Techalogic DC-1 Dual Lens Helmet Camera – Road cc Review
The Techalogic DC-1 is a helmet-mounted camera that films in front and behind in quality plenty good enough to get those numpty drivers into trouble.
Firstly, let’s not have the discussion about whether a cycle helmet is a right or proper place to mount a camera; nor about whether the pros outweigh the cons in comparison to a bike-mounted device. Let’s assume if either of these things are an issue for you, you’ve already stopped reading.
Secondly, no – the camera has not been left on top of a hot radiator. It’s meant to look like that. By adding a banana bend, Techalogic has dealt with the problem of using one camera to film fore and aft without one end or the other pointing at the sky. It might not be pretty, but it works.
When combined with the double-jointed mount, which sets the camera high above the helmet, the overall look is, shall we say, conspicuous. I did think for a while that it might be so obvious to drivers that they were being filmed that they would be better behaved around me, but a few prize clots were apparently still happy to put themselves in the test frame.
Techalogic originally brought this camera to market with motorcyclists in mind, where maintaining the streamlined look of the road cyclist is not relevant. However, it’s obviously spotted the potential market in cycling – particularly the rough-and-tumble of the daily commute – and sent us one to try too. Having lived with the DC-1 for a few weeks, I think it’s definitely on the right lines.
I dislike pre-ride faff, which only seems to have increased since my boyhood days of jumping on the 5-speed in jeans and trainers and just going. I particularly dislike techno-faffing (though I still do it) and a sport-cam I bought cheaply on the internet to provide some evidence of idiot driving has lain unloved in a drawer because it was just too much bother (and ran flat in 40 minutes). The DC-1 is still a bit of faff, especially when you first get set up; but as these things go it’s about as simple as it can be, which encouraged me to use it; and as I got used to it, it got simpler still.
Once set up, there’s just one button to know about, which you press and hold to turn the device on. Not only that, but it defaults to record mode, with a flashing white light to tell you it’s working. Pressing and holding a second time turns it off. A quick press puts it into or out of pause mode. That’s basically it.
There’s one other function controlled from this button, and that is the Wi-Fi connection, which is how the device connects to your smartphone. Two short pushes of the button activate this. Two short pushes turn it off again. When you are riding it’s important to turn this off, otherwise it severely shortens the battery life. Fortunately, or by good design, the camera ‘remembers’ whether the Wi-Fi was turned on or off last time it was used, so most of the time I left it turned off.
Talking of battery life, Techalogic claims two and a half hours. I added up 162 minutes (2 hours, 42 minutes) of 3-minute files from one charge. Regardless as to whether this is enough for your needs, the great thing is you can plug a battery into the USB socket, at which point the recording time becomes whatever size battery you care to carry around with you.
The supplied lead is long enough to reach the camera from a jersey back pocket and, having tucked the cable away behind a helmet strap, I didn’t notice it. However, Techalogic advises against doing this in wet weather because the cover has to be removed from the USB port.
On your head
Mounting a device like this on the helmet is always a bit of a compromise and it’s just the same here. Techalogic throws in a handful of different-sized 3M sticky pads and standard helmet mount clips, but I couldn’t find anywhere on any of my four (!) helmets that gave enough surface area to stick one. Fine for a motorbike helmet, I suppose. Anyway, helmet manufacturers issue dire warnings about the effects of adhesives.
I used the strap mount, which was long enough to allow some manner of fixing on all the helmets, and used buckles rather than the dreaded Velcro to adjust, so it’s easy to pull it tight for stability.
Where the strap can be made to mount widthways, like in the photos, this is straightforward. On one helmet I could only get it to go lengthways and this meant I had to take the mount apart and re-assemble it without the middle “knuckle” so the camera still pointed forwards. If you use the same helmet all the time when using the camera, your life will be simpler.
It’s a bit hit-and-miss to point the camera in the right direction once you’ve put your helmet on. Techalogic advises using your smartphone to view the live pictures to provide guidance, but I couldn’t actually recreate my riding position with any accuracy while trying to look at my phone, and certainly not while trying to ride the bike (really, don’t do this). However, once I’d got the camera level I found it easier each subsequent time to get it right.
The clamp can be tightened securely enough not to move by accident. The whole clamp and mount unit is nice and chunky and looks well made. It’s a standard slide-in mount, too, so you can buy after-market mounting clips to suit your needs.
The whole assembly feels a bit of a lump once it’s on the helmet, but I soon stopped noticing when I was riding and it never moved about.
The software is a generic piece called ‘VF Cam’ which downloaded and installed without problems (at least on my iPhone). You need to search in your phone settings for the camera’s Wi-Fi connection and select it, after which you can make adjustments to settings such as resolution (1980Px1080/30 or 1280Px720/60) and exposure, or perform a card format. The pictures from both cameras appear live on your screen. You can also record this footage onto your phone device.
The software also lets you sort your video files and play them, either live or after downloading, via the Wi-Fi. This worked smoothly. Alternatively, you can put the SD card into your laptop and manipulate the files to your heart’s content. I found the MP4 files ran trouble-free on my shonky laptop even direct from the card. A 128GB microSD card (not supplied) provides 9 hours of recording, after which the camera begins to write over old files. You can lock files to prevent them being overwritten.
