This was a review forwarded to us by our customer Scott from Texas and is posted verbatim from the e-mail he sent us.
My interest in purchasing dash cams for my family’s three vehicles was fueled by my wife’s recent seat in a civil court jury box where a man was largely railroaded into paying a $15,000 judgment and legal fees for a “he said-she said” accident. The case would have never made it to court if there had been video documentation of the wreck. Having learned of my wife’s frustrations as a jury member, I began to investigate dash cams. As I educated myself via the Internet, I was drawn to systems utilizing front and rear cameras and units having a desktop viewer, which would be compatible with Mac computers. Additionally, I wanted something small and discrete and among the best quality video available. With those needs, I was naturally drawn to the Blackvue products, some of which satisfied all of these wishes. After educating myself, I learned that some dash cams have difficulty operating in high temperatures. I live in Texas, and if there is one thing we have more than bubbas who own the road … it is HEAT.
I liked www.blackboxmycar.com for their willingness to educate the general public about dash cams in general and their thorough use of videos explaining the use, function, and comparison of the products they carry. I contacted Alex regarding my concern with the overheating dash cam issue. He addressed my worries and gave me the confidence to make my initial purchase of one DR650GW-2CH. Since my purchase, I’ve had several questions for Alex and his response has always been swift and thorough. My experience with www.blackboxmycar.com has been nothing short of excellent and I strongly urge anyone considering a dash cam, to buy from BBMC.
On to my opinion of the DR650GW-2CH:
Installation of the dual camera model is straightforward for most any DIY’r and shouldn’t pose too much of an issue for those who may be uninitiated to automotive electronics. Anyone having installed a car stereo, alarm system, or hardwired radar detector could install a dash cam in their sleep. With that said, I can’t imagine anyone dropping $400 on a dual dash cam system and not performing a permanent hardwired install, but Blackvue does provide the familiar “cigar lighter” power plug for those that want to go that route. With my considerable background in low voltage automotive electronics, I am not a fan of tapping into vehicle circuits by twisting wires around fuse blades. If you don’t feel comfortable making soldered connections into the vehicle wiring, there are several solder-less connectors available. Littelfuse makes the one I prefer, and it’s called Add-A-Circuit. It basically makes two fuse ports out of one and gives you fused protection at the proper place and at the proper value (I used 3A fuses for both 12v+ and ACC power). If you simply twist a wire around a random leg of a fuse, you have only a 50/50 chance of protecting your circuit if that fuse blows, and protects your dash cam with a properly rated fuse. Add-A-Circuits correct all of this.
USE AND OPERATION:
First off, my paranoia about Texas heat affecting the performance of the unit was for naught. With several days last summer over the 100˚ mark, my Blackvue unit performed flawlessly without any heat related issues or concerns. I’ve had a few technical glitches, but I could characterize them only as brief and mildly bothersome. Glitch #1: For a day or two, my rear camera failed to record any visible image and left only a distorted pink and purple static. With Alex’s assistance, I simply removed the plug and reinstalled the plug at each end of the coax and this problem disappeared and has not recurred. Glitch #2: I have, on occasion, had difficulty in the Wi-Fi performance when viewing recorded videos. It was as if the system was buffering due to poor bandwidth or was straining to reach a distant signal. I’ve not experience this however in the live mode. I am not knowledgeable on wireless bandwidth and performance of Wi-Fi so I can’t reasonably comment on a cause. Other than these glitches, day-to day usage has been quite trouble free and uneventful. Videos, while not as spectacular as a widescreen movie theater experience are quite good and more than adequate for documenting traffic mishaps. Blackvue recommends users to format their SD cards often. The desktop viewer is straightforward and effective with a nice user interface, which is easy to navigate. Be sure to set the proper time zone in your initial setup or your videos will be time stamped incorrectly.
My initial experience and testing in the Texas heat this past summer went well enough for me to purchase two more DR650GW-2CH units from Alex and I’ve installed them both. Each camera system works as well as the first. With that said, I have a few quibbles where I feel Blackvue could improve their product.
Quibble #1: I am not a fan of the cigar lighter power plug for a unit of this quality, which will very likely be permanently installed in it’s intended vehicle. Lose the cigar lighter plug in lieu of plain hard wires. This neatens the wiring behind the dash and allows the installer to cut the power cord to the proper length. (The unit as shipped, warns against removal or cutting of power cord which forces installers to wrap the unused wire and the cigar lighter into a fairly bulky and messy bundle behind the dash.
Quibble #2: The audio on/off switch, while sexy, is unnecessarily easy to activate inadvertently. The accidental brushing against the end of the dash cam while moving the rear view mirror or having a car wash attendant wiping the windshield can switch the audio recording feature to an undesired position. While there is a voice prompt to notify you of such, you could miss this notification if your radio was louder than normal or if the aforementioned car wash guy did it while not in your presence. Then for the foreseeable future, you are driving around without recording any audio recording, or making cabin recordings when you don’t want to.
Quibble #3: This unit seems to have all of the technology to include a fairly simple feature that I believe would be of great use. The unit knows when you have parked the car (when GPS electronics determine no car movement for 5 minutes). It also uses this technology to know when the car is moving again. Secondly, it knows when the car has experienced an “event” recording or an impact to the car. It seems to me these three bits of data could be used to give the driver a voice announcement when he or she is about to drive away from the scene of a parking lot accident in which the car was impacted. It’s quite possible for an individual to get into their car without noticing a significant damage impact to the opposite side of their car. The timeliness of finding a hit and run driver is totally lost if a driver doesn’t notice the damage to their car until some hours or even days later. A simple voice warning: “An event recording was made while in parking mode” would prevent this from happening. Being alerted to damage while you were away gives the owner (and police) an opportunity to locate the offender with greater success.
Quibble #4: Another seemingly simple feature to add would be what I would call an “instant save” feature. This feature would save the previous minute of recording during parking or normal modes by the simple press of a dedicated button. The saved minute of video would be stored in a dedicated folder on the SD card and could not be overwritten by future recordings. This would allow you to know that you’ve saved a video snippet of your driving day without having to connect via Wi-Fi, locate, download, and then save that clip to your internal phone memory. I’ve experienced a few and have imagined many uses for a feature like this. Maybe you were lucky enough to spot an amazing exotic car passing you? Maybe you’re stopped at a red light when a celebrity walks the crosswalk in front of your car? Or even more sinister … you wonder if that brown sedan following behind you today is the same one you saw last week? I would gladly give up the aforementioned audio recording switch to have it be used for a feature that would save the last recorded minute of video.
Quibble #5: I suspect many users will install the front camera of the DR650GW-2CH below or to the left of the rear view mirror. In all three of my applications, I’m installing the unit to the left side of the mirror and directly in front of the mirror. I like this location for it’s stealthy hidden appearance but it makes it difficult to see the LEDs for recording mode and for GPS. I think it would be great to have those LEDs on the far left side of the camera body, so they could be better seen. Of course users in countries with right hand drive cars, would probably prefer the LEDs be on the right side of the camera, but this quibble is for LHD users. ☺
Quibble #6: A polarizing filter would be a great option to offer.
Quibble #7: The security LED on the rear camera should have a disable feature just as the front camera does.
With all my silly quibbles, I am still very pleased with the ownership and use of the three DR650-GW-2CH dash cam systems I’ve purchased. Equally important and satisfying for me is the level of professional and courteous support I’ve received from Alex at www.blackboxmycar.com. It is clear Alex prides himself on offering service beyond the sale and is he appears genuinely eager to do what he can to make for the best possible customer experience.