Soap soap or the latest Ambarella A12 in Chinese consumer goods against the “old” Russian flagship AdvoCam

A Russian proverb says: “hurry - make people laugh.” Chinese commercial wisdom says - who hurried and first brought the product to the market, in order and sales. And the fact that this product is raw and buggy, that it works through a stump-deck and does not justify the consumer hopes placed on it at all is the tenth thing. Russian buyers for the most part swallow and ask for more additives.

Hello, dear readers of Geektimes! Sasha Shub is again with you, one of the most reputable (and I am also modest, isn't it?) In our country journalists working in the field of portable car electronics, in particular, DVRs.

For the sixth year I have been working on the subject of these devices, and the number of models that have been in my hands managed to pass well over two hundred. Today, we will understand whether the recorders with the latest Ambarella A12 processor really allow us to focus on the quality of shooting of any competitors. In one corner of the ring is the Chinese Dome DAB202 on the Ambarella A12 processor, in the other corner is the Russian DVR AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS on the processor of the previous generation Ambarella A7LA70.

Information about the processor Ambarella A12 appeared in 2015, the novelty attracted the attention of the opportunity to shoot at a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels. While the Ambarella A7 offers a maximum of 2560x1296 pixels, while in the bulk of recorders the “ceiling” of the resolution is 2304x1296 pixels. Another noteworthy chip Ambarella A12 is the same 2560x1440 pixels, but with HDR support, that is, gluing two shots with different exposures in one frame. Theoretically, this, among other things, should reduce the illumination from the headlights at night, and during the day to help keep a record against the sun. Ambarella A7 could respond to this HDR support only with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

One of, and most likely, the very first mass-produced recorder with the Ambarella A12 was the notorious Dome D201. It was the end of 2015.

During 2016, I tried AdvoCam and other brands with Russian engineering “brains” - well, where is your answer to the Chinese, when will we wait for new products on the A12? In response, domestic (and often not very domestic) developers looked at me with amazement, except that they didn’t twist their index finger at their heads. For the simple reason that even after a year of presence on the market, no one, including Ambarella itself, could get the A12 to work properly and deliver the expected level of picture quality (video).

In fact, during 2016 and the beginning of 2017, there was a “circle of interests” - Ambarella, along with venerable developers like AdvoCam, “finished” A12. After about ten iterations, by March 2017, AdvoCam received from Ambarella a “something” that can be taken as a starting point when creating a stable working registrar, for which the developer would not be ashamed. At about the same time, from various sources, I learned that by the end of the year, more or less reputable well-known brands would launch models based on the Ambarella A12. So, in the case of AdvoCam, it will be the second-generation AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS - with an index of 2. This model is expected in August. The changes will affect only the "iron", on the body and mount it will be the same first flagship "gold".

It should be clarified that speaking of 1440p recorders on the Ambarella A12, I mean the Ambarella A12A55. Yes, Ambarella likes to start from the middle - if you remember, the seventh series started with the A7LA50. So, in addition to A12A55, there are A12A20 (younger version, shooting Full HD, low power consumption. In the next month I will compare it with Full HD recorders AdvoCam), A12A35 ​​(details unknown) and A12A75 (presumably “full stuffing” - Wi-Fi, BT, 4 channels, maybe even 4k).

Patient - come in!

So, in fact, neither in 2015 nor even in 2016 there was no possibility in nature to offer consumers any complete high-quality solution with Ambarella of the most “fresh” generation - A12. What did the Chinese from Dome? Nothing special - they just stuffed up the new-fashioned “iron” into the case and put it on sale. Meet the Dome D201 - recorder with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels and HDR 1440p. The buyer immediately immediately proceeds with saliva to a high resolution, such as a super-advanced processor (namely, “type” - why, it will become clear below) and carries its money to the manufacturer. The average buyers in general are not aware that even the most recent Dome models on the A12 are trivially RAW and are at that stage, starting from which the same AdvoCam will take the device to the mind for about half a year.

Funny fact. A few years ago, Dome was so nasty with its partners that it did not dare to go to one of the largest Asian exhibitions under its own name. Russian visitors could not stop laughing - as the "new" brand Dome took the name "Kaka". What is interesting - according to reviews, the level of the factory and the competence of its specialists fully comply with this name.

It is extremely curious with which logo the company showed the new brand?

