in Cars, Linux, Ncars
This is a very welcome update to the 5" mirror. You can read my review of the 5" mirror.
This is the product link: http://www.amazon.com/Toguard-Mirror-Navigation-Screen-Android/dp/B01FJZ4ZRE
It is a very welcome update, the older mirror. The camera is nicely integrated now, the screen bigger, and most importantly, the android system has more memory, so you can now easily run other apps like google maps (with the old mirror, you ran out of memory all the time). This is really the update I was waiting for.
The old mirror has a super annoying start and stop music and voice. They have now been removed. This is great!
After connecting to Wifi (2.4Ghz only), you can run google maps or google play store, sign in your google account, and get your saved location searches on google maps (so that you don't have to type them on the mirror, the software keyboard is not very easy to use).
As a trick type "ok maps" in the google maps search window, and in most countries, it will download maps for offline use.
You can install other apps from the android market, bit it waze, or whatever else you fancy.
Let's compare the form factor, the mirrors are almost the same size (but the new mirror has nice straps built in), however the main difference is where the display goes. The old mirror put it on the side so that you could read the screen on the left, and see cars behind you on the center and right. The new mirror has a bigger display in the middle and I'm not sure if I prefer that, I think it may be a matter of getting used to it. This is because you're now supposed to look at cars behind you by looking through the display and unfocussing your eyes. It works, but I think you don't see as well. Also, if there is a lot of daylight behind you, the daylight will not make it possible to read the screen (but at least you'll see the cars behind you). I think I kind of prefered the android screen on the side like in the 5" version, but the tradeoff is that you get a small screen which may be harder to read depending on your eyes (I have excellent vision, so in my case I can read both screens fine, but you may not be able to read the 5" one as well):
The camera is built in and more tidy, that's definitely a plus:
this gives you an idea of how you see cars through the screen
Here are the main points:
I have to say again that Toguard/Jeemak US is one of those new Chinese companies that actually cares about customer support and doing the right thing. I have to give them credit for this and hope more companies will do the same. The product is far from perfect, but from my interactions with them, they really care about making it better.
The provided written manual is very good. It really is good, kudos for that, especially because how unusual it is for Chinese products.
The device is a full featured quad core android tablet in side your rear view mirror. It's still running the older android kitkat which is more memory efficient, and comes with more RAM, so things run smoothly now.
You get a real android tablet in a 7" factor. You can add our google account, install google maps or waze and you could even install calendar or gmail if you wish.
The wifi is 2.4Ghz only and would be used to install apps at home, or tether to your phone, but that's a bad choice because wifi tethering is very expensive on batteries for your phone. Still, it's better than nothing, and ok for you if you have a fancy car that provides its own wifi hot spot.
The unit ships with sygic and polnav mobile. Polnav didn't seem to really work or have data I could get for the US, but sygic seems like a good navigation app that works offline. You can also use google maps offline if you wish. Too bad you cannot tether via bluetooth.
While you cannot use the missing bluetooth to route audio from the mirror to your car, it comes with an FM transmitter, so you can route audio to your car radio.
The rear camera is low quality, but I'll take that over nothing, it can come in handy if you get hit from behind, it will do fine to prove that. The front camera in the 7" mirror looks bigger and better, but in my testing conditions, it didn't so very well for capturing license plates of moving cars. I think the lighting conditions were non optimal and caused this because I've seen a video from someone else taken by the same camera, and it was much better quality than what I captured. This is another way to say that you should expect better quality in some conditions than what I posted.
The GPS is a great addition for the base price (many dashcams do not include it by default). First I thought mine wasn't working well, until the nice Toguard support told me that it had to be mounted with with glue sticker facing down (I had glued it to my windshield next to the mirror, which meant it was upside down).
The device comes with about 16GB of flash free, which is very generous, and handles external sdcards perfectly. Flash is used to install android apps, and video recording is done on the external sdcard.
Toguard removed the stock android settings app, which arguably is a bit complicated and replaced it with a custom settings app that has just the basics
The flipside of the custom settings app is that it lacks advanced settings that android enthusiasts may like. But for instance this has caused issues with timezone settings (you have to manually change the time for the timezone you're in). Similarly, you can't install a new keyboard from android market and switch to it since you can't access the settings. To be fair, average users won't care and will probably be happier with the simplified but limited settings app.
The android status bar where you can find quick settings and info from some apps, is gone. Average users won't care, power users of android might.
The unit is flashable, so in theory you can install new firmware, but it requires a complicated procedure using customized windows software (I tried that while reviewing an early version of the hardware). I expect that it will likely not be end user upgradable.
The video recorder works fine, but it does not allow changing EV settings, nor can it be used as a parking camera with motion detection.
There is no more hardware menu key. You cannot long hold the menu key to switch apps, you have to go back to home, select the app and switch. Not a huge deal, but it's slower if you switch apps often.
Sadly it does not come with bluetooth. Bluetooth would have been a perfect way to get internet from your phone via bluetooth tethering without killing your batteries. While having callers show up on BT could be useful for some, most cars do this now, so I don't really need that feature, and the audio from that mirror isn't great anyway.
The rear camera wire is not good though because it contains a big adapter bulge in the middle which makes it impossible to route inside your car due to how thick that bit is.
The rear camera is only 480p and poor quality but it will read a place from a car that is stopped behind yours. If any car is moving, the picture will be unusable for license plates but good enough to see that someone else hit you (it is mostly the same camera than the older 5" mirror).
The rear camera has a red wire you're supposed to connect to your rear headlights. This is however difficult to do on my car, and I wish they had just used a light sensor to remove the extra wiring requirement. In my testing, I did not wire the night vision LED, although to be honest, I doubt they can do much except maybe to video the outline of someone who would come on foot to break your rear window. If you're driving, headlights from cars behind you totally overwhelm the camera.
Because the hardware does not support motion detection, wiring to always on power is not very useful.
So, my verdict?
If you are looking for a mirror that can run android apps and you are ok with a very well integrated dual dashcam, to show that the other car hit you, and you didn't reverse into it, this will work. If someone who does a hit and run on you stops before driving off, you may not get their plate. If you're hoping to get the plate from someone who cut you off, it may or may not work for that depending on lighting conditions
If you want best video quality and don't need dual cam, the Wheel Witness HD Pro is the best one I've seen so far, read my review, but keep in mind that it's a big single dashcam without android.
If you don't really want/need to add 3rd party android apps, and all you want is a basic dual cam rear view mirror, then the old 5" will likely work just as well for you while having the advantage of keeping the screen separate from the mirror area you use to see cars behind you
But to repeat myself, if you're looking for a smart mirror that can run android apps while also being a dual dashcam. This device is definitely best in class today. You should be happy with it.
Shots from the camera:
in some cases of moving cars, you can barely read the plate
most times, it's almost readable, but not quite
low speed, close to car, but not close enough