When we heard that the South Korean electronics giant LG was getting into the dash cam market and introducing a discreet 2-channel system, we were excited to test out their offering. Most Korean market dash cams have a large LCD screen and only offer 720P or VGA video quality so we were pleased to hear that the LGD521 would have a discreet cylindrical shape and offer Full HD front and HD rear video quality. The design overall is quite attractive and on-paper this camera checks a lot of the boxes in terms of what buyers are looking for in a 2-channel parking mode dash cam. That being said, whether or not the dash cam will be successful will depend on more than just the on-paper specs so we decided to thoroughly test the LGD521 in our personal vehicles. We asked ourselves whether we would want to keep this system in our own cars or switch it out for one of our tried and true 2-channel systems.
Unboxing and Installation
Installing the LGD521 was fairly simple as it uses a direct hardwire cable, interestingly the LG's hardwire cable was quite long at 5 metres (or 16 feet) which is long enough to reach some rear-mounted fuse boxes. Most other cameras that use direct hardwire cables only have wires that are long enough to reach a fuse box located at the front of the cabin but we found this convenient as many German vehicles nowadays are switching to rear-mounted fuse boxes.The rear camera cable is also fairly thin and the 2.5mm plugs seem to be quite durable. While it was fairly straightforward for us to install, we did not find the kit to provide an appropriate amount of accessories for a high end camera. Inside the box you only get the cigarette cable, rear camera cable, and just two adhesive wire clips. There are no spare adhesives if you want to reposition your camera and given the minimal cost they really should have provided more than 2 wire clips.
Design and Setup
The LGD521 looks good when mounted in the vehicle and dimensionally the front camera is very similar to the Blackvue DR650. The camera itself is very light and there are a lot of cooling vents. In our testing we found that this camera never really got hot and given the high temperature rating of 70°C/158°F we are confident that this camera will perform well in hotter climates. The adhesive mount is sleek and holds the camera securely, but we found that the engagement and rotation of the mount to be a bit plasticky compared to other cameras. Those that like to remove their camera from their mount regularly may prefer the Thinkware or Blackvue cameras which are much quicker and easier to take out. There is a physical power on/off switch and a small button next to it that LG calls the "multi-key". One complaint we have about the multi-key is that the quick start manual provided doesn't explain how to turn on WiFi or what the button and LED lights actually mean. We had to refer to the PDF manual available on the LG Innotek website to find out how to turn on WiFi. Once WiFi was connected though, the app was fairly responsive and straight forward to setup. The download speed on the app was also pretty good as it only took about 35 seconds to download a 122 Megabyte 1 minute video. This translates to a download speed of over 3 Megabytes per second which certainly impressed us.
While we were hoping for two channels of Full HD recording, the LG's relatively lower price point means that Full HD + HD recording is more than fair. In our testing we found the LGD521 outperformed other Full HD/HD dash cams such as the Blackvue DR650S-2CH but the rear camera couldn't quite match the Thinkware F770's higher end Ambarella processor and dual Full HD Sony sensors. Part of the reason the LGD521 achieves such great video quality is its high bitrate recording at 11 Megabits front and 6 Megabits rear for a total of 17Mbps. This is thanks to the higher end ARM Cortex CPU which offered consistent and reliable performance during our testing. In parking mode, the video quality remains just as great as it is in driving mode, making it an ideal camera for catching hit and runs.
The LGD521 is an excellent 2-channel parking mode solution that checks a lot of boxes for us. It's discreet, offers fast WiFi speeds, and pretty good video quality as well. That's not to say it's perfect though. The .AVI format that this camera records in is not as compatible with different platforms as the .MP4 format that Thinkware and Blackvue uses. Also, the front and rear videos are stitched together and you have to use the LG desktop viewer to split the files which adds a few steps when it comes to sharing and editing videos. The menus on both the desktop app and the smartphone app can be a bit difficult to understand due to the layout as well as the English translations, but hopefully these can be resolved through software updates. The LG team has been responsive and we're working closely with them to refine this product. We believe that both the hardware and price point are excellent but with a few software refinements the overall user experience can make this device an even stronger competitor!