Magellan MiVue 658 HD dash cam review

{ 28 comments }

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Dash cams are one of those gadgets that you setup and forget about until something happens that makes you glad that you have one.  Why would you be glad to have a dash cam? They can be useful for insurance purposes if you have an accident. They might capture something that you would ordinarily never have been able to capture without one, like a family of turkeys walking across the road in front of your car on a crisp spring morning, the police arresting someone at the end of your road as you pulled in one day after work, or something equally interesting that you’d like to save for future viewing. And yes, I’ve captured those events with a dash cam. I’ve had the opportunity to review several dash cams over the years and am now in the hunt for one that has all the bells and whistles that will make me want to keep it stuck to my windshield. The latest one that I’ve been testing is the Magellan MiVue 658 and I’m happy to report that it’s the best dash cam I’ve tested so far.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

Hardware specs

Lens: f2.0 with extended high dynamic range (HDR) and 150° view angle
Imaging Sensor: Sony CMOS,
Display: 2.7″ touchscreen
Built in GPS
Impact Sensor: Integrated 3-axis sensor
Dimensions (English)3.5″ x 1.9″ x 1.2″
Battery Type: Lithium-ion rechargeable with up to 1 hr of usage

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What’s in the box?

Magellan MiVue 658 dash cam
Windshield mount
Vehicle power adapter
8GB microSD card

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On the front of the Magellan MiVue 658 dash cam is the wide angle lens, the mini USB power connector and the speaker.

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On the back is the 2.7″ color touchscreen, which is a nice feature to have on a dash cam because you don’t have to remember which button to use to cycle through and select all the different options.

There is a microphone in the lower left corner and a status LED in the top right corner which shows the charging status by glowing green while charging and alternately flashing green and amber while charging and recording.

On the right side of the display is the event/share button. Pressing this button will manually start an event recording which will then automatically be transferred via WiFi to the connected iOS or Android smartphone which has the MiVuew app installed on it.

The free app can directly upload and share all the video clips and pictures to Facebook, Youtube or your other favorite social media sites. You can’t watch the videos through the app without downloading them though, which is a little annoying since each clip can be pretty large depending on the resolution and length settings.

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The power button is on the right side of the dash cam as you’re viewing the touchscreen. You don’t need to turn the camera on manually every time you want to record video. As long as you are using the included 12V power adapter, the camera will automatically power on when you start your vehicle’s engine and start recording, and will then power off when you turn off the engine.

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On the bottom edge of the MiVue is the microSD card slot. An 8GB microSD card is included with the camera. You’ll probably want to use a larger capacity card if you intend to set the video resolution to the maximum resolution of 1296p (2304 x 1296) and the clip length to five minutes. Using those settings, the 8GB card will only be able to store 12-15 five minute clips before it needs to overwrite the first clip.

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The included windshield mount works like all the other suction cup mounts that you’re familiar with. It has a lock down lever that is used to affix it to your window. In the image above, I have the mount turned the wrong way. The lever should be facing up instead of down. I only realized this after several days of using the camera. When I reviewed the video clips, I could see the lever in the video. Oops.

One thing I noticed about the MiVue mount is that you can turn the camera around so that it faces the driver. I’m not sure how useful that feature is but it’s there if you like to record yourself while you’re driving.

Installing the dash cam isn’t difficult, but it does require that you route the power cord so that everything looks nicely installed. For me, it was just a matter of tucking the wire into the head liner of my MINI Cooper.

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Since the MiVue has a touch screen, it’s pretty easy to adjust the settings by navigating the menus.

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The video resolution can be easily adjusted to your liking. You can also change the clip length from 1, 3 or 5 minute video clip lengths.

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Other settings allow you to set the Time / Date manually or automatically via GPS. Note that when I set the time automatically via GPS, the time was one hour too slow for me. This appears to be a DST problem with the camera’s operating system. I’m sure this will be fixed at some point through a firmware update. I ended up setting the time manually to get around it.

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This camera has a built-in GPS which automatically keeps track of your location and speed while you’re driving. You can view the satellite signal status through the camera’s interface. When I snapped the picture above, I was indoors, so it was not showing much information.

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By default, the live view of what you’re recording only displays for about 10 seconds before it goes off and switches to the speed limit view.

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The screen shows the time of day and how fast you’re driving. If you prefer to see a live view of what you’re recording instead of your current speed, you can change the standby setting to never.

Other features of the Magellan MiVue 658 include parked motion detection and collision event recording. When parking mode is turned on it, it uses  the camera’s built-in battery but depending on the length of time the car is parked, the battery will run out of juice and may not record all events.

