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Why do we love Tesla

Why do we love Tesla

Tesla is known for breaking industry innovation over the last decade. If you’re a fan of technology and touch screens, and if you prefer software updated to tune-ups and most of all, if you love the idea of skipping the gas pump and live life fully charged, then you’ll dig the Model X, Model S and the latest Model 3. Did you know that the Tesla Model 3 is the number one selling electric vehicle in Canada in 2019 Q3?

We’ve had a few of those come into our Service Centre in Richmond and we have to say, it’s quite evident that everything Teslas has done up to this point has built towards the Model 3 - it comes with all the sensors and cameras (8 cameras, to be exact) it needs for Autopilot functionality. A software update earlier this year added dash cam functionality and Sentry Mode capabilities.

Whoa, wait a minute, the Model 3 comes with built-in multi-camera dash cam functionality, but owners are still bringing them into the BlackboxMyCar Service Centre for a dash cam installation appointment?

Brief Introduction of the Tesla Dash Cam

While there are eight cameras on the Tesla, only its forward-facing 3-camera unit and the rear camera is used for recording footage. Just like any typical front-and-rear dash cam system, each of the four TeslaCam cameras records and saves footage as a separate file, so for each one minute of recording, you will see four different event files.

Not sure how to unlock recording from the rear camera? The function was part of the TeslaCam Version 10 update released a few months ago. Check your Tesla dashboard for the firmware update.

With four cameras recording the road ahead and behind, why are people still fitting aftermarket dash cams into their Tesla's?

Main Inadequacies of the TeslaCam

The eight cameras on the Tesla are built and optimized for the auto-drive AI and are not designed to produce high-quality footage. Let’s take a look at these cameras and their coverage.

Eight cameras provide 360-degree coverage. Three forward-facing cameras are mounted on the back of the rear-view mirror. The main forward camera has a 50-degree field of view. The narrow forward camera looks ahead a 35-degree field of view. The rear camera sports a wide-angle view, but it faces downwards, creating a distorted curved reflection that stretches across the bottom of the screen, allowing you to see parts of your car’s rear bumper - something that is important for autopilot and maybe in events of fender-benders during Sentry Mode or tailgating, but not so much for general traffic-behind dashcam footage.

Viewing angles are just one of the areas the TeslaCam falls short of the Thinkware or BlackVue.

TeslaCam

Thinkware or BlackVue

Resolution

1280x960

Full HD: 1920x1080p

2K QHD: 2560x1440

4K UHD: 3840x2160

Frame Rate

36 FPS

30 or 60 FPS

Audio Recording

No

Yes, (built-in microphones)

On-screen text overlay

No

Parameters like speed, location, date and time

Image enhancement and stabilization

No

Yes, including Wide Dynamic Range, Auto Exposure, Super Night Vision and more, depending on dash cam model

Recording resolution

As you can see, the TeslaCam records at a fairly low resolution when compared with most dash cams. At this resolution, a license plate can only be read when the car in front is about 8 feet or less in front of you, and we all know that resolution is king when it comes to any type of surveillance camera.

However, we have to mention, the quality of the TeslaCam’s rear camera is much better than the front-facing cameras.

Colour and Light Balance

Many Tesla owners have reported a dim, greenish cast on the footage files. Very possible that it has something to do with the optical effects of the light going through the windshield. But because the front-facing camera unit is built-in and designed to lay flat against the windshield, there is no way to angle the lens or fit a CPL filter to minimize these optical effects (plus, our money is on the image sensors and processors).

With the greenish grainy cast, the overall quality of the footage resembles a 4:3 CRT from the olden days, and it doesn’t help the situation that the TeslaCam adopts a 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of the 16:9 that Thinkware and BlackVue use on their dash cams.

