So a couple weeks ago, we got into a car accident. We were t-boned by someone that ran a really solid red light. This person caused a 3 car accident.
The party that caused the accident was lying about the situation to everyone, including the police, so I don't know what their real perspective was. Myself and the other party that were involved were hazy as to what exactly happened. The police had somewhat pieced together the situation. But it was not until we were able to extract our dashcam video that everything became crystal clear, but more importantly, indisputable and immune to the lies that the first party was spreading.
So from here on, I will write about my experience and recommendation regarding dashcams in hopes that it might be helpful to those looking into it. For my friends/family, let me know if you want to see our accident video and I can send it over.
Here's my current Dashcam that captured the accident:
Blackvue DR650GW 2CH (Front + Rear Camera)
I, originally, without any experience with dashcams, made this purchase off MassDrop (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/blackvue-dr650gw-2ch-car-dash-camera) for a good price in February 2016. Installation was straight forward after watching some videos online and the dashcam worked without problems. However, in September or October 2017, I noticed the Date/Time on my dashcam was always off every time the power to it cut off. On October 29th, I contacted Massdrop for assistance, but they could do nothing for me and referred me to contact Blackvue's manufacturer, Pittasoft, directly. I did so and their customer service was very responsive. My problem was that the internal RTC battery had died, probably died an early death due to the hot temperature in the car from the hot summers here. Some people remove their dashcam and hide it under their seat so it won't overheat while they're parked. But I don't do that because that defeats the purpose of having a dashcam that records when the car is parked (aka. Parking Mode).
So after some RMA'ing, I paid $40ish to ship my Front+Rear Dashcam + SD card to PittaSoft in Korea, and I Paypal'ed them a $50 repair fee since it was out of warranty. They were excellent with turnaround time and I got my dashcam back in about 2.5 weeks. My Blackvue has been working flawlessly since then and was lucky that it came back in time to record this recent car accident. I had read that if the date/time on the dashcam was incorrect, it might invalidate its usefulness as evidence in the event of an accident. I'm not sure that's 100% valid, but it was worthwhile for me to get it fixed. This was also a chance for me to test out PittaSoft's customer service. I have to say I am pleased with the interaction, but not pleased to pay $100 having only had the camera for a year to fix something so basic.
But since having that accident, I am pretty committed to buying a 2nd dashcam set for our other vehicle, so that both our vehicles will have dashcams. Then the question was, "what should I buy"? Stick with Blackvue despite the RTC battery issue I experienced? Try another brand?
So I asked friends/acquaintances who also have dashcam's what they are using and how they liked it. I contacted Pittasoft to discuss the issue I had with their product. I also contacted an online dealer regarding the issue I had.
What I've learned since:
- Dashcams are a must have, in my opinion: That $$$ you put down for a dashcam might hurt your wallet at first, but when something does happen, it's so worth it, so worth it.
- Get high quality: Don't cheap out on this. This thing needs to record day after day, after day. It needs to be high quality, but most of all, extremely reliable.
- Don't believe all of the Amazon reviews (read the negative reviews first): I learned that some of our friends/acquaintances bought cheaper dashcams that had 5-star reviews on Amazon. I'm the type, before I buy something, to first read all of the negative reviews because I want to know how bad, does bad, really get with this product. After reviewing their dashcams and skipping straight to the 1-star reviews, I could see that almost all of those reviews were initially 5 stars and the reviewers had received a free gift for those 5 star reviews. Then after these reviewers realized their dashcams weren't working, they downgraded their reviews to 1-star. The most startling reviews were describing how their dashcams appeared totally functioning day in and day out, all the lights worked properly, all the beeps were beeping, everything indicated it was working. Then one day, they get into an accident, and they pull out the SD card to check. Then they realized that their dashcam hadn't been recording for months, even though all the lights and sounds acted as if it was. That's a really terrible thing to find out, especially after being in an accident, where footage could've saved you so much headache, explaining and, from reliving the stress/pain of the accident.
- First Choice: Buy your dashcam from a physical local authorized dealer. If you have any problems, you simply walk in, hand it to them and have them fix it. (Installers don't count. Since they just install for you and charge for install fee, while you provide the product, they can't service/warrant your product.)
- Second Choice: Buy from an online Authorized Dealer within your country, so you don't need to ship anything international
So what am I going to get for my second dashcam?
I'm going to get another Blackvue. Why? The reason is:
- Though the RMA process was tedious, it was professional and they stood behind their product. Yes, I paid international shipping and yes, I Paypaled them $50. That $50 I gave them, covered my repair out of warranty and it covered the shipping cost back to me. So if it wasn't for my international shipping cost to Korea, the $50 for fixing it and shipping it back to me would've been ok, in my book. They shipped all the pieces back to me, not an item was missing and the turnaround was quick.
- The camera/video quality and features were very good. I have no qualms about the recording. Even despite the date/time being off for many months before I finally got around to doing the RMA, it was still recording. It was very reliable and still recording despite the RTC battery issue, day in and day out.
