Pittasoft BlackVue DR550GW-2CH dual dash cam review

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-12
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).

Once you open the box, it looks exactly like the DR5000GW-HD dash cam, except now there’s a mini-me camera as well.
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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.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-02

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-06

Side by side, the resemblance is uncanny.

Features:

  • 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

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-07

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-08

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Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-11

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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.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-04

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-05

A single coaxial cable connects the second camera to the main body.  Somehow, this provides both power and video.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-23

The adhesive mount is very, very sticky.  Here, I’ve mounted it in front of my rear view mirror (see red arrow).

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-22

For the rear camera, I thought I’d get clever and mount it just under the rear wiper blade.  See it?

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There it is, just peeking out.  I know my car needs a bath.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-17 Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-16 Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-15The 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.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-14Playback 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).

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-13Toggle the Map button and you ‘ll get a Google Maps view of your car’s recorded position.  Here you can see I’m clearly in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

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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.

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This is another 133% enlargement.  Say, is that a “ROAD WORK AHEAD” sign?  Let’s zoom in!

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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.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-25
(Left to right): BlackVue DR5000GW, Lukas LK-7500, BlackVue DR550GW-2CH (tested)

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.

Blackvue DR550GW-2CH-24
Hey, what’s your hurry?

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.

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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.

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78 thoughts on “Pittasoft BlackVue DR550GW-2CH dual dash cam review”

  1. Hi there! Can these cameras be used either with a small monitor or smartphone (iPhone) to display live video feeds front and rear?

  2. You can! Just like it’s single-camera sibling. However, you have to navigate through a few steps on your iOS device to GET there, and the video is slightly lagged.

    The other catch: When you’re connected via, your phone loses connectivity to your 3G / 4G signal. At least, it does that on my iPhone 5 (iOS 6).

  3. I have a knock-off that works similarly by means of a “card-formatted” software. The gripe? Only on Windows… I’m a Mac user and SOL at that. Plus, the software won’t export any metrics (acceleration, GPS, speed) – I only get to see them in the camera’s proprietary software.
    So the question is, can the software export all these parameters or just plain video with a timestamp? (I noticed it does work on a Mac so that’s a non-issue.)

  4. Thanks for the posting the informative review. I like the look of this this unit but before I take the plunge, I’m trying to work out how to run the cables.

    I also have a Subaru hatch (Cross-Trek) and I wanted to see how you ran the cable to the rear camera? I’ve experimented with removing panels and from the hatch door, and can see its possible to run the coax from the center of the rear wind-screen to the top corner where there is a hose (containing rear camera, brake lights wiring etc). I believe I can run the coax through this, but then where? How did you get it into the cabin?

    Thanks again

  5. I didn’t bother permanently wiring the rear camera cable for this, so it just draped loosely across the back of the car.

    However, you can route the coax through that little hose.

  6. I have a sorry tale about this product and the parent company. I had been looking for a car camera recorder for some time. I wanted a high-end unit and was intrigued by the BlackVue DR500GW-HD, particularly because of the availability of the real-time Wi-Fi viewing. I ordered a unit and received it a few days later. In the interim I read as much about it as I could on the Internet. I was pumped! I plugged it in and it would not boot. It kept rebooting and resetting, the Wi-Fi connection would not stay on. I tried the various fixes advised online. I tried formatting the SD card, etc., to no avail. Sure enough, the Internet reported all kinds of problems like this, in addition, viruses attached to the SD cards supplied with the unit. I sent two emails to Support at BlackVue requesting help and got no response. So I returned the unit to Amazon and got another. Same problem- and I’m computer and electronic savvy. I sent another email to Support at Balckvue and got no response. I returned the second unit to Amazon and requested a refund. I will get another brand. It may not have Wi-Fi, but at this point I am opting for a reliable camera and good support if I need it. My take is that BlackVue is having multiple problems with this model. Their lack of response to my pleas is likely to cost them dearly in that I am absolutely recommending, based on my experience, that you not waste your time or money on this particular product. Please note that this is the first review I have ever written on a purchased product and did this because I think it is important to share this with you. I would give it zero stars if I could.

  7. I have been using a DR500GW-HD for the past 7 months every day for 10 -15 hrs per day in a Truck trouble free, I had to make a custom suction cup mount as I drive a different vehicle every day nearly. Completely faultless but have been runnining a custom firmware with a higher bit rate to increase quality.

  8. I just installed this dual unit in my Merc W211. Unfortunately, my keyless-go system went hsy-wire. After much tinkering and a couple of visits my mechanic, realised that the camera’s signal was interfering with the key-kess go system. Disabled the power supply to the Blackvue, and all systems back to normal. Anyone has this problem and care to advise how to solve this matter.

