Dash cams are all about capturing the action, and few do it better than the front and interior Cobra SC 201 Smart Dash Cam (currently $179.95 on Amazon [go.pcworld. com/cbra]). The exterior night video especially is unsurpassed in its ability to show details in dark surroundings, and the cam offers a laundry list of features including GPS and cloud uploads. It even includes a 16GB SD card. It’s well worth the money for what you get—just don’t try to use the cloud functionality with an older phone OS.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
Dash cams generally come in two basic shapes: rectangular and cylindrical. The SC 201 opts for the latter, which allows the most space for an interior camera. Both the front and interior cameras capture at 1080p. Most interior cameras are 720p, so this is an upgrade.
While 1080p might seem a bit boring in a world that offers 1440p and 2160p, it’s more than adequate for legal and even viewing purposes, plus it saves you a ton of memory card space as well as wear and tear. Put another way, it’s a lot cheaper in the long run.
The front camera has a good 140-degree field of view. Cobra declined to provide a number for the interior camera, merely claiming that it’s wide enough to capture the entire cabin. That proved accurate in testing. Four infrared lights surround the interior lens to make sure it captures the action regardless of how the cabin is lit.
The SC 201 sports a two-inch color display with four buttons on the underside of the camera, whose current function is revealed by icons on the bottom of the display. We found the buttons easy to press, and navigating the menus and settings was quite easy. The screen will even flip to match the orientation of the camera.
One very nice features of the SC 201 is that it sets the time automatically using the GPS info and tracks speed right out of the box. Few of the dash cams we’ve tested offer that level of sophistication. You can also turn the GPS/time and driver ID video watermarks on and off.
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