Justin slips into the drivers seat with the Cobra CDR855BT Dash Cam at TechtalkRadio
Justin Lemme TechtalkRadio June 4, 2016
Dashboard cameras have been around for years, but until recently they have not been very common amongst everyday drivers. But with the rise in distracted driving and aggressive drivers across the country and even the world, dashboard cameras have become more prevalent and thus affordable, which is great for consumers who wish to have some form of security while driving in the event of an accident, road rage incident, or other situation requiring video evidence proof (remember the huge meteor caught on a dash cam a couple years ago?). Having a dash cam is a great way to provide evidence to police or insurance companies when an accident happens, so that the entire story can be told. Just having video evidence of an accident can save thousands of dollars in insurance costs or even court costs if the other party argues who was at fault for the accident.
Cobra, who is a major player is automobile electronic accessories such as radar detectors, has released their new line of cameras intended to be mounted to the front windshield of a personal vehicle. Cobra was very generous in sending us one of their flagship models, the CDR 855 BT, and I got a chance to use it for a few months in my personal vehicle to test it out.
The main features of the CDR 855 BT are:
- Full 1080P Video with an ultra-wide 160° viewing angle
- 2" LCD Screen
- iRadar® connectivity to see real-time alerts such as Red Light Cameras, Speed Traps, live police locations, and other community shared radar alerts
- Bluetooth®-enabled GPS that embeds your exact location and time into the video recordings for evidence
- Parking Mode: The device will shut off but still pay attention to any motion in the front of the vehicle and also has a G-Shock sensor that will trigger and start a recording if the vehicle is bumped hard enough
- Snap Shot for taking an instant still photo at any time for safe keeping
- Action Cam Mode: Disable the G-Sensor and loop the recording to free the camera from the confines of the windshield
- Quick Release Mount allows the camera to be easily removed from the windshield to store in a safe location after parking if you do not want to use the Parking Mode
The camera itself is very small and easily mounted to the windshield. It doesn't interfere with the ability to see out of the windshield; I actually found that the camera would pretty much be hidden behind the rear-view mirror. The camera uses a micro-USB plug to connect to a cigarette lighter for power. The mount itself is a very secure suction cup with multiple joints that can be loosened for positioning. I found the mount to be very good and it has never fallen off of the windshield.
When you start your car, the camera will automatically turn on and begin recording. The camera uses a MicroSD® card up to 32GB for recording. The video clips are by default recorded in 3 minute increments, but that can be changed from 1 minute to 10 minute clips. Once the SD Card is full, the camera will automatically delete the oldest clip and record over it. This prevents the driver from having to remember to clean out the card every few days or weeks, and coming from a GoPro dash cam, I found this feature to be a very welcome one. In the event that the G-Sensor is activated (from a sudden stop or collision), or if the driver wishes to save a particular clip from deletion at any time, a large blue button can be pressed to enable Emergency Mode and that particular clip will never be deleted.
After driving around for a few days, I reviewed the clips on my PC and I found that the clips were pretty great quality. I tried changing the settings from 1080P @ 30fps (Frames Per Second) to 720P @ 60fps and the quality was still great, if not a bit better with the increased frame rate. The view angle is decent and it provides coverage across the entire front of the vehicle. The camera did not pick up audio from inside the vehicle very much, which could be a good thing if you don't want it to record your conversations, but I would have liked it to pick up audio a bit more. Taxi and shared rider (Uber/Lyft) drivers who might want to use the camera as an interior recording device for protection might like to have better audio pickup.
My only concern with the view angle is that I felt it wasn't quite wide enough it seemed. I am being very picky here, but I would like to see a bit more from the far sides, so that in the event that someone came running a red light and t-bones me (hope not), that I would be able to capture the approaching vehicle on video before they hit me. The camera does record wide-angle, yes, but if I had to say anything I would have improved on would be to have maybe a 170° view angle, but again, I am being very picky.
The iRadar® connectivity uses the app of the same name on Android or IOS to allow users to communicate with other Cobra iRadar® users and give each other live reports of known red light cameras or police speed traps. The app will allow a user to press a button and report live police or the other above-mentioned situations and this will then appear on the LCD screen of the camera if it is connected to the phone. It also features a Bluetooth®-enabled GPS that uses your phone to provide date/time/location stamps on the camera recordings. This is very helpful to police and insurance companies if you are ever in an accident and need to prove what time or location the event happened.
I have discussed the iRadar® application in my other review of the Cobra DSP 9200BT Radar Detector and I found the app to be lacking in design and features, so I will not discuss too much more about it in this review. Please read my other review for more details on the iRadar® app.
What I found with this camera, being the fact that I also use the Cobra DSP Radar Detector, is that only one unit can be connected to the phone at any given time. I do not know if this is a limitation of the low-power Bluetooth®, my Samsung Galaxy S6E+® phone, or the iRadar® app itself. I decided not to connect the camera to the app, as I already have the Radar Detector connected to the app, but I would like to have the ability to have the GPS and Date/Time stamp on the videos. The Radar Detector provides more functionality from the app than the camera does, so that is why I chose to go that route.
Overall this camera rocks, seriously! It just sits there quietly and does its job, recording every trip you make. In the event that you ever get in a situation where you need video evidence, you can trust the Cobra CDR 855 BT to be there for you and give you the information you need. I wish I had 2 of these units, one for the front windshield and one for the rear. Cobra has once again shown us all how they are a major player in the vehicle electronic accessory market. My only major concern is that they fix the iRadar® app and make it better, because it plays such an integral part in their most recent products.
Overall: 8 out of 10