  9. Jkdavid:
    I assume you are powering the camera with the car’s 12v accessory outlet, and not a custom connection.

    Try disabling wifi in the camera. Press the side wifi button to toggle off or default to off in the setup program. If it’s an RF issue that should do it.

  10. Alex,

    It doesn’t take very long to start recording. I haven’t timed it, though.

    You may want to check the dashcamtalk.com forums to see if there are any firmware updates. They’re a very good resource.

  11. Great review! I liked the sample videos, especially the back camera. I own the DR500GW-HD and like it alot. Will consider the the DR550GW-2CH for my second car. Keep it up the great work, Andy.

  12. Hey , i have 2 cars and would change everytime i change the cars also the cameras between them. so i searching or the holders as spare parts. For the front is not a problem i found it, but for the back camera i don’t a holder, so can you messure the hole dimension of the back camera holder ? Maybe i can use a Front camera holder from an earlier camera !! THX

  13. I already have the 500GW from a few months ago. do I have to entirely re-wire my car to use the new model? does this new model work with the same wiring and connector as the old one? does it fit in the old holder?

  14. Did you mean the DR5000GW? I noticed the model DR5000GW (single cam) power plug worked the same as 550GW (dual). Same thing with the holder.

  15. I’d have to agree with Martin. I’ve spent no end of frustrating time with this DR550. Wi if is just useless….when it works, and the video quality is poor for this price range. Save your money and go for something cheaper which I’m sure will do just as good. I’m not impressed and cannot recommend this camera.

  16. blackvue Wi-Fi works perfectly in WI-FI with Nexus.Non works with Samsung Galaxy S4 with firmware 4.3.Credo is the fault of the S4 firmware. Hopefully will remedy

  17. Thanks for revue. Please let me know if any updates be come available for issues mentioned. Regards Mike ps , i still think I will buy one

  18. I am thinking about purchasing the BlackVue DR500 GW HD on Amazon. I do not have an iphone or any other smartphone. I only have the 1st generation Kindle Fire with Wifi.

    Is the BlackVue unit’s Wifi compatable with the Kindle Fire?

    Thanks.

  19. Andy I appreciate your help.

    I went to the google app store link you referenced from my kindle and it did a search on my device and said it “did not find a device” so I guess it’s not compatable. Also did a search at Amazon for the app and it came back empty. Guess I’ll look at something else other than the BlackVue.

    Thanks,

  20. Hi,
    I recently purchased the DR550 & have fitted it as per manufacturers instructions, video seems OK although on playback there is quite a lot of peripheral pixelation, I thought for this money the recorded picture would be much better quality, any hints on how to rectify this problem ? also where can I purchase the *Home Adapter* allowing use of the camera outside of my vehicle. Thank’s again for any tips or suggestions regarding my 2 queries on pixelation & Home Adapter.
    Cheers All,
    Nigel

  21. This camera does suffer from a relatively lower recording bandwidth, probably to reduce overheating. It’s acceptable, just not great. I don’t know of any home adapter for it. I’ve been using the car power cord and using a 12V car adapter to plug into.

  22. I just purchased the two camera DR550GW-2CH and cannot get it to work with my android phone. The wi fi is on, and I installed the app you mentioned in your article. When I press the button on my phone to “find the camera”, the phone finds it but then asks for a 8 character ssid password. What is that and where do I get that from? In viewing other articles online, one said the password is blackvue. Well that did not work. How come this camera does not come with any instructions on how to set it up and what all the things on the screen means. I guess this camera is for computer experts. Is there anyplace online I can go for a online manual? Thanks for any help you can give me.

  23. Hello Andy,

    Thanks for your presentation of this product!
    I just bought this DR550GW-2CH and get it two days ago (from camabord.com);
    I installed, in a first time only the front camera (so excited to try it!! ).
    Result? It’s not possible to retreive any GPS information’s with the application (PC).
    Reset camera, uploading new firmware… no change. After aplaying the 12V, the blue led is turning off… and that’s it!
    Recording is as you said, just “good” but poor bit rate and not so high quality that we could expect from such “expensive” camera…

    I’m just requesting now an exchange of the camera… not even try the rear one….!
    Wait & See….

    Any comments about this problem is welcome !

  24. Should I get the Blackvue (this one) or the Garmin Dashcam 20 (Garmin GDR 35 similar to the Dashcam 20) thats coming out soon? The Garmins cheaper at around $150. Also Does the Blackvue come with 2 cameras?

  25. I haven’t tried the Garmin models yet. I’m curious too. Yes this model Blackvue comes with a second camera (see photos). No additional purchase necessary, comes in the box.

