It’s supposed to be spring, but still feels like winter – and I’m nursing a heavy cold! My dashcam has broken, my car’s wireless phone charger is kaput, and my windows keep steaming up. So I’ve been shopping online to solve these problems. I’ve bought a dual camera dashcam, a phone stand wireless QI charger, a car dehumidifier and a four USB slot charger to plug into the cigarette lighter. Not all of these purchases work out well for me, however…
Ztylus Stinger equivalent: https://amzn.to/303sluV
Elky four USB car charger: https://amzn.to/3sIyo49
R300 dual camera dashcam: https://amzn.to/381tKpW
Nextbase dual camera dashcam: https://amzn.to/37Z38WP
Phone stand wireless charger: https://amzn.to/3kAQuCs
Car dehumidifier bag: https://amzn.to/2NTnBoY
God, I need a haircut. My Kingdom for a barber!
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef. Welcome to another
episode of Tech Tuesdays! On Tuesdays I make short
videos about whatever tech or gadgets I’ve
purchased in the last week. And this week
I’ve been shopping for car related gadgets. I’ve
had four different things arrive in the post.
And I’m going to start with the most important
one. At the moment, I’ve got this plugged into
my car charger. It might look like a simple USB
charger, that you plug into the cigarette lighter,
but it’s much more than that. Now, I bought this
three years ago for the princely sum of £9 GBP.
And it’s called the “Ztylus Stinger” – that’s
“Stylus” with the Z, by the way. And the reason
it costs so much is that it has two additional
functions. In the event of an accident you can
use this to cut your seat belt and to smash your
window. And I’m the kind of morbid-thinking person
who worries about such things, especially because
I’ve often got kids in the car. And I’ll leave
a link in the description if you want one for
yourself. However, it’s time to move on, because
two USB charging ports is not enough any more.
So here is a four USB charger that came in the
post this week. And the reason I bought this was
because I’m going to be charging at least three
different devices in my car at the same time.
It’s called the ELKY Quick Charge. It only costs
£5 GBP. And it claims to be USB 3.0 compatible. In
other words, it can charge more quickly than the
old USB 2.0 chargers. My old Ztylus Stinger
has a maximum output of 2.4 amps. Whereas
this ELKY Quad USB charger has a maximum output
of 3.5 amps. That’s not a huge difference. But
more is always better, for sure. Before I talk
about the other three products I’ve bought, let’s
quickly head outside for a look at the status
quo… Hello. So here I am in my environmentally
unfriendly car. Some people call them “Chelsea
Tractors”. I don’t like that term. I think that’s
a slur on these wonderful SUV’s that I absolutely
love. It’s the third one I’ve had in a row… my
third SUV. Anyway we’re in here to look at two
things. Firstly, this is my dashcam. this dashcam
came with the car. It’s wired in as you can see.
Now look what happens when I turn the ignition…
Nothing happens, apart from that clicking
noise. Basically, it’s now defective. Now those
are like £10 GBP dashcams, that you could
get off ebay, delivered to you from China.
They’re not particularly high quality. Look…
what’s it doing? What the hell is that? I have
no idea. Okay, so that’s problem number
one. The second problem I have is to do
with my car charger – my phone charger.
So i have one of these wirelessly charged
phones. And I don’t know what they call it…
QI charging or whatever the hell they call it.
And so I bought one of these chargers quite a
while ago. And the idea is that it connects to
your cigarette lighter socket. And you just
put your phone in here, and it should close up,
and then charge your phone. But as you’ll
notice… Oh it is charging my phone!
That’s typical. It’s actually working today. But
for the last few weeks it hasn’t been working. So
that’s what I need to fix. I need to replace this
with a more reliable one that actually works.
Also i don’t really like this mechanism. This
this kind of arm mechanism that connects it to
the windscreen. I don’t really like that. And
what I want is something that’s a little more
convenient, easier to use. Also,
you’ll notice my screen is horribly
fogged up. That’s a regular problem you have
if you live in a cold climate, like we do in
Northern Europe. In the UK it rains a lot and it’s
very cold. Temperature changes throughout the day,
and you end up with these foggy screens. So
these are the three problems we need to solve.