Of course, the forums were filled with customer praise, because the “placebo effect” has not been canceled. Against the background of general unrestrained jubilation, only the site was noted, which conducted a comparison of top recorderswith the participation of Dome D201. However, only in the conditions of night shooting. The results were determined by a “blind” audience vote, according to the results of which the Dome D201 in the newest Ambarella A12 took only third place. And the first - shock and awe - generally got the model with Full HD shooting. Epic fail! This once again confirmed: 1080p with the "direct" hands of developers is quite capable of competing for both 1296p and 1440p. That is, at the declared lower resolution, the picture in fact turns out to be clearer than with a theoretical higher resolution.

In our comparison, the Dome DAB202 (aka Car Major M-G12) is the successor to the Dome D201. In theory, an improved version, although of the real "upgrades" here is that the hinge bracket. My copy was obtained directly from the Dome plant until I see the model in wide sale. All in all, the site Dome presents six options 1440p recorders. One of the models is supposedly made on the Ambarella A12A75, but there is absolutely no difference in comparison with the devices on the A12A55. The logical question is “was there a boy”?

My Dome DAB202 showed itself “in all its glory” at the first attempt of a test run. The registrar blinkily flashed a diode near the screen, but stubbornly refused to turn on. It took almost a week and a half to repair, after which the camera finally “started up”.

Let's start with the main thing for which everything was started - video quality assessment.


Both models have the same declared viewing angle and use the same matrix - OmniVision OV4689. It is a pity Dome does not specify the material and the number of objective lenses. Hopefully, the Chinese didn’t think of putting plastic elements of the “eye”, although who knows their Chinese ... In the test runs, our task is to check whether the class will show the 1296p resolution worked out over the years compared to the “raw” shooting of 1140p. As well as comparing the details and working out the differences in lighting 1440p HDR and 1080p HDR. An ordinary consumer will probably predict the victory of the Dome DAB202 in advance - the newest Ambarella 12! Well, then he and the average consumer - thinks only the numbers of the specification. :)

Below I will give the originals of freeze frames and a separate comparison of the increased state numbers.

The first example of a daily record Dome does not meet expectations. Surely the consumer, who has nothing to compare with, will give praise to the Chinese for high definition, beautiful rich color rendition. However, I have something to compare with: AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS gives a clearer license number, the overall detailing at middle and long distances is obviously better. Dome is worse at fulfilling the difference in brightness between heaven and earth, the frame is slightly overexposed — this is evident from the fact that AdvoCam has a rich blue sky, and the Chinese have a light blue.

We go further and get into the situation with a passing sun. It is still worse here - the license plate of the car on the left is almost completely highlighted; in the case of Dome, the right car has “lower plinth” detailing.

The sun is on the side, more or less even lighting, so to speak, we fix the material covered. Dome DAB202 has a usual “soapy” frame, the clarity is low at any distance.

Well, maybe Dome will be able to rehabilitate in HDR-shooting? We expose the 1440p HDR mode in the DAB202, and in the AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS - 1080p HDR and see what kind of picture the recorders show when they meet the sun.

Alas, the miracle did not happen. And in detail, and to work out the counter-lighting Dome again suffered a crushing defeat. I think there is nothing to comment on.

The following situation, the rays make their way through the foliage. AdvoCam retains a “colorful”, contrasting image, there is no “soap” veil. The front plate number of the car in front is poorly distinguishable, but in DAB202 it is wiped clean.

The same stretch of road. This time there is a persistent feeling that DAB202 deliberately reduces sharpness. To the credit of the model, the task of equalizing the differential light seems to be fulfilled - look at the sky at all, not overexposure. But as soon as the gaze falls on the car, the AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS bursts forward again.

So, after a day's comparison Dome DAB202 with its “newest” Ambarella A12 is to deep knockout. The resolution of 1440p lost not so much as 1296p, but even high-quality Full HD shooting. Can Dome catch its breath and rehabilitate at night? Spoiler - no.

We turn on both HDR recorders and rush through Moscow at night. Did the HDR itself show itself? Yes, in this mode, the light sources are trembling funny and a little behind the moving objects. So, we stand at the traffic lights. The picture is very different. AdvoCam - clear, contrast. Dome - "soap", a large yellow spot on the entire white car in the center.

The same traffic lights, cars began to move. Notice how the Dome handles the headlight beating at the left of the state number of the car on the left. Let's face it - it works very badly.

Again, to fix the traversed, we evaluate the state number of a passing car. No, we did not think the Dome consistently turns the zone of letters and numbers with a solid white canvas. Regarding the development of light, in comparison with the model AdvoCam absolutely no advantage was observed.