There is the option to adjust the brightness and contrast, and perhaps with some color-corrections, the quality may improve. However, do note that TeslaCam uses an odd frame rate of 36FPS, making it a tricky should you need to edit the files. First of all, it will appear pixelated and jittery when viewed on most video devices that require conversion to 30 or 60FPS. Second, many video editing software and applications do not support that frame rate.

File Storage

Let’s be honest, the setup required just to get driving footage is a lot, and most people are not going to want to go through all those steps. Plus, apart from the physical issues of the cameras, the USB is the source for many TeslaCam issues and malfunctions.

In order to record with the TeslaCam, you will need a FAT32 formatted USB flash drive - it does not support anything else. You can format a USB drive as FAT32 if you have a Windows computer or as MS-DOS(FAT) on a Mac, but there are limitations - Windows can only format up to 32GB in FAT32 partition. You will need a third-party program to format a 128GB USB drive. You will need to add a base-level folder called TeslaCam, with a capital T and a capital C. If you don’t do that exactly right, it will not work.

Oh, and if you’re reusing a USB that you have previously used to store music, or if you are hoping to use one USB to store both music and dash cam data, you need to be careful. You may need to delete the original music partition which occupies the whole drive and then create 2 new partitions.

Once the USB is set up, you will need to plug it into one of the USB flash drive ports in your Tesla. If the USB drive is properly plugged in, you will see the Dashcam icon on the dashboard display screen, which tells you the TeslaCam is ready to capture all the adventures on the road ahead. Finally, tap the Dashcam icon on the display screen and the system will save the last ten minutes of footage to the USB stick.

Sentry Mode far from perfect

Image source: Tesla Club Sweden

If you lean on it, bump into or scratch a Tesla with Sentry Mode activated, it will display an alert on the screen that says the cameras are recording. The cameras all around the car will be activated to capture what’s happening to it. If a window is broken, or the car is broken into, Sentry Mode will sound the alarm, increase the screen brightness to full, and blare classical music through the audio system. The owner will also get a notification on the Tesla mobile app. Tesla’s sentry mode is probably one of the most well-received features Elon Musk has pushed to his EVs, but it’s far from perfect.

First up, if you want to record video, you have to make sure your USB is properly formatted and plugged into the car prior to activating sentry mode. Yes, you will need to activate sentry mode each time you want to use it - ie. every time you park the car - by tapping through the on-screen controls. If each step is not done exactly right, you will not get parking footage files. Then, let’s hope you parked close by because while you are notified with an alert via the Tesla mobile app, you will need to return to your car, remove the USB drive, and download the videos to your computer - all before the 1-hr loop/overwrite kicks in.

We have also been told that Tesla's Sentry Mode eats up a lot of power - better route your trip through Supercharger locations and make sure the credit card on your Tesla Account is still valid - Superchargering is not free!

Tesla cars are capable of some wonderful things - they can pretty much drive themselves, so requiring drivers to jump through all those hoops feels like a whole lot of hassle in this day and age.

Powering dash cam for parking mode

The most challenging part of installing a dash cam in the Tesla, or any electric vehicle, is finding a constant power source and keeping the power on. To make matters worse, various solutions designed for electric vehicles work poorly on the Teslas. For example, while BlackVue recommends using the PowerMagic Pro add-on, it's not our best recommendation - at least not the Tesla Model 3, which will not work with the Power Magic Pro no a spliced 12V cigarette cable. To save headaches and all the guesswork, we recommend either using an external battery pack connected by CLA or installing using an OBD cable.

What happens to your dash cam and external battery pack when you're parked at a charging location?

As soon as your car is powered down, your dash cam will turn to the battery pack for power for parking mode coverage. In other words, just because your car is plugged in at the charging station doesn't mean the power is shared to your dash cam, too. Your dash cam will continue to draw power from the external battery pack for the duration of the parking mode coverage, or until the external battery pack runs out of power, which then the dash cam will simply shut down - but don't worry, the external battery packs we carry all come with a smartphone app that allows you to monitor the battery's status so you know how much more "usable time" you have at all times.