See it in action

The clip above was recorded at the camera’s highest resolution (1296p), but YouTube converted it to 1080p. You can see how well the camera does during the night and day time. At the 30 second mark you will see what happens when a collision is detected. That is with the collision sensitivity set at the default setting. I had to change it to lower the sensitivity because the collision detection would occur when driving over rough roads as seen in the video.

In addition to watching the video clips on your computer or downloading them through the MiVue mobile app, you can install the free MiVue Manager app on your Windows or Mac computers. This easy to use application will let you watch the clips, see speed information and even the trip route with built in Google maps integration. The application also lets you upload your video clips to YouTube or Facebook.

After using the Magellan MiVue 658 HD dash cam for the past month, I can safely say that it’s currently my favorite dash cam. It has every feature that I could want, is easy to use and records HD video clips. I’m hard pressed to find something about it that I don’t like or I think could stand some improvement. If you’ve been in the market for a high-end dash cam, I highly recommend this one.

Updates 04/26/16

This dash cam remains my favorite after six months. I’m currently reviewing another dash cam and can’t wait to finish up that review so I can put the Magellan back on my windshield. Of all the cameras that I’ve reviewed so far, it has the best image quality and set of features that include the ability to download videos to a mobile device without having to remove the micro SD card.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Magellan. Please visit their site for more info and Amazon to order.

 

Product Information

Price:$249.99
Manufacturer:Magellan
Retailer:Amazon
Pros:
  • Hi resolution
  • Parking mode
  • WiFi sharing
  • Touch screen
  • GPS
Cons:
  • Can't see live view while driving
  • Automatic time feature doesn't reflect DST
Posted in: Car Gear, Reviews
{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Greg November 1, 2015, 12:45 pm

    Nice review and the video clip looks great. I want a dashcam but, honestly, I don’t know if I *need* one.

    • Julie Strietelmeier November 1, 2015, 3:18 pm

      Like I mentioned at the start of the review, dash cams are the type of gadget that you only need / want when you need or want it 😉 Having one isn’t necessary, but they do come in handy.

  • DStaal November 2, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Your links at the end of the article to the manufacturer’s site are wrong – they lead to a domain-squatter. (Drop the ‘d’ between ‘magellan’ and ‘gps’.)

    • Julie Strietelmeier November 2, 2015, 12:43 pm

      I have no idea how that could have happened as I would have been on the site to copy the URL. Weird. I’ve fixed it though.

  • Chris November 2, 2015, 12:03 pm

    I’d love to have a dashcam, but I don’t want the unsightly wire. With a sunroof, I don’t have a good way to route the power cable. You mentioned that this one has a battery for when the car is parked. Is it rechargeable? Can I run the cam just off the battery?

    • Julie Strietelmeier November 2, 2015, 12:45 pm

      Yes, it has a built in rechargeable battery, but the battery will only last for 1 hour according to the documentation. I’ve not tested it with it unplugged for any length of time.

  • Lynn Lopez November 4, 2015, 5:01 pm

    I notice they have one without WIFI $179 on Amazon and one with WIFI $219 at Amazon. What do you use the WIFI for? Is it for fast uploading to a computer without having to plug wires in or do you need it for the app on your phone to work with it?

    • Julie Strietelmeier November 4, 2015, 5:04 pm

      You can use WiFi to transfer the videos to your phone (through the Magellan app) instead of removing the microSD card and taking in the house to load the files on your computer. Or you can use the button on the side of the camera to record a video and automatically transfer it to your phone. I personally have not really used the WiFi feature after testing to see if it worked. If I want to view the video, it’s quicker to just pop out the card, bring in it in the house and load it on my laptop. I also like the desktop app that makes it really easy to view the videos. So I don’t think the WiFi feature is really needed that much. It’s nice to have, but not necessary.

      • Lynn Lopez November 5, 2015, 8:29 am

        Thanks Julie, that is good to know and will save me $40 if I decide to buy it. I just need to confirm how I would run the wire.

  • Utube November 25, 2015, 2:48 pm

    I saw some posts the people are in doubts about buying a dashboard camera. Let me give two examples and you just think about:

    1. You are in an intersection and the lights turns green. Suddenly you are hit from your right by another car because the driver didn’t see the red light. There are no recording cameras in the intersection and he/she has an expensive car. Now, what if he/she doesn’t want to admit that he/she was wrong? With a dashboard camera at least you have the proof that you passed on green!

    2. Somebody cuts your way and you hit him/her from behind. According the law you are guilty because you hit him from behind. With a dashboard camera at least you have the proof that he/she cuts your way!

    And there are more examples, you can figure yourselves.
    Have a nice day!