With HDR “clear-clear”, we turn on the usual 1440p at the Dome and 1296p at the AdvoCam. We drive to the traffic lights and observe that the Ambarella A12 carrier is very, very, very, very, very bad.

All that can oppose the Dome is a slightly lighter image, which is most likely a merit of the F1.8 lens, rather than a fresh processor, or the more competent work of engineers from a Chinese manufacturer.

However, the joy of a brighter picture crosses out the inability to work out the lights in the area of ​​the headlights, it is perfectly visible on the state number of the car ahead.

The results are disappointing. Dome DAB202 has become another vivid example of what a foul-smelling substance Chinese manufacturers are ready to offer in the pursuit of quick profits. No thoughtful work of developers - the main thing is to stick fashionable components to the motherboard somehow and quickly release the model with “cool specs” for sale. There is even no need to make any efforts - it is enough to indicate a new model of the processor and the largest number of shooting permissions, and the imagination of the consumer-amateur will finish drawing the mythical advantages of the device. After all, the buyer does not know that a high-quality picture is not only an advanced processor or a matrix, but a combination of a well-designed optical-electronic path (optics + matrix + processor) and, most importantly, software-based video processing algorithms.

In each of the first publications, AdvoCam is accused of allegedly ordering a label to label the correct shildik on the case of typical recorders of Chinese OEM manufacturers. And they do nothing, they say, they do nothing about the development of devices. That is - they call the Chinese factory, poke into the desired model from the OEM catalog, send their logo for application to the device. And - everything, waiting for a batch of finished devices. It is often impossible for the readers who are sitting behind the monitor to convince even the report.from its own production AdvoCam in the city of Alexandrov, Vladimir region. However, just in the case of the Dome DAB202, you can clearly see what happens when a brand really does nothing to tune the device, but just stupidly glues its label to the OEM model. And how high is the quality of shooting on the example of AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS, when the engineers of the brand do a lot of scrupulous work on the development of devices.

If I started testing devices, I’ll note that the poor quality of the video is not all that the Chinese device offers us. In the field of design and ergonomics, the Dome DAB202 model also disappointed to the extreme.

Features of design and ergonomics

The developers are clearly in a hurry to quickly release a new product and snatch sales from competitors, therefore, over such secondary issues as design and ergonomics are clearly not particularly “steamed”. Externally, the Dome DAB202 is not much different from the hundreds of other Chinese recorders in the candybar. Fans of "Ponte" will surely attract the metal front plate. It does not carry any practical load - the insides are perfectly cooled by ordinary air circulation. Due to the metal front, the device turned out to be heavy, almost 120 grams versus 75 grams for AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS. Whatever Boris Razor may say, in this case I would rather write down the weight of the Dome in the negative - with a vacuum sucker, the greater the weight, the higher the chance of an unexpected drop in the mount from the glass.

The logic of the design decisions of the Dome DAB202 as a near-flagship model on a super-advanced processor remains a mystery to me. It seems that the developers specifically decided to "foul up" the user, which will lead to the Ambarella A12. Judge for yourself. The model does not have a through power supply. In the best traditions of state employees up to 7 thousand rubles, the power cable must be inserted directly into the recorder's case.

In the yard in 2017, a typical bracket with built-in GPS and a power connector is used everywhere.

Bracket AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS The

convenience of this approach is the ability to quickly remove or install the camera back. And this is extremely important in Russia, where it is absolutely not recommended to leave the registrar in the car in the parking lot.

Quick-release mount AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS

Moreover, instead of using a standard bracket with GPS, the satellite signal receiving antenna was made a separate remote module.

That is, each time you need to reinstall not only the power cable, but also the wire of the GPS module. Riddle - why was it necessary to make a healthy wire of almost a meter length? Instead of quietly starting the “box” under the ceiling, you have to arrange for yourself a cable laying session along the entire edge of the glass downwards. So I hear the comments of the developers: “Guys, sorry, we had to quickly release the model, time is running out, so these are the jambs. But you keep here, you all the best, good mood and health. "

Finally, docking registrar and holder. The camera ATTACHS onto the mount. The last time I had to deal with a similar, probably, year in 2013. Neither in normal state employees, nor even in the middle and high price range devices, such a construction is simply used, it is in its pure form the last century. Causes: non-rigid fixation (the recorder may begin to unscrew from driving through the potholes), problems with the camera turning to the side (for example, you probably will not turn the recorder + bottom of the mount to the left, but in fact start to unscrew the reg with the holder screw). And, of course, ten times more slowly removing / installing a registrar in comparison with the current is not something that flagship, but even state employees.

