Amazon Review by Andrea Polk
27 people found the following review helpful
Great video, but NO GPS, Bluetooth or Wifi with fussy software
"Oh how I wanted to love this camera...but I can't." The Cobra Electronics CDR895D Drive HD camera kit is a good idea that just misses the mark. Having used other brands of similarly featured cams of this type I had some ideas going into reviewing this one of what to expect. Unfortunately the good I found was not outweighed by the bad, and thus the 3 out of 5 star rating.
NOTE: If you are looking for a cam that will record GPS data this model will not do so without a separate GPS accessory. This kit does provide you with TWO cameras (one for the front and one that can be used in the rear of your vehicle or as an interior camera). Each camera is recorded into a separate video files.
If you are looking for GPS consider a cam like this: WheelWitness HD PRO Dash Cam with GPS - SuperHD 2560x1080P & 1296P 170 Lens - Lane Departure & Accident Warning - 16GB microSD - For 12V Cars & Trucks - Night Vision Dashboard Camera Ambarella A7LA50 Car Security DVR WDR Motion Sensor G-Sensor. Cobra Electronics CDR855BT Full HD 1080P Dash Cam with Bluetooth Smart Enabled GPS and iRadar Alerts is also an option, however its customer ratings are lower (I couldn’t get the link to render properly for the review).
No GPS, but Wifi version for app integration with the GPS on your smartphone? Consider this model: Cobra Electronics CDR 900 Premium Drive HD Dash Cam with Wi-Fi.
In my review I’ll cover what’s in the box, setup & installation, some general info about the settings on the main camera, the things I like about the cam and the software. As you read it consider your needs and decide for yourself if this Cobra Electronics product is the one for you.
IN THE BOX:
The Quick Start Guide which comes with the Drive HD camera has directions for setup and use in (6) languages. Five pages total, it is about 250 words with a setup diagram, a controls diagram, installation guide for the front and rear cameras, how to power on the camera, basic operation, key dash cam features and computer connectivity; working with both PC and Mac.
Two cameras, the cables connecting the cams to each other and the car adapter are included. The Quick Release Mount is a very tiny piece that was running loose in the box I received and could have easily been lost when unboxing. That would be a big deal as you really need it to secure the front cam to the suction cup mount which connects securely to the windshield.
SETUP & INSTALLATION:
Looking at the diagram it was fairly clear how to connect the cams to each other and power them up. Putting the cameras in their locations and mounting them is pretty much self-explanatory, but directions are given.
You can use the 20’ extension cable - extremely generous of Cobra as you could literally use the rear cam on a bus if you wanted to because you have enough cable - or forgo the cable to use the second cam (max resolution 720p) to video in the cabin of your vehicle.
I setup my cameras for the main one (1080p 30fps) to be forward facing on the suction mount, and the second (rear cam) to be in a nook on my dashboard facing toward the cabin versus rear mounting it. Video from both was very clear and sharp with accurate color representation in both 1080P and 720P.
The included car power adapter has a USB receptical on the top of it which the power cord plugs into to power up the system automatically when you start your vehicle. This charges the battery on the main camera which then if connected to your computer can transfer files. You can also view and delete files directly from the cam by viewing them on the 2" LCD and navigating with the buttons on the back…
On the back of the camera you can find controls which get you into SETTINGS on the main camera. These are some of the options you’ll find in Settings:
VIDEO SETTINGS: Cam Resolutions, Loop Clip Time, G-Sensor, Parking Mode, Cobra Watermark, Date/Time Stamp, Time Stamp Format, Flip Cam, Mirror Cam, Lane Departure, and Collision Warning.
You can check these on and off if desired, or easily change settings as needed. Explanations of each pop up on the screen to help you. Navigation is swift with the four buttons on the back of the main camera.
GENERAL SETTINGS: Volume, Date/Time, Screen Saver, Beep Sound, Format SD Card, Restore Defaults and Firmware Version .
LANGUAGE: Change settings with the world icon, navigating to the right or left with buttons on back, and using the round icon to select and the back arrow as needed.
VIDEO VIEWER & PHOTO VIEWER: You can also view your videos by pressing the second to the left rear button on the main camera to see the Video Viewer or Photo Viewer. You can select and view what you’ve recorded here… For videos you will see the file name, whether it’s 1080p or 720p, the date, and length of video. You can delete clips directly on the camera as well as playing them on the device.
Despite this being a small 2" screen, I found it was easier and faster to view and delete video this way than using the Drive HD software downloaded from Cobra.com/downloads.
PARKING MODE: You can set the camera to monitor for movement outside the vehicle after its been turned off. This is called Parking Mode and you have it on ‘off’ by default. The camera will ask you upon leaving your vehicle if you want it to continue recording. If it gets no response, it automatically shuts down in 30 seconds. You can set it for up to 10 minutes of recording time after you exit your vehicle, which is done in Settings on the main camera.
What I liked about this product…
I trust the Cobra brand to offer a well thought out, quality-built, user-friendly device and this one fullfills that expectation.
It’s easy to setup with the included directions.
Continuous loop recording can be adjusted from the default 3 minute loop to 5 or 10 minutes long. Oldest recorded loops are deleted first.
