Five Budget Dash Camera Reviewed: G1W, A118C, Mobius, 0806 and MG380G

Showing all five cameras, the G1W, A118, Mobius, Mini 0806 and MG380G installed inside a car.
By Andrew Lam on December 9, 2015
If you’re looking for a stealthy, well made budget camera the A118-C at $57 USD is our top choice. We spent over 60 hours researching and comparing 5 popular budget dash cameras to find the best value. The A118-C has the right combination of video quality, simplicity and discreetness.

Since May, 2016 we now recommend the XiaoYi dash camera for most drivers. It has better video quality and functionality for $70. See our recommendations page for more details.

Update: July 14th, 2016
Viofo released the A119 ($90-$100) which is a substantial upgrade. First impressions is that it’s WAY better than the A118. I recommend waiting for the review or buying the A119 if you can’t wait. Make sure you buy the GPS for better cable management. The A118 is a good buy only between $40-50.

Video Review

My Car Accident Captured on the A118-C

Date: Jan. 16th On Christmas evening I got into an accident and recorded on the A118. Made the insurance process much easier.

Table of Contents

The Cameras

G1W-C

G1W-C Three-Quarter View Typical rectangular body camera praised for it’s great value at $45.

A118-C

A118-C Three Quarter ViewStealthy camera. Appears factory installed to deter thieves.

Mobius

Mobius Dash Camera Three Quarter ViewSmaller than a pack of cards the Mobius is praised for video quality but is a bit hard to use.

Mini 0806

Mini 0806 Three Quarter ViewCompact, cylindrical body camera. Smartly equipped with GPS, 2 card slots and better video quality.

MG380G

MG380G Three Quarter ViewLarge and noticeable camera that fails to deliver on video quality.

Specs

G1WC
$62
A118
$80
Mobius
$80
Mini 0806
$120
MG380G
$130
Max
Resolution
1080P 1080P 1080P 1296P 1080P
Processor Novatek NT96650 Novatek NT96650 Novatek NT96650 Ambarella A7LA50 ZORAN COACH 12P
Image Sensor Aptina AR0330 Aptina AR0330 Aptina AR0330 Omnivision OV4689 Sony Exmor IMX322
Lens f/1.6 – Unknown Construction 6G – Unknown Aperture Unknown Construction 6-Element, F/2.0 7-Element, Unknown Aperture
Capacitor // Battery Both Both Both Battery Cap
LCD 2.7″ 1.5″ None 1.5″ 2.7″
Diagonal FOV 120° 170° 86° 135° 154°
GPS No Optional No Optional Yes
Bitrate 12 15 18 13.5 15
Memory Type microSD microSD microSD microSD SD
Size mm
(L X H X W)
113 x 46 x 32 (Large) 52 x 43 X 72 (Medium) 35 x 18 x 61 (Tiny) 65 x 37 x 35 (Small) 103 x 63 x 41 (Large)

Packaging & Accessories

G1W

Score: 7/10
Thin box with a simple cardboard divider between the accessories and camera. Could offer better protection for the camera. Standard accessories (mount, power adapter, usb cable, instruction manual).

A118C

Score: 7.5/10
Ugly box with thick foam padding to protect the camera. Good protection during shipping. Includes a second mount which is unusual for budget cameras.

Mobius

Score: 6/10
Simple bubble wrap envelope with barebones accessories, no mount or charger. Accessories depend on retailer, some offer a full dash camera package.

0806

Score: 9/10
Unique, clamshell box has good design and protection. Extra accessories which includes wire holders, mounting wedges, cleaning cloth. A better job than many premium brands.

MG380G

Score: 7/10
Plain white box with a cheap plastic divider. The manufacturers did use thick, multi-layered cardboard which offers great protection during shipping. No HDMI cable included which we would except at this price point from a Chinese company.

Build Quality & Design

G1W

Score: 6/10

Cheap looking but uses good materials. Good matte plastic with a brushed metal panel on the front. Mounting area is quite weak, held only by a few small clips. This causes vibrations in the recorded video.

