Every time you fly in a commercial jet plane, a blackbox records everything the plane does. In case of an accident, recovering this blackbox lets authorities determine what the plane was doing up to the time of the accident.
With the DRS 1100 you can add similar blackbox features to your car. The DRS 1100 consists of a video recorder with a Secure Digital (SD) card reader (and an included 4GB SD card), a mounting bracket, and a lengthy power cord for plugging the unit into a cigarette lighter.
The idea is that you fix the mounting bracket to your windshield using its adhesive backing, attach the video recorder to the mounting bracket, and plug the power cord into the cigarette lighter and video recorder.
To allow you to mount the recorder on the windshield or dashboard, the camera lens swivels up or down, allowing you to aim the lens forward no matter what odd position you mount the device. When you’ve mounted the device, you’re ready to start driving.
The moment the video recorder detects a sudden impact such as rapid deceleration from braking or a jolt from getting hit (or running into an object), the video recorder automatically kicks in and starts recording video footage, approximate car speed, and GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates on to its SD card.
Pop this SD card out, plug it into any Windows PC, and run the X-Driven program that lets you access and view the saved video footage. Now you can view data that shows the speed of the car and location, which can help clarify exactly what happened at the scene of an accident.
Rather than wait for a car crash to start the video recorder, you can also press an On button to start the video recorder manually. This can be useful to track where a vehicle has been and how fast it might have gone. Anyone in charge of commercial vehicles (or teenagers borrowing the family car) can appreciate having this information available to review at a later date. This lets you verify not only where the driver went, but how fast and whether he (or she) drove carefully or recklessly.
The included 4GB SD card can hold a surprising amount of video, but you could easily substitute a much larger SD card if you wish, up to 16GB. The video camera isn’t top of the line (just 1.3 megapixel), which captures VGA (640×480), QVGA (320×240), or Mega (1280×960) video resolution. Such a variety of video resolutions lets you capture the quality you like best.
Now here are the drawbacks. According to the manual, turning on the unit and waiting a few minutes will allow the device to start capturing GPS coordinates, but my unit never managed to do so, even after 20 minutes of driving around.
Beyond this flaw, which might have been limited to my particular unit, another problem is that you need to use the company’s X-Driven software to view the recorder data, which gets stored as a proprietary .ub1 format. Unfortunately, the X-Driven program only runs on Windows so if you’re using Linux or a Macintosh, you can’t use the X-Driven program and thus you can’t view any recorded data from the recorder.
While useful and interesting, the DRS 1100 is definitely not a must-have product, but more of a gee-whiz product. Still, if you don’t mind spending $299, the DRS 1100 can be invaluable when you need it the most. With its ability to capture video immediately during and after an accident, the device can capture crucial video evidence to protect you legally.
Leave the device running continuously may not always be practical due to the storage space long video recording sessions would gobble up, but doing so could also help you prove your case in court if stopped by a police officer for running a stop sign or traffic light. With video evidence supporting your case, you could spare yourself a traffic ticket and higher insurance rates, which could make the device pay for itself.
Ultimately, the DRS 1100 is a luxury item, but an extremely useful and desirable one. After seeing the DRS 1100 in action, you may want one just for the novelty, but also because you recognize its potential for capturing video footage when you might need it the most. You might never need the DRS 1100, but you’ll certainly want one.
- Captures decent-quality video at various resolutions
- Captures GPS coordinates
- Automatically turns on when jolted during a car accident
- Requires Windows, can’t view recorded data using Mac OS X or Linux
- GPS coordinates didn’t seem to work on my unit
- Recorder stores video in files only readable by the X-Driven program
You can buy it here for $299