The $170 Z-Edge F1 ticks nearly all the boxes a front/interior dash cam should tick, especially for professional and rideshare drivers. Boasting 1440p front video, 1080p front/interior video, good night and low-light captures, and GPS, it’s almost the total package—once you figure out how the heck to use it.

Features and specs

The F1 is a wide-body camera, measuring approximately 4.25×1.75×1.35 inches. It’s handsome as dash cams go, with a suction mount that also incorporates the GPS module. Nicely, the GPS module serves as a handle that rotates to aid the removal mechanism. If you’ve used a high-suction model that relies on only a rotary dial, you’ll appreciate how much easier it is.

GPS info is watermarked onto the video, as well as embedded into the video for use with playback and mapping software. Z-Edge also provides (via download) a player that will render the video, as well as display your location, heading, and speed. See below.

f1 z edge1 IDG
Advertisement

Tracking your travels with a map and embedded GPS info can be quite entertaining. 

The back of the unit is home to a 2.7-inch 1080p display, with four buttons stacked vertically on its right. There’s another button on top, next to the mini-USB connector, and a SD card slot on the right of the unit. The interior camera is to the left of the display, in an eyeball socket. 

The front camera can capture up to 1440p at 30 frames per second when used by itself, or 1080p (recommended) at 30 fps, as can the interior camera, if both are in use. And unlike the recently reviewed dual-camera Akaso Trace 1, you can choose the lesser resolution when capturing with only the front camera to save storage space. Video is saved in .MOV (QuickTime) format. Both cameras offer a 150-degree field of view. 

As with all modern dash cams, there’s a g-sensor to detect impacts, as well as motion detection for use when the car is parked. I recommend a OBD-II power adapter for supplying juice when the car is turned off. I do not know whether the car senses battery drain, so as usual, be careful when leaving the camera on in the car for more than a couple of days.

The F1’s on-screen interface is actually fairly well done, but the button functionality is a hot mess. The confusion starts with the ‘OK’ button on top of the unit, where normally the on/off button resides. Then there’s the ‘M’ button, which stands for Mode, but only changes modes once you stop recording by pressing the OK button. In the user’s guide this is referred to as “stopping recording to go into record mode.” I’m not kidding. 

In my initial testing, interior video was extremely dark, and I could find no menu setting to turn on the infrared LCDs. As it turns out, you hold the Left/Up button for three seconds to turn it on. Ahem. Note that I never read the user’s guide unless I have to. That’s one way we judge how intuitive a device’s interface is. I’m calling the F1 a fail in that regard, though once you know what’s going on, it’s workable.

Bottom line: Z-Edge really needs to rethink the F1 interface—it doesn’t measure up to the product as a whole.

Performance

The F1’s video turned out to be worth the hassle of learning how to use it. Color is rich, the stabilization is top-notch, and there’s plenty of detail. If I’m being picky, there’s a touch of graininess in the low-light captures. That’s a hallmark of the Sony IMX323 sensor, though it more than compensates by capturing a large amount of detail in the dark.

There’s also just a touch of fish-eye, which is going to be greater with a 150-degree field of view than with the usual 140-degree device, but it’s processed very well. As I said, I’m being picky. Generally speaking the F1’s video is first-rate.

This first shot shows how much detail is revealed in your car’s surroundings by the Sony sensor. There’s some distortion, as well as dirt revealed on what I thought was a clean windshield.

Source