G1W Versions The G1W comes in four distinct versions. All have the same video hardware but different cases and power sources. In this review we are using the G1W-C. A Chart showing the Four G1W Versions - G1W, G1WH, G1W-C and G1W-CB Capacitors are better because of their increased reliability under hot weather compared to lithium ion batteries. Choose lithium ion models to save money or if you need portable recording.

A118C

Score: 9/10
A solid feeling camera with excellent fit and finish. Adjusting the lens you get a firm response, locking strongly in place. Thick plastic is used with no tooling marks to be seen.

Mobius

Score: 8/10

Well constructed camera. Rubberized matte plastic for increased grip, helpful when used as an action camera.

Mobius Hardware Version
The Mobius is currently on its third hardware version. The manufacturer improved the circuit board, providing protection against over-voltage situation, improved the LED notification light and added a larger battery option. The post on RCGroups has more details.

Showing the Mobius Version Three Which Has Larger LEDs compared to the Previous Versions The V3 Mobius can be identified by a larger LED opening.

Lens Versions

There are four lenses for the Mobius, each with a different field of view. Only the “A” and “C2” lenses are widely available. “B” lens is rare. “C” was discontinued for quality control problems.

0806

Score: 8.5/10
The compact tubular shape and ventilation holes gives a premium look to the 0806. The mounting ring is solid and locks in place preventing vibrations. Under strong lights some of the plastic is lumpy but is hardly noticeable.

A magnetic ring is found behind the lens to hold a circular polarizer to reduce reflections in bright light. While this wasn’t tested in this review you can see what the polarizer will look like here with a video here.

MG380G

Score: 8/10

The MG380G is large, ugly but solidly built. The front lens turret is made from metal and while attractively outlined with gold it can draw unwanted attention. In contrast the body is plain and pedestrian looking.

The touch screen LED looks quite nice with a rather attractive orange backlit buttons. The mounting area is one piece and built from thick plastic which greatly improves stability compared to the G1W

Installation

5_Cameras_Inside

All cameras reviewed have a simple installation process which needs no tools and takes 5-10 minutes. There are a few notes on the differences below.

G1W-C

The G1W-C uses the standard slotted mount which slides into the camera. The suction cup is pushed against the windshield and locks using a tab. Separating the mount from the camera is difficult but isn’t a common action

Limited Range of Motion:
The mount’s ball joint is physically smaller than the standard mount found in other cameras. This limits coverage and can create problems depending on the slope of your windshield. You may not be able to cover the front of your vehicle.


As shown in this accident the car appears out of nowhere because of the lack of coverage.

A118C


The A118C uses an adhesive plate which attaches to your windshield. The camera slides on top. The A118C also includes a wire hiding plate which creates a factory installed look which better disguises your camera.

The camera easily slides on and off the mount but remains secure. Adding the wire hider increases the stability of the design. The wire holder also grips the wires making your installation neat and tidy.

Mobius


The Mobius slides into a cradle and needs little force to remove. The mount screws into the standard 1/4″ tripod thread.

Mini 0806

Great Design.
The Mini0806 uses a tape-backed plate holds the camera and supplies power. The camera slides into the mount and simplifies the removal process which doesn’t need you to pull any cables. The 0806 installs in either orientation because a USB port is found on both sides of the mount


The Mini0806 provides mount wedges to help center your camera on sloped windshields. Great for any camera installations which are placed closer to the corners of your vehicle (as needed in California)

MG380G

The MG380G is like the G1W except the mounting slot is much more durable. The plastic is thicker and much less likely to break. The mount also has more freedom of movement compared to the G1W.

Ease of Setup

Laptop with the Mobius Dash Camera and MSetup Program Showing

G1WC

The G1W is intuitive to setup even without the manual which has been rewritten in proper English by SpyTec. The buttons are not labelled which can make the process more confusing as you attempt to remember what each button does.

