BlackVue DR650s – 2ch
Why is this a part of dad gear?
The dashcam is an awesome technological development. I have wanted one to record the absolute insanity that comes with driving in and around DC. However I could never justify one until I realized how important it could actually be. One of my pass times is watching youtube for fails and my favorite are watching dashcam fails. I realized that some of these people really could have been in a financial, or legal problem if they didn’t have the footage. The dashcam is an important part of securing and protecting your family and assets.
Blackvue is a South Korean brand that is part of Pittasoft. They manufacture dash cams and I was recommended the brand from a coworker at a previous company. They have a great product and are bringing more to the table with additional features including cloud sync. Their website is http://blackvue.com
Unboxing the Blackvue Dashcam
The package arrives in a tightly packed box that is sealed. The external sides shows all the various features of the camera. Opening the box the dash and rear cam are neatly packaged in cardboard. It took a little work to get them out without removing them from the packaging. Below the actual cameras was the instructions, warranty card, cables, and wire clips. It is really straight forward. The Power Magic Pro was an additional box that simply had the wires, and the box inside with a small set of instructions. I also received some add a circuit and fuses for my Tacoma. (though I ordered the wrong size)
Installing the dashcam
Installation is simple. Perhaps the simplest install I have done to date. Here is a quick and dirty overview of how to install:
- Remove the dashcam from the box.
- Position under rear view mirror
- Remove adhesive cover
- Attach to windshield
- Run wires
- Hide wires along the top and sides of the vehicle as desired
- Use Included wire clips to secure your wires in place
- Position rear camera in rear windshield
- Remove adhesive backing
- Attach to rear windshield
- Run wires to Dash Cam.
- Hide wires in paneling and/or secure with wire clips
- Setup the camera using Smart Phone
The installation process took maybe 15 minutes max. The time consuming part is hiding the wires. Plan out how you are going to hide them prior to installation. It makes it easier.
The Blackvue DR650s does not have a battery, meaning that it uses capacitors instead. This makes it able to handle higher and/or lower temperatures without worrying about the battery charge or other issues. This also means that you need an external power supply to take care of all of the features offered by the camera. The Power Magic Pro or Battery pack do this.
The Power Magic Pro ties into your vehicle’s power supply to present a constant power source to the camera but protects it from draining your car’s battery. The Battery pack, is well…. a battery pack.
Installing the Power Magic Pro
*You do not need this to operate you camera, but you do need it for parking mode and for utilizing the cloud.
Installation of the power magic pro is relatively straight forward, but I ran into some issues. First off the wires are neatly labeled and everything is easy to see. Here is the process:
- Locate where you want to mount the Power Magic Pro and how you will tie it into the existing system
- An add a circuit is a great way to tap into existing power and still be able to utilize the protection of a fuse
- Install two add a circuit fuses to your fuse box
- Add one to a constant power source
- Add one to an ACC power source
- Connect the ground to a grounded location
- Plug the wiring into the control box.
- Plug the Dashcam into the power supply on the Power Magic Pro
- Hide the wires using the paneling around the fuse box
This took quite a bit more time to find the right fuses to pull and mounting location. Once completed properly it looked and worked great. Ultimately the add a circuit didn’t work and I was forced to manually tap into the fuse. It worked well and once that was done, all my issues with it went away. I was able to hide the wires using the included tool for prying back the ceiling panel. It was very helpful when running the wires over the windshield.
I recommend getting some zip ties to bundle extra wires for the super clean, professional look. When done right you can easily have less than 6 inches of exposed wring. The Power magic pro comes with the same 3M adhesive as the camera and is perfect for mounting in a small area, such as a coin tray.
Once the Power Magic Pro is installed and turned on, you have access to the cloud and parking mode when the vehicle is off. Doing so will help you monitor your vehicle when you are not around. If a WiFi Hot spot is enabled you can live stream what is being caught on camera, which is great for fleets who need to monitor their employees driving and location.
Setup was simple and quick. Maybe ten minutes tops, but probably less. Download the BlackVue app from the app store. I suggest you sign into it by creating an account but
this may not be necessary. The app is not extremely intuitive but is not difficult either. The camera has a WiFi radio that emits its own wireless network. In the App click on Blackvue WiFi. You will pick up the wifi generated by the camera and be able to connect to it with the password blackvue. It will prompt you to change it, and I suggest you do. Then you can tweak your settings, and configure the camera for your own personal preferences. Connecting to the local WiFi of the camera also enables you to view and download the recordings to your phone. You then can keep them longer than the refresh cycle of the memory card.
