Home PageFacebookRSS News Feed
PocketGPS
Web
Read the current newsletter! Weekly
Newsletter
SatNav,GPS,Navigation
MacFixer, the iPhone, iPod, and iPad specialists

 

BlackVue DR550 2-Channel HD Drive Recorder with WiFi

 

Reviewed By

Darren Griffin Blackvue
Review Date

18th October 2013

Manufacturer BlackVue

RRP

£349.00 inc VAT

9.5

 

Earlier this year we reviewed BlackVue's DR500 drive recorder and we were very impressed. A sleek, GPS equipped, HD camera that also added WiFi for easy access to live video and review of recorded video files. You can read that review here.

 

Now BlackVue have gone one better and released the DR550 which shares a similar specification to the DR500, including the GPS and WiFi, and adds a second remote camera that can provide full coverage of the rear view.

 

The DR550 looks almost identical to its predecessor, the only difference being a socket on the side into which the cable from the rear camera connects. Otherwise the mounting, SD card slot and other features are the same.

 

What's In the Box

In the box you get the following:

 

1 x Front camera

1 x Rear Camera

1 x Coaxial cable

1 x 12v Cigarette Lighter Power Cable

8 x Cable clips

1 x 16GB Micro SD Card*

1 x MicroUSB Card Reader

1 x Adhesive Mounts (inc spares)

1 x User Manual

 

*The desktop viewing software is pre-installed on the supplied SD card

 

Design

As before, the DR550 shares the same cylindrical design which slots into the windscreen mount and can be rotated to adjust the angle and cater for the rake of different windscreens. The mount has a click lock system to secure it at the chosen angle and the same button which controls this allows the insertion and release of the camera unit.

 

The right hand edge contains the power socket, a cover concealing the microSD card slot, a switch to enable/disable the WiFi facility and the socket for the coaxial cable that connects the rear view camera. The opposite end conceals a proximity sensor which allows you to turn on/off the audio recording facility by waving your hand.

 

The rear camera shares a similar design but has only the coaxial socket and an LED that indicates operation. The connecting cable is very slim and easily hidden behind trim.

 

In common with other dashcam solutions, BlackVue's DR550 records video in an endless loop with files broken down into user-configurable files of between one and three minutes duration. The camera records continually whilst it is powered and, when the memory card reaches full, it continues recording by overwriting the oldest files.

 

There are three distinct video file types, Normal recording, those files recorded during normal operation. Event recording, those files that are marked as an event due to triggering the G-Force sensor and Parking mode files. These are events recorded when the camera is operating in Parking mode. This requires an accessory device to allow the camera to remain operational when the ignition is off, more on this later.

 

 

DR500 Specifications

 

Front Camera Dimensions 118.5mm x 36mm / 120g
Camera Sensor

Front: Sony Exmor 2.4 MP CMOS

Rear: Sony Exmor 1 MP CMOS

Rear Camera Dimensions 67.4mm x 27.6mm / 30g
Resolution/Frame Rate

Full HD (1920 x 1080) @30Fps or 15Fps

HD (1280 x 720) @30Fps or 15Fps

D1(720 x 480) @30Fps

Video Compression MP4
Viewing Angle (Front)

137 degrees Diagonal

108 degrees Horizontal

80 degrees Vertical

Viewing Angle (Rear)

139 degrees Diagonal

116 degrees Horizontal

61 degrees Vertical

Input Voltage

12 - 24v DC

WiFi 802.11n

 

Installation

Installation is straightforward. Ensure the camera lens is located on the vehicle centreline or as near to it as possible, then attach the mount and run the power cable. I've never found it difficult to hide the lengthy cable behind the roof lining and door trims. Insert the camera into the mount and rotate it until the lens is parallel to the ground.

 

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH

 

The WiFi Live View facility is immediately useful when it comes to verifying that you have your camera set-up and aimed correctly. Without it, the only way to be certain is to record some test footage for a few minutes and then remove the memory card and review the video. Connecting to the camera over WiFi is as simple as connecting to any other WiFi device. Again, the settings allow you to change the SSID of the camera and the default password.

 

The rear camera is installed in the same fashion. I didn't find it too difficult to route the connecting cable between the rear and front cameras. The single cable provides power to the rear camera whilst routing video to the front helping keep cable clutter to a minimum.

 

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH

 

 

In Use

The cameras power on automatically with the ignition. There are a number of voice and beep alerts for status which confirm power on, power off, recording start etc. and these can be individually enabled/disabled in the settings.

 

DR550 Front DR550 Rear

Front and rear cameras installed

 

 

Blackvue DR550GW-2CHBlackvue DR550GW-2CH

Left and Right sides of front camera unit

 

 

 

OS X Software Blackvue

Software available for Windows and Mac OS X

 

The desktop viewing software (available for Windows and Mac operating systems) is very similar to previous versions. As with other dashcam products, the viewer is dominated by a large viewing window but now includes a Picture-In-Picture view which shows the rear camera in a small window. To the right is the file list and above is a G-Meter display. Along the bottom is a calendar which allows you to limit the dates shown in the file list. You can also see 'N', 'E', and 'P' buttons at the top of the file list. This allows you to show or hide the three different file types. In addition, Front and Rear files are differentiated by file name.

