PowerLead Acoo Par002 New FULL HD 1080P Car Camera Review

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The PowerLead Acoo Par002 New FULL HD 1080P Car Camera was kindly provided to me by PowerLead-UK free of charge in exchange for a fair and unbiased review on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. No additional compensation was given in exchange for posting this article on my blog.

The PowerLead Acoo Par002 New FULL HD 1080P Car Camera is available in the UK from PowerLead-UK Fulfilled by Amazon.co.uk at a cost of £58.99 with free delivery. In the US the PowerLead Acoo Par002 is available from PowerLead Fulfilled by Amazon.com at a cost of $110.99 with free P&P. (Prices correct at time of posting).

 

To enlarge an image and view its description, please click on the image.

 

Please note that the images within my review were taken after 2 weeks use of the camera and not straight out of the box.

 

PACKAGING & CONTENTS.

The PowerLead Acoo Par002 New FULL HD 1080P Car Camera is supplied within a good quality retail style illustrated card box. Inside this box you will find ….

The camera at the top wrapped in plastic and protected within a foam surround and underneath you will find the following accessories…

– A small leaflet that is entirely in Chinese. (Either a warranty card or returns form I think).

 

– An illustrated instruction booklet in Chinese and rather poor English.


– A 12v car adaptor with hardwired cable wrapped in plastic.
– A USB A to 5 pin Mini B charger cable wrapped in plastic.
– A car windshield mount wrapped in plastic.

 

SPECIFICATIONS.

– LCD: 2.7 inch (16:9) TFT display.
– Sensor: 3.1M 1/3-Inch CMOS Digital Image Sensor.
– Lens: 5 fixed focus lens, aperture 2.5 (+/- 5%), focus 2.3mm (+/-5%), 170 degree wide angle.
– Language: English (default) additional options are believed to be Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and Russian.
– Video resolution: 1920 x 1080 30FPS, 1280×720 30FPS, 840×480 30FPS, 640×480 30FPS. Curiously the Amazon product listing states “Full HD 1920 x 1080 @60fps – classic FullHD, but at 30 frames per second” This is a little misleading I think, the manual states the camera is 30FPS at all resolutions. The settings on the device have no options to change FPS and a little digging on the web indicated that @ 1080p the camera is actually 24FPS.
– Decoding format: H.264.
– Video format: .MOV, using HDR 1920×1080 resolution uses an average of 1.60MB per second with audio disabled.
– Photo format: JPG.
– Memory card support: The product listing states “Maximum support 32GB high capacity storage device”, the manual states “Maximum 32GB or even bigger SD high capacity storage device” and information on the manufactures site states “Memory card capacity: 8GB-32GB”. Personally, I have only tested using class 10 Scandisk Ultra cards of 16GB and 32GB and I would advise that larger cards are likely unsupported.
– MIC/Speaker: Built in. There is a small speaker on the front and a recessed pinhole microphone located on the underside of the camera.
– Frequency: 50Hz/60Hz.
– TV system: NTSC/PAL.
– USB interface: 2.0.
– Battery: Yet more uncertainty, the Amazon product listing claims the internal battery is 320mAh, the manual states 130mAh and information on the manufactures site claims “Standby 200MAH recording 250MAH-315MAH” regardless it is a  3.7v Li-ion non user replaceable battery. (Personal testing would imply that the manual is most accurate regarding the size of the battery).

The Amazon product listing also claims “Infrared LED photography lighting at night.”, the fact is this camera does not have Infrared LEDs for filming at night.

 

MENUS.

Camera settings…

– Resolution: Options are 1080FHD, 720P, 848×720 and 640×480.

– Loop recording – Options are off, 1, 2, 5, 10, 15 or 20 minutes. This is better than some cameras, as it is not uncommon to find the maximum is only 5 minutes, which simply isn’t good enough as evidence could easily be lost if you forget to stop the camera. 20 minutes is good, but I would still prefer to see longer options.

– HDR (High Dynamic Range): Options are on or off. (This is designed to produce clearer images / video in circumstances where lighting can vary excessively).

– Motion detection: There are two options for this, either on or off. The purpose of this setting is to enable the camera to start recording automatically if motion is detected. (I have not specifically tested this function myself).

– Power on record: Again, there are two options for this, either on or off. When set to on the camera will begin to record automatically when it is powered on, if set to off you will have to remember to manually start recording unless using other settings like motion or Gsensor recording.

– Power off delay: Options are either off or 10, 20 or 30 seconds. This sets how long the camera remains on (and also continues to record if recording at the time) after power has been switched off.

– Power on delay: The options for this are the same as above.

– Record audio: Options are either off or on. This simply enables or disabled the microphone when video recordings are being made.

– Gsensor set: The camera has a built in Gsensor which in theory can be used to have the camera only make a recording if you get hit or hit something (or take a corner at excessive speed). The options available are off, high, medium and low. Given that significant G force is required to test such a feature which I am unable to comment on its effectiveness.

System settings…

– Date/Time: This sets the system date and time which is retained even if the internal battery is drained.