  26. I’ve been running a DR550GW for the last week in my 335i.

    Pros:
    -Two cameras are nice.
    -GPS seems reliable, works >90% of the time.
    -Wifi feature works well with my old LG Revolution phone.
    -Startup takes about 15 seconds.

    Cons:
    -Picture quality on the front camera is VERY poor, both from the low bitrate and from too high a gain setting. Even at the lowest brightness setting, the picture on the front camera is blown out.
    -Due to the windshield angle, all sorts of dash reflections are picked up. On a sunny day, it degrades the picture noticeably. Desperately needs a polarized filter.
    -The rear camera cable seems to be poorly shielded. It’s knocking my AM radio reception to death. High pitched whistling on any but the strongest channels, added static on the strong ones, kills AM HD function.

    Bottom line: I’m going to try some ferrite chokes on the cable to the rear camera. If that doesn’t tamp down the interference, it’s going back. Even if it does tamp it down, if I can’t find some way to get a polarized filter on the front, I’ll likely send it back as well. The low bitrate coupled with reflection artifacts makes the front camera perform badly. Compression artifacts make it impossible to read license plates on the move, and even normal size street name signs can’t be read if the car is over about 10 mph or so.

  27. A followup to the above.

    The ferrite chokes did little to nothing. I could put up with the less than stellar video (after all, I’m not trying for reconnaissance, just some documentation as to my driving in case of an accident/citation), but I can’t deal with it taking a full band of the radio spectrum out of the loop.

    Too bad. Going to be a nuisance removing all the wiring after doing a clean install in my car. Good concept. Fair execution on the video side. Poor on cable shielding.

  28. can you remotely monitor the cameras via wifi when you’re away from the car? let’s say you’re parked in a mall and you go shopping, and want to occasionally check on it. is that possible?

  29. Should I buy this, the upcoming garmin dashcam 20 (2 of them) or should I get 2 go pros? Also no budget.

  30. @ thetrystero: You can use the wifi app to check the camera, but the camera has to be on. Normally when the car is off, the camera is as well.

    @Antony Guan: I have not tried the Garmin units yet. The problem with using a GoPro is that they are not ideally suited for in-car use: Dash cams can start recording when you power them up, and will stop when the power shuts off, and will overwrite the oldest video. The GoPros don’t do either of them very well.

  31. thanks for your reply. i intend to keep the camera turned on while parked using the power magic pro pack. but i suppose in that case the wifi range won’t extend to the entire mall so i still can’t monitor it that way. am i mistaken?

  32. George Dainis

    @thetrystero

    No, what you want to do likely will not be possible. The WiFi range is pretty limited (small transmitter with no external antenna). If you can WiFi connect to it, you can probably see the car better than you can monitor it through your phone.

  33. Sanctimonious Ape

    Not sure how fair a comparison shot the three-way side-by-side “Road work ahead” is – the last pic (for the device under review) is obviously NOT the same sign or even in the same location from the looks of the background, let alone time-of-day lighting. Guess it’s okay for a rough idea, but not an entirely fair comparison.

  34. @Sanctimonious Ape: Not the same, but it’s all I had since they weren’t taken on the same day. But the street, time of day and and distance were the same.

  35. Great review and very detailed.

    I was wondering about using the Wifi to dump the content when I park at home. That is about 3 metres from my router and home network.

    Can it join my home network SSID and password?
    Can I rip its content just like it was a USB drive on my network?

    Sorry if these are dumb questions. I am a bit of a nubie on dashcams.
    My experience so far includes MyFi cards (full size SDHC) and Wifi is a connection/data transfer channel, not always the functions you are looking for.

    SD

  36. I do not believe you can connect to a wifi network that way. The camera’s wireless connection is intended to work directly with another device, such as your smartphone.

  37. Wow I’m really not impressed with the YouTube video you posted, I can’t tell the make of just about any vehical and none of the licence plates. What good is a dash cam if you can’t read the plates, and vehical badging of the vehicals around you. Is it possable to shutoff the GPS, this could be not in my favor if I happen to be doing 1 or 2 km/hr over the speed limit, and something happens. A good lawyer could turn a accident around and make it my fault because of a few km/hr over the speed limit. Can you leave the camera on all the time? With the camera off when your not in the car, and you have to wait for it to turn on if the car moves seems like you are going to get photos after the fact, if someone runs into you in say a parking lot. Seems like thers a lot of room for improvement. Sorry for all the negativity but I’m new to this technology, and I would really like a dash cam but I’m not sure if it’s worth it, by what I am seeing.

    1. You cannot leave the camera on all the time in a car. It would drain the battery. This camera (and others like it) are designed to stop recording and turn off when the car is shut down. These cameras also power on and begin recording once you start the car.

      This assumes your 12v source is switching… That is, turns off with the car.