And the most unpleasant. The registrar is not weakly shaking on the road. As far as I was able to figure out the problem, the plug-in metal element is to blame (in the photo - the yellow part in the center), where the screw is “driven”. Simply put, it hangs in the case and does not dampen the vibration from the windshield.

I emphasize that I took freeze-frames exactly the moments where the picture did not tremble. But in the event of an accident or other incident - who will guarantee that in an important moment not the video will not be an unreadable shaking picture? Here you have another factor in the low quality of shooting - the result of the devil-may-care attitude of the creators to the ergonomics of their model (and consumers).

The last point does not relate to obvious shortcomings, but still draw attention to it. In all the fixtures that I have seen with a suction cup “hook” for detaching the holder from the glass is located at the top. Nano-convenience item - pull off and remove the recorder from top to bottom. In the Dome DAB202 for some reason, the ledge was made from the side. Most likely someone nakosyachil on Chinese production, crookedly put a rubber circle. And then it was simply decided not to redo anything. And even do so in all subsequent batches during assembly. The normal Chinese approach is to tell everyone that you do not have a bug, but a feature.

There is no need to comment on the menu unnecessarily; these are typical items crookedly translated into Russian, interspersed with English words.

Regularly “experts in all questions of the universe” in comments with manic persistence persuade readers to buy Chinese recorders on Aliexpress - they say, there are exactly the same cameras as (in particular) from AdvoCam, and they are two to three times cheaper. And if there is no difference, then why pay more? Well, here is a clear example of what a “thrifty” consumer gets instead of an efficient and full-fledged in all aspects of the device. Curve translation, poor shooting and disgusting design - both the design of the recorder and the implementation of the bracket. But cheap, yes.


1. As of July 2017, do not buy any DVRs based on the Ambarella A12. Debugged registrars brought to the stage of a stable consumer product are NO! Not one famous manufacturer! But there is a mass of decent video recorders based on the “old” Ambarella A7, which has been in production for years - with excellent shooting and high reliability. The good news is that high-quality models with the Ambarella A12 are on the way, and we will see the first examples as recently as early autumn.

2. Permission as such has no relation to the actual quality of the shooting of the de facto. In all comparisons, the Dome DAB202 with a 1440p picture “merged” not so much 1296p, but 1080p as well. And you could win. As soon as AdvoCam-FD8 Gold GPS 2 based on the Ambarella A12 appears on the store shelves, I will immediately compare it with the Dome and the first “gold”.

3. The use of advanced components does not mean that you get a generally advanced product. Dome DAB202 uses the antediluvian approach to catering, an outdated registrar and bracket connection, an impractical implementation of the GPS module.

4. The Chinese are kosyachat, but you will not know about it at once. In Dome DAB202 apparently could not reliably secure in the case of an element with a screw thread screw. As a result, the registrar seemingly does not seem to rattle and does not hang out, in fact in the frame a terrible shaking on any unevenness. In fact, the model is not ready for use and needs serious factory revision.

So the truth remains the same. The most advanced processor alone does not "weather". It requires the fulfillment of all factors of obtaining high-quality shooting: correctly selected all elements of the opto-electronic path (processor + matrix + lens), as well as bringing the video processing algorithms to a normal result. If these conditions are fulfilled in a product with a previous generation processor, but not in a model with a “stone” of a new generation, the result will be expected. New disgraced, as happened with the Dome DAB202. Or do not you think so? Write in the comments!

PS I remind the readers about the choice of registrars or other points on this subject feel free to contact me personally at

PPS While this material was being prepared, a combo device of the Korean-Russian brand Inspector, called the Inspector Cayman S, came to my test. The

model, including the use of the Ambarella A12 processor, is also notable. To be precise - the younger version of the A12A20 - the one that shoots a maximum in Full HD.

In short, the results - even the “initial” modification of the Ambarella A12A20 shoots better than the flagship version of the Ambarella A12A55 in 1440p. On the other hand, although the Inspector Cayman S records very badly, the video does not pretend to a certain breakthrough - the level of a good mid-budget Full HD recorder for 6-7 thousand rubles based on the processor of the previous generation Ambarella A7LA30. From which it can be concluded that the expectations not only for the top-end, but also for the whole Ambarella A12 lineup are still unreasonably high. The only good news is that this is a standard situation for fresh “iron”, and in the future, normal manufacturers will reveal the potential of new “stones” - it just takes some time.

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