Zenfox T3 3CH Dash Cam: Three cameras give you more to like
It provides good front, interior, and rear coverage, but its bulk could pose some installation issues.
The $250 Zenfox T3 three-channel dash cam covers action to the front, rear, and inside of your car. It’s large for a dash cam, which makes it super-easy to handle, set up, and use. In fact, it’s one of my favorites in that regard.
However, the size and the placement of the interior camera mounted far up the body unit forces some interesting decisions on where to place the unit. It’s not a deal-killer, but it warrants consideration.
DESIGN AND SPECS
The T3 CH is a pricey $249.90 on Amazon ( go.pcworld.com/znfx), but remember it covers a fair chunk of the area surrounding
and inside of your vehicle with its three cameras: a 2560x1440 (Sony STARVIS IMX335) front unit, a 1920x1080 (STARVIS IMX307) interior, and 1920x1080 rear (Sony EXMOR IMX291). If you don’t need the interior camera, the dual-channel Zenfox T3 2CH is $199.90 on Amazon ( go.pcworld.com/z2ch).
As I mentioned, the T3 is no demure mini-dash cam, measuring 5.5 x 2 x 2 inches, including the protruding front camera. Such a copious body allows for large buttons and easy-to-read labels, a welcome difference compared to the tiny stuff you find on the average dash cam. The nicely thought-out menus seal the deal.
But it’s not so much the size of the T3 that causes issues, but the location of the interior camera at the top of the unit, as you can see in the image at right.
Depending on where your rear-view mirror is, this might poke out above it. In my small vehicle there was just no way to provide the interior camera with an unobstructed view without putting it very low on the windshield, where it obstructed my vision for driving. It was usable, but I was a little worried about being pulled over for not being able to see around it. That’s the law.
Granted, I drive a diminutive Mazda Miata convertible. Most users with larger windshields will simply slide it a bit to the side and do just fine. Just be aware of these design aspects when you consider it.
There are lots of reasons to consider it. The T3 features internal GPS that automatically configures settings. It has a parking mode where the camera will wake to disturbances detected by the G-sensor, as well as time-lapse recording. An app connects via Wi-fi for video transfer and playback. The app is nicely laid out, and makes it a breeze to adjust settings. The phone will beep when connected.
Note that both the rear camera and power port are Usb-mini types. They’re clearly labeled, but don’t confuse them.
The T3’s front, interior, and rear video are all very good. The reason I’m not saying
excellent or outstanding is that the images don’t show quite the clarity that I’ve seen from other cameras, including the recent Vava VD009 ( go.pcworld.com/vava), which captures the same 2560x1440 to the front.
The degradation is likely due to the amount of compression being used, though optics can cause the same phenomenon. This is not really a knock on the T3, but an homage to some of the great cameras. As you can see in the captures here, very good is still very good.
While the day capture up top may seem a bit dark, that’s largely due to the smoke in the air from the California wild fires from late 2020. The front night captures are good, but seemed to lose more fine detail than the daytime captures. Rear night captures showed decent detail as well. One is illuminated by my car’s
backup lights. Normally, the amount of light in captures will be closer to the front capture, shown with my headlights off.
Interior night captures, such as the one on the previous page, are largely well lit thanks to four infrared lights surrounding the camera.
Note that the interior night capture at top on the next page was from a replacement T3—the infrared was not working on the original. Check your night interior captures before you throw away the receipt.
Largely thanks to its size, the T3 runs cool, but it opts for a supercapacitor rather than a battery. That’s enough to save video that’s just been taken, but it doesn’t provide any run time should the power in the car fail because of damage (which is an unlikely occurrence).
FOR LARGER VEHICLES
The Zenfox T3 three-channel does a very good job of capturing detailed, colorful video. It’s actually my favorite dash cam in terms of setup and use. The placement of the interior camera might be an issue in smaller cars. Take a good look at both the T3 and your interior and decide if it’s something you can work with. If you can work with it, you’ll like using it.
The $200, two-channel version I mentioned earlier will save you money and makes more sense for vehicles with obstructed rear vision. (Semis, closed vans, and so on).