Not too long ago I tested the cylinder-shaped, wifi-enabled Pittasoft BlackVue DR5000GW-HD dash cam. Now there’s a new model that adds a secondary camera for those rear-facing shots. Pittasoft calls it the BlackVue DR550GW-2CH, available September 2013. Let’s take a look.
Click on images for an enlarged view (where applicable).
You get a 12V lighter plug cord, a very long coaxial cable for the 2nd camera, 16GB micro SD card, microSD card/USB reader, spare stickyback tape and adhesive clips.
Side by side, the resemblance is uncanny.
- Front Sony Exmor CMOS sensor (2.4 megapixel)
- Rear CMOS sensor (1 megapixel)
- 137 degree wide-angle front lens
- MP4 recording
- 3-axis sensor
- Wi-fi on/off button, voice on/off button
- Built-in GPS and wifi
- Accepts microSD card (16GB included)
- Mac and PC viewing software formatted on memory card
- iOS and Android device app compatible
Like its predecessor, a small round door covers the microSD card slot. And, like last time, it was impossible to remove the door and card when the cables were in place. A quick tug, and the door comes off easily.
A single coaxial cable connects the second camera to the main body. Somehow, this provides both power and video.
The adhesive mount is very, very sticky. Here, I’ve mounted it in front of my rear view mirror (see red arrow).
For the rear camera, I thought I’d get clever and mount it just under the rear wiper blade. See it?
There it is, just peeking out. I know my car needs a bath.
The computer app (Mac version shown) hasn’t changed a lot. If anything, it’s a little cleaner. I noticed you can adjust the front and rear camera resolution and frames per second, but you can’t change compression or bitrates.
Playback is where the fun is! Once again, Pittasoft’s computer interface lets you choose a file (right window) and play it, just like a DVR. The rear camera is shown as a picture-in-picture you can move around to any of the four corners. I just happened to choose the upper right to mimic a rear-view mirror (for those of us in North America, that is).
In the app, you can select full-screen view. On my 27″ iMac, this zoomed out to a 133% view. Click on image for enlargement.
This is another 133% enlargement. Say, is that a “ROAD WORK AHEAD” sign? Let’s zoom in!
You can clearly see the large sign. It’s a little tougher to read the “Tow Away” sign above it, as well as the taxicab’s license plate. According to the screen shot, I was moving at 3 MPH.
Let’s compare this sign to previous dashcams. In the image above, from left to right, the BlackVue DR5000GW-HD. In the middle is the Lukas LK-7500 Cuty, and on the right, the new BlackVue DR550GW-2CH.
The new DR550GW-2CH is clearer than the older DR5000GW-HD tested earlier this year, but not quite as sharp as the Lukas LK7500.
Speaking of clarity, some of you dash-cam fans are probably curious to know what the bitrates are. It appears the front camera records at just above 6 Mbps, and the rear above 2 Mbps.
The big question is: How does the rear camera look? In a word, it works, but not quite as well as the front camera. You can see the silver Nissan Altima trying to pass me on my left. I was at a stoplight. (What’s your hurry?) You can just make out the license plate, but just barely. (They’re diplomatic corp plates, so maybe they don’t have to wait for anyone.) The dark gray Honda Accord on the left of the image is a blur.
By the way, the dark shadows in the corners are the result of poor aiming. That’s the bottom of my rear window and the edge of the wiper blade.
This is a YouTube video upload of the front camera. Choose 1080/HD and full screen to get the closest approximation of the real thing.
This is the rear camera view. Again, you’ll notice the drop in quality, but it’s still passable.
One of the earlier complaints of previous BlackVue cameras was overheating. I did not notice it with the older DR5000GW-HD or the new DR550GW-2CH.
Not too long after doing my tests, I accidentally broke the coaxial connector on the remote camera. It didn’t take much force. Upon disassembly, it seems the inner sleeve snapped off.
Although the bitrate isn’t adjustable, the DR550GW-2CH image quality seems to have improved over it’s older sibling, the DR5000GW-HD. If you need a rear-facing, second road-view camera, this is certainly the way to go.