Dashcams actually come in a variety of different form factors. You have the ones that are almost shaped like old CRT TVs and ones that are horizontal cylinders with no displays at all, for example. Perhaps one of the most convenient of designs, however, has to be the one we find in the PAPAGO! GoSafe 260. Rather than being a completely separate unit, it is integrated into a rear view mirror. This allows it to be easily clipped on top of the existing OEM rearview mirror in your car without having anything extra attached to the inside of your windshield. And yes, it still records at full HD 1080p.
The Dashcam Integrated in a Rearview Mirror
The PAPAGO! GoSafe 260 dashcam was announced at Computex a little over a month ago and it expands on the company's existing lineup of dashcam products. Of course, the primary difference here is that the dashcam is built into the rearview mirror itself. The actual camera portion is located toward the bottom, behind the simple 7-button control panel, and it can be adjusted in four directions to point the right way.
The rearview mirrror itself is larger than most OEM mirrors, taking on a similar approach as many aftermarket mirror with a wider, more convex perspective. At first, I thought the clipping mechanism on the back wouldn't be able to wrap around my existing OEM mirror. This is true, but the top clips have a rubber grip to them and I didn't have any trouble keeping the GoSafe 260 in place.
There is also a 2.7-inch color display on the right side of the mirrored surface and it almost looks like it is "hidden" behind the mirror. You can see both the video feed and the mirror at the same time, not unlike what you might see with a monitor hidden behind a bathroom mirror in a higher-end hotel room.
Ports, Plugs and Buttons
All of the main ports are located at the top of the unit. This allows them to be largely out of sight when the GoSafe 260 is installed in your car, but it also means that they are more difficult to access too. There is a port for the optional GPS module, a mini USB port for power, the microSD slot (no memory card included), an AV-out jack and the on/off button.
There is a pre-installed lithium-ion battery that allows the GoSafe 260 to stay on for a few moments after power is cut out, but it is only for a few moments. You will need to use the supplied 12V power adapter or hardwire the dashcam to your car's power source if you want to use the motion detection feature while parked.
The primary interface, as mentioned, is through the control panel that juts out the bottom-right of the GoSafe 260. It looks like a five-way navigator, but it's not. Let's have a closer look.
The Reflective User Interface
The way that the GoSafe 260 is designed to work addresses much of the feedback that I expressed about the PAPAGO! P3 dashcam. The button layout, although more complicated, is arguably more intuitive. I didn't run into a "memory full" issue when trying to save an emergency clip, as those are pushed to a separate read-only folder on the microSD card. Everything just works a little more easily.
However, you do lose some of the safety features that we saw in the P3, like the lane departure warning system and the ability to record your speed. The nature of having the display embedded "behind" the mirror can also create visibility issues, particularly during the day. You will get mostly mirror during that time; I suppose you shouldn't be staring at your video feed while driving.
PAPAGO! GoSafe 260 HD Video Samples
The full HD (1080p) video offered by the GoSafe 260 is very good. It does feel like PAPAGO! cranked up both the saturation and the contrast for the video settings. This can result in some artifacting, but it may also aid in character recognition (like for license plates).
Speaking of reading license plates, the GoSafe 260 also has a simple digital zoom feature that you control with the up and down arrows. It is digital zoom and not optical zoom, so don't expect too much in terms of quality when you are zoomed all the way in.
The following sample video was taken at night and in the rain, resulting in some poor visibility conditions. The GoSafe 260 does offer the ability to adjust the EV, but this is completely manual and does not happen automatically.
The viewing angle on the GoSafe 260 doesn't appear quite as wide as what we saw on the P3, but this means you also get less distortion. It's still wide enough to capture a lot of the scene. The video is decidedly brighter and more saturated too.
MEGATechie Going Safer or MEGATechie Staring at the World Through My Rearview?
Yes, there are some sacrifices when you go from a flagship level model like the PAPAGO! P3 to more of a mid-tier offering like this, but I prefer the GoSafe 260 for a number of the reasons. The user interface is improved, the integration with the auto-dimming rearview mirror makes for a cleaner experience, and the software changes allow for easier emergency saves. The digital zoom is an added bonus.
It would have been nice if the lithium-ion battery could last longer without requiring a constant power source, as not everyone will want to hardwire the dashcam to their car. The screen brightness can also be enhanced to allow for better daytime visibility.
All said, the PAPAGO! GoSafe 260 is a great dashcam with a convenient design. You can get one for about $180 online.