A 16GB micro SD card was INCLUDED with this product and already installed! (Unheard of… really, never happens.)
The 20’ extension cable for the rear cam is more than enough for 99.9% of all vehicles.
The basic operation of the camera is done for you for consistent accident monitoring with the G-sensor and recording.
You can override the default loop recording with emergency one-touch recording which is continuous until you press it to off, and it asks you to confirm it before it shuts down.
Super-wide angle view of the front cam really catches the action!
1080p recording at 30fps is very sharp and clear.
Color reproduction is very good with both cameras.
Settings are clear and easy to change if desired, as is returning to default settings.
Recorded audio is very good with the internal microphone. **There is a way to shut off audio recording.
Button controls on the main cam are big enough to be easily located and the bump on each one makes it simple to know you’re actually on the button before you depress it.
Power button easily identifyable and easy to depress on top right of camera 1.
HDMI output so you can connect camera 1 to a monitor or HDTV to view video or stills.
Windshield mount is of good quality and stays firmly on the windshield once anchored. No wiggle!
Silver emergency recording button at top-back of camera 1 works as expected and is easy to see and depress.
18 Registering the product on the Cobra website was simple to do, and the Support section on the Cobra website has the firmware updates and video viewing Drive HD software download readily available.
What I found to be frustrating about this product and the reason I give it 3 out of 5 stars (“It’s OK”) rating.
I first tried viewing the MOV files from the camera with Power DVD - my default video viewer. Some of the captured video files were black - no video - and others were fine. I have no clue why this would be, but I rechecked my cable connections and still had the issue.
I then tried VLC player to view the recorded files and again the same thing happened.
Then I downloaded and installed the Cobra software directly from their website. It didn’t install the first time I downloaded it on my Windows 7 PC, so I tried it a second time and did get it to install. The interface seemed simple to use, but I was confused by a map in the upper right hand corner of the software.
More of the videos played on the Cobra software, but there were still black videos with no sound or audio. I had to believe that the camera setup, the software in the camera, or the user was to blame at this point. No matter what it was - I was very frustrated!
Eventually I did view some video footage from both the interior cam and the forward facing one. Both of which were very good - most of it without audio.
**The audio settings for the camera appear to only be connected to the main camera. There is a microphone icon with a red slash through it when muted, but the interface on the back of the camera makes it a little confusing because there’s actually two of the icons. I think one must be for the front and one for the back cam?
The Cobra software froze on my PC and crashed it multiple times after I deleted a video using the software. I was able to save a few recordings to an external drive using the software and view a few, but it didn’t seem stable. Perhaps I’ll have better luck when I download it to a Windows 10 PC?
The Cobra software interface is fairly simple to use, but some of it was confusing too. The part that shows a map is useless with this particular camera which needs a GPS adapter (sold separately) to use this functionality. The map appears no matter what initially, but it’s useless for this cam so disregard it.
NO GPS, BLUETOOTH or WIFI
If you purchase this item thinking you can get ALL the information you need in a crash, you may be disappointed. Since there is NO GPS integreation without a Cobra accessory (sold separately) on this device, you will not have the option to map your incident or have it recorded on a map.
There is also NO Bluetooth or WiFI integration in this kit whereby you could use the Cobra app to use your smartphone’s GPS.
To me, these are major shortcomings of this product. Things like Lane Departure and Collision Warning can be overlooked if they aren’t standard, but at this point when cheap knock-off brands have these things, why can’t Cobra Electronics?
The two cameras are very good, but without GPS or app integreation they are certainly not as useful as they could be!
The rear facing camera can be used in the cabin of the vehicle. That’s pretty cool, especially if you want to do some ‘Carpool Karaoke’ of your own! You can view both cameras side by side on the tiny 2" screen to monitor them, and ideally you should be able to record and present them that way… although I’ve yet to figure that one out.
The video from the front cam in either 720P or 1080P is excellent, and the sound recording very good. The rear facing cam (also used for the cabin if placed at the front facing backwards) in 720P is also very good, and the recording loops of 3,5, or 10 minute intervals very handy. The G-sensor is displayed for the videos in the downloadable Cobra software.
I wish that there had been GPS integration in this model at this price point. I also wish that the video recording was more reliable than it appears to be out of the box.
This product has left me wishing for more.
Still photo capture while using video works well and the results are good. Dual recording (going to two separate video files) seems like a good idea too.
The G-Sensor (accelerometer) which is designed to sense collisions should be in all these devices, but then to have a Lane Departure mode that is for ‘informational purposes only’ and not even turned on by default? Why have it?!
Worse yet, why have Collision Warning on the menu of this camera if to use this feature you have to buy and use a separate GPS mount input? Why not just have the GPS built into ALL of your cameras instead of making this lower end model?
The lack of GPS and the software that seems a bit too quirky to be reliable are really the sore points for me with this product. I will continue to use it and with time, I will update this review. Perhaps some of the issues I’m having are more about my lack of experience with the product? If so, I will update the star rating, but for now… it’s just OK for me. I can’t say I like it because I keep thinking about what it’s missing - “ease of use with all the information I need.”