We were excited to check out Cobra's new mid-range dash cam, the CDR840, because it offered a unique combination of features compared to the Korean products we're most familiar with. It comes in a nice shade of grey and like other Cobra units it utilizes a suction cup mount. On the back it has a few easy to use controls and a perfectly sized 1.5" screen that keeps the unit size down.
While the main camera unit is only about 2.5" tall, when you add in the necessary suction cup mount it then becomes over 6" tall.
What's in the box?
Cobra always does a great job with packaging that showcases the design and features of their dashcams and the CDR 840 is no different. Inside the box you'll find a cigarette lighter power cord, USB cable, suction cup mount, and an 8GB MicroSD Card. The device is easy to setup and is ready to go right out of the box making it ideal for those looking for a straightforward dashcam solution, however there are some issues we'd like to point out about the peripheral hardware provided. The power cable is only about 6.5' and definitely isn't long enough to hardwire and tuck neatly in any car so buyers who want a more permanent solution may want to find an alternative DC cable. The 8GB MicroSD is a generic unbranded card which is again just adequate for a temporary solution but we highly recommend at least a 16GB card for 1080P recording. Furthermore, the supplied suction cup mount is fairly sturdy but adds a good 4" of height to the overall camera making inconspicuous mounting quite difficult (we generally prefer more permanent adhesive mounts for a low-profile look).
As previously mentioned, the CDR 840 has an interesting mix of features. The internal GPS unit adds an extra element of evidence and is capable of displaying location data and speed when you utilize the Cobra Dash Cam Player on your computer. The biggest surprise we found with the CDR 800 is that it has a unique mode for still images which essentially turns your dashcam into a point & shoot digital camera. We don't expect too many of our customers using this still image feature but it's worth pointing out that it's full featured with settings for digital zoom, white balance, ISO, and even special effects. The overall user interface is also quite comparable to a consumer digital camera and it's fairly intuitive for changing settings and using the screen for playback. There isn't any WiFi function which isn't a surprise at this price point and frankly it's not a big loss since there is a screen and Cobra has covered all other bases for video output such as Mini HDMI, Mini USB, and obviously the removable micro SD card.
The buttons and scren allow for a user-friendly consumer digital camera-like interface for setup and playback.
The Cobra CDR 840 has a 5 megapixel CMOS sensor that's capable of 1080P Full HD at 30 FPS. There are numerous resolution settings that are easy to set on the device so users can easily choose a balance between quality and quantity which is important when using smaller memory cards. Video performance in both day and night is crystal clear and super smooth making license plates easy to read even when in motion. However, in our opinion the most important spec to be aware of is the 118° lens, the optics are super sharp but the narrower angle may be a deal breaker for some. In our testing we found the narrow angle to be a drawback when approaching intersections especially at four way stops. At night the glare from oncoming headlights can also be quite strong so it's important to keep the lens clean.
While we're blown away by the sharpness of the CDR 840 there are some issues with peripheral accessories we'd like to see Cobra address. Many of our customers have expressed their appreciation for sleek and inconspicuous dashcams for anti-theft reasons and unfortunately that doesn't seem to be Cobra's focus. While we generally prefer wider angles to capture more vehicles in the frame, the narrow angle lens is great at capturing objects that are further down the road, this is entirely subjective so we'll leave it for you to make an educated decision based on our test footage.
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