There are bucketful of dashcam brands out there. Unfortunately, most of them are of questionable quality. That includes major brand dashcams that are no more than mediocre (or worse) quality units being slapped with big brands logo.
With most of the brands I’ve tested, I usually find the dynamic range of the image capture to be abysmal. The contrast ratio tends to be barely enough making reading plate numbers of the car in front of me to be very difficult. Low light performance is usually barely adequate, or even if they are adequate, the lens to be of barely acceptable with lots of chromatic aberrations and distortion. There are exceptions, of course, but all the ones that I’m happy with is in the $350 and up price category.
But what do you know… on my way to CES2019 I happen to sit right next to the person from RSC Labs, a Canadian company who does the engineering also in Canada, not just a brand slapper. She then introduced me to the head honcho of RSC Labs Canada and near the end of CES2019, I took an Ichigo unit home to be installed and tested.
After the usual clean install done by Ultra Auto Sound in Mississauga back in March, I started my tests.
First of all, the unit gave me a reminder ghat I haven’t put a memory card in. After I put the SanDisk 128 Gb Extreme Pro microSD card, it asks me to format the card. As the unit also uses GPS, the date and time were set automatically. Of course I set the file size to the largest in order to get the clearest video possible. What is the point in having fuzzy highly compressed video anyway? For the clearest video, 1080p/60 is available but not absolutely necessary. When I lowered the frame rate to 30 fps, the unit gives an option to activate ADAS (Advances Driver Assistance System) which then automatically re-calibrate every time you turn on the ignition of the car. The ADAS feature includes lane departure warning and collision warning. It’s a neat safety feature but as my car has built in ADAS from the factory, I opt for the 60 fps video capture (which automatically switches off Ichigo’s ADAS feature due the high processing demand for 60 fps video capture).
The 140-degree lens captures enough information without creating much distortion. Chromatic aberration is also very minimal with image quality being very good even when viewed on a 65” TV with very good dynamic range. Reading license plates is a breeze to boot. Night vision is beyond my expectations thanks to its use of Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor.
Unfortunately, while my CLA250 was less than 6 months old and has less than 3,000 km, my car got hit from the side. On the plus side, I get to experience the Ichigo in action. The date, time, GPS coordinates, driving speed (I was stopped at the time), were all recorded as metadata of the recording. This is not the way I want to test Ichigo, especially not at the expense of a car that was just Ceramic Coated just 10 days prior to the accident. Regardless, RSC Ichigo impresses me.
Other than the fact that its suction cup failed in my four times within the 2nd month of installation (I received a defective suction cup), I love this unit. What makes me love the unit more is that RSC technical support is actually based in Canada and done by people who actually have used the unit. They even have a repair centre locally (in Markham, to be exact) and they gave me a replacement on the spot.
Literally, the only thing I wish this unit had is wifi connection so I can view the video on my phone. But that’s more if a “want” instead of a “need”. And for less than $250 MSRP, I don’t only high recommend this unit, but I also urge you to buy one.