Papago! GOSAFE 520 Product Review
Most of us associate dashcams with footage found on YouTube of sketchy drivers somewhere in the middle of Russia. The product has taken off over there because of the necessity to maintain evidence from accidents for the officials and insurance claims. In our case, we were curious to see how far these products have come and maybe see if we are able to use one in our video productions.
We got our hands on a GOSAFE 520 which is one of the higher end models of the Advanced line from Papago! that produces dashcams and sports and fitness watches. The GOSAFE 520 lists at $229.99 but you can find them from around $179.00 on the net. Dashcams can be found on practically every e-commerce site out there that offers electronic gadgets from Amazon.com to Newegg.com.
The first thing we noticed when we pulled the item out of the box is that it's actually pretty tiny.
As you can see, even compared to the pen, it is quite narrow. When placed on the windshield below the rearview mirror, it is hardly intrusive. It comes with a detachable suction mount, charger, USB cable and manual. What I really liked was how long the charger cable was. It was designed so the cable can be wrapped around the edge of the front window and not dangling in front of the driver's scope of view the entire time. It has a built in lithium battery so the camera can actually be used as a regular camera or video camera even when it is unconnected from a vehicle. The camera also can be detached from the mount without removing the whole setup from your windshield.
The only thing it does not come with is a MicroSDHC card. Specs state 8GB minium-32GB maximum also adding that Sandisk cards are incompatible. We only had a Sandisk at the office so we tried a Sandisk 32GB for kicks and it worked fine. Except for the fact that when it got full, it did not overwrite the old stuff and keep on recording like it should have. So we recommend a different make if you want the full feature to keep on overwriting old videos automatically.
Now that we got it mounted on our car, how does this thing work?
Basically all you have to do is simply turn on the engine and it will start recording immediately. It will continue to record individual 5 minute files until your disk is full then it will overwrite the old files. But what happens when you get into an accident or see see some idiot on the street you want to report later?
Hit the "emergency" button on the corner of the camera which will save the current recording file and prevent it from getting erased.
There are four video resolution settings. We conducted our tests in the highest resolution available which is 2560x1080p at 30 frames per minute and aspect ratio of 21:9 to get that full windshield affect.
The side of the image gets a little warped because of the 146 degree ultra-wide angle fisheye lense but we were pretty impressed by the quality of the picture. It generally captures all of the front windshield from end to end. The human eye is said to have about 120 degrees of peripheral vision so the camera should capture more than the driver can see.
Here is a video I edited with footage from the camera. The only editing done is that it is pieced together from different times. Make sure you watch it in 1080p. The video shows the difference in how the footage appears under daylight, cloudy day with mild showers and night time. Bear with us here as it is extremely hard to test in the rain with the drought here in Southern California. We mananged to find some water falling from the sky!
Video Shot at 2560x1080 30P 21:9 WHD
The video from the Papago!GOSAFE 520 appears extremely clear in broad day light. On overcast days, the footage gets a bit grainy but at night everything in the light is 100% clear. We believe the reasoning for the clear image in various settings is because the camera automatically adjusts the EV value depending on the ambient lighting. The mic did not pick it up but the product is also equiped with a Stop and Go Alert which alerts the driver when the stop light changes from red to green. The camera does record audio as well. For those of you who feel the warnings at every stop light is a bit too annoying, it can be turned "off" in the settings. There is a date and timecode stamped into the footage for your records. We were quite impressed with the footage overall.
The video recordings are all stored in the NORMAL folder. The must save "emergency" files are stored in the EVENT folder.
Some of the other cool features were the built in sensor that automatically saves the file when the gravity sensor detects a collision. We can understand the last thing a driver needs to think about after an accident is to press a button on the camera.
Speaking of distractions, we thought the display on the road showing the footage was a little distracting when driving, especially at night. This can be turned off by simply pressing the "OK" button on the back.
Overall we think this is a great product that delivers on what it's supposed to do. It will most likely come in handy or even prevent legal headaches if one is involved in an accident. Epecially if you are not to blame.
On the other hand, it's kind of like insurance where you don't totally feel the need to own one unless it's absolutely necessary. But for those of you with a little extra cash to spare or are in the business of driving, like a truck driver or taxi cab, it would probably be a smart choice to have one of these in your car. -TK
For more information and full specs visit: http://us.papagoinc.com/