note and without insurance, would have cost $4,000 to repair. If I had this crash cam setup at the time, the device would have detected the motion and started recording on batter power. The offender’s number plate would have been recorded and my insurance premium wouldn’t have been effected.

On a daily basis, I’m amazed that some people were given licenses to drive on our roads. Lane cutting, failure to indicate, failing to give way at round abouts are far too common events. Unfortunately unless there’s a crash, it’s rarely a crime, so even if you did catch these actions on tape and took them to police, little could be done. In the event you catch a drunk, tired or texting driver on cam and report them, there is a good chance they will be convicted.

The purpose of this cam isn’t to start playing detective on our roads, but it certainly offers you a solid way to prove your case in the event of an accident. Without a 360 degree view, it is still possible that you have the 2 cameras pointed forward and backwards and then get hit on the side which could be missed by the cameras. Perhaps a roundtable like camera is the real solution.

The power, rear camera and GPS cords that hang down from the device are certainly annoying and I hope there’s a better option. A full installation

  • gordonS1942 .

    3 points regarding the fantastic IGO 850 Cam, the GPS map on start defaults to a location some 10 kms EAST of Rotterdam in the Nederlands, can that be changed?
    The power/USB cable hangs down and with the hard USB plug as you see in the picture, it is quite obtrusive where the GPS and Rear Camera leads connect on top.
    The IGO player is a pain but you have to use it to get the GPS ‘Geotag’ to display your location.
    The visual indication was very vague but at least it showed I was on THAT road even if it was over 3/4 of a kilometre from start to finish.

  • coke41a1

    I have had the igo 800 replaced 4 times then they sent me this one the igo 850 and its as bad as the rest it freezes and skips , cant get the gps to work and as for the reverse camera , well what can I say throw it away to be polite. I have done my money on this thing as Im sick of sending them back .

  • Mick

    does anyone know how to invert the image from the reverse camera? I initially mounted it so it was hanging down , IE the bracket on top and camera under. The image on the screen was upside down so I hanged location so that the bracket was under and camera above and it is still upside down

  • Nick Fatsis

    In regards to the cords hanging down, it’s very simple to tuck them between the roof lining and the windscreen, then down the pillar cover, then behind the dash, if you know what you’re doing you can even hardwire a cigarette plug to power this unit, the same with the GPS antenna, so all you see on the dash is the antenna itself and maybe a bit of cable, this will make the install professional looking.

  • dave

    I actually thought mine was broken due to poor quality, but, looking online and reading reviews it is normal, I have since been told to use a software to extract the video from memory card so you can get true full 1080p clear quality to watch blurred free on your tv. does anyone know of such software? because I stop using mine due to the poor quality, you cant even read the number plates, unless the screen is as big as a box of matches

  • Bruce

    The reverse camera can be rotated in the housing and should “click” when horizontal

  • Azhar

    Does anyone know if there is a gap between video recordings?

  • Doug

    I’d rate it 1/10. Not impressed.

    1. I don’t know how it received Australian C-Tick approval. The RF interference is so bad that my FM radio is unusable while the camera is on – as soon as the camera is turned on, an otherwise clear and strong station becomes nothing but a faint signal over static.

    2. the picture quality is woeful. Even on 1080hd. There is no extra detail on 1080HD over VGA, all it seems to do is make the artifacts and pixels bigger. I suspect the cameras are actually only standard definition with software interpolation to high-def – the image quality certainly suggests that it is not hardware HD. If it is hardware HD, they’ve made a complete balls-up of the algorithms used to compress the video.

    3. They aren’t wide-angle lenses. My car (Prado) has a long bonnet, and with the dashcam at the top of the windscreen, it barely fits the full width of the front of the car in frame. It would be useless in an intersection crash, because when stopped at an intersection, it doesn’t show the side-roads in frame. The way to counter that is to use both front cameras and have them turned at angles. But then the distortions at the side of the frame makes for poor viewing straight ahead. Plus, it can only record 2 cameras – either both front cameras, or 1 front and the rear. So the workaround to get a reasonably wide frame means you can’t use the rear camera.

    4. There is no option to mirror the image from the rear camera, so it isn’t suitable as a reversing camera. If, like me, you thought this would give you a reversing camera and a crash camera in one, you were wrong.

    5. There is no option to superimpose the GPS data over the image. All you can do is use the Uniden software to view the GPS data.

    6. The GPS data doesn’t synch well with the video. As an example, playing a recording of driving along a street and going through a roundabout, it showed my speed through the roundabout to be 55, and the map showed me well back from the roundabout. After I had been through the roundabout, and was accelerating up the road, the map showed me get to the roundabout, and the speed readout showed my speed dropped down to about 15km/hr, then pick up again. The GPS data was around 10 seconds behind the video. Consequently it is utterly useless for any forensic use.

    7. It doesn’t work for carpark crashes. The battery doesn’t last long enough for it to be worthwhile, so it would need to be wired to a permanently powered outlet. It is heavy on power (it flattened my car battery in fairly quick time), so don’t even bother using it on a permanently powered outlet unless you have a dual battery setup. On a normal outlet that turns off with ignition, the unit isn’t smart enough to automatically switch to shock-recording mode when you stop. It auto-powers down, so you have to manually power it back up (on the woeful battery), and go into the menu to set shock mode recording.

    8. The unit supposedly has night vision. If you call “Night Vision” the ability to pick up a bright blurred white headlight on a sea of black then I guess it does. Really, this claim is false advertising, as it is nothing remotely close to being night vision.

    9. Small things like the plug connections etc show absolutely no intelligence at all. The GPS plug (a straight 3.5mm phono plug) is very difficult to plug in when the unit is attached to the bracket, and it fouls the bracket if you try to plug it in then attach the bracket. The reverse camera plug however is a right-angle plug – this one doesn’t foul the bracket so wouldn’t matter if it was straight, and being the reverse camera plug it is the one that you need to route through holes to get to the front of the car. This is made harder by it being a right-angle plug, which means you have to drill bigger holes to get it through, and it doesn’t easily poke through grommets/loom-tube etc. The power connector is at the bottom of the unit, so you have the problem of the cable hanging down. Even if you route the cords through the roof lining, it has to hang down a couple of inches below the unit. It seems at every turn, the unit is conspiring against a neat & tidy installation.

    The only good thing I can think of about it, is that it’s on-paper specs are impressive. Unfortunately they don’t translate into a positive real-world experience.