 

Blackvue Desktop Viewer - MacBlackvue Desktop Viewer - Mac

Mac desktop software

 

To playback a video, locate it in the file list and select 'Play'. You can then switch the File List to a Google Map which shows your location, on a map overlay, in real-time. Video files are recorded in .mp4 for at and can be viewed in other video apps but you do not get access to the GPS and G-Sensor data unless you use the dedicated viewer.

 

The video window can be played full screen and the on-screen display is user-selectable and overlays time, date, speed and other status information onto the video.

 

The DR550's settings are configured via the viewer with changes saved to a config file on the microSD card. The camera then reads this settings file at start-up.

 

The first page controls time zone settings, camera image quality for both cameras and audio recording. A option available in earlier software that allowed you to configure video compression has been removed.

 

The second page allows you to fine tune the sensitivity settings that trigger an event recording in normal mode and a recording in parking mode. Too sensitive a setting and every pothole triggers an event. Too insensitive and a real bump may not trigger it. Advanced configuration allows you to review an event file that triggered the sensor and adjust the thresholds accordingly.

 

Finally, the third page allows you to set the WiFi SSID and password, enable or disable the recording and security LEDs and choose which, if any, of the various voice and beep type alerts you want to hear.

 

Settings Page - BasicSettings Page - Sensitivity Settings Page - WiFi

Settings pages

 

In full screen mode, the front camera videos were clear and contained lots of detail. The rear camera, having a lower quality sensor than the front, produces a much softer image. Registration plates are more difficult to read but not impossible, but the benefit of having a rear view captured is still well worth having.

 

Front Camera SampleRear Camera Sample

Screen-grab from front and rear camera views

 

WiFi Apps

For testing I used the iPhone version of the app but it is also available for Android smartphones. Although a little basic, it does allow you to view files on the camera memory card, save them to your device and view live video streamed from the camera.

 

Parking Mode

As with the DR500, the DR550 supports a parking mode but, in order for it to remain powered, you need an optional accessory called the 'Power Magic Pro' which willpower the camera when parked and automatically cut power if battery voltage falls below a preset level, or if the set time has been reached.

 

Six dip-switches on the box allow you to configure it for 12 or 24v, set the cut-off voltage and the timer. This black box will supply power when the vehicle is off, but protects your battery from becoming too discharged to start the car. If the voltage falls below the set level, the unit disconnects power. You can also configure it to provide power for between 6 and 120hours or to allow it to run indefinitely.

 

Power Magic Pro

Conclusion

I'm a big fan of the DR500 and the DR550 goes one better with the inclusion of the rear view camera. The video quality for the rear facing camera is not HD which is a shame but it is still a very welcome addition and can only add to the usefulness of the system. It's a well designed and built product, easy to install and very easy and straightforward to use.

 

But the quality and ease of use comes at a price. At £350.00 it is not an impulse purchase but one day it could more than pay for itself, the peace of mind that comes with having these devices installed is hard to put a price tag on.

 

 

Sample video from the DR550 captured at 1920x1080/30fps (front) and 1280x720/30fps (rear)

Please note that to experience the full resolution you must select 1080P HD in the YouTube player and view full screen.

 


References

Manufacturers Web site www.BlackVue.com
Pocket GPS Contributor

Darren Griffin

DR550-GW 2CH User Manual PDF
Forum Comments:

 

Comments
Posted by 253 on Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:13 am Reply with quote

Been thinking of buying one of these video gizmos for a while now, like the look of this one must say.
Can you increase the size of the SD card though, or did I miss it.
I see that the viewing software is on the installed SD card, can that be moved or is it copy protected etc.


Triumph Tbird 1700. And now a Bonnie T100 as well.

 
Posted by Darren on Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:16 am Reply with quote

253 Wrote:
Been thinking of buying one of these video gizmos for a while now, like the look of this one must say.
Can you increase the size of the SD card though, or did I miss it.
I see that the viewing software is on the installed SD card, can that be moved or is it copy protected etc.

oh yes, it uses standard microSD and you can install larger cards if you wish. You can also disable audio recording and reduce quality to squeeze more files onto a card. I've turned audio off.


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by 253 on Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:56 pm Reply with quote

Cheers Darren,

Think I have just bought my Christmas present for myself. Smile


Triumph Tbird 1700. And now a Bonnie T100 as well.

 
Posted by TieJustice on Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:22 am Reply with quote

If like me you are out driving most of the week the 32gig SD card is to small by the time I get home from a 2 day trip I find it has started to over wright the 1st days recordings.