A118C

The setup is like the G1W, good layout, no button description. The manual is poorly written, difficult to understand but is typical for a budget priced camera.

Mobius

The Mobius is a difficult camera to setup and is mandatory before first use. By default the Mobius is set as an action camera. You must use a computer to access the settings. No instructions are included, instead you must download a lengthy online manual. Luckily there is a large online community with many written guides. See the review video for more details.

0806

Fairly easy setup. Similar menu layout and operation to the A118C and G1W. There’s no dedicated menu or “go back” button so you must long-press the arrow key instead which makes navigation more confusing.

MG380G

One of the few dash cameras with a responsive touchscreen LCD. When combined with clearly labelled settings and buttons, the overall effect will put a smile on your face. If you are a power user you may notice that there are much fewer options to configure. There’s no setting white balance, screen off time or any of the options you may wish to configure. There’s just the basics.

Good thing the designers made the interface so user friendly. The manual by comparison quite difficult to understand. It’s lengthy and full of Engrish.

Cannot Update Firmware
We were unable the firmware as none could be found. The offered firmware on MateGO on Spytec’s website only applies to the branded MateGO MG380G and note the generic version we received.

Daily Use

5_Camera_Ease_Setup_Banner

General Notes

Summary
After setup and installation all cameras are easy to use. While there are quality of life improvements there isn’t a camera that is particularly awful.

Automatic On and Off
All cameras reviewed automatically turn on and start recording once it receives power and will shut down automatically after it loses power.

Camera Notification Issues

All cameras except the Mobius audibly beep when they turn on. They lack a second “recording has started” alert found on premium cameras. Another problem is following a SD card failure, it’s a silent, LCD only alert. The MG380G will loudly beep if there is a SD Card missing, other cameras are silent.

The Mobius completely lacks a speaker which means you have to rely on the LED notification lights. Luckily there are two LED, one on top and one on the back which makes it easier to see its status

While these issues are easily fixed with software it only seems some premium manufacturers like Blackvue put in the effort.

File Protection Shortcut
By default most dash cameras overwrite the oldest files. All dash cameras reviewed today have a button which allows the camera to both save the file and quickly identify the file for future use. All but the Mobius have a rapidly feelable button in a good position for left or right seated drivers.

Camera Specific Notes

G1WC:

The manual fails to mention the file protection and mute shortcuts. The LED status light can be obscured depending on its placement.

G1WC:

Dedicated LED light for recording status and microphone simplifies the interface. Dedicated, distinct emergency lock button makes it easy to find in the dark.

Mobius:

LED notification light on both the bottom and rear of the camera makes it easy to check the status regardless of your height or location. The buttons make it difficult to activate emergency recording as they are flush with the unit and non-distinct to the touch.

0806:

The lack of labels can make it difficult to understand what each button does. Your installation orientation can block access to the notification lights or controls especially if placed behind the rear view mirror.

MG380G:

Large buttons makes accessing emergency lock and mute extremely easy. It’s also far too easy to turn off recording by simply touching the LCD screen.

Video Quality Summary

See the two sections below for In-Car and Lab Results.

G1WC

Score: 6.0/10

Good video quality with sharp video during the day and acceptable video at night. Unfortunately it has shaky video due to its poor constructions which shakes the video momentarily losing all clarity especially at night. You can tape the camera or buy a new mount but you shouldn’t have to.

A118C

Score: 6.5/10

The A118C has more grain than G1W or Mobius even though it uses the same video hardware. In all lighting conditions but especially at night there is a noticeable fuzz which obscures the images.

Mobius

Score: 7.0/10

The Mobius has the best looking video under daylight and city lighting compared to the A118C and G1W. It may have problems recording video under ultra low lighting such as in the countryside. During our night lab tests we had to double the light because upon playback we would only see a black screen. Shouldn’t be a problem unless you are in the countryside.

0806

Score: 7.5/10

The 0806 has the best video quality in this review but only if you ignore the recommendations to use the higher resolution settings. The proper setting is 1920x1080P. In addition the camera has significant overexposure. We had to manually reduce the exposure value by -1.3 to get things looking right.

The 0806 has the best video quality in this review but not significantly better.

MG380G

Score: 5/10

The MG380G was praised for having exceptional video. Unfortunately this was directed to the MateGO MG380G and not the generic version. There was an exceptional amount of noise in our test unit and it consistently looked the worst of all five cameras under all conditions.

In-Car Screenshots

Test 1: Daylight Toronto, Passing Cars

G1W // A118C // Mobius
Similar in their quality. The A118C has noticeably more grain. All three cameras adapt well to the rapidly changing conditions in the tunnels with the Mobius being the fastest and smoothest. While passing vehicles at 50-60km/h unfortunately these cameras can’t capture enough light to capture license plates but that’s not unexpected.

0806
This clip was taken before the proper settings were used. The video is significantly worse than the other cameras.

MG380G
Bad.

Test 2: Dusk, Downtown Toronto

A118C // G1W
Similar video quality with the A118C showing the characteristic noise compared to the mobius/G1W

Mobius
Better exposure and white balance. Can see more details on the license plate of the car in front.

0806
Wrong Settings

MG380G
Again, bad performance at night.

Test 3: Night, Downtown Toronto, Yonge & Square

G1W // A118C // Mobius
Edge to Mobius for sharpness and exposure. The G1W seems to overexpose the picture slightly and everything is more blurry, especially in the corners. The A118C would look great expect for the amount of grain in the videos.

Test 4 – Night Highway

G1W // A118C // Mobius
Mobius looks the best in the group, text is rendered better and all the details are sharper. The G1W shows how much vibration affects the images as pausing results in completely unusable video.

0806 Tests

We tested the 0806 with the recommended 1296P (2304 × 1296) setting. We found this setting reduces quality by 20-30% from the actual, native resolution at 1080P (1920x1080P) which suggests inflated numbers to help market the camera.

Note: Dec 17th
During lab tests we failed to test at 1920x1080P and only have the 2560x1080P images available. We’ll be updating those charts in the future. The comparison video below used to evaluate night performance were properly done at 1920x1080P and confirms our evaluation of the “best” resolution”.

Lab Test Screenshots

ISO 12233 Chart Used for Comparing Dash Cameras.

For lab testing we used a standard ISO 12233 Test chart and tested each camera under daylight (300 lux) and moonlight light values (~2-3 lux) as measured by my cell phone using a light meter program. Each camera was mounted to a tripod and moved so that the testing area would vertically fill the video space.

Daylight

During daylight testing every camera except the generic MG380G has great performance for the price you pay. The 0806 had the sharpest video while other cameras came in a close second.

Night

Mobius – Couldn’t complete the low-light test at 2 lux. The lighting level had to be raised to see anything more than black video. This is corroborated in the real life low light tests.

0806 – Best night video quality, easily 20-30% more detail picked up under low resolutions compared to the other cameras in this test.

Other Notes

Capacitor vs Lithium Batteries

Your camera needs a power source to safely save your files after shutting down. A capacitor is preferred because it’s more reliable under hotter weather. Lithium ion batteries can swell and disable your camera.

Capacitors are more expensive and carry a limited charge. You can’t use your camera outside your vehicle.

G1W, A118, Mobius – Same Video Hardware

All three cameras use the same image sensor and processor. While you would expect similar video quality there was differences from construction and software.

0806

Some interesting features with the 0806:

Two SD Slots

Doubles capacity and automatically switches cards when the current card is filled. Useful for professionals who may need to respond to driving complaints.

Lane Departure Warning System
Intended to provide an alert if you step outside the boundaries but we found it ineffective. Too many false alerts will force you to turn off the device.

Reliability & Warranty

In general the cameras listed will have reduced reliability and quality control compared to cameras produced by major name brands.

