Before I get right into my review of the BlackVue DR500GW-HD Vehicle Video Recorder I think it is important to add a bit of backstory about my search for the best car dvr/camera. I have been trying to find the "perfect" vehicle video recorder for quite some time and have tested a myriad of products. Most of the vehicle cameras with built-in DVR are manufactured in China. This alone shouldn't be a bad thing, but for some reason it is. Of the 10+ car cameras I have tested, all of them were made in China. All of these Chinese units had some combination of subpar manuals, cheap build quality, low video quality (don't let the use of the term "HD" fool you), unacceptable night time viewing, etc,
So, when I found the BlackVue DR500GW-HD (made in South Korea) I was excited but skeptical. While I believe that products made in South Korea are higher quality than Chinese products, I had seen so many bad vehicle video recorders and wondered if I would ever find a good unit. Read on for my DR500GW-HD Review.
Pittasoft BlackVue DR500GW-HD Review
The packaging is top notch and reminds me of Apple products. The camera is wrapped in protective plastic, has a lens cover, and is cradled in the middle of the box. The manual is excellent and written in proper English with good screenshots and illustrations. This is clearly a case of, "you get what you pay for". (The black box pictured below is the Power Magic Pro unit which I will review shortly. With that said, I recommend buying it as well)
– BlackVue DR500GW-HD
– Power Cord (long enough for just about any installation)
– Adhesive cable management clips
– Double sided tape for the mounting bracket (with a spare)
– microSD Card (includes the BlackVue software)
– microSD card reader (for plugging in to your computer)
Video and Image Quality
When they say 1080p Full HD, they mean it. This isn't some of the fake 1080p stuff that you see with other camera manufacturers. The video quality is stunning and can record at 30fps in full HD. I find myself watching the videos over a few times to see things I have missed on my daily drives. When using the included software, you can freeze the video and zoom around the image to see license plates and other details. I will go into the software later.
The video is crisp and sharp day or night. The DR500GW-HD uses a relatively low lux camera for good nighttime video quality. Some of the cheaper cameras use infrared LED's to try and increase night time viewing which tends to cause windshield reflections. Thankfully this isn't the case with the DR500GW-HD. I recommend not running the camera with the high compression setting as the video becomes a bit blockier than I like.
You have the option of having videos stamped with date/time, speed, and video quality details.
WiFi "“ allows you to use your iOS or Android devices via the BlackVue (free) application.
Software "“ The BlackVue software for the DR500GW-HD is in a class of its own. The software is intuitive and easy to use without much reading. You can speed up/slow down video playback, hop between files, flip video 180 degrees if you mounted your camera upside down, take snapshots, view GPS coordinates, speed (in Kmh or Mph), and see GPS signal strength. When reviewing footage you can see a 3-axis G-force sensor display showing what was going on at the time of recording. Map overlays work to show exactly where your vehicle was at the time of recording and can be displayed in map or satellite view.
Finding videos to review is simple. Searches can be done by event type (Normal, Event, or Parked) or date/time. Once you have the video cued up you can freeze the video and zoom in to see additional details, and lastly print or save the files.
The software also allows for detailed camera/recording settings. Some items that can be adjusted include image quality, compression, recording, voice record, display date/time, speed display (on, off, and mph or kmh), recording length (1,2, or 3 minutes long), time zone, sensitivity settings for g-force 3 axis sensor, password settings, wifi settings, LED controls, voice controls, etc,
BlackVue App "“ The free app for iOS and Android allows you to tune all camera settings (LED's, recording quality, volume, etc,).
You can also view the camera in live using your smartphone as the screen which is helpful for camera pointing. Makes a great open mic and camera in the car for spying. Not the original intent though. This feature is hard to find in the app because you have to scroll the app header to the right to find it.
The app cleanly organizes the recorded videos by date/time/event and allows for wireless playback on your smartphone or tablet. There is also an option to download video recordings to your phone as well.
Buttons, LED's, etc, "“ The camera is easy on the eyes and has a nice user interface. One end of the camera has a cover that opens for access to the microSD card (and a reset button), the power connector port, and a button to turn on/off the WiFi. That button can also be held down for 10 seconds to format the memory. The other end of the camera has has a display to let you know if WiFi is on/off and a proximity sensor button that allows you to quickly turn on/off audio recording.
The camera has four LED's. There is an LED on the front of the camera called the "Security LED". And there are two LED's on the back of the camera, one for GPS and the other for Recording. Lastly, there is an LED on the side of the camera which displays when the WiFi is turned on. I don't want to draw any attention to the DR500GW-HD so I configured the settings to have them all remain off. I did the same thing for the voice prompts. I didn't want the camera to talk to me every time I started the car.
Camera Mounting – I am glad that BlackVue decided to use high quality double stick tape for the camera mount instead of a suction cup. Not only is the mount low profile compared to others, but it looks cleaner when installed. The camera hides nicely behind the rearview mirror and quietly does its job. Once mounted you can easily rotate the camera up or down. The camera can be removed from the mount by pushing a button and sliding the camera free.
Summary "“ Everything from the packaging, UI, software, hardware, mounting, all the way to the product manual were designed in a very thoughtful way. The product is as close to perfect as a vehicle video recorder can get. In other words, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this camera to friends and have bought an additional unit for the other car. The only negative is that some edge video can have slight pixilation, very minimal however. The BlackVue DR500GW-HD is by far the best car camera/dvr I have tested to date. You can find the BlackVue DR500GW-HD online for about $320 here.
Manufacturer site – BlackVueUSA.com