G1W Dash Cam Review: Does It Really Offer The Best Bang For Your Buck?

G1W Dash Cam

There are hundreds of dash cams you can choose from, from a hundred different manufacturers. There are ultra low-budget cheap models and high-end models that shoot in 4K and upload to the cloud instantly. For most people, the G1W dash cam will do the job. It just might be the best budget dash cam you can buy.

Because your choice of dash cam is essential, you need to research your options. Many dash cams have bad imaging or are difficult to use, even if they come with warranties against manufacturer defects. You’ll want to make sure that the camera you choose is easy to operate, records in color HD, and will last you a long time. The SpyTech G1W dash cam does all of these while saving you money.

G1W Dash Cam

The G1W dash cam is made by SpyTech, a Chinese company that produces cameras, audio recording units, and tracking devices. It first debuted in 2013 for around $100 but has since come down in price. The G1W is the world’s best-selling dash cam, with over 10 million units sold since its debut. The camera is ready-to-use right out of the box.

The G1W packs a Novatek NT96650 processor, one of the most powerful available in a budget dash cam. An Aptina AR0330 sensor works with the processor to quickly capture and process video with no lag. This powerful combination of processor and sensor is what makes the G1W dash cam one of the world’s favorite cameras.

Because of the large processor, it is a slightly larger camera compared to other models in its price range, but for under $50, that trade-off is worth it. You’ll find that its long, rectangular shape is distracting if placed in the center of your windshield or mounted on the dashboard; however, the camera fits nicely behind the rear-view mirror where it can record everything without trouble but also stays out of your way and allows you to concentrate on the road.

Features and construction

G1W Dash Cam accessories

More noteworthy, the G1W is made from plastic, giving it a somewhat cheap feel, but don’t let the quality of the casing fool you into thinking it underperforms. This camera records in surprisingly clear HD at 1080p at a bit rate of between 12,000 and 15,000 kbps depending on the year of production. The 2.7 inch LCD is large enough to play back clearly, yet small enough to keep distractions to a minimum.

In addition to the above, the G1W has some neat features packed into it, such as the ability to turn on automatically when it senses the car turn on, and a function that automatically saves video when it senses a collision.

While large, this dash cam mounts easily behind your rear-view mirror, and despite its larger size, it manages to stay stylish and out of the way. The main difference between the different versions of the G1W is styling, and the year they were created, with the newer models more expensive, although you can get an older model and still enjoy the same processor and sensor as the more expensive ones.

Although SpyTech claims that the 120-degree wide-angle lens provides all the night vision you need, you’ll find that night video, while clear enough, is a little blurry with any distance. The imagery from the edges of the screen can also appear a little fuzzy in low light conditions.

Specifications

Before you rush out to buy your new SpyTech G1W dash cam, you should take a look and see what kind of power the camera is packing, how big it is, and what you can do with it. These specifications to apply to all G1W models regardless of release year.

  • 1080p video recording
  • 2.7” screen
  • Novatek NT96650 processor
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    Aptina AR0330 sensor
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    Lens: fixed-focus lens
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    Zoom: 4x digital zoom
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    Lens Angle: 120-degree ultra wide-angle
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    Night Recording: enhanced led lights
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    Output: HDMI
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    Storage: up to 64 GB MicroSD card
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    CODEC: MPEG-4
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    Battery: 3.7V 300mAh
Innovative G1W Dash Cam Black box - Full HD 1080P H.264 2.7" LCD Car...
  • High Quality - 5 mega-pixel camera with 1080p HD recording for a sharp and pristine image. 30/60 FPS camera speed with...
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  • Automatic recording - Automatically starts recording when the car turns on. G-sensor will prevent past recordings from...

Pricing

You can buy the G1W on Amazon, eBay, or at any major electronics retailer such as Best Buy or WalMart. Because it is one of the most popular budget dash cams on the market, you’ll have no difficulty finding an online retailer where you can buy it. A word of caution, however: The G1W has spawned several imitation dash cams that claim they are G1W dash cams but are, in fact, low-end cameras that lack sensors and HD video recording. Your best bet is to buy it from a reputable source that is authorized to sell the G1W. This will ensure you receive a real camera and also protects your purchase with a SpyTech warranty.

Even more importantly, the G1W dash cam retails for between $42 and $59, depending on the year of the model you purchase. The G1W-H was released in 2015 and updated in 2016. It retails for $50 US. The G1W-CB has no shiny parts and is the most popular version sold today.

Warranty

Every G1W dash cam you purchase through an authorized retailer comes protected by a 1-year warranty direct from SpyTech. They’ll exchange a malfunctioning unit with a valid receipt. You can also purchase additional warranty coverage through individual retailers.

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G1W Dash Cam

How Does It Compare?