Warranty
The G1W / A118C / Mobius cameras have a 90 day warranty which is better than nothing given the price but falls short of the year offered on the 0806 and MG380G.

If you are concerned about reliability and quality control we suggesting buying from a well-known dash camera brand. We’ll have a review in the future but a short list of candidates would be: Blackvue, DOD Tech and Thinkware.

0806 Warranty Concerns
There have been many complaints about overheating cameras, focus and power problems. While the third generation of cameras has the least problems there are still quite a few reports on camera failures. Luckily there is a one-year warranty if you buy from a reputable source.

Lens Warping Under Heat
If you live in hot climates where 30°C/86°F temperatures are normal there are reports of heat warping sensor and lens mounts, causing focusing issues. We recommend buying cameras which are designed for hot weather such as the Street Guardian SG9665GC. We’ll add a full guide in the future.

Beware of Fakes

All 5 cameras reviewed today has a model which looks similar but has worse performing hardware. Unfortunately a common practice is to intentionally mislabel products and hope consumers will be not be aware. The “Where to Buy” section below lists reputable retailers.

Example: Fake G1Ws on Amazon

On Amazon, the marketplace model allows any retailer to compete with other retailers under one listing. See this review for someone who was cheated.

Going by the screen shots you posted you actually have a fake G1W. The time stamp on a real G1W looks as big as the others pictures posted here. Your version has the lower end chipset.

Verdict

A118C Summary Header
A118-C
“Great Budget Choice”

Score: 9/10

This is a great dash camera. It’s everything you want in a low cost camera. Great video quality for the price, excellent build quality, compact, stealthy and easy to use.

I wish they had a better manual, failed SD card notifications and a longer warranty (90 Days) but it’s understandable for the price.

Award for a Product Recommended by Car Cam Central
Where to Buy?

Buy the capacitor version “-c” for better reliability in hot weather

Ebay – International

eBay for $57 USD. Sold by eStore009. GPS & Hardwire optional.

G1W Verdict Header
G1W
“Frugal At All Costs”

Score: 7/10

Pick the G1W only if you need the cheapest dash camera or don’t like an adhesive mount.

The problems with mount construction and vibrating video is enough to avoid choosing this dash camera. The mount also lacks adjustability because it’s the smaller version of the more common mount found on the MG380.

Get it From?

Pick the G1W-CB for the best stealth & reliability for a few dollars more.

Amazon USA
Get it from Spytec. Based in New York City. Great customer service.

International
eBay for $46USDSold by eStore009. Great seller.

Mobius_Verdict_Header
Mobius
“Small Size, Big Hassle”

Score: 7/10

I wouldn’t recommend the Mobius for most consumers even though it’s small and captures video quite well. While community and developer support is amazing it can be difficult to setup if you aren’t familiar with computers. The camera is otherwise quite unobtrusive and delivers great video quality.

Watch our video review to see if this camera a good fit for you.

Where to Buy?

Be sure to buy a dash camera package as it often comes with limited accessories. You’ll need at minimum a mount and cigarette power adapter.

USA
Get it from Amazon. The seller is the registered company of BuyMobius.com a trusted source in the community.

UK
The Car Camera Shop has an excellent package and is well known in the community for their service. Link

Mini 0806 Summary Header
Mini 0806

“Not Great”

Score: 7.0/10

The 0806 could be a great camera if the video quality and reliability was better.

If you really like this camera I would recommend buying this camera from a local or national retailer like SpyTec who offers a 1-year warranty and cheaper shipping.

Where to Buy?

GPS version available for $10 more

Amazon – USA // Canada
Get it from Spytec – Based in New York City. Great customer service & shipping.

GRDIAN – USA

GRDIAN is an interesting alternative. They specially configured and directly worked with the factory in China to improve quality control. They also offer a replacement should your unit ever get damaged in a crash.

Use promo code: CARCAM to knock $3 off and to help us out!

