Transcend DrivePro 130: Feature-rich dashcam
In the early days of dashcams, they usually require you to keep them plugged in. That said, for people who make use of the cigarette lighter receptacle for other things like charging their phone or using FM modulators, You’ll be forced to choose between them. Now that they’ve become more common, more and more varieties of dashcams have appeared, some of them even boasting an internal battery. And we’re reviewing one such dashcam this time – the Transcend DrivePro 130.
Design and features
We’ll start with the basics. What you have here is a very square-ish looking dashcam that’s pretty huge and conspicuous. You’d think that it’s not an issue unless you don’t want other people realizing that you have a dashcam (which has its benefits, but that’s beside the point). As you drive along though, you’ll notice that the large screen can take up quite a lot of your view, and it becomes quite distracting as you try getting used to its presence.
Of course, you’re not putting up with this unless the DrivePro 130 has enough to offer to make you overlook this. Below the screen are four buttons that help you navigate through its menu, which is pretty simplistic and straightforward. Opening that, you’ll see that it’s pretty feature-rich too, even if some of them don’t work the way you’d expect them to. You’re not getting fancy 4K recording, but you’ll be able to choose between HD and Full HD recording (720p vs. 1,080p). You can even adjust exposure values.
The DrivePro 130 also records videos in chunks, and you can decide whether each one is one, three or five minutes long. There is also the option to take time-lapse videos, with a shot being taken every omne, two or four seconds. Transcend does give you a 16GB microSD card to use with the DrivePro 130, and like most dashcams, when it runs out of space, the oldest chunk will be overwritten to make space for the newer ones.
That said, there is an ‘emergency’ button that, when pressed, will leave the currently recording segment untouched when the microSD card runs out of space, ensuring that the footage will always be there. This is useful when you really run into an emergency, like an accident, so that the footage is kept as evidence if necessary. You can also take a photo as well at any time, but you’ll likely only use this immediately after an incident that made you use the ‘emergency’ button. This is usually the right-most button below the display.
Other extras you get include a headlight reminder, which reminds you to turn on your headlights if the DrivePro 130 thinks it’s getting dark outside. There’s also a G-sensor, as well as a driver fatigue alert that doesn’t make use of the G-sensor, but instead just reminds you to take a break every one, two, three or four hours, which is more annoying than it is helpful. Also, since we mentioned the battery at the start, it should be mentioned once again that the DrivePro 130 sports a built-in battery if you prefer to use the cigarette lighter receptacle for something else.
Features aside, there is little point in a dashcam that doesn’t record clear videos. So we put it, as well as its battery, to the test by plugging it in during office hours and then letting it do its recording thing on the way home. The same thing the next day on the way to work.
So what were the videos like? Well, sufficient, to say the least. Clarity will be an issue if you’re looking at something beyond five meters away, but up close you get enough details to tell the important things like the number plate of the vehicle in front of you. The same goes for the images. Segments that are labeled as ‘Emergency’, e.g. those during which you pressed the button are stored in a separate folder, making them a lot easier to find.
There’s also Wi-Fi connectivity for the times where you absolutely need the footage from the dashcam to be displayed on your smartphone. There’s an app available for both Android and iOS, which lets you either stream or download the clips directly to your phone.
As for the battery life, taking into account that it usually takes the reviewer about an hour to and from work, and the DrivePro 130 managed to stay on for most of the second journey, we’d say that the DrivePro 130 has a battery life of slightly under two hours. Of course, this would be irrelevant to you if you have your cigarette lighter receptacle free to keep the DrivePro 130 powered at all times.
The Transcend DrivePro 130 is a dashcam with a lot of strange quirks. It’s larger than the usual ones you see, and that can be pretty distracting when you’re just starting to get familiar with the idea of having one in the car. Making up for that are a myriad of features, some of which work while others feel pretty gimmicky.
And while it’s not a particularly rare feature these days, having a built-in battery really makes the difference. This is especially if the car you’re driving isn’t a particularly new one, and you don’t intend to spend money on a fancy in-car entertainment system with Bluetooth and USB ports. With the kinds of songs that, err, take up our radio waves these days, having your own music is a necessity if you enjoy music while driving or stuck in traffic, and you’ll need your cigarette lighter receptacle free to use them on older cars.
So if you’re looking for a dashcam and the size of the Transcend DrivePro 130 doesn't bother you, then this is one dashcam that you can definitely consider getting. As long as you don’t mind having to recharge it every night alongside your phone, that is.