This is done from a remote control unit, which can also be used to take still photographs. I did this once, just to test it. I thought it would be more useful to have a pause button instead. The remote unit operates from a small battery and doesn’t use much juice and you don’t need the Wi-Fi switched on to use it as it connects by radio frequency. The Velcro strap it comes with wasn’t comfortable on the wrist, or all that easy to tighten onto a bike stem. The flat shape of the back of the unit itself made that worse.
A clear instruction manual is available online and the company is easy to contact. I had an issue with the camera apparently stopping recording after a few minutes on a couple of rides and dropped them a ‘mystery shopper’ email; I had a reply within minutes and a helpful phone conversation (press the reset button if you have any apparent gremlins). Since then, everything’s run tickety-boo.
Last but not least, the picture quality is good, though it does pixellate a little when you or other objects are moving at speed. Also, with no image stabilisation, you may start to get travel sick when looking at your recordings. However, this was never enough to prevent me reading a car registration number when I needed to. The first time I submitted a close-pass report, the police welcomed the front-and-rear footage and told me they would be issuing a fixed-penalty notice (the culprit also had no tax or MOT).
The soundtrack, though, consisted mostly of wind noise, despite the rear-facing microphone – and me swearing on hills. Unfortunately, the mic failed to pick up a couple of car horn honks which might have been useful extra evidence. The sound level can be adjusted by downloading a little bit of extra software, which is easy to do.
Cameras seem to come in two prices: ludicrously cheap (and correspondingly nasty) or more expensive than your third-best bike.
Overall, the DC-1 seems a good piece of kit that looks as though it will last longer than some budget electronics, and if anything does go wrong there’s help at hand right here in the UK.
Despite the weird looks and the previously unknown name, the DC-1 is a neat idea, generally well executed
Make and model: Techalogic DC-1 Dual Lens Helmet Camera
Size tested: 110 x 40 x 33mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it’s aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Techalogic says, “The DC-1 is the world’s first HD dual helmet/riding hat camera designed to capture front & rear views with high quality video that can be used for evidence, social sharing or just reliving that great ride!”. I found it excellent for the former, less so for the latter due to the jiggly picture but that can be tidied up at edit if necessary.
The company adds: “This dual recording helmet/riding hat camera is water and dust resistant (IP65 rated) so can handle whatever you throw at it.
“It records 2.5 hours out of the box and this can be extended easily with a powerbank – for example, a low cost 5000 mAh power bank would extend the battery by 7 hours.
“It’s light too. The DC1 weighs in at just 104g so you’ll barely notice it’s there and, still records super-sharp HD video that’s easy to edit thanks to the latest Sony Starvis Exmor Lens.”
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sensor: SONY IMX307
Lens Angle: Front 140/Rear 140
Photo: JPG Max. 12M
Video: MP4 H.264
Resolution: Dual FHD 1920 x 1080P 30fps
Battery: 1600mAh 2 hours 30 mins at full charge
Size/weight: 110 x 40 x 33min/104g
Memory card: TF card Max. 128GB
Wi-Fi: Built in
Mic: Built in
Wireless Controller: Take photo/lock video fileRate the product for quality of construction: 8/10
Both the camera and mount seem well made and should give good life. The electronics ran reliably, the only apparent glitch being easily cured with a push of the reset button. The remote control unit is a bit cheap looking, but isn’t essential to the use of the camera.Rate the product for performance: 7/10
Better for pictures than the rather windswept soundtrack; The video quality is easily good enough to trap deserving drivers. No picture stabilisation means you won’t want want to sit and watch hours of this, but that’s not so much the point.Rate the product for durability: 7/10
The curse of the helmet-mounted camera is it gets bumped into low door frames – so far, without ill effect. It’s quite robustly put together and both the camera and mount are quite chunky and appear to be made from good-quality materials. I never got very wet when testing it but it stood up well to a couple of short but sharp showers. Make sure the covers for the SD card and USB port are in place.Rate the product for weight (if applicable) 7/10
The combined camera and mount is a little chunky but is less noticeable in use because it’s very stable with the strap system. Anyway, I’d prefer a well-built mount that weighs a bit more to a light one that breaks.Rate the product for value: 9/10
Two cameras in one unit make this a good deal, especially with the handful of extras thrown in and the good customer backup. It’s only £10 more than a Cycliq Fly6 rear camera (and light), and over £100 cheaper than the TomTom Bandit Action Camera.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I thought it came out of the test well. Any electronic device ought to give a couple of years’ good use before it could be declared totally fit for purpose and I only had it on test for two months, but over that period it’s worked reliably and captured an idiot to boot.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It’s easy to set up and use, can run for ages with a booster battery plugged in, and collects great evidence for dobbing in lunatic drivers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It looks odd, but you’ll have the last laugh. The remote control unit needs a bit of work to make it comfortable to wear or to attach securely to the bike’s stem.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Cameras seem to come in two prices: ludicrously cheap (and correspondingly nasty) or more expensive than your third-best bike. The DC-1 keeps you covered front and rear for only £10 more than a Cycliq Fly6 rear camera (though that includes a light).
Most cameras we see seem to be bar-mount specific but we liked the TomTom Bandit Action Camera which can also be helmet mounted. That only points forward though, and costs £299.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I grew to like this camera as the test went on because it gave such good results without major faffage. For a commute it’s just the job. For streamlined days out it’s a bit of an ugly protrusion but you’ll be glad of it when the time comes. Good marks for customer service, too, which doesn’t get its own separate rating. For a cheapskate like me, the price is an attraction.
Overall rating: 8/10