I’ve used portable Dashcams for many years, but this year, before departing on my 8000+ mile storm chasing trip, I thought I’d get one permanently installed. Having had great luck with Garmin in the past, I looked into those units, but my local car electronics dealer—who recently did a great job with a new Android Auto radio for me—suggested BlackVue. I got a Blackvue DR750S-2CH on their recommendation, and regret it. I take responsibility for not doing enough research, and I’m writing this so that others won’t make the same mistake.
First off, I have to say that the unit works. The video is fine and I didn’t have any basic recording issues on my long trip. However, after wasting many hours of research and losing some important videos, here’s my issues with the unit:
HUGE ISSUE FOR ME: Manual recordings will be overwritten!!! So, if you record a clip (one minute by default) you have to download it out of the unit before your manual recording scrolls out and are over written. I confirmed with their tech support that there is no way to automatically preserve these files, although there is a setting to preserve up to 50 “Event” recordings, which are files automatically recorded based on an impact trigger. But this loss of manual recordings is to me a deal killer and is my main regret buying this unit. If I record a file manually it’s because there’s something I want to keep. I lost a whole series of incredible storm videos on my trip because of this. I would not have bought the unit had I known about this “feature”.
Related to this: whenever you start a manual recording it saves the previous five seconds (good) but then has a LOUD voice on the recording saying “Manual recording on” right over the thing you’re trying to save. When the unit records an impact file or something it just beeps, and it’s not really clear what’s happening.
Also, the way you start a manual recording is by proximity sensor, and you have to “Touch or wave a finger within 20mm of the sensor” on the side of the camera (and this sensor defaults to turning on/off voice recording). This is really hard to do while driving, and I often hit the camera which then of course makes a noise and moves the camera.
When you change the time zone or almost any other settings, it REFORMATS THE DRIVE. This is stupid.
There is a “recording LED” that is very hard to see and it’s extremely hard to see which one of the four recording modes its in.
On my android phone, you have to disable mobile data in order to connect to the Blackvue unit via wifi. I only learned this by googling; the app should just tell you this. This is really annoying because I often forget to turn mobile data off or back on. Also, if you leave the wifi on on the camera that means it will hijack your phone and cause you confusion. I eventually changed the setting so that I turn the wifi on and off manually.
Also, the app shows you an advertisement every time you start. I already paid hundreds of dollars for this unit, I should not be advertised to.
The app is really only good for downloading a short video or two. They have Windows and Apple software to view the videos and change the settings and so on, but to use it you have to remove the Micro SD card out of the unit and put it in your computer. To do this you have to remove all the cables, open a little plastic cover, and then pry the tiny card out and not drop it down between your seats or somewhere. My other dash cams have always had a USB port which is way, way easier for this kind of connection.
You can adjust the camera units up and down vertically but, once glued to the windows, there’s no way that I see to level the unit out horizontally.
The unit has a “parking mode”. My dealer installed the unit wired with constant power so this would work. However, the camera does not have any built in battery voltage protection, unless you buy the additional $35 Power Magic Pro or the $200 Power Magic Battery. When I drove every day on my storm chasing trip, I had no battery issues. However, when I parked it at the airport for five days it completely drained my battery and I arrived back to a dead battery. Basic low battery killing prevention, it seems to me, should be built into the unit.
Powered by accessory power, the unit takes a full 30 seconds to boot up. By that time I’ve already started up the car and started driving.
The “cloud” functionality only works if you provide your own, always on wifi. So if you parked in a driveway or something that would work. That doesn’t work for me with street parking.
The included Micro SD card is very small. I bought a heavy duty sandisk unit rather than the official (overpriced) blackvue cards.
I’ve invested way, way too much money in this unit now so I’m stuck with it, but here’s things I want on my next dash cam system:
Screen on the unit.
Real saving of Manual recordings.
USB port for loading files.