Welcome to the Testing Ground
For the last four months we have been conducting a RoadHawk review and its in car video system. The Roadhawk review below is an independent unbiased review of our findings.
The makers call it an Automated Drive Recorder and it is a very clever bit of kit.
We all think we are good safe drivers and if we ever have an accident then it will probably be the other drivers fault.
So if you are reading our Roadhawk review - why might you need such a clever gadget?
If you have an accident then proving you are not at fault is not as easy as you might imagine. Insurance companies will ignore whatever your passengers might say as they assume they will be biased and this will usually lead to your word versus the other drivers. With no independent witness then the insurance company will look to split the blame and costs 50/50. This will cost you your insurance excess of £200+ and then bite you further as your insurance costs increase for the next few years.
The Roadhawk DC-1 records your journey as a video and also records your speed, location, cornering/braking forces etc to provide a very detailed record of your driving that you could use to prove that an accident was not your fault. The Roadhawk review was conducted using the same methodology as all our tests. We use each device for a minimum of 2,000 miles as we see that this gives a real reflection of how well a gadget works. The roadhawk review period covered all driving conditions from bright sun to snow covered roads and monsoon like rain.
The Roadhawk DC-1 unit is about the size of a packet of cigarettes and attaches to your windscreen with a range of included stickers and suckers. During our Roadhawk review we tried it in various cars and numerous positions and it performed well in all of them.
It is small enough to fit behind your central rear view mirror and hence is out of the way and does not obstruct your view of the road. This is a good place to put it as it needs to be close to the windscreen for best video results and also being small and mostly out of sight is unlikely to attract any unwelcome attention from any light fingered passersby. During our months of Roadhawk review time we had no issues with the Roadhawk and it never had any issues - a reliable bit of kit.
The video records onto a tiny memory card as when it fills up then the system cleverly starts to over right the oldest recordings and keeps recording all of your journey. You can also set it to record incidents where the G force meters record enough force to assume you may be having a crash. These sensors are very sensitive and a pot hole in the road will set them off, so any real bump should easily be captured. The Roadhawk DC-1 comes with free software that allows you to play your video back on your PC. Just slide out the little SD memory card and insert it into your PC and the software will play the videos back. Very slick and much simpler than its competitor - SmartWitness.
Another feature where it leaves SmartWitness behind is that it is also recording sound. SmartWitness does not record audio at all. Being able to prove that you tooted your horn in warning or that the other drivers "screamed" past would all help your cause with an insurance claim or even a court case.
As you can see in the screen shot form our Roadhawk review below the video plays on the left and below it are all the values for the G meters. The less G being recorded the smoother you are as a driver. Below the G information are the controls for fast forward etc. During our Roadhawk review we found a small but very useful feature is the ability to play the video at almost frame by frame speeds - useful if you want to see the exact cause of a crash. It also plays at x2 and x4 speeds which again are ideal if you are reviewing hours of recordings and want to find any issues that need addressing.
The camera has a 1.5 million pixel camera which works well in a variety of light conditions from bright sunshine in snow to twilight and full darkness. The resolution is easily good enough to see who is to blame for an accident, but it is not the HD TV quality that you have on your TV at home. Roadhawk have just created a version of the Roadhawk DC-1 that does have a HD quality camera if you want to capture even crisper images and video. When we get to do a Roadhawk review of their HD camera we will add it to the site.
On the right side of the screen is a smaller window that shows your exact moving location on a map that is synchronised with the video. You can display this map as either a satellite view, traditional road map or a hybrid of both. It also shows your GPS calculated speed and your latitude and longitude.
It all works together very slickly and is really easy to use.
If you were teaching someone to drive it would be a fantastic tool to enable you to play back the journey afterwards and discuss what was good and bad about your driving and how it might be improved.
Another clever feature of Roadhawk DC-1 is that you can leave it recording when you park the car and it even senses if your car battery gets low and will turn itself off. If you have ever parked your car and returned to find that someone has driven into it then a Roadhawk DC-1 would have a video of the culprit doing the deed. You could then identify them and get them to pay for the repairs.
In summary the Roadhawk DC-1 is the best in car video system that we have so far tested.
We think that every driver should use one of these as if you do not have one then you have little chance of proving that you are innocent in a crash or motor offense. I expect in years to come they will be an option in all new cars.
And yes we have one permanently in use in our own cars.
To learn more about a Roadhawk DC-1 or purchase one, then do visit the manufacturers website at - http://www.roadhawk.co.uk/
You can read the review of the SmartWitness here
Copyright © Paul Gander 1995 - 2013