This compact dashboard camera isn't pretty, but it gets the job done when it comes to capturing all the things that happen out there on the road.
The Aukey DR-01 is a compact dashboard camera that can capture a continuous loop of full HD 1080p video of the road ahead of your car.
It has a compact, lightweight design with a squarish black body (measuring 2.28x 2.24x1.25 inches) that you may recognize from action cameras such as GoPro. But it's nowhere near as rugged.
At the DR-10's business end is an actioncam-like 170-degree ultra wide-angle lens -- the better to get a nice wide view of the road with. Light passing through the lens falls on a Sony CMOS sensor. Along with the rest of the camera's hardware, that sensor captures 1080p video at 30fps or 720p video at 60fps or 30fps. Video loop is the default mode.
When the camera is on, it will record clips until an inserted micro SD card (not included) is full. Then it'll begin overwriting the oldest footage.
Along with the camera hardware, the DR-01 has an internal accelerometer. This G-sensor is used to detect vehicle impacts. When an impact is detected -- or the far left "emergency" button pressed -- the camera will prevent the current clip from being overwritten, moving it to a protected folder called "RO" on the SD card.
Other capture modes include motion detection, which starts the camera recording when it senses movement and stops when it's still. There's also a time-lapse mode, which captures one picture per second and stitches them together into a 30 fps time-lapse video, and a snapshot mode, which captures a 2.19-megapixel JPEG still image at the press of a button.
There's also an internal microphone, but it's of merely acceptable quality. It's good enough to pick up the sound of a bump hitting the car or the tire screech of a nearby vehicle, but mostly it just picked up the sound of my radio.
There's no sort of wind protection so, depending on its placement on the windshield, vent fans can blow up onto the device and ruin the audio recording. I don't think sound quality is a huge selling point for dashcam buyers, so I'm willing to forgive this. Plus, you can just hold a single button momentarily to toggle audio recording off.
You can interact with the dashboard camera via a 2-inch LCD display on the unit's backside and a set of four buttons. Tap the button on the far right to deactivate the screen -- I highly recommend you do this to avoid distraction, especially at night. Even with the screen off, a small "recording" LED lets you know the DR-01 is still doing its thing.
Along the top edge is a mini USB port for powering the camera and syncing the files with computer. Operation is simple: Plug in to USB power and it starts recording. Unplug it and the recording saves and stops.
At the top edge you'll also find a pinhole reset button for returning the unit to its default factory settings, a 3.5mm analog audio-video output and a GPS input -- apparently, you can connect the DR-01 to an external GPS receiver to add positioning data to the video recordings, but nothing in the included documentation explains how or what receivers are compatible.
Also in the box: The Aukey dashboard camera ships with a suction cup mount for attaching it to the windshield and an alternative adhesive mount with 3M adhesive pads for more permanent mounting. There's also an extra long mini-USB cable with adhesive cable-management clips and an Aukey dual USB 12V car charger with two USB ports. The charger's 3.1A total output is nice as it allows for charging of a second mobile device.
You'll have to supply your own micro SD card. The DR-01 requires a high-speed Class 10 chip with up to 128GB. You can certainly get away with smaller capacities -- just know that the larger the card, the larger cache of the video you can keep before things start getting erased by the loop.
Video quality is quite good during the daytime. It's not amazing, but passable for its intended purpose. The resolution is high enough that I was able to easily read plate numbers for cars near the center of the frame from up to three car lengths away. Near the edges and further out, reading plates is a bit tougher, but that's a symptom of most extra-wide-angle cameras I've tested. Chromatic aberration (fringing) and a bit of ghosting is noticeable, particularly on trees, but it gets the job done. I was especially impressed by the camera's ability to expose details of vehicles and even traffic lights backlit by a sunrise or sunset.
At night, the image suffers but the quality is still better than I expected. In areas where there's sufficient illumination from streetlights, the image becomes contrasty enough that license plate details tended to blow out unless bang-on in the center of the capture. However, I was still usually able to tell what was going on in a clip during playback, even during darker passages.
Of course, overall video quality will depend on your vehicle and the chosen mounting location, so take care to avoid reflections from the dashboard and for goodness sake, clean your windows.
Overall, I found the Aukey DR-01 dashboard camera to be easy to use and its recorded video of fairly good quality -- certainly good enough for documentation purposes. The on-board menus are fairly easy to navigate and aren't confusing. I think most people will be able to set it up and go, which is good because the included documentation is overly simple and doesn't quite do the job.
At around $70 on Amazon, the Aukey DR-01 is an easy recommendation if you're looking to document your drives for protection, curiosity or amusement.