The Boscam R1 takes a novel approach to dash cams, although it’s not the only product we’ve seen in this format. Instead of sitting behind your rear-view mirror unobtrusively, the R1 is designed to be strapped over it, since it is actually a rear-view mirror itself. The camera sits to one side, and LCD display is built in but invisible when the R1 is acting as just a mirror.
The other unique feature is that the bundled rear-view camera is actually not for continually recording what’s behind you, but specifically for when you’re reversing. You’re meant to wire it in so that it fires up when your car is in reverse gear, and then what it can see will pop up on the R1’s LCD screen as you’re travelling backwards. It’s a high-end feature found in an increasing number of premium cars, but the R1 lets you retrofit it for a very reasonable price.
Boscam R1: Features
- 2.3K main video shooting
- Reversing camera
- G sensor for collision detection
Resolution: Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 maximum resolution front and rear
Screen: 2-inch LCD display
GPS: optional extra
Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents
The R1’s main camera has a maximum resolution of 2.3K, which equates to 2,304 x 1,296 at 30 frames per second. But you can also drop the resolution to Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 720p at 30 frames per second. The top resolution is a fairly low 16Mbits per second, so a 16GB memory card will be enough for 133 minutes of footage before looping starts to overwrite the oldest files.
However, the rear-facing camera is for reversing only; you can’t record footage from it. It’s meant to give you a better view of what’s behind you than even the huge R1 mirror can provide, which will be particularly handy when parallel parking in the dark.
The only advanced features included are motion detection and a parking mode. There’s no GPS built in or option to add one, and you don’t get advanced options like lane departure or forward collision warnings.
Boscam R1: Design and build
- Attaches over your rear-view mirror
- 4.5-inch LCD display
- Reversing camera included
Installing the main R1 unit is easy. You merely attach it over your existing rear-view mirror with rubber straps. It’s much bigger than a standard mirror and will give you a wider view of the road behind. The one possible issue is if your existing mirror isn’t very firmly attached to your car, as the R1 is quite heavy and might pull it off its attachment. But assuming that’s fine, installation is painlessly simple.
The car power adapter uses a Mini USB connection, but the cigarette lighter plug is captured, so you won’t be able to power anything else at the same time. This will be a bit of a drawback if you want to charge your phone whilst using it as a sat-nav or use a separate navigational device.
Installing the reversing camera is a real rigmarole. The device is weather-proof and meant to be stuck either to your rear number plate or just above it. You then route the cable back into the trunk of your car. There are some wires to connect to your reversing light, so that the camera knows when you are in reverse gear. You then also have to route the data cable from your trunk, inside your car, and all around to the front where it plugs into the main R1 unit. This takes some time and is rather fiddly.
Boscam R1: Performance
- Mediocre 2.3K image quality
- Rear camera for reversing only
Although the R1 has a higher resolution than Full HD, the data rate is not that huge. This results in footage that is a bit fuzzy, so number plates and other text-based evidence can be hard to discern. Very bright conditions with high contrast also give it problems, as it compensates too much for the sky and then underexposes the shadier (but more important) road ahead. There are settings to bias exposure, however, and it’s still on the right side of acceptable.
The rear camera doesn’t offer recording, but it does have 6 LEDs so can see what is behind you even in very low light. There’s a parking guide line superimposed on the image on the R1’s large 4.5-inch display. The rear camera resolution is just 720 x 576, but you don’t need huge detail just for reversing.
Boscam R1: Verdict
The Boscam R1 is an interesting proposition if you want to add a reversing camera alongside a dash cam. Considering the $110 price, you get a lot for your money. The reversing camera does take some rather involved installation but works reasonably well. The huge integrated mirror will be an improvement for most cars, too. The one downside is that the video image quality is merely mediocre.