It is a fact that cameras are everywhere these days. Some see it as a good thing, others consider it problematic and an invasion of privacy. However, there is no denying that having the ability to look back in time and reconstruct a sequence can oftentimes be helpful. One of those times is when we are in a vehicle on the road. This is the thinking behind an innovative product from a company with a line called the BlackVue.
At first glance, readers may mistake the BlackVue for a typical webcam (Creative, Logitech) or an actioncam (GoPro, Sony, Contour). The BlackVue has the specs of a high-end webcam and works in ways very similar to that of an actioncam. However, the BlackVue has features which uniquely set it apart from everything else currently on the market. The BlackVue camera is designed specifically for capturing video footage from inside the car, day or night, with a minimum of fuss. Pair it with the PowerMagic accessory and the BlackVue will safely run even when the car is turned off.
The idea of a vehicle video recorder is not new to us. We have rigged up surveillance cameras for our project car (BoxsterCam, OrbitCam) years ago. The problem was getting everything installed and working was not that straightforward. Fast-forward a few years later, the BlackVue, by integrating the latest tech available on the market (MicroSD storage, HD video, GPS, WiFi) , has made setting up the camera a plug-n-play process and much simpler to use. We will take a FirstLook at the camera and related accessories today. The Installation/FirstUse writeup will be posted later in the week.
BlackVue offers several different versions of the recorder. The version we got is their top of the line unit (DR500GW-HD) with all the bells and whistles. The complete BlackVue DR500GW-HD package includes the following:
- BlackVue camcorder (window mount, lens cover)
- MicroSD Card Reader
- 16GB MicroSD Card
- Power cord
- Mounting accessories (double-sided tape, cable clips)
The PowerMagic PRO package includes the following:
- Power socket
- Programming module
The PowerMagic PRO will prevent the car battery from being discharged beyond a certain level. It will cut power to the unit if the battery voltage drops below a threshold or after a set period of time. It features multiple booting scenario’s based on what the user wants it to do when the car is turned off.
The BlackVue camera has a wide-angle lens (156° diagonal, 123° horizontal, 90° vertical) capable of seeing pretty much everything you see out the front of the car. The circular mount allows the camera to be positioned at the optimal angle for recording. A built-in GPS enables the recordings to be both time and location stamped. The built-in microphone records voice and surrounding sound.
The 2MP BlackVue camera is capable of recording full HD video at the following resolutions:
- Full HD (1920×1080) @30fps – 4.5 hrs w/ 16GB card
- Full HD (1920×1080) @15fps – 7 hrs w/ 16GB card
- HD (1280×720) @30fps – 7 hrs w/ 16GB card
- HD (1280×720) @15fps – 11.5 hrs w/ 16GB card
- D1 (720×480) @30fps – 17 hrs w/ 16GB card
In order to make the footage easy to review, the recorded video may be accessed via WiFi and viewed on the iPhone. Also, the data stored on the MicroSD card may be downloaded to a computer for review and archiving.
The BlackVue DR500GW-HD is a new class of personal security and surveillance device. We think it is a category which will see a lot of growth and continued innovation as more technologies are integrated.
There is no substitute for good defensive driving habits, but unexpected things can and do happen on the road. The ability to go back and see what actually occured rather than relying on individual recollection can resolve a lot of issues and prevent unnecessary hassles. Someday, all cars may have BlackVue recorders as standard equipment. Until then, you can easily add one to your car and be confident that you can just “go to the video” should there ever be a need.
Look for the installation, sample videos, and a FirstUse review of the BlackVue camera later this week.