Now, once you're car is all charged up and on the road again, the engine will recharge the external battery pack automatically.

Got a Tesla? We can help!

So, in a perfect world, what should sentry mode look like? A little dashboard-mounted camera that streams video directly to your smartphone, live or on-demand, 24/7. It films outside the vehicle, front and back, and offers a bunch of additional smarts. If an incident should happen while the car is parked, the camera needs to be smart enough to record and protect the footage from being overwritten. You also shouldn't have to mess around with USB drives or microSD cards - because you should be able to get all the video footage right on your smartphone.

Hey. We can help!

Now that you know where to find the perfect dash cam for your Tesla, the Model Y and the CyberTruck are due out in 2020! When you do get your new Tesla, you know where to find us!

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Based on 4288 reviews
85%
(3653)
11%
(462)
3%
(143)
0%
(19)
0%
(11)

It's a nice dashcam but I don't like the fact that I couldn't zoom into my videos on the phone app but only on a computer,so I sent it back and get the blackvue dr900s 2channel which is very awesome. But I really like the customer service at blackboxmycar, they are very helpful and answer all your questions.

Good but not perfect. But darn, they just announced an improved model!

Easy installation. I installed this to replace a 360 view dashcam that had terrible image quality. I’m very technically experienced and the app/install was not intuitive, but it all worked. Many of the online reviews that said the app was totally unusable seem a bit harsh. Image isn’t quite as crisp as I had hoped, but reasonably good. Candidly, the biggest disappointment is that the day after installing the camera, I received the announcement from BlackVue that they’ve announced at CES improvements to this camera and an even better 4GLTE camera! I depended on the advice from BlackboxMyCar and would have waiting for the updated models.

A must have for your car

The picture quality is great even in night mode very clear. A good investment for your safety.

Price and Quality sweet spot

My first dashcam, I installed with the additional 3-wire ACC kit in my 2010 Colorado Crew Cab. My only gripe is that I wish the rear camera could also be connected through the GPS module so that I don't have to disconnect the cable when removing the camera from my truck to look at footage. I find it easier to pop off the camera from the GPS mount, then connect with the supplied mini-USB cable to my laptop. Otherwise, the image and audio quality is really great, and it has all the necessary functions.

Really good dashcam, but......

Have really no complains withe the cam itself but the rear cam I can't use as the is no place to stick it to as the back of my truck is all fabric. If your gonna buy a dashcam that has front and rear cameras make sure there somewhere to stick it to. It would be nice if there were a small suction mount for rear camera as well. All in all I would recommend buying this dash cam!

love it

had mine installed Monday 1/20/2020 and it is working great

Hi John, thanks for leaving a review!
The best!

So professional and so knowledgeable. There was no question I had that they didn't have an answer for. They helped make my decision easy for what is a relatively expensive purchase.

Hi Kevin, thanks for leaving a review. Glad to hear that our team was able to help you out with all your needs!
BlackVue Power Magic EZ

Excellent products, prices and customer services very helpful.

Hi John, thanks for leaving a review! Let us know if you have any questions in the future.
2nd day of usage records crash

I installed two A119V3s - front and rear on my vehicle. I never got the chance to review any recordings. On the morning of the second day using them, while stopped at a STOP sign, I was rear-ended by a pick-up truck. I was pleasantly surprised to see that both units performed flawlessly.

What are the odds,lol?

During installation, I had a few questions which were quickly answered by the BlackboxMyCar staff. A truly professional business! BTW, video quality was excellent !!!

Hi TV, thanks for leaving a review! Glad to hear that you're loving your VIOFO, but even happier to hear that you're okay. Let's hope you don't get in any more accidents, but do reach out at anytime if you have any other questions.
Great camera setup, with one flaw...

