Cobra SC 100 review: image quality shines through in entry-level dash cam

Cobra
This low-priced dash cam focuses on image quality and neat design rather than worrying about endless extra features

The dash cam market is awash with units of almost every price and quality, ranging from £50 devices from unknown brands to £500 units from the biggest names in the market. The Cobra SC 100 sits among them as a relatively low-priced option from a well-established vehicle technology brand.

Priced at £99.95 it’s a basic single camera unit offering forward-facing recording in Full HD and comes packaged with a simple magnetic mount, a 12V USB power cable with additional USB port and an 8GB microSD card in the box.

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Design and fitting

The SC 100 is a small and simply designed device with no screen and just the one large and easy to operate record button. The reasonably compact cylindrical device looks and feels of good quality, despite its relatively low price and features a slimline magnetic mount for easy attachment and removal. The SC 100 is small enough to fit neatly behind a rear view mirror and the only potential issue is a relatively limited amount of adjustment, with just 45 degrees of vertical movement.

Cobra SC 100

Features

As an entry-level unit, the SC 100 isn’t laden with features but Cobra does make a big deal about the associated Driver Smarter app which offers community sourced live data on speed cameras, traffic delays and more as well as controlling settings and allowing users to view footage from the camera. The connected services, which overlay data on a map within the app are potentially useful but in our experience the app is frustratingly clunky, unstable and unreliable, with even the simple act of viewing a live feed from the camera causing problems. This is particularly problematic since the camera has no screen and you need to use the app to control key camera settings.

Away from the potentially useful connected features of the app, the SC 100 is light on extra features, reflecting its wallet-friendly price. There’s GPS to match the footage to location and cloud video management plus a mayday alert facility via the app that will automatically notify a preset emergency contact if it detects a serious incident. However, unlike more expensive units there is no parking mode, no low-light enhancement and no facility to pair it with a rear-facing camera.

Image quality

As Cobra’s entry-level camera, the SC 100 offers 1080p full HD recording at 30 frames per second - the basic requirement of any dash cam in 2022. While it’s an entry-level spec, the quality of footage from the unit is pretty impressive. In daylight the image is sharp and clear, and important details such as registration plates and road signs are easy to read. Contrast levels aren’t as good as more expensive units but they don’t unduly harm the image quality.  Unlike more expensive cameras, the SC 100 has no sort of enhanced night mode but even when light levels drop it performs better than some similarly priced devices, although details are, understandably, less discernible.

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Verdict

The Cobra SC 100 is a simple and affordable dash cam that offers the peace of mind of on-board recording without the gimmicks and gadgets of more expensive devices. Its image quality in day and night conditions is a step above what you might expect at this price and it is only let down by a troublesome smartphone app.

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