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Lifewire / Danny Chadwick
Captures footage in full 1080p
Easy mounting options
Terrible user manual
The Apeman C450 performs decently for a camera this small and inexpensive, and for many, its design flaws can be forgiven for its price tag.
If you’re on a budget and in the market for a dashboard camera, the Apeman C450 is a worthy consideration. For under $50, it captures smooth, detailed video in full 1080p HD resolution. It’s easy to use (even though the user manual is substandard) and it won’t give you any problems during the drive. It does have a few points of frustration, but that shouldn’t be a shock at this price point—it’s hard to make a truly good dashcam for this cheap.
The Apeman C450 has a three-inch screen that’s bright, detailed, and provides an at-a-glance view of the camera’s status. If it were much bigger, it would be both a distraction and dangerous visual obstruction.
The camera comes with both a suction cup (which attaches to the windshield) and a dash mount, so there are two different options for setting it up in your car. Power supply options include a USB cord and a 12V adapter (the kind that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter). The 12V adapter has a built in USB port, which is very convenient if you don’t have one in your car—it can not only power up the dashcam but also your smartphone or other device.
It scratches easily, parts fall off, and you must treat it gently or risk damaging it.
The controls on this dashboard camera are a bit counterintuitive. The fact that the navigation and “OK” buttons are on opposite sides means you must use two hands to navigate the menu. We found ourselves constantly hitting the menu button when we meant to hit “OK”, which was pretty frustrating and generally a poor design.
One big thing to note about this dashcam is that it’s not very durable. It scratches easily, parts fall off (more on that later), and you must treat it gently or risk damaging it. For example, we kept the protective plastic attached to the display during part of our testing, and when we removed it, the screen got a big scratch within the first minute, just from setting it down on a piece of wooden furniture.
This car camera stores video on a MicroSD card. There isn’t one included, so you’ll have to buy one. And while Apeman claims that the maximum size is 32GB, we tried out a 64GB card and it worked just fine—we filled it up to capacity and didn’t notice any problems with the device or the footage.
The user manual included with the Apeman C450 isn’t particularly useful, and though its written in English, the language is full of confusing phrases that feel like poor translations. The features are not fully explained and there are key omissions in the instructions that make understanding and using this dashcam much harder.
The main thing to set up is the mount in your car. The Apeman C450 comes with both a suction cup and a dash mount, and fortunately it’s easy to attach both. The suction cup sticks firmly on your windshield via a simple locking knob, and once it’s attached, it’s not going anywhere. We had our test unit attached to a windshield for four days and it never failed.
One thing to note about the suction cup is that the bolt and pin that hold the hinge together come off very easily. During our testing, ours got away from us within the first few hours—the bolt fell off and the pin disappeared into the ether. We eventually found the bolt again, but the pin never reemerged.
Since there are no extra parts included in the box, the suction cup instantly became useless. After a failed trip to the hardware store, we just had to stick a cotter pin through the hole to keep the hinge attached. Consider this a warning: keep an eye on all the parts when you’re assembling this dashcam.
As an alternative, the mount can also be stuck to your dashboard with an adhesive strip. Just make sure you place it in the right spot the first time or you risk losing some of the stickiness. One benefit the dash mount has over the suction cup is that it doesn’t take up any real estate on your windshield that may obstruct your view of traffic.
Your first time using the Apeman C450, you also have the option to set up a time and date stamp as well as a car identification number on your videos. This is a nice option to keep track of when a video was recorded, and which car it was recorded from if you have more than one camera in different vehicles.
You can set this dashcam to capture video in 1080p, 720p, and VGA resolution. That’s impressive for a camera this size, and Apeman puts 1080p Full HD front and center in their marketing materials. While it provides a good level of detail and clarity in the video, it’s worth noting that other dashcams out there can record in resolutions up to 1440p.
The camera also has the ability to record audio, but it’s an internal mic and not very directional so it picks up everything. When we tested it, we heard a lot of engine and wind noise while driving. Voices came through alright, but it’s not a high-quality recording and didn’t pick up anything happening outside the vehicle.
During our testing, the Apeman C450 performed exactly as we expected. It never shut down unexpectedly, it stayed attached to the windshield, and it yielded no problems during the drive.
We reviewed the video on a high-definition screen and it was as clear as can be expected from a camera this size. When traveling at freeway speeds there was some motion blur and pixelation and we couldn’t make out small details like license plate numbers or read billboards clearly. However, when the car was on smaller streets and back roads, the details got much better.
When it senses an impact on your vehicle, it automatically locks the video to make sure no critical footage is overwritten.
The Apeman C450 records video with a 170-degree FOV (field of view). This is great because it captures the whole view from your windshield, rather than just a portion of it. This wide angle produces a slight fish-eye effect, but it isn’t distracting and would be easy to fix with the right video editing software should you ever need to.
This dashcam also employs loop recording, meaning that it is constantly recording, but splits up the recording in one-, three- or five-minute chunks for review. The camera automatically overwrites older recordings when your memory card is full. You can also turn loop recording off if you want a full, uninterrupted video file of your drive.
Playback Mode allowed us to watch the videos we recorded, deleted unwanted ones, and lock any that we didn’t want to be overwritten. Playback Mode is functional as far as it goes, but if you want the best detail possible, you’ll have to watch your footage on a display bigger than three inches.
The C450 also comes equipped with a G-sensor that enables it to detect collisions. When it senses an impact on your vehicle, it automatically locks the video to make sure no critical footage is overwritten. This ensures you can prove who is at fault in a traffic incident to police or insurance companies. This dashcam also has a “Parking Guard” mode that behaves like a motion detection security camera for your car. However, this requires a special power supply since the battery won’t last long when not connected to power.
If you’re looking for a very inexpensive device, the Apeman C450 is a decent if somewhat flawed solution.
One thing to note about this car dashboard camera is that the battery life is quite short. When we tested the Apeman C450, it powered down 28 minutes after we unplugged it. If you want continuous recording, it must be connected to power at all times.
The defects of this dashcam can be forgiven pretty easily considering that it costs less than $50. If you’re looking for a very inexpensive device, the Apeman C450 is a decent if somewhat flawed solution—it’s definitely not built as solidly and lacks the high resolution of its more expensive competitors, but if you are comfortable working around those shortcomings, this dashcam performs pretty well for the price.
We tested the Apeman C450 side by side with the Z-Edge Z3 Plus dashcam. The Z3 Plus is considerably more expensive, and while we found these two devices to be generally similar in form and function, we ultimately favored the Z3 Plus because it lacks the small annoyances that made the Apeman C450 frustrating.
The interface and navigation controls on the Z3 Plus are smoother, it has higher resolution capacities, and we didn’t have a problem with components falling apart within a day of it arriving in the mail. It’s definitely pricier (usually $70 to $80 more expensive than the Apeman), but we think the improved quality of the camera and the better-looking video it produces make it a worthwhile upgrade for those who can afford it.
A decent budget dashcam with some flaws that are annoying but not necessarily deal-breaking.
Despite a poor-quality build and some design quirks, the Apeman C450 does its job as a dashcam. It has a discreet design, captures pretty good-quality video, and has important extra features like collision detection and a surveillance mode. If you can get past some of its foibles, it's definitely worth the price tag.