Memory cards only hold so much data and once that card is full the system begins to overwrite the oldest set. You can install a Micro SD card up to 128GB. Blackvue recommends that you use their branded SD card. This shouldn’t matter unless it voids their warranty.
Parking Mode and Cloud
Some of the additional features are Cloud and Parking mode. Cloud give you 5GB of storage hosted on Blackvue’s cloud so that you always can access your video. In addition, it has GPS in it so you can even monitor where the vehicle is in the event that you need to. This feature requires a WiFi hot spot so you would need to set your phone up as a hot spot, or have a MiFi. You can utilize this by connecting to your home WiFi and having a constant power supply. Parking mode is enabled after sitting idle for a few minutes. This mode enables motion detection and impact detection.
Upon impact the camera will record so you can get information about the impact and file a hit and run with adequate information if the dirt bag that hit you doesn’t leave any. It also can send you notifications to your phone upon impact as long as a WiFi hot spot is enabled and connected. Pretty freaking cool.
Blackvue also has a video viewer application that shows the GPS location, sound, and camera. Being able to modify what is in
the video is awesome within the native application. The viewer runs on either Windows or Mac and is easy to install and setup.
You can view several different modes including over the cloud, or local disk. The BlackVue Viewer also shows a live feed from the camera over the cloud.
The front camera boasts a full 1080p resolution and has a great night vision. The memory card lasts only about 6 hours with front and rear camera but in most cases that is plenty. Parking mode is a great feature and so is the cloud. Being able to have videos synced to the cloud and downloaded to your PC without needing to pull the memory card is great. The setup is simple for the camera and both front and rear have a very generous length cable. Adjusting the camera is easy and the app, though not extremely intuitive, is a fairly straight forward process. The instructions are clear in the book and make up for the app’s downfall.
There are several issues that had been a regular thing for many users, Blackvue has provided firmware that has fixed the issues. I have not experienced anything negative about the camera and its operation. The security features are perhaps the best reason to buy this product. Being able to get notifications in the event of impact to the car is priceless, and combining that with a live feed, even better.
The idea of being able to have a security system to prove you were not at fault undeniably and catch those people who damage one of your most expensive assets is invaluable. A dash cam could even help you win a lawsuit against another person when you need medical payments from an accident. Any additional help to protect your family’s well being is a plus.
The Power Magic Pro is a great addition, but it proved to be more difficult to install than I expected. Finding the right place to tap into existing vehicle power was problematic. Though this may not have been the Power Magic Pro’s fault as it was my Tacoma. Requiring additional items to use all the functions of the camera is a little bit of a tease but for an additional $30, it isn’t too bad. The rear camera is HD but not 1080p. 720p is still nice but in certain quick scenarios, a full HD camera would work better to capture license plate numbers or a person’s face. Requiring a WiFi hotspot for cloud can be a little tedious. Some cars now have internet capabilities, but it will be a long time before the IoT (internet of things) gets to every car.
The length of the wires are a bit tedious, but allows installation in any car. You will want to use the pry tool to hid them beneath the roof and side panels. I recommend zip ties as well to keep them neat.
In today’s time where anyone can sue anyone for anything I feel that a dashcam is essential for the security and financial well-being of every family. Is this the right one for you? Maybe. The camera itself is great, the app works well and does what it’s supposed to do. The company has patched the major flaws with the operations. So why would it be a maybe? The cost.
While there are better cameras out there for more money there are cheaper ones out there for less. If you don’t need all the features and functionality of the Blackvue DR650S-2CH, go with a different model. Blackvue have several models that span across the financial spectrum and have various features. However, note that if you get one that has the parking mode feature, go ahead and buy the Power Magic Pro or battery pack. You can find these on our shop page.
I feel compelled to give an update. The review was written after using the dashcam for about a month. I had no issues. I had read other reviews about it and found out that there are several problems that have been plaguing many users most notably, the SD card error. This error is an audible notification from the camera stating “Check SD Card” repeatedly until the camera reboots. Immediately after I posted the review I began to experience these issues and they vary in length and frequency. The issue happens more when it is hotter and less when it is cooler.
I did contact Blackvue support who told me to reformat the SD card using the Viewer app. If the problem persisted, I would need to send them the exact error code. There is no exact error code as the camera emits an audible “Check SD Card” I have yet to resolve the issue or attempt to use a separate SD card. I will update again with my findings one I can meet a resolution.
This issue interrupts recording until the camera can reboot and come online. Meaning that it is down for a long enough duration that an accident such as a hit and run could happen with no evidence being recorded. Definitely not good.