- Very compact size
- Driver safety features
- Wide angle view
- No suction cup mount
- Video sharpness and contrast too high
- Awkward power cord placement
Keeping yourself safe while driving around on those dangerous roads could involve having video evidence of what exactly went down. Or maybe you just want to document your scenic journey through the majestic Sea-to-Sky Highway. Whatever the case, a quality dashcam is a very worthy investment and one of the newest offerings in this space is the PAPAGO! GoSafe 388. It won't break the bank, but it still comes packed with plenty of premium features.
The Affordable Compact Dashcam
By now, if you've been reading MEGATechNews for the last few years, you've probably become familiar with the PAPAGO! brand. The company keeps dishing out new dashcam models and we keep reviewing them. In the case of the GoSafe 388, you'll find that it actually has a lot in common with another unit we looked at recently. The biggest difference is that the GoSafe 388 lacks the Sony Exmor image sensor of the PAPAGO! GoSafe S30. Aside from that, a lot of the same specs apply.
The compact physical size of the S30 that I enjoyed is still in play here, except the more rounded design has been replaced with a blockier look that's coated in what they call an "ionized material." It's much more of a matte look. Although the 142-degree wide-angle lens isn't quite as wide as the S30, it still captures plenty of the road in 1080p full HD video; you can also record in 720p to save storage space if you prefer.
As an added bonus, an 8GB microSD card is also included in the package. That'll good for a little over an hour of 1080p video and about double that at 720p. Don't worry. Like all other PAPAGO! dashcams, this one will also automatically overwrite old footage as your card fills up. If you've got an incident video you'd like to keep, just hit the emergency button accordingly.
A Familiar PAPAGO! Experience
Naturally, the best way to use this dashcam is to set it for automatic recording, which will record everything on a loop as long as it has power through the provided 12V adapter. Alternatively, you can opt for motion detection or monitor mode. The driver safety features include stop sign recognition, stop and go recognition and a driver fatigue alarm, among others. The menu is functional if a little clunky.
You'll notice that there is a port on top for the optional GPS antenna. That costs about $35 and can add GPS information to your dashcam videos, including both your speed and location. This is a feature I would have liked to see integrated into the dashcam itself, but it was understandably removed likely out of cost concerns. Also along the top are the AV out port, microSD slot, and mini-USB port for power.
Where's the Suction Mount?
I can appreciate the need to cut some corners in order to achieve certain price points, but there's one accessory missing from the package here that is a little disappointing. The only mounting solution provided in the box is one that uses 3M tape, sticking directly to your windshield. With all the other dashcams I have reviewed, a suction cup mount was also included. That's not the case here.
Not everyone wants to use double-sided tape to stick something to the inside of their cars, particularly for people who may be taking the dashcam between different vehicles. I'd almost be willing to sacrifice the convenience of the included microSD card, as extra memory can be picked up on the cheap, but a replacement suction cup mount may not be as readily available.
GoSafe 388 Dashcam Video Samples
Driving around town, I found the overall video quality of the GoSafe 388 to be reasonably admirable. It's definitely a step above the more budget-oriented Geko E100. What I did find that is the edges tend to particularly sharpened with the contrast dialed up a notch or three too.
The fisheye lens effect is fairly obvious and this is the only way that you can really achieve the wide-angle perspective. It may have been interesting to offer the option to reduce the fisheye look by cropping down, but I'm not sure too many people would opt for that anyhow. Clarity is decent and naturally a lot better when the lighting conditions agree with you. It can be difficult making out license plates until the other car is quite close and reasonably stationary.
Under both daytime and nighttime conditions, I found this dashcam to struggle with a relative lack of dynamic range. There is an option in the settings to adjust the EV value. This is an optical challenge for sure and one that is not easily overcome by any other dashcam on the market either. Some of the colors appear to be a little off too with green lights appearing bluish.
MEGATechie Go Safer or MEGATechie Totally Square?
The PAPAGO! GoSafe 388 ticks a lot of the boxes for people in the market for a reasonably affordable dashcam. The wide-angle lens captures a lot, the full HD video is of decent quality, and the ability to enable and disable most of the features is much appreciated. I like that I can easily turn the screen on and off, for instance, or deactivate the driver safety features when I find the incessant beeping to be a little annoying.
The compact size makes it easy to place on your windshield, though the lack of a suction cup mount is disappointing. The placement of the mini-USB port is also a little inconvenient too, especially if you want to mount it high behind your rearview camera. Moving the port to the side or including an L-shaped USB cable could help tremendously.
Considering that the GoSafe 388 sells for about $150 online, I'd be more inclined to spend the extra $20 or $30 to get the GoSafe S30 instead. The video quality is superior through the Sony Exmor sensor, the rounded design is more visually appealing, and you get a proper suction mount too.