Technology: BlackVue DR500GW-HD

By: Dave Lorimar, Photography by: Dave Lorimar


BlackVue DR500GW-HD BlackVue DR500GW-HD
BlackVue DR500GW-HD BlackVue DR500GW-HD
BlackVue DR500GW-HD BlackVue DR500GW-HD
BlackVue DR500GW-HD BlackVue DR500GW-HD

Dashboard-mounted video cameras are very popular overseas but are just starting to take off here. Having video evidence to support your claim is always a bonus and using the latest HD cameras, it’s now even possible to read the number plates of the vehicles around you.

Like all electronic devices you find today, some are built a lot better than others and dashboard-mounted video cameras are just the same. Ask Andy Slater from Carcam NZ Ltd. He has imported over 150 different makes and models from all over the world and has heard some far-fetched promises about what the device can and can't do. Most do not measure up and the build quality on some will only give the owner a few weeks of operation before they go belly up and it's all over.

Thankfully he came across a Korean company called Pittasoft that knows what it's doing and is serious about quality. It manufactures a range of car cameras called BlackVue and now Carcam NZ is importing them, plus other brands, for the local market.

Carcam NZ gave me the DR500GW-HD to have a play with and see what I thought.

The unit

The BlackVue comes in a nice white box. I mention this because simply unpacking the device is a great experience. You can always get a feeling about a new device based on how it's packaged. Anyone who has opened an Apple device will know what I'm talking about and it's clear Pittasoft put a lot of thought into this experience. It's wonderful. The unit itself is stylish in design and solid in construction.

The device is cylindrical in shape and easily fits in the palm of your hand. The separate base unit has a self-adhesive sticker, which you use to attach the base to the top of your front windscreen. Additional bases are available for mounting the camera in different vehicles. The camera can then be easily slipped into the base and aimed out of the vehicle. There's also a lens cover to use when the device is not in use. It's simple and effective. It came with a 16GB memory card, which can record over four hours in full HD before it needs to record over older footage.

The features

There are a few features that set this unit apart from some other models I have seen and tested. Firstly, it records in full HD (1920x1080). The result is high definition video that makes everything super sharp. When reviewing the footage it's possible to pause, then place the cursor over the number plates of vehicles and an enlarged box will show you a zoomed in look at where the cursor is. This makes reading number plates very easy and straightforward.

Apart from the fact it records in full HD at 30fps, which in itself is a great feature, the main difference it has with other models I have seen is the ability to connect to smart devices using WiFi. Using this feature removes the need to have a screen on the unit, hence the smaller overall size. If you don't have a smart device, don't worry. The BlackVue footage can still be installed on a computer using the microSD card flashcard USB adaptor provided. The software is already loaded on the microSD card for you to install on your computer.

If you do use a smartphone you can download the app, access the footage directly, edit it down and then send it off, right there and then. You can also choose the live view option where you can see what the camera is recording live. There's even an option to send to YouTube, however I recommend using this feature carefully.

Another interesting feature is how you change between recording sound or not. There's a small proximity sensor located on the side of the device and you simply place your hand up next to it. The unit will detect this and tell you the recording is either on or off. This is quite handy as there are times when I'm driving and I don't want my conversations recorded, but still want to record the video.

GPS is built-in and enables the device to work out your location and speed, and the G-sensor can automatically detect the forces of any impact. Any time this happens the device will save the video it is recording at the time and mark it red when viewed later on. Plus it can be set up to record when the vehicle is parked and it detects an impact.

A two-camera model is due next month. The second camera is plugged into the main unit and can be placed facing the rear or anywhere you want to record. Carcam NZ also stocks the Vico-TF2+ Premium Blu-ray quality commercial-grade truck camera.

Conclusion

The full HD camera makes the real difference to me with this unit. It's a pleasure to watch the recordings. The alibility to access the device using a smart device is a nice extra, but I see it more as a fancy feature rather than a must have, in my opinion. If you already have a smartphone/device then you're good to go. However, I wouldn't go buying one just so you can use this feature. Ultimately, the idea of these devices is to record a history of what happens when you drive and once the video is uploaded to a computer and you see the clarity of the imaginary this unit records, you'll be very happy indeed. BlackVue DR500GW-HD $439. 

Specifications
BlackVue DR500GW-HD

Size/weight

118.5mm x 36mm/114g

Memory

microSD card (16GB/32GB)

Camera

CMOS sensor (2.4 megapixel)

Resolution

Full HD (1920x1080)@30fps or 15fps, HD (1280x720)@30fps or 15fps or D1 (720x480)@30fps

Compression mode

Video H.264/Audio AAC-LC

Wi-Fi

Built in (802.11b/g/n) 2.4GHz

Input power

DC 12V-24V

BlackVue app

Android 2.3 or later, iOS 5.0 or later

Operating System

Windows XP or later, OSX 10.5 or later

For the latest reviews, subscribe to our Deals On Wheels magazine here.

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Dealsonwheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook