While Anker maybe well known for their mighty PowerCore portable charging batteries, the powerful tones of their SoundCore Bluetooth speakers and a plethora of high quality manufacturer alternative cables, they have in recent years expanded into other consumer fields. The latest of which is car automation products (Roav) with the Roav DashCam C1.
In The Box
Roav C1 Dashcam
Mounting Plate (3M adhesive backed)
PowerDrive 2 12v car charger
3.2m micro-USB charging cable
Trim removal tool
User manual, quick start guide and Welcome to Roav registration card
Footage Quality / Installation
The Roav Dashcam C1 is a Full HD wedge style dash camera, like many on the market today (and there are many, just see Amazon), comprising of metal edge sides and a central plastic body which certainly feels robust in the hand. Containing a Sony Exmor IMX323 with Nighthawk vision sensor and a 145 degree wide angle lens with F1.8 aperture, you get impressive HD video quality with good clarity and colour but as with many, under the right light conditions and placement. As is becoming the trend, especially with wedge cameras due to their compact fit, the mount plate is adhesive backed instead of suction cup. Mount holds well and thanks to the up/down motion of the moveable lens you can choose your own preference of where to install on your windscreen (though it’s advisable to keep it central near to or behind your rear view mirror). If you have a built-in sun strip on your windshield the camera is kept even more discreet thanks to the black adhesive pad on the mount. While the adhesive pad makes future adjustment or use in another car a challenge (to say the least), additional mounting plates can be obtained from Anker. Another option is to buy replacement 3M pads on eBay (for GoPro cameras being a good option) and replace yourself, a pack of 12 pads setting you back around £3.99 on average.
MicroSD cards up to 128GB are supported but anything over 32GB will need to be formatted from a computer to FAT32. A 32GB card will get you around 320 minutes (6hrs) of footage at 1080p, in 3 minute .mov video segments. Once storage is full, the oldest recordings are then overwritten, unless they are locked ‘emergency’ or parking monitor clips which will require manual deletion either on the camera or via the Roav app. MicroSD card is not included, as with most dashcams, so one will need to be purchased (Class 10 highly recommended).
The Roav C1 comes with a 3.2m micro-USB charging cable and a PowerDrive 2 12v charger, which allows powering of the dashcam and leaves a spare port for charging your phone. Installation for most car trims can be completed with ease thanks to the nice addition of the trim tool. It’s worth noting though that the micro-USB cable is not Anker branded but if treated with respect it should last fine.
Despite these inclusions for many it might be preferable for a hardwire option to your car’s fuse panel. Although the majority of branded hardwire kits cater for mini rather than micro USB, use of a female mini-to-male micro USB adapter can get you around this.
Functions / Settings
If you have used a dashcam before a lot of the menu items will be familiar if not second nature but for those who are a self professed technophobe, no need to worry, the user manual covers all aspects in easy to understand language. Following settings for the dash camera can be changed in the menu and via the Roav app for Android and iOS;
Resolution - 720p @60fps, 720p @ 30fps and 1080p @ 30fps
Frequency - 50Hz or 60Hz video refresh options, 50Hz is PAL for UK and 60Hz is NTSC for US market
Sensitivity - low, med, high, off - to adjust g-sensor for when emergency-parking mode events are recorded
Parking Monitor - on/off - standby mode recording using internal 470mAh battery. Up to 15 motion events will be recorded in 30 second clips.
WIFI - on/off - to allow dashcam to be used as an access point for iOS and Android devices to change settings and download/view footage via the Roav app
Time - date and time settings
Language - English, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean(?), Spanish, Italian, French
LCD Auto Off - 30 sec, 60 sec, off - Backlight timer for the screen
Machine Sound - on/off - Mute bleep noise for menu selections
Default - cancel / ok - Manufacturer default to initial configuration
Format - cancel / ok - microSD card format function
Watermark - on/off - Date and time stamp with Roav logo
About - hardware information of the unit such as serial number and firmware version
Device Update (App Only Feature) - Allows firmware/software updating of the dashcam when connected on WIFI to a 4g enabled phone or tablet
It is also worth noting that the Roav C1 cannot be used solely on the internal 470mAh battery for recording and must be connected to a power source (the camera will power off after 30sec unless you are within the menu). The internal battery is designated for the parking monitor feature (and small config changes) which allows the dashcam to remain in standby mode and power on when motion is detected, such as your vehicle being struck while away (or even just your doors being used can trigger due to car body motion). The resulting motion will create a 30 sec emergency clip, up to 15 times before dashcam is fully powered on again. As with manual emergency clips via the touch button on the screen, these stay in a locked state to prevent auto-overwrite and require manual deletion.
To say this is Anker’s first foray into the dashcam market it is a impressive piece of kit, with good video and audio recording, robust build quality and a number of customizable features that can be accessed directly or via WIFI with their very responsive app. Inclusion of the branded Anker PowerDrive 2 charger, the more than adequate length charging cable and trim tool are further nice touches.
I currently have a Nextbase 321GW hardwired in my Ford Focus and during tandem testing in dawn/daylight conditions the Nextbase (which contains six-element Sharp lenses) just had the edge on video clarity. The Roav produced good clarity and colouring but often made some aspects darker and in turn sacrificed all important details. This is possibly due to how exposure is handled between the two devices sensors (the Nextbase caught clearer number plates in a number of daylight conditions). When it comes to night footage the Roav C1 steps up to the plate and produces excellent natural looking colours with sacrificing details. Audio recording was a no contest win in favour of the Roav C1. See above video for comparisons.
Some disappointing aspects are the lack of GPS inclusion, which quite a few dashcams in this price bracket have as standard, the limitation in lens angle and lost of clarity in certain light conditions. The lens angle can be difficult (depending on your car model / windshield angle) to get right so that you are mainly recording the road and not the sky, which with direct sunlight causes your dashboard reflection to be more prominent. Having perhaps a sturdy non-click mechanism would allow for more customizable positions to eliminate this.
In light of the aspects mentioned above the following additions/improvements in a future revision would be good;
- Addition of GPS to allow speed and location recording, which can provide further evidence to support an incident. While it might the case that GPS is to be piggybacked from the upcoming Dashtop computer also by Roav, independent GPS would be beneficial.
- More customizable lens angle, perhaps non-click for more positions when reflections are present
- Inclusion of an additional mount to allow the camera to be used between two cars or the option of a suction mount
- Ability to save clips in longer than 3 minute chunks and/or ability to stitch the videos in the app. Most likely possible via a future firmware/software update.
The Roav C1 is by no means bad as a first entry into a new product range just outdone on certain aspects by the £10-15 higher cost Nextbase 312GW. If GPS is not a deal breaker and you’re in the market for your first dashcam or an upgrade from a £30-40 entry level dashcam, this is a good option.