International

Gear Best for $110 – Taiwanese Company.

MG380G Summary Header

MG380G – Avoid

The MG380G has been a real disappointment with the lowest video quality of all five cameras reviewed today. We reviewed the generic model instead of the better acclaimed “Matego MG380G“.

Misleading Product Photos on SpyTec’s Website
SpyTec’s photo indicates that they are selling the MateGO branded camera when instead it’s the generic version that we received for testing.

Disclaimer:

We received these cameras from SpyTec for this review. Spytec did not pay us and we did not pay them. Spytec did not affect or influence this review in any way; our opinions are our own

Affiliate links are used throughout this article. When you buy through our links a part of any sales goes to us. It costs you nothing and you support our work and other drivers when they use better cameras.

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12 Comments on "Five Budget Dash Camera Reviewed: G1W, A118C, Mobius, 0806 and MG380G"

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Michael Chong Ping
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Michael Chong Ping

Nice review but I also notice you don’t mention anything with regards to reliability. A lot of user reviews mention problems with the A118-C quality control, some units work fine out of the box and others have real problems. Even then there are many reports of the units dying within a couple of months. The C version is supposed to be better in high temperature , yet there have been reports of the case getting deformed leading to other complications, camera itself failing and so on. This is not limited to the A118 but other similar form factor like the B40, Autovox etc. I have seen similar issues for the mini 0806 but less reported problems with the mobius.

Francesco
Guest

Hello Andrew, has the 0806 a motion sensor that when you parked the car it activate his self and record if somebody pass by the car? and is it possible to use a powerpack for recording also when the cars is parked?
Thank you and Regards
Francesco

wartser
Guest

You mention that the g1w can be “taped” to reduce the shaky video. What exactly do you mean by that?

I definitely like the aesthetics of the a118c more, but video quality is also very important to me. The grainy video is very off-putting. If the vibrations of the g1w can be resolved, It’d seem to be the better choice for me.

Andrew Lam
Guest

Hi Wartser. I would take duct tape or electrical tape, ideally a non residue gaffers tape and tape down anything that wobbles.

You can also buy from eBay either a camera that uses a different mount: http://bit.ly/21E35rN

or just the mount itself: http://bit.ly/218x19S

This mount style is supposedly more secure but I haven’t tested it out.

danieljfilms
Guest
danieljfilms

HI, thanks for the great info. We are looking for a truly wide dash cam. A lot seem to claim really wide angles but aren’t that wide. From the photos the a118 and the 0806 seem to have the same FOV, even though one claims 170 and the other 135. The MG380G seemed to be the widest. Would you agree with these findings? What camera would you suggest if widest possible FOV is important? THanks!!

Andrew Lam
Guest

Hi danieljfilms, Completely agree with your findings. Doing a bit more research the 170 degrees quoted would be the max spec of the lens and not the real world results. Most likely the field of view is around 135 degrees. I’ll change the specs.

The MG380G definitely seems to be the widest.

I haven’t extensively researched the “widest FOV” possible angle.

Cameras such as the SJ4000 http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1072775-REG/sj4000_sj4000_action_camera.htmlhave an extremely large angle (170 degrees) but end up warping the image. As such it’s difficult to recommend anything if you want to preserve details such as license plates.

Looking at dashcamtalk most people and advice are moving towards an intermediate angle of around 120-130 degrees to avoid a fisheye effect. I’m in agreement as well with the advice. I haven’t seen a very wide angle camera I’ve liked.

Are you looking for as much coverage as possible?

MisterTheory
Guest
MisterTheory

Thank you, it is obvious you put a lot of time and effort into this. It helped me feel better about the camera I decided to order. Thanks again, Scott

Andrew Lam
Guest

You’re welcome @mistertheory:disqus! Happy to help.

cartfan88
Guest

Very good normative review. Perfect for someone just getting into a dash cam as I have.

Andrew Lam
Guest

Thanks @cartfan88:disqus! Glad you liked it.

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