Excellent performance and confusing phone dependency

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Once the Jomise K7 Dash Cam was operational, I was impressed by the high quality of its video captures, and more particularly by its ease of use. I’ve never described using a dash cam as fun before, but I’m saying this about the K7.

Alas, having to connect to a phone to initialize the camera not only rubbed me the wrong way, but turned out to be a bit finicky about the phone’s compatibility. Why this weird requirement, while the rest of the dash cam’s operation is phone independent, I can’t say. But that puts a huge crimp in what was otherwise quite a pleasant experience.

Design and functionality

The K7 ($ 169.97 on Amazon) is married to a semi-permanent sticky frame that is both strong and attractive, with full articulation on both axes. I used the word “married” on purpose: the camera does not come off the mount. Since it’s also attached to the window via semi-permanent adhesive, once installed, you won’t easily remove it. That it stayed in my convertible parked on a city street for several weeks without being stolen was a small miracle.

The K7 is a front-facing camera only, with a maximum resolution of 60 fps, 1600p (the default is 1440p). It offers a very wide 170-degree field of view and uses a Sony IMX415 sensor, which, with a few freebies, does a very, very good job. We suggest 1080p setting for daily use to minimize storage requirements. There is a 150mAh battery, although the camera only works for a second or two after the power is removed.

The built-in GPS embeds information into the video for playback using the included app. Unfortunately, the GPS does not automatically adjust the time on the camera, as you will notice in the video captures shown below in the performance section.

Speaking of which, the phone app is basic, albeit cleanly designed. It allows you to configure the phone, map your movements and watch videos. All of this can also be done locally on the dash cam, i.e. after setup over the phone. Which, of course, begs the question …

Why the phone?

As the phone is not required after setup, the title of this section is a legitimate question, one that has never been satisfactorily answered in my correspondence with the company. It’s also a bit of a mystery that the Jomise phone setup didn’t work with my old Honor 8. The company claims Android support since version 5, and the Honor 8 runs Android 7.

IDG

I would love to hit “OK” if only I could find it. The absence of such forced me to change my phone.

Using the Honor 8, the scan code that appears when the dash cam is turned on led me to a dead end in the Google Play Store. I then downloaded the first seemingly suitable app I found (HiKDashcam), which turned out to be wrong for the K7.

When I downloaded the correct app (HiDashcam) it opened a deal that said to press “OK”, with no tuning buttons visible or accessible. See the picture. The deal also seemed to think I was still using the old HiKDashCam app, so maybe there was a negative interaction between the two installations.

Removing both applications and then reinstalling the correct one did not resolve the issue. Jomise claims to have tested the K7 with older phones without any issues.

The result is that, like the recently reviewed Cobra SC 201, I had to use a newer phone (Pixel 4X) to complete the review. With the Pixel 4X phone, setup was a cinch: the scan code worked, the app connected (via Wi-Fi) and everything went smoothly. If you’re using a phone from 2015 or later, you should be good to go.

But again, I have to question Jomise’s decision to force users to connect a phone to the dash cam to activate it. There is no apparent benefit to the end user. In addition to the technical issues I encountered, having to create an account on an app also introduces privacy issues.

Interface buyout

As much as I hated the phone-dependent buggy setup, Jomise absolutely nailed the interface and usability. It is a joy. The 1.54-inch color screen is touch-sensitive, and swiping in different directions provides access to various features and settings. Despite the rather small size of the screen, the text is large enough to be read easily and the icons are large enough to be typed without applying excessive precision. Everything is logically laid out and like I said at the top, this is the only dash cam I have ever considered fun to use.

Oh, and if you’re tired of the clock on the home screen (assuming you leave it on), you can replace it with your own image.

Atonement video

With one exception, the K7’s captures were excellent, richly colored with excellent detail. The exception was an occasional slow and very noticeable pulsating effect in bright areas at night, such as street lights. If I had to guess, I would say it’s the lighting condition detection algorithm that’s having a bit of trouble.

Beyond, take a look. I bet you’ll like what you see.

best day before k7 IDG

While it’s damp and gray on the outside (mostly), you can still see the Sony sensor inside the Jomise K7 capturing excellent daytime video. This is the challenge

While not the best time to show off a dash cam’s capabilities, the drizzle day above in San Francisco (far too rare this year) is a pretty good capture. Note that GPS does not watermark location, just speed. However, all of the information is built into the feed and can be used with a player app that shows you on a map where you were when the video was taken. Alas, the reader app does not install on my PC for some reason.

jomise k7 5 IDG

Video before night of the Jomise K7 in much drier circumstances. The color is rich and damn precise for a nighttime capture.

The nighttime capture shown above is actually quite remarkable in terms of color, more accurate than most I see. And, while there is a lot of detail in the default renderer, brightening the image will bring out even more detail in the shadows.

Expensive, chic, but activation by phone?

As much as I enjoyed using the Jomise K7 and watching its video, I find it hard to recommend it. Not because of the issues with my old phone (which most people will never experience), or even the failure of the card reader installation. You simply shouldn’t need a phone to initialize a dash cam. Phone connectivity is great, but phone addiction is not.

If you are feeling any different, your only obstacle is the rather intimidating price. Get in the way of that, and I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the K7 post-install experience.


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