      Quality isn’t that great. I agree. YouTube videos, even set to full HD (click on the little gear icon) tell the story. If GoPro would fix their looping option, it might be a dash cam contender. Sadly I’ve never had luck with it. Plus, at this time, it’s not designed to turn on and off and start/stop recording with the car.

      I have been using the Möbius action cam lately with much better results. Under $99 and much sharper quality (18mbps) vs the pittasoft cameras. The möbius was reviewed earlier on the Gadgeteer.

  38. George Dainis

    Not strictly true about the switching. Many of these are wired to an “always on” point, with a voltage cutoff device to keep it from killing your battery,

    That’s how the parking function works – it keeps a couple of seconds in a memory buffer without writing it to the SD card (keeps power down). When there’s an event (moving, motion in the field), it writes the buffered memory plus the next few seconds as a record.

    Biggest issue is the image quality, though. It’s very poor when you’re moving.

  39. GoPro’s looping function does not always work. At least I have never gotten it to work all the time without something crashing. I don’t think I’m the only one.

  40. Hi Andy,If by any chance do you have a discreet camera (cctv) for a saloon Taxi Cab with sound for the safety of the driver,Thanks Keith Tansey (Dublin,Ireland)

  41. Hi Andy, very informative review. Would you be able to offer any information, even if it’s just your opinion, regarding the use of this camera in a hybrid vehicle (2014 hyundai sonata hybrid). Any electrical issues that you know about?

    1. Unless your car is not equipped with a 12V DC accessory system to plug into, then no. The only possible issue I can think of with any car is if the 12V DC accessory outlet switches off when the car is turned off.

  42. Robbert van Herksen

    Hi Andy.

    After reading your GREAT review on the Pittasoft BlackVue DR550GW-2CH dual dash cam , somewhere in the article you wrote:

    ———————————————
    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.
    ———————————————

    I have a 650 and I just f….d up the coax socket in the frontcamera unit, and also the centre pin in one of the coaxconnectors on the camera interconnection cable broke off.
    Ergo: No signal anymore from my rear can.

    Question:

    HOW did you open the cam unit????
    I have study the iunit, and see no screws, but there are some ‘openings’ with visible ‘tabs’.

    Can you tell me how you opened the can?
    I guess it’s a kind of ‘clam-shell’ system that yoiu have to ‘pop’ open, using a very thin knif or something like thta??

    Would be awesome if you could gime me (and ‘us all’) a glimpse on your Sesame Open trick

    Thanks a bunch Andy!!

    Best regards

    Robbert
    Soesterberg, Netherlands

  43. I am getting ready to purchase the newest Blackview 2 channel model, the DR650GW-2CH.

    Does anyone have any experience with the 650 unit? I have read all the comments for other models but have not seen anything for this unit. Thanks

  44. @Bill: You can manually format that card, which would do what you want. You need to hold the WiFi button for 10 seconds, which may not be as “immediate” as you wish.

  45. Does anyone know how to get the Blackvue COMPUTER software (not mobile app) for my computer without having to log into a Microsoft account and having MS take over my computer?

    1. There are 2 ways of getting the software. Via the Internet or from the SD card used in the camera.

      You can download it from here if you have the English version
      http://www.autoblackbox.com.au/contact-us/downloads/ (distributor in Australia).

      If you choose the SD option, browse to ‘Blackvue\Software\Windows’ folder which contains the installation file to install the Blackvue software. You can also go to ‘BlackVue\Application\Viewer for Windows’ to run the software from the SD card without having to install.

  46. Hi Andy.

    Still have problems with formatting an SD card for my BlackVue DR650GW-2CH.

    Like you, I’m a Mac user, and the Blackvue website is totally ignoring us Maccies in that respect: NO docs/hints for Mac users. It’s a Windoze world there…

    Maybe you can help me out.

    The problem is formatting an SD card, so that it’s both readable on Macs AND Windows systems, AND in the Blackvue units of course..

    If you format the SD card IN the BlackVue DR650GW-2CH itself, the card is ONLY readable in a Windows environment. Unusable for Mac users.

    There is a special SDformatter for Mac, and if I format an SD card with it, and leave the default OPTION settings alone, it is NOT readble in a Mac, and not even in the Blackvue itself. Holy crap.

    My question to you, a Mac user:

    HOW do you format your SD card for the Blackvue units??
    Any hints??

    Cheers and happy days

    Robbert
    Soesterberg,
    Netherlands

  47. I bought my blackvue DR550 from http://dashcams.com.au last year, and its fantastic so far, but was wondering if anyone else here recommends upgrading to the new version? I spoke to the blackvue australian reseller dashcams and they stated it might be worth exploring other products on the market before committing. Thanks , Rick.

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