– Car number set: This allows for entering a single 9 character driver ID which can be added as a watermark to pictures / videos. As far as I can tell there is only space for one ID which is a shame as it could have proved more useful for commercial drivers of pool vehicles if it was possible to add more.

– Stamp (Watermark): This produces an overlay on the video / picture image with the options on offer are date & time, number stamp (Driver ID) and logo. Each of these can be individually set on or off.

– Auto power off: This sets the time after which the camera turns itself off if the camera is idle, options include Off, 3, 5 or 10 minutes.

– Auto LCD off: The LCD can be set to power save (switch off) after a set time or left on at all times. Enabling the LCD power off does not effect recordings it simply makes the camera less of a power drain and nuisance when driving at night. The options are off (screen remains constantly on), 5 minutes, 3 minutes or 1 minute.

– Beep sound: When pressing buttons such as for navigating the menus the camera makes a beeping sound with each press. This option allows the notification sound to be disabled or enabled.

– Language: This option allows you to change the system language (default is English).

– Format: This formats the installed MicroSD card and requires double confirmation.

– TV mode: NTSC / Pal.

– Frequency: 50Hz/60Hz.

– Volume: High, Medium, Low (default is high and it is probably best left at high).

– Exposure: Options include +2.0, +5/3, +4/3, +1.0, +2/3, +1/3, +0.0, -1/3, -2/3, -1.0, -4/3, -5/3 and -2.0. This setting will increase or decrease the brightness of the recorded footage. By default it is set to +0.0.

– White Balance: Settings include auto, daylight, cloudy, tungsten and fluorescent. 99% of the time Auto is perfectly fine and unless you are fastidious with the image quality it can simply bet left at that. When overcast setting to cloudy does slightly improve image clarity, but not overall quality.

– Default setting: This wipes any changes made to any and all settings, restoring them to factory default.

– Time lapse: Rather than making a constant recording of 30 frames per second this option instead takes a series of stills and creates a video using the images. Options are off (the camera records @ 30FPS), 1 images per second, 1 image per 5 seconds or 1 image per 10 seconds.

– Version info: This displays firmware information of the camera.
Those familiar with my reviews or those researching multiple dash cams may well have noticed that the menu system on this camera is identical to that on the K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam. Not only are the options the same it also looks the same and the similarities between the cameras extend beyond just the settings.

 

CHARGERS & CHARGING.

The PowerLead Acoo Par002 New FULL HD 1080P Car Camera has a built in non user replaceable battery that is sufficient for about 5 minutes of recording. This allows the camera to be setup without starting your engine and in the event of an accident that affects the electrics of your car it also provides a few extra minutes of recording after the incident which could prove useful.

Supplied with the camera is a USB A to 5 pin Mini B charging cable and a separate 12v car power adaptor with a hardwired cable. Those that have a 12v port that is always powered regardless of whether the engine is on or off should note that the adaptor does not have an independent power button.

 

While the 12v adaptor does not have a power button it does have a USB A port located on the top underneath a flap that does allow you to charge a mobile device while using the adaptor which is a nice touch. It should also be noted that the USB A to 5 pin mini B cable not only charges the camera, but also allows for data transfer from the installed MicroSD card when connected to a computer.

 

For those that are interested it is also entirely possible to power the PowerLead Acoo Par002 using a power bank. During the time spent writing this review up I have had the camera powered up using an EC Monster 20,000mAh power bank to enable me to refer to the menu settings.

Given that there are multiple different claims regarding the size of the battery within the PowerLead camera (as noted in the specifications section of the review) I decided to test for myself to find the true size. First, I tried to drain the battery within the camera… which as it turns out is very difficult.

After the camera had been switched on for about 5 minutes it switched off, however the battery was far from dead. I proceeded to switch it on and about 2 seconds after the splash screen showed it switched off… I did this no less than 20 times before giving up and proceeding to test the battery. At the time of the test the battery it obviously wasn’t dead, but clearly it did not have enough charge to stay powered.

The camera was charged using an EC Monster 20,000mAh power bank and the initial readings from my USB multimeter were 5.12v, 0.11A & 0.563w. I did not time the test, but after checking back an hour later the camera was fully charged and the USB multimeter was showing a charge of 103mAh during this time.

Of all the claims regarding the size of the battery within the camera the one that is perhaps the most accurate is that found within the manual… 130mAh.

 

THE MOUNT.

The dash / windscreen mount is a basic pendant style suction mount where the camera is suspended from the bottom of the mount. Mounted on a windscreen the total height of the mount and camera is 115.45mm (including the suction cup) and the suction cup measures 5.2cm in diameter.

 

Similar to some mobile phone holders there is a twist lock mechanism for the suction cup that retains the mount on the windscreen and there is a small pull tab on the suction cup to aid with removal. The camera can be removed from the mount, allowing the mount to remain attached to the windscreen, however, it is nothing short of frustrating and removing the entire mount is insurmountably easier.

 

The mount is fitted with a free moving ball head joint that does not lock into place but it is rather stiff. On the horizontal plane it has 360 degrees of movement (in reality movement in the horizontal plane will be restricted by your windscreen and not the mount). Articulation on the vertical plane is limited to 5 degrees in any angle with the exception of backwards, which, thanks to a small recess is limited to about 90 degrees.

