The Blackvue DR550GW-2CH was already a great model but had a few weaknesses, such as variable image quality. It too has a Sony Exmor sensor, like the newer DR650GW-2CH, which has no big surprises among the technical features:
- FullHD resolution with 30fps, HD-ready rear camera
- 64 GB support
- WiFi with app
- Speaker for voice response
- Looping function
- Field of view: horizontal 129° / vertical 103° / diagonal 77°
- Motion detector
The 64GB memory card support finally allows longer recording times – quite helpful for a dual-channel system.
- Dashcam with adhesive mount
- Second dashcam with adhesive mount
- Operating instructions
- 32 GB memory card with USB adapter
- Power cable and cable guide
- Software for Windows and Mac (on the SD card)
I’ve already praised the 64 GB support. Unfortunately, only a 32 GB card is included in the package. At the high purchase price I would have expected a 64 GB card to come with it, which means that with this model it’s hard to avoid having to make an extra investment. In the end I used an inexpensively priced Class10 Speicherkarte.
On the outside, it’s readily apparent that the entire housing is now a full matt black. Previously the objective lens ring was reflected slightly, but that’s now history.
The cables from the previous model still fit, so if you’ve already gone to the trouble of mounting these cables, you’ll need only to switch the dashcam – awesome! And if you want to take the memory card out you only need to remove the power cable. The rear camera’s coaxial cable can stay connected, as its plug-in point is placed away from the cover over the memory card slot. Blackvue has again been thoughtful in its design here, since this cable with its small pin is quite fragile.
Setup is very easy, in typical Blackvue style. Just install the dashcam in the vehicle using the included power cable, and the camera starts up and right away begins to format the memory card and to retrieve the time and location using GPS. A friendly female voice gives status updates to the driver in German (or any other language).
A wholly display-free solution
I’ve already talked enough about the advantages of a display-free dashcam: for one thing, the camera and its housing can be kept small and not having a display saves space and produces no heat. In any case a display is a potential distraction to a driver, so without one, the driver can concentrate completely on the road. Moreover, in place of a battery there’s a capacitor, which holds enough residual current to shut down the dashcam safely. This cuts costs and boosts performance, particularly when it comes to image processing. But more on that later.
In the place of an on-unit display a smartphone can be used. Apps for both iOS and Android can connect to the camera via WiFi, using the password “blackvue”. This feature can be activated using the single button on the device. An illuminated WiFi signal on the driver’s side indicates when the function is active. The app itself is the same one used for the previous model. It should be noted that the WiFi shuts itself off automatically after 10 minutes to avoid overheating problems. To use the rear camera as a parking aid, the WiFi must be activated just before parking.
Configuration using computer or smartphone
Many different settings become apparent once the camera is connected to a smartphone. If this proves too tricky, though, it’s also possible to simply stick the memory card in a computer and run the pre-installed software, which by the way is also Mac-compatible. Unfortunately this is still a rarity and here it works wonderfully. The very well-functioning park mode is also accessible here; drivers able to fix the dashcam to the vehicle firmly can take advantage of this mode, which is triggered when a vibration or movement is detected. To protect the battery from discharge, use of a Power Magic Pro is recommended
64 GB of nonstop recording
As is typical for dashcams, this Blackvue model saves video in segments. Once the memory card is full, the oldest video is overwritten. Be sure to choose a high-quality memory card, as valuable video could be lost should the memory card fail.
Video from both cameras is saved in separate files. In the Blackvue Viewer software, however, they are shown almost as one single file, from which the footage from both cameras can be viewed alternately or side-by-side. Both recordings end up taking about 75 MB for 1 minute of video. By my calculations, this works out to a total recording time of just over 14 hours when using a 64 GB card. That is already quite luxurious.
The included Blackvue Viewer software is great for analysing and reviewing driving footage.
Excellent image quality
The previous model’s image quality was already quite good but tended to vary in quality, due mostly to the low bitrate, which unfortunately was necessary to avoid overheating problems. It appears that this problem has been addressed, and artifact formation is sought in vain. Both the front and rear cameras deliver crisp images by day and by night. I’m not really out to praise this system to the skies, but the improvements have been so massive that they do finally make the high purchase price justifiable. Even at high speeds, license plates can be easily read, thanks not only to the increased bitrate but to the narrower field of view, which was cut back to reduce object distortion and results in better image quality. In the end the “loss” of the wide angle is not noticeable.
At my Youtubechannel you can find more exclusive video clips – most of all from the rear camera.