in Cars, Linux, Ncars
This is a very interesting Dashcam. I'll start with the conclusion: it's a lot of value for money: android, ability to run almost any app from android market, dual dashcam, and wifi, for just $130!!! but sadly, it's actually a bit too cheap: the cameras are of poor quality and there isn't enough RAM to run other android apps well.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01967VSJY
Here are the main points:
Toguard 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 copanies will do the same. The product is far from perfect, but from my interactions with them, they really care about making it better. Despite the low price, they also give you extras like they nicely bundle both a 12V cigarette lighter adapter and ODB2 power connector for constant power. They also provide some plastic tools to help you route wires inside your car without scratching it (very handy for routing wires inside your car).
The device is a full featured quad core android tablet in side your rear view mirror. The previous dual core version was not able to reliably run recording and another app at the same time. This one almost is, except for its biggest problem: only 512MB or RAM. This is totally insufficient and causes major slowdowns, or google play services to crash pretty often due to lack of RAM. I would happily have paid more to get a 2GB device, it is very disappointing the manufacturer did not choose 2GB and settled for a totally inadequate 512MB (it's enough to run just the dashcam, but not run that plus run another big app like google maps).
It runs android kitkat, good choice since it's a good release for devices low on RAM (people who somehow wish it had a newer android don't realize new android versions take more memory and do not offer more features that are important for this device).
You get a real android tablet in a 5" factor. You can add our google account, install google maps or waze (but for me they will be super slow or barely unusable), 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.
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. But it could be nice to have audio out from the mirror to your car stereo if you're doing maps routing.
The video recorder works but is lacking most of the features present in the previous dual core device. This is not a showstopper, but it's disappointing
It comes with a build in navigation app that works offline. I didn't really like the UI and I'm not going to use an inferior maps navigation app when I have google maps on my phone with real time traffic.
However, the ODB2 wiring is mostly pointless because this version of the hardware does not support motion detection.
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 720p and very 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
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.
Generally both cameras will not let you see any license plates if any cars are moving. I think the sensor size is too small and if anything moves, even during bright daylight, the picture and license plates come out totally blurry
Sadly the mirror itself doesn't have a good mirror material and doesn't give a very good view during the day and a worse one at night. That's a bit concerning for wha't supposed to be a rear view mirror before anything else.
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 4GB of flash free, which is very generous, and handles external sdcards perfectly. It even offers the more convenient USB storage mode if you plug USB, over the less convenient PTP/MTP support that android has switched to, and doesn't work well on all OSes.
I'm super familiar with android, so interacting with it was trivial. Someone not knowing android may have a harder time setting up advanced features, but basic operation will work out of the box.
Also, it comes with a stupid music at boot and annoying metallic voice when power is lost. Neither bring anything to me but sound spam. I really wish I could turn them off.
So, my verdict?
If all you care about is 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 get their plate. If you're hoping to get the plate from someone who cut you off, that's not going to happen.
The manufacturer should forget this model or quickly supplement it with one that has more memory and better cameras. This would cost more, but that's fine. Currently there is no dual dashcam mirror with android that's better, so there is no competition.
Honestly if you're going to run other android apps on it, it might work, but you're likely to get frustrated and disappointed.
If you want real 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
I really wanted to like this, but the hardware just falls short.
Here are some shots of android:
technically google maps works, but it's so slow, it's barely usable. And without a good GPS, what's the point?
music player, why not, but audio output is poor and without bluetooth audio support, it's probably pointless
while underpowered, it is a real android tablet where you can install your own apps (I installed the english keyboard with swipe support)
technically Waze should work, but practically it's going to be an exercise in frustration due to lack of RAM
Now the painful part: driving videos which confirm that if any car is moving, everything is blurry and plates are toally unreadable. Also note the GPS not working:
the video recorder is not bad, with picture in picture.
parked cars are ok
but look how blurry it gets when the car is moving although by miracle the left plate is readable in this time (usually it won't be)
Now let's look at the rear camera. It's very poor:
non moving right picture is usable
you'll get the plate of whoever rear-ends you though
night is 'challenging'
This is what the mirror looks like:
but if the car is very close and not moving, you'll get the plate
4GB of internal storage
Only 512MB of RAM :(
Android kitkat 4.2.2, quadcore CPU (A33 X5)
Built in navigation app
what the screen looks compared to the mirror, the mirror doesn't reflect as much as a real mirror unfortunately
Personally, I'm looking for the next version with better cameras and 2GB of RAM.
installed, compared to a wheel witness HD
For other dashcams I reviewed, see this page