  • LAT November 27, 2015, 8:45 pm

    Thank you for your review! I bought one and I’m enjoying it so far. I especially appreciated the tip about how to get it to display what it records instead of speed. I am going to use the WiFi quite a bit because I find it finicky to eject the tiny card and I’m always afraid I’ll lose it!

  • Carla December 1, 2015, 10:29 am

    Are you restricted to JUST clips? I’m looking to record lengths of time, trips, etc, and not have to worry about it loops over and recording over. If this only records in clips of max 5 mins., I’m going to keep looking.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 1, 2015, 10:38 am

      Yes, the clips are a max of 5 minutes long, but you don’t lose any action. You could combine them for a longer trip. I’m not aware of any other dash cams that allow for unlimited clip length. I guess you could mount a GoPro to your windshield.

      • Carla December 1, 2015, 11:07 am

        Darn! I was really hoping for a trip recorder. There’s no way that in 5 minute increments it will record some of the drives I go on without looping over. There’s no way to by-pass this silly feature?

        • Julie Strietelmeier December 1, 2015, 11:32 am

          It doesn’t over write the clip, it just makes another new clip. It will over write the oldest clip with the card runs out of room. If you have a nice sized microSD card, you should be fine unless your drives are all day 😉 128GB cards aren’t that expensive and I think I’ve even seen 200GB cards recently.

          • Carla December 1, 2015, 11:35 am

            That’s what I’m worried about – the oldest clip getting overwritten before I can download it. Why does this seem to be the trend now? My very first dash cam recorded non-stop; as long as it was plugged in, it was recording. If I were to grab a 128GB or 200GB card, would this be able to accept it?

          • Julie Strietelmeier December 1, 2015, 11:42 am

            A newer dash cam should be able to accept 128GB cards as they’ve been around awhile. You can always check the specs for the camera just to be safe before buying one.
            I think the reason why they make the clips at a preset short length is for safety reasons. With shorter clips there is a lower potential to lose the whole trip video if there’s some type of issue with the camera.

          • Carla December 1, 2015, 11:47 am

            I never thought of that – the short clips I mean. I’ll look into whether or not it will take a 128GB or larger card.

  • Rohan December 29, 2015, 1:52 pm

    Great review and I recently purchased this dash cam. However, I was wondering if you had any difficulty hooking the microUSB cord into the camera? The space for the USB port in the suction cup mount is too small and mine won’t attach.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 29, 2015, 2:18 pm

      I did have a little trouble getting it to plug in. It’s a tight fit but it will go in as long as you use the cable that comes with the camera. I had tried to use a cable that I already had from a previous dash cam install and it would not fit at all.

  • Mike Nomad May 23, 2016, 6:07 pm

    I’m wondering if you have tried a 128GB card? I purchased a 128GB class 10 MicroSD from SanDisk. After 30-35 seconds the MiVue 658 beeps but does not indicate any problems and continues to show the flashing record light. Looking closely at the screen the recording time in the lower right corner has stopped. Viewing the video it is only 30-35 seconds long. I have another 128GB card on the way.

    • Julie Strietelmeier May 23, 2016, 6:15 pm

      I have a 128gb card that I can try (if it’s not already in camera now – I can’t remember). I’ll make a note to check tomorrow and report back here.

      • Julie Strietelmeier May 24, 2016, 7:37 pm

        I put an 128gb card in the dashcam and verified that it created a video file in my garage. I’ll see how it does tomorrow on a real drive. I did notice that the record LED continued to blink like you had mentioned.

    • Julie Strietelmeier May 29, 2016, 5:13 pm

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you with info on the 128GB card. My back went out and I’ve not been driving much. I was able to test my 128GB PNY card in this dashcam and it works just fine. No problems at all. All the videos were normal length, normal audio, normal everything.

  • Brad May 24, 2016, 2:16 pm

    I like everything I hear about this unit except I would like the ability to connect a rear camera for a complete rear view. Do you know of a unit with this option?

    • Julie Strietelmeier May 24, 2016, 7:38 pm

      I’ve seen a few cameras with that ability, but they aren’t from popular brands, they are from cheap Chinese cameras.

  • Kim August 3, 2016, 4:30 pm

    Were you able to have “live view while driving” I just happened to see this as one of your cons. I don’t know what I did but I have had “live view” since the beginning. I prefer this view. What I am searching for is the Park mode and how to use it with motion detection to activate it. It seems like it has to be on continue recording?

    • Julie Strietelmeier August 3, 2016, 5:50 pm

      Yes, I was able to change it to live view but I like the speed view better.

      As for park mode, the dash cam’s battery needs to be charged so it will remain powered on in order to detect motion. You can’t really expect the battery to last very long in this mode though.

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