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MacFixer, the iPhone, iPod, and iPad specialists

 

Reviewed: RAC 205 DashCam

 

Reviewed By

Matthew (MaFt) Morley
Review Date

1st April 2017

Manufacturer RAC / Proofcam

RRP

£114.97 inc VAT

6

 

Last year I reviewed the RAC 05 with GPS and our own speed camera database included. I was quite impressed with it as you can see from the review and it has remained in use in my car since. So when I was given the opportunity to test and review one of their newer models I was interested to see how it had been improved. So let me introduce you to the RAC 205 dash cam:

 

 

The RAC 205 is a more basic model and lacks GPS and the speed camera alerts but even without any evidence of speed you were travelling, a dash cam is still a useful device to have for evidence should you be unfortunate to either be in an accident or to witness one. You only have to look at the 'crash for cash' cyclist we mentioned in the newsletter a while back to see how useful they could be.


RAC have made a good effort in the packaging - from opening the boxes and seeing the separate, labelled boxes neatly packed away inside you get a sense of quality. Unfortunately, once you remove the camera itself, that sense fades away somewhat. The camera itself feels cheap, light and a bit too plasticy. But it's OK because the RAC 205 comes with… well, it comes with an LED torch. I'm guessing that the idea is to have a light source to check the damage on your car should you have an accident in the dark. Aside from that, the inclusion of a torch seems a bit random. It is bright though. The full contents includes:


  • RAC 205 dash cam
  • LED torch
  • Carry pouch
  • Mini USB charger lead
  • Manual
  • Quick start guide
  • 16GB Sandisk Ultra micro SD card
  • Micro SD to SD card adaptor

 

 

I'm trying not to compare the RAC 205 with the RAC 05 too much but I can't help thinking there are a few elements of the RAC 05 that I would love to have seen incorporated into the RAC 205. While the enclosed USB lead is very long (approx 11ft) it incluldes a fitted plug rather than being a USB-A connector. This means if you have a sat-nav or phone charger then you'll need a cig-lighter adaptor for your car. In my personal opinion a USB-A end would have been better so it could be plugged into a commonly available USB multi-adaptor along with the lead to charge your phone etc. Bear this in mind if your power socket is already in use.

 

INSTALLATION

Fitting was easy in my 2006 Ford Focus - the wiring was easily tucked away around the door trim and between the windscreen and ceiling. The mount is very sturdy with no give at all yet still easily detaches if needed. Attaching the camera to the mount is easily done by sliding it on from the end and the mount springing down to hold it in place. When attached though, the camera wobbles a bit - more on that later. There is a slight issue that after about a week the plastic clip on the mount stops working - so you can simply slide the camera off without having to flip the clip. Again, this isn't a major issue as the camera does fit quite snug anyway. One final comment about the installation is that the provided USB cable seems too long for the socket and there's a good 3mm of the plug that sticks out of the socket. It not only looks untidy but could also result in someone trying to push it right in and thus damaging the dash cam.

 

 


OK, so there are a few snags with the mount, charger and feel of the camera but let's now look at the features and how well it performs. One of my criticisms of the RAC 05 was that the button markings weren't very user-friendly. I am pleased to say that with the RAC 205, ProofCam (the actual manufacturer of the camera) have improved this significantly.


On the side of the camera you have the power button which triples up as 'SOS' (lock a recording) and 'Mode'. Then underneath the 2.3" screen you have menu/back, mute/up, down and record/OK. The buttons give an audible and tactile click when pressing them.


As the RAC 205 lacks GPS, the menu structure is relatively simple in terms of options. Pressing the menu button gives you 5 groups of settings which you switch between by using the 'mode' button: Movie Mode, Still Capture, Playback, Media Tool and General Settings.


Movie Mode is where you change the recording settings such as video resolution with a choice of 1920x1080 (Full HD) at 30 fps or 1280x720 ('HD Ready') at either 30 or 60 fps. For quality you have 'Super Fine or Fine' and you can set the video file length for standard loop recording between 1 and 10 minutes and also the 'motion event' recording. You can also adjust the exposure, white balance and ISO sensitivity.


In the still image settings, i.e. when you use the RAC 205 for taking photos (perhaps of vehicles after an accident) you can change the resolution up to 14MP and also adjust the quality, white balance, exposure and ISO sensitivity. Oddly enough, you can also add effects such as sepia or negative - I'm not sure insurance companies would appreciate olde worlde style sepia photos when submitting evidence for a claim.


Playback settings allow you to adjust the volume, delete one or more files or protect one or more files. Media tool settings allow you to format your memory card and view how much space is available - including a rough guide to the length of video you can store at different resolutions and how many photos at different resolutions you can fit on.


Then we get to the general settings. Here you can change a number of settings such as whether the buttons cause a beep, how long before it turns off when not recording, set the time, adjust the date format, decide what data is shown on the video (nothing, date, date+logo or just the logo). You can also adjust the menu language, decide what resolution and frequency video will be output via the integrated mini-HDMI port. For me the important parts of these 'general settings' are at the bottom and could possibly be better placed in the Movie Mode settings. These are the screensaver (allow the screen to turn off while driving but still keep recording), 'Protect Level' (level 1-4 or off) and motion detection (low, middle, high or off). 'Protect Level' sets the sensitivity for the G-sensor for detecting collisions. Motion detection starts the camera recording if there is motion detected while stationary.