Great camera setup, with one flaw...
I purchased the Viofo A129 Pro Duo with the Cellink Neo battery and HK3 ACC Hardwire kit, including an extra CPL filter for the rear camera. The video quality of the cameras are quite good. I've had four others made by Rexing and the Vantrue X1 and X3. The feel of these cameras are substantial, feels well made compared to others I've had and the mounts really hold. The CPL filters also appear to be made from quality materials and the wiring harnesses are excellent.

One of the features that I really wanted to take advantage of was the Auto Event Detection, while in parking mode. This feature buffers several seconds of video in memory ahead of an event so that when something does happen, it commits what is in memory to the microSD card and you don't lose the initial impact of the event. Otherwise, when nothing is happening, the camera is always watching but it is not writing to the microSD card. A great feature, but it does not work if you use the included GPS mount...what? So you have to decide, do you want GPS data or do you want Auto Event Detection; you can't have both!

I have sent a request to the support team to see if they can submit this as a future feature enhancement through a firmware update. I hope they can make that work, but for now this is why I can't give this a five star review.

Hi MWood, thank you for the feedback. We will keep that in mind and will relay that over to the VIOFO team as well. They do continuously upgrade their dash cam firmware, so we wouldn't be surprised if this gets addressed in the near future. Do let us know if you have any other feedback. Thanks for leaving a review!
Great camera setup, with one flaw...

I purchased the Viofo A129 Pro Duo with the Cellink Neo battery and HK3 ACC Hardwire kit, including an extra CPL filter for the rear camera. The video quality of the cameras are quite good. I've had four others made by Rexing and the Vantrue X1 and X3. The feel of these cameras are substantial, feels well made compared to others I've had and the mounts really hold. The CPL filters also appear to be made from quality materials and the wiring harnesses are excellent.

One of the features that I really wanted to take advantage of was the Auto Event Detection, while in parking mode. This feature buffers several seconds of video in memory ahead of an event so that when something does happen, it commits what is in memory to the microSD card and you don't lose the initial impact of the event. Otherwise, when nothing is happening, the camera is always watching but it is not writing to the microSD card. A great feature, but it does not work if you use the included GPS mount...what? So you have to decide, do you want GPS data or do you want Auto Event Detection; you can't have both!

I have sent a request to the support team to see if they can submit this as a future feature enhancement through a firmware update. I hope they can make that work, but for now this is why I can't give this a five star review.

Hi MWood, thank you for the feedback. We will keep that in mind and will relay that over to the VIOFO team as well. They do continuously upgrade their dash cam firmware, so we wouldn't be surprised if this gets addressed in the near future. Do let us know if you have any other feedback. Thanks for leaving a review!
Very Satisfied

Installation and setup was easy.

Hi David, thanks for leaving a review!
Easiest way

This plug is the easiest way to plug in your dash cam.
Shipped fast and was a good deal.

Hi Colin, thank you for leaving a review! Glad to hear that you love your purchase.
First Dash Cam purchase

After searching the internet for dash cam retailers, I settled on BlackBoxMyCar and I am very happy I chose them. I'm very pleased with my Viofo A129 Duo. I was able to have several questions answered on-line and that was a key factor in selecting my dash cam and BlackBoxMyCar. They will be my go to vendor for my next dash cam.

Hi John, thanks for purchasing from BlackboxMyCar. We're glad to have you as a happy customer :) Let us know at any time if you have any questions in the future.

VIOFO A119 V3 QHD+ Dash Cam

Hi Laenard, thanks for leaving a review!
Great item

Getting installed Monday 1/20/2020

Hi John, thanks for leaving a review!
Very Satisfied

I purchased the suction cup mount to allow me to transfer my Viofo A119V3 between vehicles.

The A119 V3 fits very securely onto the suction cup mount. This mount is superior to those I have used with other devices e.g. GPS in that it offers adjustment in both tilting and rotating, both of which can be locked in position, and when coupled with the titling lens it is very easy to get the best position for the Dashcam.

I found it very easy to secure the mount to my windshield.

