We recently purchased a XiaoYi Smart Dashcam to try out and review. In a sea of GoPro-like devices, XiaoYi's action camera has earned a great reputation and gained traction in the sports/action camera market, so we're curious how their first dashcam fairs. What we also found intriguing about this camera is the latest A12 processor which allows it to record 1080P Full HD video at 60 frames per second, prior to this our leader was the Koonlung C81 which can record 1080P at 45 frames per second. Furthermore, while we've tested a number of devices from Korea with this feature, this is one of the first Chinese dashcams that features WiFi connectivity.
The Xiaomi Yi DVR is available in two colours, a champagne-gold colour and a light grey option which is what we ended up choosing. When we unboxed the device and saw the product pictures online, the grey seemed like a good choice but once installed in the vehicle the grey colour is just too light for our liking and very noticeable from the outside. It has a 2.7" screen and four buttons on the bottom, which makes for a reserved and clean look in contrast to other Chinese dashcams that have tacky chrome, LEDs, and bright accents. Given the grey faceplate and the tall suction cup mount though, the Yi definitely isn't the most discreet device with a 2.7" screen. Size-wise it's a bit taller but a lot narrower than the G1W, and the body and lens housing are quite thick.
Setup and Operation
The Yi DVR is powered by a Micro USB cable, in contrast to most Chinese dashcams which use the mini USB variety. The Micro USB cable is more common and perhaps easier to replace but what we greatly appreciated is the fast start-up time of this device. The time it takes from plugging in the device to the initialization of video recording is only about 2-3 seconds, making this the quickest start-up time of any device we've ever tested. The device also generates very little heat and cooling is good; this is a battery based camera but we are fairly confident in the durability/safety of the Yi DVR.
The menu interface of our unit was entirely in simplified Chinese but the on-device menu was incredibly snappy and easy-to-use. That being said, the menu is a lot simpler than other Chinese devices and doesn't even have options for changing the time. To change the time and more advanced features you must go into the WiFi app, which seems a bit ridiculous for such a simple task. However, the WiFi app is well laid-out (albeit entirely in Chinese for now) and connecting your phone to the device's WiFi is quick and easy.
This camera has three resolution settings: 1080 @ 30 FPS, 1080 @ 60 FPS, and 1296 @ 30 FPS. The 1080/30FPS setting records at 15Mbps while the other two record at about 20 Mbps which results in rather large video files. We didn't find the 60FPS setting to be much of an improvement in terms of video smoothness at night, and preferred using the camera at the base 1080P/30FPS setting which seemed to have the best dynamic range. The camera's wide angle 165 degree lens is wider than most dashcams on the market and we found that sharpness was not quite as good as our Koonlung C81, which has a 160 degree lens. That being said, the overall video quality is still significantly better than lower end Chinese cameras like the G1W or A118 series cameras.
This is generally a common complaint with suction cup dashcams but the Yi DVR's suction cup was quite susceptible to bumps in the road and some video blur was noticed in our testing. An adhesive mount would address this issue and be a nice optional extra for this camera. Luckily the international version features an adhesive mount that is more discreet and has much stronger adhesion to the windshield to eliminate shakiness.
Xiaomi's first attempt at a dashcam is a solid effort and a well-refined product with good WiFi integration, above average video quality, and attractive packaging. Some critics will not be a fan of the fact that it's a battery based system but we found that device ran cooler than most dashcams we've tested and the battery means that you can review footage even with the camera unplugged and removed from the car.
The review we did was of a Chinese version with the suction cup mount, since then the international version was released with a different firmware and menu operation and a much improved adhesive mount. We liked this international version so much that we decided to add it to our store, in this price range few cameras can match the XiaoYi's wifi ease of use and video quality.
To purchase the XiaoYi Smart Dash Camera click here