 


IN USE


That's enough about the manual and settings - let's be honest here, most people will simply plug it in and start using it. So, what's the RAC 205 like to use? In a nutshell it's actually very easy to use and the results, in general, are good. I say 'in general' because I do have a few minor issues with it. But then again, nothing is perfect after all.


The picture quality is good in a range of lighting. Obviously it's best in broad daylight and registration plates are nice and clear. Twilight gives a surprisingly clear picture too. Nighttime is good but with the lights and reflection it can be hard to read a registration plate - this is a common issue on all the dashcams I've used though. LEDs from new traffic lights as well as the variable speed limit signs on motorways flicker - again, this is something I have noticed on other dashcams and really isn't an issue.


I have found the microphone to be fairly quiet - with normal conversation barely audible and music only being heard on the video when the volume is loud. I mentioned earlier about the camera being a bit wobbly on the mount, even though the mount itself is very sturdy. You can actually see the effect of this when replaying the video footage although it's not a massive issue. The main problem I've had is that it has frozen a few times while driving. Even after formatting the memory card it has done it a number of times to the point where I now keep a pin in my car so I can reset it and stay protected.


The video below shows footage in a range of lighting:


 

Here are some snapshots from the video footage:

 

 

 

 

On the included 16GB memory card you can fit 2hr11m Full HD footage or 2hr54m HD Ready footage. If you need more then you can use a bigger Micro SD card but the RAC 205 is limited to 32GB in size. This is a shame but then again how many people would need more than 4 hours of footage? A great feature of the RAC 205 is the ease that you can lock and unlock a file - simply press the power button on the left of the dashcam and that file is locked so it can't be recorded over. So if you have it set to loop record in 3minute blocks then that whole 3 minute file is marked as read-only. You can simply press it again to unlock it. You can also lock and unlock files in the built in video player which, again, is a really useful feature. Especially if you forgot to lock a file and don't have time to copy it to your computer before it gets replaced.


Playback of the video files is easy to do, as is viewing photo's taken on the dashcam. I initially thought the speaker was very quiet when playing back directly on the dashcam but this is just from the quiet microphone.

 


CONCLUSION


All in all the RAC 205 is a fairly good camera albeit not without a few flaws. The frequent software hangs will sway me from it being my day-to-day dashcam unless that can be resolved in a firmware update. In a nutshell, it's a good budget camera but without a particularly budget price.

 


References

Manufacturers Web site http://www.proofcam.com
Pocket GPS Contributor

Matthew (MaFt) Morley

   
Forum Comments:

 

Comments
Posted by BigginAndy on Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:09 am Reply with quote

Any dash cam has to be better than nothing.

A few years back I was a passenger in my wife's car when she was hit by another vehicle. The other driver told numerous lies which resulted in may wife losing her no claims bonus, paying her excess. losing pay and, the worst part, being charges with Driving Without Due Care.

It took hours of research in measuring junctions, photographing signs and finding rules in Highway Code. Then getting a solicitor and barrister to fight the case. It took a year and a half until all the lies were proved to be so in court, my wife found not guilty and her court costs paid, her no claims reinstated and compensation paid for her excess and other losses.

What happened to the other driver. After all that delay, NOTHING

Now both our cars have dash cams as that would have immediately showed up the lies


 
Posted by woodbar on Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:28 am Reply with quote

That is a terrible sequence of events but glad it got resolved - except for the other driver not getting brought to justice!

I agree that any camera is better than none and in fact I am now using one of my old ones in the rear window to record the maniac tailgaters.

I fail to see how this one can be recommended however due to the frequent lock-ups? You just know that "sods law" will take affect and the camera will have "gone into a loop" just at the moment that cyclist comes zooming out of a side road without even looking!

It could be a faulty unit but, if not, then how can it be fit for purpose?


 
Posted by MaFt on Fri Apr 07, 2017 12:15 pm Reply with quote

woodbar Wrote:
I fail to see how this one can be recommended however due to the frequent lock-ups? You just know that "sods law" will take affect and the camera will have "gone into a loop" just at the moment that cyclist comes zooming out of a side road without even looking!

It could be a faulty unit but, if not, then how can it be fit for purpose?


Proofcam have contacted me to say that 1) they're working on a firmware update and 2) they are going to send a replacement unit so we can see if it was a one-off.

The review will be updated accordingly.


MaFt®

 
Posted by woodbar on Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:34 pm Reply with quote

The power of the forum!

That's good if they are sending a replacement - please keep us posted whether that cures the problem or you need to wait for the new firmware.

It might be as well to check that your original unit AND the replacement are actually running the same firmware - especially if the new unit does not exhibit the fault - just to be sure?


 
Posted by woodbar on Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:48 am Reply with quote

Any news on the replacement - did it arrive? Did it cure the problem?


 
Posted by MaFt on Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:41 pm Reply with quote

woodbar Wrote:
Any news on the replacement - did it arrive? Did it cure the problem?


I've not had chance to return it yet - school holidays are a nightmare!! Will post back when done Smile


MaFt®

 
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