Would like to have seen the use of the 64gig SD cards and now with 2 cameras I do not thing it would work well with users that are away from home for more than a day so I can not see this working for me,

2xHD 400 and still looking to upgrade.


 
Posted by Darren on Fri Oct 25, 2013 7:32 am Reply with quote

TieJustice Wrote:
If like me you are out driving most of the week the 32gig SD card is to small by the time I get home from a 2 day trip I find it has started to over wright the 1st days recordings.

But surely the whole point of these is to record a crash or other incident? You'd know when one of these occurred and could then use the wifi feature to make a copy of the file to your smartphone for safe keeping?


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by keithmillar on Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:04 pm Reply with quote

I've the BlackVue cameras mounted on my car for well over 18 months, and can honestly say this it has been a well worth investment - Having been the middle car in a 3 car shunt and then been able to present the films to my insurance claims team - there was no argument when it can down to who to blame, and it also helped speed up the claim process
Very happy with the investment - might not be the ones the review is about but the DR300G and the DR400HD are just as good and do what they are supposed to do.


Keith

Garmin 3598LTM-D
Android CoPilot
Navigon 72 Plus Live
TTGO540

 
Posted by IanS100 on Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:12 pm Reply with quote

Darren Wrote:
TieJustice Wrote:
If like me you are out driving most of the week the 32gig SD card is to small by the time I get home from a 2 day trip I find it has started to over wright the 1st days recordings.

But surely the whole point of these is to record a crash or other incident? You'd know when one of these occurred and could then use the wifi feature to make a copy of the file to your smartphone for safe keeping?


18 months ago I received an NIP through the post accusing me of being involved in an accident, which I knew nothing about. On further investigation, neither had I been at the scene of the accident, but I did go through an ANPR camera fairly close by. The police took the partial plate reported, added 2 & 2 & wrongly came up with my registration number. It took 6 months of arguing, letters, photographs & an engineers to report before both the police & my insurance conceded my innocence, something a Dash Cam could've instantly proved, provided I had 10 days of saved history?


Galaxy Note 4 / TomTom GO : CamerAlert : CoPilot

 
Posted by saywell on Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:55 pm Reply with quote

Is there a facility for video out while in use?

This would allow the rear camera to double up as a reversing camera, with just the monitor powered up from the rev lights.

William


 
Posted by SpikeyMikey on Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:34 am Reply with quote

I was thinking of getting one of these, but was interested to hear if any one has been successful in getting their insurance premium reduced as a result of fitting one. It also strikes me that if left in the car, in parking mode, that it would become a target for someone breaking in.

I'd be grateful for any input.


Mike
TT GO6000 (App 18.103 Europe & UK and IE buildings v10.11); iPhone X and iPad Pro (both iOS11.4.1); Apple Watch 2 (OS4.3.2) + TT GO app 1.10.1 UK & ROI 1005 + CamerAlert 2.0.7

 
Posted by joneri on Fri May 15, 2015 8:26 am Reply with quote

I have one of these and it works EXCEPT it will not set to the current time and date. This makes it useless if needed in a court of law. Mine currently thinks it is year 2022. Requests to the manufacturer elicit the response 'contact the supplier'. The supplier steadfastly ignores my emails - so I cannot recommend it. I had a Roadhawk before and abandoned it after it insisted SD card error all the time despite trying a variety of cards.

Addendum: Pittasoft have sent me a link to a small program that sets the time/date so they must have known about the problem! The link is:
http://www.blackvue.com/en/contents/sub3.aspmode=view&serboardsort=&page=17&idx=817&search=&searchstr

I have now used their small programme which entails putting the MicroSD card to the PC and setting it to about 15 seconds before you reconnect it and boot the Blackvue. It worked but sadly after a day in the car it did it's own thing and slipped a couple of hours and a random number of minutes oh and a day! So sadly absolutely bloody useless! Why can't they take this data from the GPS signal? 😩


 
Posted by SpikeyMikey on Fri May 15, 2015 9:14 am Reply with quote

I bought one shortly after my last post. I can honestly say I'm very happy with it.
You need to set the time zone in preferences in the Blackvue app or programme.

Edited to say I bought a DR650GW-2CH in the end not the model discussed originally in this thread


Mike
TT GO6000 (App 18.103 Europe & UK and IE buildings v10.11); iPhone X and iPad Pro (both iOS11.4.1); Apple Watch 2 (OS4.3.2) + TT GO app 1.10.1 UK & ROI 1005 + CamerAlert 2.0.7

 
Click here to view more comments...
Reply to topic


CamerAlert Database

Click here for the PocketGPSWorld.com Speed Camera Database

Download CamerAlert Speed Camera Database



WORLDWIDE SPEED CAMERA SPOTTERS WANTED!

Click here to submit camera positions to the PocketGPSWorld.com Speed Camera Database


12mth Subscriber memberships awarded every week for verified new camera reports!

Submit Speed Camera Locations Now


CamerAlert Apps



iOS QR Code






Android QR Code







Terms & Privacy

GPS Shopping