The Next Generation In Mountable Camera Systems

October 10th, 2007

Racers aren’t usually the pickiest bunch when it comes to in-car video footage. Mount up a standard video recorder or video-capable digi-cam and go. This works, but doesn’t usually add up to the greatest in quality, versatility, or ease-of-use. Of course, there are some nice options out there that many step up to, such as the ChaseCam PDR systems. These allow for recording directly to MPEG-2, on solid-state memory (Compact Flash cards). Some support split-screen, multi-input recording, a rugged design, and other racer-friendly features. However, some of us have been waiting for some fundamental improvements in sports-related recording technology. We have been faced with quality limitations, because of analog to digital conversion. Most all compact recording systems are subject to this, regardless of whether they are labeled as being “digital”. The result is an interlaced video, lacking color-richness, which tends to look so-so on a computer screen. We would like to get around this, while retaining a design that has no moving parts, yet still has the versatility of a “bullet-cam”. Recorders that rely on tapes, hard drives, or DVDs are subject to reliability and quality issues, as the recording mechanism can move during jolts. Enter the V.I.O. POV.1, a true fully digital, ultra-compact MPEG4 recording system.

At a glance, the POV1 may look like your typical bullet-cam system, but you’ll notice a couple things: 1) there is only one cable, and 2) it’s not the typical A/V (composite) cable. It uses a proprietary LVDS (Low-voltage differential signaling) cable that transmits a high-speed, fully digital video signal, plus power and sound. This means you’ll get excellent video quality, in a convenient package. A wireless remote control is provided, which is great, as it can be mounted within easy reach of the driver. The recording unit has a built-in LCD screen for use during live recording and playback. This is nice, as it allows you to easily verify the camera’s mounting position. The entire unit is completely waterproof. It weighs in at a scant 1 lb, with batteries, cable, and camera.

Maximum video resolution is 720×480 (progressive), at 30 fps (frames-per-second). Recordings are saved to SD cards (maximum 2 GB). This translates to almost 1.5 hours of recorded video on a single card, at max resolution. Various resolutions and compression levels are supported, with trade-offs between storage space requirements and video quality.

This package was designed primarily to be a wearable type of camera system, and therefore has room for improvement with regards to in-car use. For one, the remote does not give feedback when the “record” button is pressed, so the recording unit ideally needs to be mounted somewhere that is visible from the driver’s seat. Also, the camera is currently only available with a 5 ft cable, limiting mounting locations. Although, a 10 ft cable option should be available soon. The recording unit is only capable of one input signal. And, lastly, the unit only runs on batteries (AA), so supplying constant power is not an option. Although, it does work with re-chargeable AAs, which will typically provide up to 4 hours of recording time on a single charge. And, having the whole system powered from a single source, with only one cable is very nice. has a terrific hands-on review of the POV1, which also explains the pros/cons of various camera/recording technologies. Additionally, they sell the unit at a discounted price. MSRP is $850.

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