The brand name Boblov might hint to British ears of ‘bobby’ – a somewhat nostalgic term for a policeman – but the technology here is not Dickensian. Boblov offers a number of different kinds of body cameras, a device that has become essential for many face-to-face workers in a litigious world. As well as law enforcers, emergency workers, security workers, and bouncers all have obvious uses for a good and rugged body cam. So do delivery drivers or ride-share drivers; any area where conflict might occur. Video, after all, tells a very complete story of events.
The key features we look for in this category are image quality (especially at night), recording time, rugged build, and simplicity of charging, reviewing, and downloading content.
Max resolution: 1440P (2K)
Battery life: 15H
Recording: 64 or 128GB built-in
Charging socket: Mini USB
Ingress protection: IP67
Dimensions: 88 x 66 x 34mm
Weight: 162g + clip
The Boblov’s stand-out feature is the quality of recording available. The camera also features built-in memory (two capacity options are available), recharging via Mini USB, and a night mode. There is a built-in 2-inch display, from which the settings menu lets you adjust clip record length, photo size, and enable pre-record and post-record.
The Boblov M5 is supplied with a pocket clip, shoulder clip, and a suction mount so the camera can act as a dash cam.
The camera also boasts some light & sound tricks. There is “stealth mode” (recording without flashing light), a laser light that points forward with the lens, and an alert. This is also a siren with alternating red/blue light to attract attention or deter dubious behavior.
Build and handling
The camera has a noticeably rugged build. It is clearly designed for a deterrent effect, so it is chunky in form with a large shield-shaped logo on the front. There are nine buttons on the body; four below the screen, four on the sides, and one at the front. Two of these are to start (or stop) recording, including the front one. All the keys could stand to be a little more resistant (especially the siren).
At the back there is a slide-in mount that is insanely strong; once we’d connected the shirt clip we found it virtually impossible to remove, which means swapping to the other clip or suction cup might not be as easy as you’d hope. This is a significant disappointment for, say, a delivery driver who might want to pop their dash cam onto their shirts as they head to the door. (We eventually pried the clip off using this Lego brick separator tool (available at Amazon), but nearly lost a fingernail first).
The footage the camera produces in its high-resolution mode is good quality, but the lack of image stabilization is an issue when worn clipped to a shirt pocket. This is exacerbated by the relatively low bit rate. When motion is low (say if the camera is rested on a steady surface) the video looks good.
Out and about, this means that the video will likely fail to pick up much facial detail. As you slow to take in the view (or in a confrontation) the video will improve, but by this point it is possible that you’ll be so close the subject’s face is above the field of view. This will depend on both the position and weave of the clothing the camera is worn upon, but there is the shoulder clip.
Video samples: the daylight sequence shows detail and the difficulties of the pocket clip. The after-dark footage was taken with the infrared night mode activated.
We were a little surprised that, where there was an auto night mode, the option had to be enabled. The color camera doesn’t perform especially well even on lit streets, but the IR lights do draw more power.
In terms of time, we got 68 10-minute clips at 1440p (2560 x 1440 pixels) before the device looped, over 11 hours before the earlier clips were automatically deleted. Video hovers around 12mbps – about a tenth of the bit rate you expect from a DJI drone, for example.
It also makes a great inward-facing car camera; the Infrared comfortably illuminates the back at night. The included suction cup makes this practical, and vibration isn’t an issue.
The camera doesn’t have any EIS software, so the mounting is important; the shirt clip an bounce about quite a lot depending on the fabric you’re wearing. To combat this Boblov does offer a magnetic mount, but this isn’t included as standard.
It has to be said there are oddities. The key tone (indicating a button press) is weirdly loud (though can be disabled). Worse still the siren and flashing lights are too easily triggered by accident – and hugely embarrassing. The laser light also seems a risky addition – blinding people might not go down well.
Overall we see the M5 as being better suited to a uniformed operator; it’s pretty chunky and heavy, but it does a good job of its core functions. Charging and downloading is straightforward too and it can cope with a bit of weather.