The G1W is the world’s most popular budget dash cam for a reason. It fares extremely well against other dash cams in its price range. Although larger than most dash cams, the G1W packs that powerful Novatek processor which outperforms most other low-to-mid-priced dash cams, and even a couple of the more expensive ones!

We compare the SpyTech G1W dash cam with the Novatech 96220, another budget dash cam in the same price range, and with the Papago 535, a mid-tier dash cam that you can purchase for around $100. I’ll use a 5-star rating system for this comparison, looking at several factors which can help you make a purchasing decision.

Ease of use: We’ll compare how easy is it to not only record video but also to operate the functions and transfer files to your computer or the cloud.

Assembly time: Let’s look at how easy or difficult is it to mount the camera to your dashboard or windshield.

Build quality: How tough, versatile, and premium-feeling is the camera?

Warranty: How does the warranty stack up to industry standards?


Novatek 96220 Car DVR Camera Dash Cam 3.0 Inch Recorder Video...
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Novatek is a British company that has been making computers, cameras, and other electronics for nearly 30 years. It produces the processor used in the G1W dash cam, as well as its own line of dash cams.

First of all, the Novatek 96220 dash cam has many of the same specifications as the G1W, with a 2.7”LCD, 1080p HD recording, and a wide-angle lens. The Novatek is a little cheaper than the G1W, but it sacrifices ease of use, style, and sensors to save money. You won’t find anything like the Aptina sensor on this model, and there’s no way for it to sense a collision or to accurately turn on and off when you start and stop the car. The camera feels cheap, with a light plastic casing. Novatek also makes no warranty and does not guarantee its products against manufacturer defects, preferring to allow retailers to pick up the cost instead.

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Warranty
Novatek 96220

Sale
PAPAGO GoSafe S36 Car Dash Camera GoSafe S36 Super HD Dash Cam 1296P...
  • 1296P SUPER HD DASH CAMERA RECORDS VIDEO WITH 160 Degree WIDE ANGLE, the best resolution the market offers. The GoSafe...
  • CAR DVR SUPPORTS UP TO 64GB MICRO SD CARD yielding about 8 hours of recording at 1080p setting. More storage space...
  • DASH CAM HAS 3 RECORDING MODES TO CHOOSE FROM: Automatic Recording (Loop recording), Monitor Mode (1 picture per second...

Papago is a Taiwanese company that’s been making dash cams since 2001. It focuses on the mid-range and higher-end tiers of the dash cam market, but the Papago 535 is low-enough in price as to be comparable to the G1W dash cam.


In contrast to the Novatek, the 535 records at 2.7K HD and comes with multiple recording options such as video, parking, and driving. It packs some powerful sensors and, like the G1W, can sense when the car is in motion or when a collision has occurred. The Papago is immediately difficult to use. The touch-screen commands are confusing, and the user interface is non-intuitive. While the camera is easy to set up and use, getting the video off the camera is rather difficult. The video files need to be compressed and converted to a standard format for playback. The build quality of the 535 is exceptional, and all Papago cameras come backed by a decent warranty.

Rating

Ease of Use

Assembly Time

Build Quality
Warranty
Papago 535

G1W Dash Cam Pros & Cons

While the G1W dash cam is the most popular dash cam for budget shoppers, the camera isn’t perfect. It has some flaws in addition to its long list of strengths.

Pros

  • The powerful processor is top-of-the-line for its class
  • Amazing Aptina AR0330 sensor is accurate and handy
  • This is one of the most affordable cameras on the market
  • Detects when the car is turned on and starts recording
  • Detects collisions and automatically saves its data
  • Easy-to-use interface

Cons

  • Larger than most cameras on the market
  • Cheap plastic construction
  • Night vision isn’t all that great
  • Nothing special about its warranty coverage

Our Verdict

The G1W dash cam packs a lot of value into an affordable package, a fact that has made it the most popular dash cam in the world today. The Novatek processor and Aptina sensor together in the same camera is a powerful combination that allows it to hold its own against more premium models like the Papago 535. At half the price as the Papago, you can’t go wrong buying a G1W.

Also, when compared with the competition, the G1W manages to hold its own and outshines all other budget-level dash cams. The Novatek 96620, although similar to the G1W dash cam, lacks the sensors and functionality which make the G1W so powerful. The mid-range Papago 535 is more solidly built than the G1W, but was much more confusing to use — and double the price.

Another point to keep in mind is the problem of imitators. With the popularity of the G1W comes imitators who make cheap knock-offs and try to trick consumers into parting with their money. You’ll want to make sure you purchase your G1W dash cam from a reputable source. That way, you avoid losing your cash and take advantage of the SpyTech warranty.

If you want a dash cam that is reliable,  doesn't take away the classic ride, works well in most conditions, a fast processor and some handy extras such as collision-detect, but don’t want to spend a fortune, then look no further than the SpyTech G1W dash cam.

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