With the holidays upon us, many gearheads like me are being asked for gift ideas…as someone who modifies & maintains my cars obsessively it is very hard to find something I don’t already have.
This year, however, a dashcam was at the top of my list after someone tried (unsuccessfully) to steal the Porsche emblem off my car while parked in my neighborhood.
I wanted to be able to have a way to catch the wannabe vandals should they try anything again, and I also figured a camera would be a good idea to protect myself against any road rage or bad drivers should there ever be an incident.
When Cedar Electronics (parent company of Cobra & Escort) reached out to have me review their latest offering in this space, the Cobra 201 Dual-View Smart Dash Cam, I jumped at the opportunity.
I’ve tested products from them in the past, namely the Escort Max 3 Radar Detector, the Cobra Portable Jump Pack, and the Cobra RAD 480i, I’ve grown to have a tremendous amount of respect for the brand and their ability to bring high quality products out that are also pretty budget friendly.
The Cobra 201 follows this line of thinking, priced under $200 and packing a ton of value including front & rear cameras, an app to view & download the videos, a G sensor to detect accidents, an included memory card, and built-in wifi & GPS to store data.
The cameras themselves are high quality 1080p and even do well in night and low-light situations, which means you’ll have really great video in case you ever need it.
Here is a sample of a fun cruise I did with two friends the other weekend through the mountains and you can see the vivid colors of the trees changing colors, the texture of the road, and even the glorious growl of my naturally aspirated 4.2L V8.
Installation is a breeze, it mounts on your windshield with supplied double sided tape and after a few weeks of use it seems very sturdy.
Next you route the wire along the headliner and to the nearest cigarette lighter or charger – you can opt for a hardwire kit for an even cleaner look, but I found it surprisingly easy enough to hide the included wiring that I found a hardwire kit unnecessary.
The dashcam charger has a built in USB so that you don’t even lose the extra port should you still want to charge your phone or other accessory from the same location!
Once setup, you’ll need to do some initial configuration to format the SD card, decide how long of clips you want to store, and a few other options.
You can also choose to customize this to turn off the inside camera, only record accidents/incidents, or a number of other privacy related options if your passengers don’t want to be recorded; alternatively, if you drive for a ride share app like Uber or Lyft you’ll probably want this bad boy on 24/7.
Equally important for me was the option for motion detection when the car is parked so that if anyone tries to mess with my car again, I’ll have high quality video of the perp in action!
The camera has automatic shutdown (and power up) so once you’ve got it configured to your liking you don’t really need to do anything else, every time you get in your car the camera will automatically record.
While I’m thankful I haven’t needed it yet, it’s cool to occasionally check out the videos it has recorded and relive some fun drives through the mountains like above.
Most of the time; however, it is out of sight and out of mind. The camera itself is pretty sleek and I have it mounted just below the rear view mirror where I don’t notice it. It’s peace of mind for when I need it, but almost completely hidden when I don’t.
The form-factor itself is pretty cool, and as you can see it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and easy enough to swap between vehicles or remove and store in your glove box or wherever you please should you desire.
Just as important, it’s barely noticeable from the outside, which means pictures of the car like above aren’t ruined by it, and taking it to car shows or cars & coffee won’t look silly with some big, tacky camera mounted in the windshield like some I’ve seen on Amazon.
In short, it’s a great all-around dashcam for those who want peace of mind no matter what kind of driving style you have, and at the price point of $200 it offers a ton of great features and everything you’d need in a dash camera. While there are more expensive options out there, I can’t think of a good reason why I’d need or want anything more, whereas the cheaper options I looked at were either ugly, lacked WiFi operability, or had questionable quality and support.
If you’re looking for a good gift, or simply have been kicking around the idea of a dash cam for a while, this is a great way to go.
Disclaimer: I received this product for free from Cedar Electronics to test but was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own, and if this product sucked I would have said so or declined to post about it.