By TAN KIT HOONGbytz@thestar.com.my
The Eagle Eye sees everything inside and outside of your car.
WHILE I was aware that people install rear facing video cameras to aid in parking, it wasn't until I watched a recorded video of a car smash-and-grab incident taken from a security camera installed in the car behind it that I realised that people also install a video camera facing forwards.
In fact, having a video camera constantly recording events going on in front of your car and to a lesser extent what goes on inside, is pretty useful when it comes to finding out who's at fault when an accident happens.
So here we have the GTC Eagle Eye two-channel driving recorder which does just that - it has both a front facing camera that looks out from your windscreen and a rear-facing camera that records what the driver and passengers are doing.
As this joins a host of other gadgets and recorders out there, vying for space on your windscreen, just how does it perform?
Jump to record
Out of the box, the Eagle Eye is a simple affair - you get the unit itself, a car AC adaptor and a long wired remote control.
The camera affixes on your windscreen upside down (of course) using some kind of 3M sticky adhesive. The tape is essentially permanent, so you can't choose to remove the camera whenever you want.
However, I found a way around that by removing the 3M adhesive and replacing it with 3M Command wall hanging strips (goo.gl/t3Vvj) which have a kind of velcro on one side and an adhesive on the other.
I stuck one set of strips on the windscreen and the other on the mounting plate of the Eagle Eye and with that I had a removable and relatively stable mounting system that allowed me to remove the camera whenever I wanteI chose the Command strips because they are more easily removable without any residue.dAfter a little trial and error to get the right placing, I got the mounting done and installed the camera on the windscreen.
Videos are recorded onto a supplied SD, so it's easy enough to upgrade to a higher capacity card if you want to be able to store more videos.
The AC adaptor is then plugged into the camera and once your car starts up, the camera will start recording at regular intervals of about a minute or so using both the rear and front cameras.
The adaptor has an extremely long cable - since it's meant to be installed permanently into your car, there has to be enough cable to snake around your car fixtures and dashboard if you want it to look nice and neat.
Similarly, the remote control has an extremely long cable and is meant to be mounted permanently on your dashboard for easy access.
The remote is not generally required for operation - the camera records automatically at regular intervals as I said, and just in case, it also starts recording when it detects a bump or a jolt.
You only need to use the remote when you want to manually snap a photo or force recording to start for some reason - perhaps to capture the person trying to carjack you, or perhaps to record an altercation going on in front of your car when you are stopped at a traffic light.
Well, there isn't much to say about the Eagle Eye except that it works.
In case you're wondering, when the SD card is full, the camera will simply overwrite the oldest file, so if for some reason you want to keep a particular video file you should copy it out of the SD card as soon as you can.
Interestingly, the rear-facing camera that looks into the cabin of your car is quite sensitive to infrared light, and to help it along when recording in the dark, there is an array of infrared LEDs blasting out invisible light into the cabin when the camera is on.
The lenses used on both front and back are quite wideangle so it does capture quite of lot of peripheral action from the front and sides of your car.
As far as quality goes, the Eagle Eye is hardly HD in quality - it shoots at a mere 640 x 480-pixels so don't expect to have detailed visuals when you play back the video. While this does keep file sizes down, it also means that the Eagle Eye isn't really able to capture enough detail for you to make out car plate numbers two or three car lengths away.
Having said that, all accidents are much closer than that and it is possible to make out plate numbers when they are much closer.
The rear-facing camera fares better - it isn't any higher in resolution but it has the advantage of having subjects closer to the camera lens.
The unit also has a built-in GPS which will hard code your location into the videos - using the supplied software you can actually see the location of your car on a map at the time the video was recorded.
The GPS info is continuously updated during video recording and when using the supplied software you can actually see your car's position move on Google Maps as the video playback continues. Again, very useful for insurance claims.
I ran the camera off and on for about a week, and didn't suffer any major issues with it, except that it makes a loud "ba bling!" sound whenever you go over a bump (or get into an accident), which can be a bit annoying if the road to and from one's house has a lot of bumps or uneven roads.
If you're interested in a sample of the kind of video quality you get with the Eagle Eye, you can iSnap the page or surf to youtu.be/nnbBp-gkDL4.
Well, the GTC Eagle Eye works as advertised and video quality is not bad at all.
However, while I understand that there's always a fine balance between quality and keeping file sizes small, I would have preferred the camera to record at 720p so that I can really make out details that could be important in case of an accident.
SD cards as a recording medium are nowadays so cheap that it would be quite easy to get a card with a large enough capacity to handle the increase in file sizes when shooting with a 720p camera.
My only real complaint is that, at RM2,188, the price is a bit steep for what it offers.
Pros: Works as advertised; has front and rear-facing cameras; rear facing camera works well in low-light.
Cons: Resolution could be higher; expensive.
Eagle Eye Driving Recorder
(Global Top Technologies Sdn Bhd)
In-car security video recorder
SENSOR: 0.3-megapixels (640 x 480-pixels) for front and rear
VIDEO MODE FORMAT: MPEG4 (640 x 480-pixels) at 15fps
STORAGE: SD memory card
OTHER FEATURES: Infrared LED illuminators for rear-facing camera, built-in GPS
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 105 x 22 x 67cm
Review unit courtesy of Global Top Technologies Sdn Bhd, 1-300-88-6333