So now we’ve identified the problems, how am I
going to fix them? Let’s start with the dashcam
situation first. The car came with a cheap and
cheerful device. It was basic, and it did the job,
and that’s fine. But now I want something more
interesting. And what really intrigued me was
the idea of having a dual camera dashcam. I wanted
one that films what’s behind me as well as what’s
in front. And luckily there are many different
options available on Amazon and ebay. The one I
went for in the end is called the R300. I’m not
even sure which company makes it to be honest.
It’s one of those generic Chinese manufacturers.
And this is what it looks like when you try and
use it. I’ve already put a brand new 32 Gigabyte
micro SD card inside. And, because this is filming
in full HD, I made sure that i used a Class
10 card. The moment you turn on your ignition,
the dashcam starts receiving an electric current
and it automatically starts recording. However,
I’m just going to stop recording so I can
show you the menu system. It’s pretty much
what you’d expect. You can choose whether to
record using both cameras or just one of them.
You can choose whether to record audio or not.
You can set the time and date of course. You
can turn the beeps on and off – and, of course,
as always I turn them off straight away. You can
turn the view screen on and off. And then you
have something called “G-Sensor Sensitivity”.
What this is about is how the dashcam responds
to shocks. If you’re ever in an accident,
your car will usually decelerate quite quickly.
And that is what this G-Shock Sensitivity
is about. In the event of an accident, the dash
cam will notice the dramatic change in G-forces,
and it will immediately save and lock the
latest video recording. That way your footage
of the accident will be preserved. This dashcam
gives me four options for G-Shock Sensitivity:
Low, Normal, High and I can also turn it off.
Turning it off would be useful in some scenarios.
Imagine you’re doing a track day in your car, and
you’re on a track full of hairpin turns or you’re
having to accelerate and brake a lot. What you
don’t want is for your dashcam to misinterpret
your heavy braking or fast cornering as a series
of accidents. So in those situations you turn
off the G-Shock system. Similarly, if you’re in a
performance car, or you have an aggressive driving
style, then you might want to turn the G-Sensor
Sensitivity to Low. I’m going to leave it on
normal, for now, as I’m not an aggressive
driver by any stretch of the imagination.
There are a couple of other settings like Language
and Vibration and Frequency. But I’m just going to
leave those on the default settings. The video is
supposed to be full HD at 30 frames per second.
And it does record the audio as well. The video
of the front is supposed to be 170 degrees wide.
So, basically the same as an action camera. The
advert on Amazon claims it has “night vision”.
I’m not sure what that means, but it seems to do
the job well enough in the city. Now on Amazon
this model costs about £60 GBP. However, I got
mine off ebay for half that price. Unfortunately,
that ebay seller has suddenly disappeared.
So I can’t share a link for you. But I will
leave a link below to this dashcam on Amazon.
However, I would strongly urge you NOT to buy it.
Whenever you buy these generic,
unbranded Chinese gadgets online
you’re rolling the dice. And you might get
lucky and end up with something brilliant. But
a lot of the time you’ll wish you spent a little
more for a branded product. And that’s exactly
the case here. The dashcam has some annoying
issues. Firstly, it’s not actually full HD
at all. It will take the video feed from both
cameras, front and back, and create a hybrid video
of them both. However, both those feeds are
VGA resolution. So, they’re 640 pixels by
480 pixels – essentially that’s an image of about
300,000 pixels per camera. Now full HD is actually
2 million pixels. So, even taking these two
cameras together, you’re not getting a full
HD image. To be honest, for a £30 GBP dashcam, I
could live with that. But this device has a much
bigger problem, that is a total deal breaker
for me. You see, to check the file sizes,
I tried to transfer the videos to my computer.
When I put the SD card into my Macbook, however,
I couldn’t read the files. In fact, my Macbook
couldn’t even see the files! I thought that maybe
this is just an issue with my Macbook. So I tried
the card in my other Macbook and had exactly the
same problem – the files just wouldn’t show up.
Then I tried putting the SD card in a normal PC.
Even the Windows 10 computer couldn’t see the
files. So then I put the card back in the dashcam,
I connected the device to my computer with a USB
cable, I still couldn’t access the files. The only
way to view the videos you’ve recorded on this
dashcam is to watch them on this tiny screen here.