Recommended if you intend to move the Dashcam between vehicles or to rental cars.

Hi David, thanks for leaving a review! Glad to hear that the suction cup mount was exactly what you were looking for.
Right fit

I ordered a part for my new car , It all worked out thank you.

Hi Spencer, thanks for leaving a review. Glad to hear that it all worked out for you. Let us know if you have any questions!
Awesome Rideshare Setup!

First of all! Very nice and knowledgeable people at blackboxmycar! Second very nice setup with power magic pro wiring kit! Also very discrete design! Love the video quality! Especially at night with the Sony Starvis! Overall good setup! Can barely see the cams. Thanks again Blackboxmycar.com/BlackVue!!! 👍👍👍

Hi Eric, thanks for purchasing from BlackboxMyCar. Glad to hear that your dash cam worked out for you! Thanks for including pictures as well :) Looks great!
Very Good - not yet great. But getting there.

I purchased the BlackVue DR900S 2 channel with interior facing IR after an attempted theft of my 2019 F-150 Lariat. It was already a purchase I had been considering in order to add a layer of security during both active and passive vehicle usage and I didn't hesitate to go with BMC given the number of positive reviews.

After a fast and painless exchange via email, BMC matched a lower price point offer for the kit that I had found on the internet. BMC even included a slightly larger storage card. Shipping and receipt went smoothly.

If I can fault BMC it is in the install and "commissioning" of the dash cam. Though I had done a fair bit of research and certainly am not one to shy away from peeling off some trim or crimping some wires, there was no step-by-step guide to installation that would have given an illustrated and comprehensive explanation of the process; now, this information exists and I was able to access it, but it was still a bit of a patchwork construction and an installation that I thought might take one hour took 2 days.

All said, though, the system is now up and running, so far flawlessly, in my vehicle. There has been a lot of trial and error, but the dash cam community is helpful and all of the information is available. You just need to look for it.

I will post a video review of my installation shortly - including hardwired battery installation.

Hi Alexander, thank you for leaving a review! We're glad to hear that we were able to help you with your order. You brought up some great points, and we will definitely take your feedback to heart for the future. We hope that the dash cam works out for you. Please let us know if you have any questions in the future.

BlackboxMyCar Add-A-Fuse Kit

Hi Brian, thanks for leaving a review!
VIOFO A119 12V Auto Hardwire Kit

Quality hardwire kit with reasonable length to the A119 and to the 12V battery source. Voltage reducer is small enough to fit in small spaces with rounded corners for ease of fishing into place. Fuse holder streamlined but difficult to open at first, 2nd time ok.

Hi Chester, thanks for leaving a review! Glad to hear that you were able to figure it out and install your VIOFO. Let us know if you have any questions. Thanks!
the ONLY place I can find this replacement part online

Blackboxmycar is the only place I could find that sells the cigarette socket power output cable for the Cellink Neo.
Fast shipping. Item as described.

Hi J. Kim, we're glad to hear you were able to find what you were looking for at our store. Thanks for shopping at BlackboxMyCar!
Great Kit- Everything you need

Our techs were able to install the dash camera and the Power Magic Pro with no problem by using this Essential Kit. We've bought 13 units so far. Very pleased.

Hi Jennifer, thanks for leaving a review. We're glad to hear that you have found everything you need in our Essential Installation Kits. Thanks!
Suction Cup add-on

I bought this suction cup mount to move and use quickly my A119 V3 from vehicle to vehicle.
After receiving I must say its smaller and lighter than expected compared to the picture but still functional and we will see how long the suction cup lasts over time.
I also saw a video of using this suction cup to turn the A119 around and take video of driver with commentary about area or something else which I plan to edit into my video at a later time.
So its a nice feature for the video I plan to make while on vacation.
Cool!

Hi John, thanks for your feedback. Let us know if the suction cup mount doesn't work well for you over time and we'll try our best to help. Thanks!