One of the most effective tools in the motorist's arsenal against criminal scammers is the dash cam.
Simply having one in place may well be enough to prevent you becoming a victim, and if they go ahead anyway then at least you’ve got a fully independent Technicolor witness that gives your side of the story!
Reasons to install a dash cam.
Philips is one of the leading names in dashcams in China and wants to break into the lucrative domestic market, so was keen to send us an Philips ADR610 Driving Recorder to review.
It’s good to see a well-known brand offering something like this where reliability and quality is of paramount importance; my £20 cheapie dashcam worked very well, right up to the point at which it didn’t, leaving me without cover for an unknown length of time until I finally noticed that something was amiss.
10 laws motorists ignore or forget.
Recording in full High-Definition, the ADR610 dash cam records a full 100° picture, a view that is wide enough to record everything that happens through the windscreen.
The dash cam itself is large enough to be able to incorporate a 2-inch display screen, yet still only measure 72.8 x 53.3 x 31.34 mm (roughly 3” x 2”). This makes it small enough to be relatively inconspicuous when it’s mounted next to your rear-view mirror.
Setting it up is very straightforward, although you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got a class 10 micro-SD card to hand as there isn’t one in the box.
The ADR610 plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter socket and starts recording automatically when the ignition is turned on. This ensures that even if you forget it’s there – and you will – it is always recording and needs no intervention from you as the driver.
I left everything as it came from the factory with the exception of the voice recording, which I prefer to turn off.
Don't become a victim of the flash for cash scam.
Recording in poor light
I’m never convinced that full high-definition (the ADR610 records in 1920 x 1080p and at 30 frames-per-second or fps) is necessary for a video camera that is only ever going to be used to support a police investigation or insurance claim, but it is what it is and the picture quality is very good indeed in daylight.
Recording at night is more of an issue for most drivers, as low-light levels can play havoc with the camera’s small sensor, leading to noisy images in which details, such as a car number plate, can be lost. There are no such issues with the ADR610 when the ambient light levels are relatively high, such as when there are street lights, even if they are quite widely spaced.
This is partly due to the largish f2.0 aperture of the lens but a constantly changing ISO (which determines the sensors sensitivity to light) also helps maximise the image quality by adjusting the exposure.
However, in very low light levels, such as unlit country lanes, the image quality can be quite poor even when you are using high beam. This is something that could rule out the ADR610 for you if a large proportion of your driving is in the countryside.
Want to look at other dash cams? Read some more reviews here.
The ADR610 has driver fatigue detection as standard, which monitors how long you’ve been driving and recommends a break when it thinks you need one. This is a bit of a gimmick, so I turned it off.
More usefully, it has an accident detection facility that automatically saves the footage if it thinks you’ve had an accident. Under normal circumstances it will fill the SD card with video footage, recording over the earlier filming when the card is full.
One thing to note is that the ADR610 doesn’t have an internal battery. This means that while Philips says that the time and date should stay live for at least five days, if you only use your car occasionally it is entirely conceivable that the date and time will be wrong; this could lead to problems if you submit the footage as evidence as the time and date stamp will be wrong.
The Philips ADR 610 Dash sells for around £100, but you’ll also need a fast micro-SD card, which will set you back around £10 for one with a 32GB capacity.
For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.