The last few years has seen a rise in a new kind of car tech – the dashboard camera, aka dash cam. Something once reserved for the Police and Sci-Fi films, improved technology, rising insurance costs and ‘crash for cash’ scams – which is worth £400 million a year in fraudulent claims – has seen more ‘normal’ folk install dash cams in their cars.
These bits of kit are attached to your dashboard, windscreen or rear view mirror and record the comings and goings outside of the car when driving. Should there be an accident, you have saved video footage of what happened, which can then be used as evidence to settle disputes and speed up claims. We’re now even at a point where some insurance companies will offer you a discount if you have a dash cam fitted in your car.
I’ve not used a dash cam before, so was interested to try one out when Philips got in touch to see if I wanted to review their ADR810 dash cam. In a slightly different format to usual, this review includes both mine and my dad’s thoughts. I used the Philips ADR810 Dash Cam for just over a week, then passed it on to him to try out. As a driving instructor, my dad is on the road a lot, so I thought his input would be useful – particularly as he’s used dash cams before. Below you’ll find this review:
The product is described as:
The Philips ADR810 Dash Cam allows you to enjoy peace of mind and undisturbed driving focus, thanks to smart automatic operation, collision detection, emergency EasyCature and fatigue index & alert. With a large field of view, true colors and excellent night visibility performance, no detail is missed to provide you with crystal clear evidence in any situation. Features include:
- Full-HD 1080p
- 2.7″ LCD screen
- 156° degree wide angle lens
- Automatic collision detection
- Fatigue index and driver alert
- Emergency EasyCapture
- Seamless loop recording at all speeds
- Instant replay to clarify responsibility on the spot
- Automatic recording when you start the vehicle
- Night visibility
On opening the box, I was greeted with the dash cam, a 4 metres 12V cable, a mounting bracket (with two sticky pads) and the instructions. I also received a Micro SD card, although this needs to be purchased separately as it doesn’t come with the dash cam. Everything was nicely packaged in the box and my first impressions were good.
The setup was very quick, which was aided by the quick start leaflet – although I did notice full instructions weren’t included. The Micro SD card goes into a slot in the side, as does one end of the power cable. There’s then the mounting bracket which has it’s own little bit which you slide it into. All in all, a 30 second job. I tried to turn it on at this point, but the Philips ADR810 Dash Cam doesn’t have an internal battery – this means it needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter socket on the car to give it power.
Within the car, the dash cam is fixed via the sticky pad on the mounting bracket. These sticky pads are VERY sticky. As such, they keep the dash cam in a firm position when in the car, but it does make it difficult to transfer the dash cam between cars. As a family that often leases cars and has cars through the missus’ work, I’d probably prefer some kind of window sucker to these quite permanent sticky pads – this is just preference though.
As I knew I was going to be passing it over to my dad to try, I used a rudimentary solution of Blu Tack on the rear view mirror to get around this. My dad went with the permanent solution though and used the sticky pad to attach it to his car windscreen. As a driving instructor, he has various additional mirrors etc on his windscreen, so he placed the dash cam on the left of his windscreen rather than centrally.
Once attached, the next step is to plug the cable into the cigarette lighter socket. The cable is pretty long so there is ample room to get it to reach. In fact, the cable is so long that you could probably feed it around the interior of your car so that the cable is hidden. And that was that – installation was complete and the dash cam was ready to go.
I used the Philips ADR810 dash cam for over a week and my dad has used it for a few weeks since. As such, I think we’ve got a pretty good understanding of how it works, as well as some of the good and not so good points. Let’s start with the main purpose of the dash cam – to record footage. The dash cam actually starts recording as soon as you turn on the engine and shows what is being recorded. This is a handy feature as it means that you don’t need to remember to turn the dash cam on – it just does it so nothing is missed.
The Philips ADR810 dash cam records continuous footage whilst it is plugged in – it then saves this to the Micro SD card. Rather than being one huge file, each video is saved every three minutes to make the file sizes more manageable (approx 280MB), however nothing is ‘lost’ as it’s on a loop. As such, depending on the length of your journey, you could end up with a lot of different saved files.
Thankfully though, each one is named appropriately and date stamped. It’s then possible to watch these videos on the device, by connecting to a phone / tablet or by transferring to a laptop. This is useful for re-watching an incident if needed for insurance purposes etc, plus my dad’s found an additional use with his learner driver pupils.
