Apeman C450 Dash Cam Review: Functional, but not fancy
- It’s super cheap
- Decent 1080p recording
- Onscreen time and licence plate watermarking
- No GPS position or speed tracking
- Battery life is woeful
- Low-light/night video is poor
Dashcams have become popular accessories for drivers who want to record their journeys, whether for vlogging purposes, or more frequently as a form of extra insurance in case of accident where there’s a need for proof of what happened. For many accidents there’s going to be a dispute about which party moved the wrong way, or failed to indicate or whatever, and having video evidence of what actually happened can be a real boon whether you’re dealing with the police or your insurance company.
The Apeman C450 dash cam stands out in the crowd for one very simple reason. It’s exceptionally cheap, retailing in Australia for well under $100. That price does very much determine its quality, and whether it’ll be suitable for your needs.
- Simple 3-inch LCD
- Easy to install screen mount
- Car adaptor includes extra USB port
First impressions of the Apeman C450 are not likely to be good. Dash cams do not need to be particularly stylish devices, but the one detail you're likely to want is a camera that feels robust. After all, if the worst happens, it could be involved in a crash.
The Apeman C450 does not feel robust. It's an exceptionally light, simple dash cam built around a fairly rudimentary 3-inch LCD. It's not a touch-sensitive panel and instead relies on three buttons on each side of the camera to work its functions. That's a lot of buttons to try to wrap your head around, and doing so while the camera is installed in your car is all but impossible.
That same simple ethos extends to the Apeman C450's screen mount. On the plus side, it's very easy to install and can be twisted to a pretty wide set of angles, so fitting it to your particular car and the bend of its windscreen really shouldn't be an issue. I'm not so sure that there won't be an issue over time in terms of its long-term durability, however, because it's made of very light plastic.
Power is via mini-USB cable, and one nice touch I didn't expect to see in a dash cam this cheap was a cigarette style lighter adaptor with an extra USB A-type port in there. You're still limited by the overall power draw of your vehicle, of course, but it's a nice nod to the need to charge phones and other gadgets on long car trips.
- Menus are badly laid out for set-up and in-car use
- Limited feature set
- Decent daytime recording for its price
- Night and low-light details are easily lost
- Battery isn't good enough for its parking mode
Setting up the Apeman C450 for the first time isn't too onerous a process, but then this is a dash cam that only covers the very basics of what you're likely to want from a car camera.
You can set the local date and time as well as enter your car's licence plate number for watermarking purposes, and that's your lot in terms of video identification. The big missing feature here is any kind of GPS functionality or even Wi-Fi to hook into your phone's GPS. That means you can't identify where a video was taken beyond any obvious visual cues and that the Apeman C450 can't judge speed and overlay that on your video. That could have an impact in circumstances where your velocity was in question – like a speeding fine or dangerous driving charge – but it's beyond the Apeman C450's capabilities.
So what can you do with the Apeman C450? It will record video at up to 1080p, albeit only at 30 frames per second from its front-facing 170-degree angle lens. That's within the scope of most dash cams – you really don't need 4K unless you were filming a dash cam-based travel show – with fairly decent quality for daytime shooting.
As always the ambient conditions and your own speed relative to those around you will determine how much detail you pick up. Looking back over footage recorded on the Apeman C450, I could mostly pick out licence plate numbers from most cars that came close enough to be of concern, although I wouldn't be so confident if it was footage used for an accident any distance away from me. That light screen mount is also a concern here because if you don't lock it down securely, you'll get a lot of shudder in your videos, rendering them useless.
The Apeman C450 also features onboard microphones, but they're not terribly well balanced. Expect a lot of wind and vehicle noise and a lot less pick-up of voices in any kind of audible way.
The Apeman C450 features a parking mode that's meant to kick into gear if your car gets knocked, which sounds great in theory. After all, if somebody does hit your car while it's parked at the supermarket, you'd want to know about it, right?
The problem here is the battery life – or lack thereof. The Apeman C450 has really clearly been designed to stay plugged into that adaptor pretty much forever because its actual battery life once power is removed can be measured in minutes. If you're in the shops for any decent amount of time, the Apeman C450 will be flat when you get back. That's not an issue for it firing up when you do drive away if plugged in, but it's much less likely to actually record anything that might have happened in the meantime.
The Apeman C450 also suffers a lot when night falls because its ability to pick out detail in lower light is even less impressive. If you do a lot of night driving, and especially in areas that aren't already lit up with a decent quantity of street lights, it's not going to work terribly well for you.
The Apeman C450 records to microSD card, with support for cards at up to 32GB size; given the price, you could spend nearly half the price of the camera on a card for it!
Apeman C450 Sample still captures
- It has a battery… just
I can confidently say that there's a battery in the Apeman C450 dash camera and that it charges via mini-USB port from a 12V car charger… but that's about all I can say because Apeman doesn't specify its battery capacity or indeed any kind of expected battery life.
Based on more ad-hoc testing, when fully charged you might get around 20 minutes of battery life off the charger, but often I'd hit quite a bit less.
Let's just say that there's a battery in there, and leave it at that, shall we?
Should you buy the Apeman C450 Dash cam?
- Buy it if you just want the very basics of dash cam performance.
- Don't buy it if you want good video quality at night or any kind of speed tracking.
The Apeman C450 is absolutely a dash cam built to a budget, and there's nothing essentially wrong with that to speak of. If you mostly drive during the day and only really want a basic record of your trips for whatever purpose, it'll deliver you some basic video without too many issues.
However, it's also going to do so without any real frills at all, and without details, you might really want from a dash cam. It's cheap because it's very cheaply built, so it's probably not going to make the list of best dashcams in Australia – and that could have an impact on its long-term durability as well.
Pricing and availability
Images: Alex Kidman
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