Blackvue has been a pioneer and leader in the 2-channel dash cam marketplace, since the launch of their DR550GW-2CH back in 2013. There have been a few updates since then with the all-black DR650GW-2CH in 2014, the introduction of the cloud feature in 2015, and the latest refinement with the DR650S-2CH for 2016/2017. Throughout all these iterations, the form factor has remained basically the same, but this is a good thing as time and time again our customers praise the Blackvue for it's sleek, attractive, and compact design. The video quality has also remained at the same 1080P front and 720P rear resolution since 2013 but the maximum bitrate with the S model has been increased to 10 Megabits per second front and 5 Megabits per second rear.
Nowadays, more and more manufacturers are offering Full HD on both front and rear channels so the Blackvue as a flagship device leaves a little to be desired. The front footage with the Sony EXMOR CMOS sensor is still pretty good but the rear camera can struggle at night, especially on vehicles with a tinted rear window. The increased bitrate has improved front video quality significantly over what the DR650GW-2CH offered with the initial release of the cloud firmware. Many users complained about the pixelation in the video, so it was great to see Blackvue address this issue with the S model.
The hardware on the DR650S-2CH remains virtually identical but the tweaks to the firmware definitely enhance the overall user experience. One problem we saw with parking mode recording was that users had no idea when their car was hit in parking mode and crucial footage was not protected from being overwritten. With the S model, the camera still doesn't lock events recorded in parking mode nor does it put them in a special folder, but the camera will now announce when events and motion detection are triggered so the driver will know to check for any damage. Furthermore, with Blackvue's Cloud feature, the camera can be set up to notify users on their smartphones about when events are recorded in parking mode. This isn't a perfect solution as not all users can take advantage of the cloud but it's great for those who do have access.
Another simple but appreciated tweak is that the rear camera LED can now be disabled via the settings. Many of our customers simply placed a piece of electrical tape over this light in the past but with the new camera it's easy to just turn it off using the app. For those that installed their rear camera upside down, the image can also be flipped using the app, it can also be turned off to save power and memory card storage space.
With the release of the S model, we're seeing big improvements with how Blackvue Cloud works. It's easier to set up and can now take up to three WiFi sources which is perfect for those that want to set up their cloud enabled dash cam to connect at home as well as their office. The Cloud feature still has some shortcomings but as a notification system it seems to work quite reliably and has already helped a few users catch offenders in the act.
Overall we think the DR650S-2CH builds on a proven 2-channel dash cam platform and offers a truly unique parking mode dash cam solution by way of Blackvue Over the Cloud. While it doesn't offer the best video quality due to the 720P rear camera, it might just be the right camera for the user who wants these specific features.
What we like
- Attractive and sleek design
- Unique Over the Cloud Feature
- Good WiFi app with fast download speeds
- 360 degree rotation possible on both front/rear camera mounts
What we don't like
- Not the best rear camera video quality
- No memory card partitioning or file protection
- Premium options for Blackvue Over the Cloud add up
- Coaxial cable is easy to install but can be fragile