At first glance, the Z-Edge Z3 looks like a camera that belongs in your pocket, not on the dash. It’s shape, it’s expansive 3 inch rear screen, and accessible controls make the Z3 feel more like a premium point and shoot, and it’s boasted 2K video resolution, slow-motion settings, and 145 degree field of view sound more at home on an action camera than a security device.
But the Z3 isn’t just a normal camera with a dash mount — it also includes loop recording, ignition detection, motion detection, and a G-force sensor, all packed into the camera’s sleek frame. It’s larger than other dash cameras, but still thin, light, and easy to use.
The Z3 is built around the relatively well-known Ambrella A7 processor and the OV4689 color CMOS sensor, which can be found in a variety of dash cameras currently on the market. The A7’s biggest quality is its large dynamic range and low light performance, and the Z3 definitely performs well here. Unlike many other, smaller, dash cameras, the Z3 captures excellent video in a wide variety of lighting conditions, and can even record 60fps footage in 720p.
It takes a while to get used to the size of the Z3 — it’s much more noticeable than other dash cameras — however we’ve found that it’s size can be somewhat advantageous. With dedicated side buttons for the majority of its functions, including a dedicated photo button and a dedicated emergency video lock button, you don’t have to fumble around while you’re trying to drive. Some of the more nuanced setting, though, are buried rather deep on the on-screen menus, so it’s important to configure the camera before you hit the road, as we found out.
With both an internal battery and an included car charger for continuous power, the Z3 features a fairly standard set of dash camera sensors and modes. The Z3 powers up automatically when the car is turned on, and defaults to a 4 hour loop recording mode. The Z3 features a G-force sensor to automatically mark sudden changes in speed, however it isn’t clear in the documentation how many axes it detects.
The Z3 also includes a parking monitor mode, that puts the camera into a low-power state unless the motion sensor is activated. The feature is great, in theory, however the internal battery has an abysmally short lifespan. During our test drives, we found that the battery would last a mere twenty or so minutes, much shorter than other cameras in the Z3’s price range. We also found that the motion sensor was too sensitive, often times responding to birds and litter, contributing to the battery drain.
For all of the Z3’s video qualities — there are few affordable dash cameras that can capture ultra-wide 2k footage — we’ve found that the microphone doesn’t match up. The Z3’s non-directional microphone picks up everything, including vibrations from the windshield mount. And while it does pick up enough cab audio for you to make out conversations or phone calls, it doesn’t make for a pleasant listening experience.
Overall, the Z3 is hard to beat in terms of video quality, usability, and price. It comes packaged with all of the mounting hardware it needs, and a dual-port car charger that lets you charge your phone at the same time. The included 32gb microSD card should be appreciated as well, as it removes the hassle of having to hunt down a class 10 card on your own. And while the Z3’s audio features aren’t the best, and it’s battery is rather small, the camera still does a great job of securing your car without breaking the bank.
Full Specs for the Z3
Dimensions: 5.8 x 3.8 x 2.8 inches Video: Full HD 2K (2560*1080P & 2304*1296P at 30fps) Lens Angle: 145 Degrees G-Sensor: Yes Camera: 13M Storage: MicroSD, up to 64GB Processor: Ambarella A7 Sensor: OV4689 color CMOS sensor Item #: Z3 ASIN: B018YRBQSK Company: Zero Edge Technology, LLC