In one look
- Excellent video, especially at night
- Front and interior cameras for drivers
- GPS with automatic configuration
- 16 GB SD card included
- No capture without 12 volts
- Buggy software at the time of the test
- The app does not support smartphones running Android 7 or older
The Cobra SC 201 front / interior dash camera is easy to set up and use, captures fantastic videos, offers cloud-based GPS downloads (with A8) and even has a built-in 16GB SD card. you are using an old android phone, approach with caution.
Dash cameras are all about capturing the action, and few do it better than the Cobra SC 201 front / interior Smart Dash Cam (currently $ 179.95 on Amazon). Outdoor night video, in particular, is unmatched in its ability to show detail in a dark environment and it offers a long list of features, including GPS and cloud downloads. The company even includes a 16GB SD card. It’s well worth the money for what you get – just don’t try to use the cloud functionality with an older phone OS.
This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there to get information on competing products and how we tested them.
Design and functionality
Dash cameras typically come in two basic shapes: rectangular and cylindrical. The SC 201 opts for the latter, which leaves the most space for an indoor camera. The front and interior cameras capture at 1080p. Most indoor cameras are 720p so this is an upgrade.
While 1080p might seem a bit boring in a world that offers 1440p and 2160p, it’s more than enough for legal and even viewing purposes, plus it saves you a ton of memory card space and money. wear. In other words, it’s much cheaper in the long run.
The front camera has a good 140 degree field of view. Cobra declined to provide a number for the indoor camera, simply saying it is wide enough to capture the entire cabin. This was found to be correct in testing. Four infrared lights surround the interior lens to ensure the action is captured regardless of how the cabin is lit.
The SC 201 sports a two-inch color display with four buttons below the camera, the current function of which is revealed by icons at the bottom of the screen. We found the buttons easy to press and navigating the menus and settings quite easy. The screen will even flip to match the orientation of the camera.
One of the coolest features of the SC 201 is that it sets the time automatically using GPS information and tracks speed right out of the box. Few of the dash cams we’ve tested offer this level of sophistication. You can also turn GPS / Time and Driver ID video watermarks on and off.
Name any other desirable dash camera feature, and you’ll likely find it on the SC 201: lane departure warnings, speed alerts, collision warnings, parking watch mode, and more. You can also tune just about anything.
You should also be reassured by Cobra’s established position as a supplier of dash cams. This includes a one-year warranty, which is increasingly rare in an area where 90-day limits are plentiful.
Alas, there were software issues with the older Honor 8 phone initially used in testing, which runs the older Android 7. The mapping and alerting software, iRadar, repeatedly crashed during the link with the SC 201, and the Cobra Drive Smarter application used for viewing, downloading and changing settings would not be linked at all. iOS 13.1 or newer is also required.
Technically, Cobra can’t be faulted for only supporting Android 8 and later versions when Google itself scrapped something older. But it certainly could do a better job of letting users know about the requirement – I couldn’t find any requirement notices on the website or the box. Testing was completed on a Google Pixel 4X, where everything was fine until a firmware update cut the connection again. Cobra might want to sit down with his software team.
Video quality and battery
The video of the SC 201 is generally top notch. There’s a bit of a fisheye effect (a professional hazard of wide fields of view), but it’s nicely color-saturated and detailed, and it handles rough roads decently without any appreciable image tearing or other flaws. 4K dash cameras may get all the attention, but in real life we recommend 1080p dash cameras to extend the life of memory cards.
The GPS had not yet started on the capture above (most dash cams with GPS need five minutes to do this after turning on the car), so a second is included to show it works Actually. Note that the camera handles afternoon glare even when your vehicle is heading almost directly into the sun.
There is a surprising amount of detail revealed in the exterior nighttime capture pictured below. It’s two hours after sunset, and the scene is nowhere near as bright as it appears to be in the capture. Despite the large amount of detail, the SC 201 manages to reduce glare from the headlights successfully.
The interior captures are also top notch, capturing plenty of detail despite the contrast between the bright exterior light and the shaded interior.
Thanks to the four infrared lights surrounding the interior camera, the night shots in the cabin also show impressive detail. The cabin was extremely dark by the time this was taken.
You shouldn’t have any problems with the SC 201’s captures. They are universally clear and detailed, although not as detailed as those of some of the better 4K units. But you also won’t go bankrupt buying SD cards.
The only possible fly in the catch ointment is Cobra’s use of a super capacitor instead of a battery. Super capacitors have their advantages: many more charge cycles and better resistance to cold. However, this particular unit only provides enough runtime to save the files. That’s fine, but if your 12 volt gets destroyed in a crash, you won’t capture any action after that. A rare situation, but not unheard of.
Perfect, if your phone is compatible
The SC 201 is very good at the basics and comes with a long warranty from a supplier with a top notch reputation. If you’re using Android 8 or later (or iOS), put it on your short list of front / interior cameras.