 

As well as a charging port on the camera there is also a charging port on the mount itself. This allows you to leave the mount in place with the charging cable attached so  you only need remove the camera when leaving the car. The problem is it’s just too much of a hassle to remove the camera from the mount and more often than not you will just end up removing the entire mount, detracting from the usefulness of this port.

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This mount is identical in every conceivable way to the mount supplied with the one supplied with the K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam I reviewed a little while ago and the mount supplied with one works with the other and vice versa.

 

BUILD.

On of the camera to the left of the mounting point you will find two buttons. The furthest left is the menu button and adjacent is the power button. Holding down the power button for a second or two turns the camera on or off (by default when connected to an external power source it automatically powers on). Tapping the menu button when video is currently being recorded will take a still image and at any other time will access the settings menu.

 

To the right of the mounting point there are a further two buttons. The furthest right is listed in the manual as Photo / Rec / OK, regardless if this is tapped or held it starts or stops video recording and when navigating menus it serves as the ok / select button. When playing a movie file back on the camera this button also serves as the play / pause button.

Located adjacent to the Photo / Rec / OK button is the mode button. When navigating the menus the button switches between the camera and system setting tabs. At all other times this button switches between photo, record and playback modes and when recording video footage it can be used to lock the file currently being recorded to prevent it being overwritten (such as if you are using the loop recording function).

On the left edge of the camera there are another two buttons which are the up and down buttons. When in the menu screens theses buttons are used to navigate the menus, when in video playback mode they are used for skipping forward and rewinding. In photo browsing modes they are again used for navigation and when recording the down key can be used to quickly enable or disable the microphone.

 

On the right edge you will find the exposed MicroSD (TF) card slot that sadly does not have a port cover.

 

On the bottom right is a recessed pinhole microphone followed by a gold plated HDMI out port (again, no cable provided) and lastly a 5 pin Mini USB port that is used for powering the camera and data transfer.

 

On  the front of the camera you will find the camera lens (with no IR LED’s as mentioned in the Amazon listing), to the right is a small mono speaker and just below is a small recessed reset button.

 

(A while ago I reviewed the Kehan KH823 and quite often when this was disconnected after being attached to a PC it would lock up and require the use of the reset button to get it working again. During my time spent with the Powerlead Acoo Par002 I have never once had to use this button. If, however, at any time it should become unresponsive this button should clear the problem).

On the rear of the camera is a 2.7″ LCD screen and just to the right is a small LED indicator light that is illuminated when the camera is attached to an external power source or being charged.

 

The chassis / frame of the camera is largely an all plastic affair. On the front located centrally around the lens is a small patch of glossy piano black plastic that sadly isn’t that durable. The remainder of the camera chassis is thankfully made from a matte black plastic that is more resistant to scratching but is a fingerprint magnet.

While the Powerlead Acoo Par002 and K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam share many attributes, in terms of build quality and materials used in construction I would have to say that the K&F comes out slightly on top.

 

IN USE.

For me the real benchmark of any dash cam is the distance at which number plates are legible as unless you are able to capture a driver’s face clearly on camera its going to be pretty much the most vital piece of evidence that you can gather with your camera.

 

In daylight (as long as the sky is not overcast to the point of being black) the Powerlead Acoo Par002 dash cam certainly doesn’t disappoint for its price point, I would go so far as to say with a clear sky the quality is marginally better than that of the K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam.

 

When the sky is overcast, however, simply using “Auto” settings will not provide you with the best results and some settings will need to be changed to compensate. When the sky is overcast or at night the K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam clearly has the edge on the PowerLead even when discounting the IR LEDs on the K&F. (That said when the IR LEDs are active on the K&F you can see things you could not on the PowerLead camera, but the quality does take a bit of a nose dive).

(In fairness, if you are looking for a capable camera at night you are going to have to dig a little deeper in your pocket).

I think the kindest thing I can say about the PowerLead Acoo Par002 dash cam is that it is a safe buy and what I would consider the minimum benchmark for a truly useful dash cam. V’s the K&F Novatek 2.7” Dash Cam I could go for the K&F if you do a notable amount of driving in the dark, but if the majority of your driving is during the daylight hours I would perhaps err towards the PowerLead.

I’ll admit I’m not so keen on the edge button placements, I much prefer cameras with the buttons on the back surrounding screen (at least the buttons that you might need to use while the camera is in use). The mount is a little basic and the plastics are well… plasticky.

 

ADDITIONAL.

The PowerLead Acoo Par002 is actually a rebranded YcardLu YCL-L3 dash cam (it simply has a PowerLead branding stick attached to the front of the box). This camera is available form a number of different sellers under the guise of different makes and model numbers. One such example is the Stoga Tbox SGT which is available for slightly cheaper than the one from PowerLead and is also FBA. It should be noted however that packaging, manuals and accessories may differ by supplier, but the actual camera is the same.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this review, I hope it has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

Copyright © 2014-2016 EunoiaReviews. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this site including images and video files is strictly forbidden without prior written consent.

 

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