Because the moment you put a new SD card
in this device, it immediately demands
that you format the card. And, until you
format that card, it won’t let you use
the device. It seems to format the card into its
own proprietary file system. And that file system
can’t be read by PCs and Macs. So there’s no easy
way of getting the videos off this dashcam. I wish
I could send it back. But, as the ebay shop that
sold it to me has disappeared, there’s no chance
of getting a refund. So I’ve learned my lesson,
and now I’m going to pay a little bit more money
and buy a branded dashcam instead. And I suggest
you do the same. Next product I want to talk about
is the wireless phone charger. Now, as you saw
earlier, I got myself a wireless charger that
attaches to the windscreen. I bought it for 25
pounds from Amazon a couple of years ago. And
I’ve never really liked it. It looks quite ugly.
It often detaches itself from the windscreen. And
the wire hanging down from the bottom rubs on
the dashboard, and is probably getting damaged.
I was willing to tolerate all of this because
i didn’t realize there were alternatives. Then,
while browsing Amazon, I came across this.
It says it’s a wireless charger. And it’s
specifically designed to hold your phone in a way
that works well for Google Maps. And here it is.
Now I have to confess that this is the second time
I’ve ordered this product. The first time around
I got one that wouldn’t charge my phone. I’ve
bought another one in the hope that I just got
unlucky last time ,and hopefully that was just a
dud device rather than a design flaw. The best way
to test this out is right here. So I’m plugging
the USB-C cable into the back of the device.
And now… the moment of
truth… will it charge my phone?
Nope! No. I had high hopes, because I really love
this design. But it’s the second one I bought..
It’s a design flaw. It’s not… I
didn’t get a dud device last time.
It’s a bloody design flaw. And I’m
so, so disappointed by that. Because
I love the look of this. I think that’s
a much more convenient way of having
a wireless car charger, because it holds
it nicely in a kind of landscape way…
like this. And that’s what you want.
But it just will not charge my phone…
Oh… What? Oh… Oh… is it?
It is. It’s charging my phone.
It really is working. Oh that’s… that’s… Thank
God for that. I thought I’d wasted £25 GBP (quid).
Anyway, it cost £25 GBP. There’ll be a a link
in the description below. Success! So happy
it actually worked. Okay… did it work? Yes it
did, because… unplug it… yeah it does work.
Maybe it’s just … oh yes… yeah…
uh I don’t… I don’t know.
I don’t know what to say now.
Because it clearly only works intermittently…
And I can’t guarantee that it will work. But
I do prefer this over the old design. I like
this kind of, you know, phone sitting landscape.
Well I’ll keep it for now and we’ll see.
I might send it back. I’ll try for a few weeks,
but maybe I’ll send it back. We’ll see. And,
finally, I mentioned earlier about how annoying
it is that my windscreen always gets fogged up.
Again, this is a common issue in colder countries.
The only way of dealing with it quickly is to turn
on your aircon, because aircon sucks moisture
out of the air. That reduces the fogging on your
windows and windscreen. But I hate running aircon
for two reasons. Firstly, I suspect it causes
respiratory problems, because the air coming out
of aircon is pretty unnatural. And, secondly,
I’m a cheapskate. My gas guzzler
car is expensive enough as it is.
If I use aircon, my fuel economy is going
to drop by five percent, at least. So,
is there an alternative? Again, while browsing
Amazon, I came across something that claims
it can help. It’s a reusable dehumidifier bag.
Basically, it’s a kilo of silica gel in a porous
cloth sack. You may have seen these little packets
of silica gel before. Whenever you open the box on
a new gadget, for example, there will be one
of these little packets inside. And the job
of these packets is to absorb any excess moisture
in the air so your device doesn’t get damp inside
it. This big fat lump of silica gel is supposed
to basically do the same thing. So, I tested it.
This is what my windscreen looks
like normally every morning.
And this is what it looked like the day after
I stuck this thing on my dashboard. I will say
that yes, it did make a difference. However, that
difference is pretty small. I will probably keep
it in my car anyway. Apparently, once it’s
absorbed a lot of moisture, you can stick it
in the microwave for 10 minutes and it will steam
all that moisture out and be as good as new. I’m
not particularly confident about the stitching on
this thing. It’s already starting to fall apart.
And it’s not a perfect solution to my problem.
But it seems to make a small difference. So,
I will live with it. But I won’t recommend that
you buy one for yourself. And, as a result,
I’ve basically rejected three products in a row
today. But at least that’s useful consumer advice!
Anyway, that’s the end of the show. This has been
another episode of Tech Tuesdays. I hope you found
it to be useful. I’ll be back again
with another video very soon.
So be sure to like and subscribe
and yadda yadda yadda….
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