Boblov is a significant player in the body camera market, but many of their products sport a robust size and shape; similar to a classic police radio. They have the clear advantage of deterrence – as well as room for batteries and a solid housing – but for many there is the need for a wearable camera that is more discrete.
That’s where the Boblov C18 or C19 models come in; not much bigger than a pack of chewing gum but still able to pack several hours recording for whatever your purpose.
Boblov has clearly seen that a device often used as a deterrent by those at risk (from emergency services to rideshare operators) also has appeal to consumers. The C18 is pitched for cyclists, hikers and even students aiming to capture lectures.
Max resolution: 1296P (1728 x 1296 pixels)
Battery life: 4 hours
Charging time: 2 hours
Memory: C18 (tested) 32GB built-in (C19 removable)
Recording time: 5.3 hours
Charging socket: Mini USB
Dimensions: 102 x 30 x 12 mm (4 x 1.2 x 0.5 in)
While the camera doesn’t feature a built-in monitor, there is a stylish OLED used for camera operations. The recording time is only an hour less than some ‘full size’ body cameras, yet the weight under half.
We also appreciated the inclusion of a tripod mount at the base, as well as the adjustable pocket mount. The camera also offers motion detection as an alternative to body use – the camera activates recording when it sees movement.
In this test we’re reviewing the C18 model, which has a fixed 32GB storage, but it’s worth noting that a similar C19 has a microSD card slot instead, offering more flexibility.
Build & handling
The C18 feels just as you’d hope, solidly built with a weight that feels indefinably ‘right.’ It is not heavy enough to be a problem, but not suspiciously light. The camera’s front is also built with a pleasing black/white OLED display which isn’t used as a monitor but serves as menus and feedback. In that sense it is reminiscent of the GoPro Hero Session, and navigated by the up/down buttons on the side.
On the edges at the same level are recesses for a plastic pocket clip, providing an alternative mounting option from the tripod clip on the base. This is a cunning bit of design as they also allow for re-positioning of the clip at four different heights.
Beneath camera and display is the big, round start button. When pressed, feedback also comes via the camera’s vibration. All operations are conducted via the ‘down’ key on the side and the circular button which serves as ‘select’ in menus. There is also a small power key.
The camera makes a good job. Our main issue was that sometimes the video with 16:9 recording squashed into a 4:3 window, though this can be resolved in most players and, oddly, didn’t happen every time for us.
The video is sharp, with detectable grain on a dull day. The fixed focus lens doesn’t lend itself to talking to the camera (except as a note-to-self, perhaps), but gets the wider scene with no issue. It has to be said that the camera does struggle a bit in the dark, as our sample clips reveal, and there is no alternative here unlike some body cameras with infra-red night vision.
Video samples: Using the camera in the day captures video with a good tone - but the night footage struggles as there is no infrared night mode.
The camera also struggles with movement; like all body cameras in the price bracket it lacks electronic image stabilization. Fine for documenting, but not for cinematic purposes.
The video The app didn’t work for us, so we weren’t able to download content directly to our phone. While the devices did connect, the app flatly refused to continue without a GPS connection which felt a little troubling from a privacy perspective.
Like many body cameras, this device is all about its use. If you buy it imaging that you’ve got yourself a cheap GoPro or budget action camera, you’ll be in for a disappointment. If, on the other hand, you take it for what it is – a device for documenting events, perhaps even to collect evidence, then it does so well.
Yes, it’d be nice to have a more modern USB connector, or a trustworthy app to transfer files, but none of these things are essential. Real thought, on the other hand, seems to have gone into the clip accessory, the menus, and the addition of the screw mount for other possibilities.
Given that, we can see a use-case for cyclists, hikers, students, and delivery riders. The only one on Boblov’s list we’d question is dancers, but perhaps that’s just us. We’d have given it another half star if it weren’t for the app.