“ Brand: Neostar „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Intro: My reason for purchasing the Neostar
A few decades ago, an Esso petrol tanker jacknifed, slewed across the road and collided head-on with my car. Now I have no memories of the actual impact, and in this case, there was no real need for witnesses as it was plain to all the sequence of events and the where the blame lay.
However, there are accidents where most insurance companies, because of lack of witnesses or obvious evidence, will classify it as a knock for knock, and no-claims bonuses are lost by both parties involved no matter who was at fault.
This is where a spy in the cabin can be very handy, where it records events leading up to the accident and can, more often than not absolve one driver from blame. It is shocking what some drivers will do and say to protect their reputation and no-claims bonus when involved in an accident and they are to blame.
The roads are becoming increasingly dangerous and so, I thought it high time I carried my own witness around in my car, one that can tell all, accurately and unemotionally should I see, or become involved in any more collisions.
I spotted, on SmartBuy.com, an advert for the NeoStar Driving recorder, which is a lightweight camcorder that can be mounted on the windscreen of a vehicle to record the journey. The cost was £49.99 plus p&p. I have since seen, what looks like the same driving recorder on Amazon for £14.99, whether it is a cheap copy, I do not know, but if not it is a bargain at that price.
What was in the box:
The Neostar Driving recorder.
An Av cable, to connect to a TV.
A powerful, suction cup mount, for vehicle windscreen.
A small manual.
A USB lead to connect to computer.
A USB. 12Volt lead , in car connection.
A long-life, 3.7V Lithium ion, rechargeable battery.
An SD memory card is required but not supplied.
The Neostar Driving recorder looks rather like a Sci-fi space craft. The camera lens is centrally placed at the front. Each side of the lens are three high quality, auto-on infra red night vision lights for night time driving.
On the upper surface are the battery compartment and slot which attaches to the screw in the windscreen mount.
At the lower surface is a drop down, 2.5-inch LCD screen, complete with set up and control buttons. The power button and OK buttons are at the rear of the unit, opposite the lens.
The USB port is situated on the right and the AV out port and memory card hold are on the left.
The device, battery and card included, weighs only 115g, measures, 10.5cm length, 6.2cm width, and 2cm depth.
The working temperature is from 0 -40 degrees Centigrade, so if the car cabin temp is below zero then it may not work until cabin is warm.
The car, windscreen mount has a powerful suction cup and holds the camera securely in place; it has a couple of screw-clamps to hold the camera firmly in the required position.
What is it capable of recording?
The camera can be set to record sound and vision together, as and when required or just when the vehicle is moving. It can also be used to take still photographs. Time and date is added to all recordings.
A fully charged battery will record for up to three hours before needing to be recharged but for longer journeys, it would be better to use the 12V USB car lead.
I believe the recorder can also be used, when connected to a computer, as an indoor security camera.
Video and picture recording capacity.
When setting up the recorder, initially, there is a choice of three resolutions, namely 1280*720 (HD), 720*480 (D1) and 640*480(VGA)
It is the capacity of the SD card and chosen resolution, which determines the number of minutes of recording to fill the card. For example:
A 16G SD card will allow 240 minutes of (HD) recording and 260 minutes of VGA recording.
A 1G card will allow 15 minutes (HD) and 30 minutes (VGA)
Once the card is full, it will start recording over the initial recordings.
The set up is minimal, just need to select the appropriate language from the choices, English, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, then choose the resolution and add time and date to the unit, after which there will be no need to repeat set up each time it is in use.
I found the manual, which is an elongated card 43cm long and 3.5cm wide and folded concertina style, most confusing at first because the instructions were written on both sides, so eventually I copied the set up and operating instructions onto a separate sheet, in logical steps , that I could follow more easily.
But not before finding I had skipped a stage and had somehow managed to set the language to Russian.
Fortunately, there is a contactable helpline. The 0845.... phone number given at the back of the manual, which I called and spoke to a pleasant chap at the other end, who did not know how to reset the language, but arranged to call me back, rather than have me hanging on until he found the solution. Five minutes later a lady phoned and gave me clear instructions and continued to guide me through the rest of the set-up procedure.
So, despite my misgivings at first, I can safely say that the set up is simple, if you follow instructions logically, but I would recommend writing them out first.
I have a 4G card and the recorder set at VGA resolution. The picture quality is excellent even at this, the lowest, resolution.
The battery life, when fully charged lasts three hours in use, and slowly discharges over three or four days when not in use. It is recommended that after three recharges that the device be put on charge for twelve hours, to activate the battery to its full capacity.
When the battery is low and the unit powered on, the device does give the warning on the screen, in large, red letters.
I placed my suction cup mount on the window behind the rear view mirror, attached the recorder and positioned it so that the view on the LCD screen was similar to that of my own, through the windscreen. When driving the screen should be closed to prevent any distractions. I found that by positioning the camera behind the rear view mirror, none of my vision was obscured. The camera did not wobble and stayed as stable as the mirror, so images were blur-free.
Any recordings can be viewed on the device screen, on a computer via the USB lead or on a TV screen, using the AV cable. Copies of any recordings can be made on disc.
My only gripe is there is no quick release system to detach the unit from the mount when leaving the vehicle and it is very tempting to leave it in place, even knowing that to do so is to invite passing thieves to help themselves.
It is not a device to make one feel safe when driving, but it does serve, as a silent witness to any bad driving experiences, and on a more pleasant note, can be instrumental in recording a memorable, scenic journey.