Hopefully by now we’ve all seen Russian dash cam videos on YouTube, most of which leave your jaw hanging and eyes wide open.
I recently received the Street Guardian SG9665GC as an early birthday present! After weeks of researching, forum hunting, and video review watching I came upon the Street Guardian and added it to my gadget wishlist.
I chose this model due to it’s better-than-average build quality. The Guardian contains a superior Sony IMX322 CMOS sensor along with an “all-metal” lens. Coupled with its Novatek 96655 Processor it’s able to record excellent 1080p 30fps video with h.264 encoding. The kit also comes with a GPS receiver, used to record the vehicle’s location and speed. Another reason I decided on the Guardian was it’s extremely small form factor. After installation behind my rear-view mirror, I could only see the three cords coming from the camera and going into the cat’s interior trim. My first thought when opening the packaging was “wow, this thing is tiny!”
The kit comes with an extra long power cable that allowed me to run the cable along the top and side of my interior trim, hiding it from view. It plugs into a cigarette lighter for power. I plan on chopping the connector off and wiring directly to an accessory powered fuse so I can keep my cigarette lighter open for phone chargers etc.
Navigating the UI on the device can be a bit clumsy at first. The 5 discrete buttons on the body have multiple uses depending on which screen is being presented to the user. The unit truly is “set and forget” though, after some initial configuration (PAL to NTSC, 60 to 50hz, etc) Navigating the UI isn’t needed.
The camera “loops” over itself when the memory card is full. The oldest videos on the card are removed for new captures. A simple button press on the camera, or a g-sensor trigger, will cause the camera to put the currently recording video into a “protected” state where it cannot be deleted by this rolling over functionality. This is used for accidents or events the driver wants to capture for later review, without fear of the video being deleted automatically.
Unlike most included SD cards that come with products, the class 10 32GB micro SD card is no chump, continuously writing at 20MB/s and reading at 86MB/s. However, these speeds were measured with a USB 3.0 card reader. Using the included card reader limited reading to 20 MB/s and writing around 17 MB/s.
The camera logs the location information sent to it by the attached GPS receiver. The GPS coordinates are not overlayed on the video, but instead embedded in the file. Applications like Registrator Viewer can present the data when played back on a computer.
Registrator overlays the vehicle position on a map that automatically adjusts to keep the vehicle in view. It can also show “G-sensor” values, but the Street Guardian does not currently support logging the data.
The Guardian can be configured to start recording to a new video file every 1,3 or 5 minutes. When it does this I noticed the new file has ~1/4 second of overlap. A mild inconvenience, much better than having missed recording time though.
The Guardian also records audio from inside the car. I tested this by having a conversation in the car. At a normal “talking volume” the device picked up the words decently. When watching the video there was no trouble discerning what people inside the car were saying. A decent amount of road noise can be heard as well, but that could be due to the 2005 Cavalier not being too quiet of a car.
The recording light on the device flashes while in operation. It’s a dim LED though, I was unable to see it from behind the rear-view mirror at night. The screen can be configured to turn off after a set amount of time. I set it to turn off after 15 seconds of being on. This allows me to verify it’s working correctly before I start driving.
And lastly, a quick night time sample video. The sun had set several hours before the video. The camera does a good job at capturing as much light as it did! As I was driving I could not see the clouds from my seat.