As you’d expect for something recorded in full-HD 1080p, the video quality is actually really impressive. I had concerns that the footage wouldn’t be that clear, but this is far from the truth – in fact, my dad says it’s much better than previous ones he’s tried. Surprisingly, the footage at dawn / dusk / night was really good too. Should something happen within the 156° degree view, the dash cam is going to see it and capture it very clearly. This gives great peace of mind. Here’s an example of the footage in the afternoon, at dusk and in the evening:
As well as the continuous looped recordings mentioned above, the Philips ADR810 dash cam also saves to another file if prompted. The dash cam comes with a button on the cigarette lighter charger and on the actual unit – this is the Emergency EasyCapture. If either of these buttons are pressed, the dash cam records and saves the file into a separate folder. This is a really useful feature.
Say you see an accident happen in front of you, pressing the button will save a new video which captures the incident both before and after the button was pressed. What’s more, unlike the ‘normal’ looped recordings mentioned above, these emergency files aren’t overwritten when the Micro SD Card is full.
Two other functions the Philips ADR810 dash cam comes with are automatic collision detection and fatigue index and driver alert. As the names suggest, the automatic collision detection records into the separate emergency folder when it recognises movement, whereas the fatigue index and driver alert provides an audible beep when you’ve been driving the car for a long period of time (two hours, we think). The automatic collision detection is a good feature – as in theory it would record an unwritable file if you’re hit – it does seem to be pretty sensitive though, particularly when cornering on windy roads.
Using the device is quite intuitive. It has three main navigation buttons – ‘up’, ‘down’ and ‘OK’ which allow you to set it up as you like. For example, you can set the date / time, as well as change things such as the device sensitivity or whether you want the LCD display to actually show the image being recorded. It also has a voice recorder which allows sound / dictation to be captured, but the playback quality is slightly disappointing.
It’s worthwhile noting that my dad discovered a few limitations when installing. He wanted to use it in his camper van, but was limited with where it could be placed. There was no room on the windscreen behind the mirror and attaching it to the mirror would have blocked his view. He decided to mount it on the dashboard, but this had implications on the video footage. The live image on the screen auto-rotated, but the date stamp stayed upside down which isn’t ideal – as shown below.
In addition, on viewing the recorded footage on the laptop, the dash cam didn’t actually record the rotated view, so everything was upside down and therefore pretty useless. As such, two improvements would be (1) the ability to record a rotated screen and (2) putting an identical slot for the mounting bracket on the opposite end, thus allowing it to be used in an upright and downright position.
All in all, I’d probably sum up the Philips ADR810 dash cam as a good device with a few niggles that could be ironed out in the next version.
The Philips ADR810 dash cam retails at £159.99 and can be purchased from the likes of Halfords, Maplin and Amazon, however, I’ve seen it on sale for cheaper than this. With dash cams costing anywhere from £40 for the no-frills model up to £300 for the all-singing, all-dancing devices, the ADR810 is firmly somewhere in the middle. I don’t think £160 is too bad for what you get, but it does feel a little bit pricey for my liking.
The Philips ADR810 dash cam is a good bit of kit. If you’re looking for a decent overall dash cam with clear video recording from a trusted company, then it definitely ticks the boxes. We’ve particularly liked the fact that it starts recording as soon as you turn on the engine, that the footage is still good when it’s darker outside and that it has the ability to save emergency video clips into an unwritable file. We also found the setting up and interface simple to use.
However, there’s a few niggles and room for improvement. For instance, there’s no Micro SD Card included which is an additional cost, no internal battery which means it has to be plugged in to work, it can only be mounted in one way, there’s no ability to take photos and the sound recording isn’t great. Maybe we’re being a little harsh, but for a penny under £160, I’d have expected a little more.
Having said that though, our gripe list contains relatively minor points which don’t impact the main function. The key thing you want from a dash cam is the knowledge that you have high quality footage recorded should you need it. In that department, the Philips ADR810 dash cam is a great device.
The DADventurer Star Rating
4 out of 5 stars
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Philips. The review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the product. The dash cam was sent to me by Philips with the purpose of writing an honest product review in exchange for the product.
N.B. This post includes an affiliate link(s). For more info, read my Disclosure policy.