- Their dashcams are used by trucking companies to manage their fleets of trucks, so their cameras need to be robust and reliable, running all day and night. They sell a lot of dashcams and have the critical mass to produce/improve these dashcams in the long run.
- I contacted PittaSoft about my issue with them and I was pleased with their response:
##- Please type your reply above this line -##
Call Support is available from 9am - 7pm PST (GMT-07:00) Mon-Sat
Your request (#####) has been updated. To add additional comments, reply to this email.
Jun 14, 12:18 PDT
Greetings from BlackVue.
Blackvue do not recommend to change the battery yourself.
Newer models have very good qualityof RTC battery and you will not be having this kind of issue again.
Our latest model is DR900S-2CH please see the link below to know about the product more.
Thank you for understanding please feel free to write us back for further assistance.
Blackvue Support Team
Jun 13, 10:33 PDT
This is a follow-up to your previous request ##### "Re: [BlackVue] Re: Date/Tim..."
I just want to say my cameras worked perfectly after I got it back. I am really happy with my dashcam and your service. However, some bad news, two weeks ago I got in a car accident where someone ran a red light and t-boned us. Luckily my DR650GW caught everything. It was helpful to send the footage to police and insurance.
So now I am interested in buying another Blackvue front+rear for my 2nd car. But I am worried about buying another Blackvue and having the RTC battery issue again. Do you have a newer model where we can change the RTC battery ourselves, so we don't have to ship it to Korea? Everything about the DR650GW is perfect... except changing that battery.
I would love to buy another Blackvue for my 2nd car, if you have another model where that battery is easier to change. We are an active California family, we go to beaches, amusement parks and are often out for long hours under the strong California summer sun (including our Blackvue).
Please give me some advice. I would prefer to stick with Blackvue than other brands (e.g. Thinksys) because I am already familiar/comfortable with Blackvue.
- I checked in with a Dashcam online store (also an Authorized Dealer for Blackvue) and here's what they said:
I only run BlackVue cameras in my personal vehicles if that gives you any indication on which way I lean. There were a few DR650S cameras that did have RTC battery issues however I have never seen another BlackVue product with that issue. We have a very low failure rate in the BlackVue cameras and fee they are as if not more reliable than any other models. The BlackVue cameras will meet all of your requirements and with our support system you shouldn’t have any issues as your previously experienced.
If you are set on trying another brand, I would suggest looking at the Thinkware F100 or F800Pro which are both great cameras as well and will give you a trouble free experience. https://www.thedashcamstore.com/thinkware/
The Dashcam Store Team
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 8:30 PM
To: The Dashcam Store Team <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Warranty on Dashcams?
Good to know! Thank you!
Quick question, between the different brands that you have, which ones do customers have the least issues with? I currently have the Blackvue, but the RTC battery died shortly after warranty was over (hence shipping to Korea), so I want to explore other brands to see if any other ones are good.
- has parking mode
- has g-sensor, motion detection
- front + rear
- removable from the mount
that's about it.
Thank you for your advice.
On Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 8:15 AM, The Dashcam Store Team <email@example.com> wrote:
Thank you for contacting The Dashcam Store! We would be happy to assist you with your future purchases on any products that we sell. It sounds as if you purchased from a non-authorized distributor which created your need to work directly with BlackVue on the repair. The Dashcam Store is an Authorized BlackVue Distributor and would fully support your products directly from our location in Austin, TX. We are capable of repairing most issues onsite or we can simply exchange the unit in the event that the camera is defective and needs to be sent off for repair directly to BlackVue.
We do offer an extended warranty that can be purchased in addition to the camera to extend your warranty by 1-2 years from the end of the manufacturer warranty. As for the shipping, if it is a warranty issue, we cover all in/out shipping cost (in the USA) so there wouldn’t be any high charges based on sending the camera to us.
Please let us know if you have any further questions.
The Dashcam Store Team
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2018 7:24 PM
To: The Dashcam Store Team <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Warranty on Dashcams?
I'm considering purchasing another set of front + rear dashcams. I currently have a set from Blackvue that has worked very well. However, after a car accident a couple weeks ago, where it came in very handy, I would like to install another set on my other vehicle too.
I have really enjoyed my Blackvue except for one problem.
The Time/Date battery dies very quickly because of our hot California summers. Since it has parking mode, I don't remove it, I let it record when parked out even in hot sunny days, which probably shortens its lifespan further.
To get it fixed (since I purchased it online) I had to pay ~$50 to ship it international to Korea and paypal PittaSoft a $50 repair fee (since it was out of warranty). That's like $100 just to get the time/date battery changed.
Do you guys offer more extended warranties? Do you know of any models where the consumer can just replace the internal battery ourselves? If I buy from you and something like this happens, do I have to pay to ship it to you?
Thanks, just doing some research before my next dashcam purchase.
Finally, Costco sells BlackVue (https://www.costco.com/DR650S-2CH-Two-Channel-32GB-Dash-Camera-by-BlackVue.product.100135079.html)... that says a lot, because if you have any issues with it, just return it to Costco, no questions asked. (Costco also sells another brand of dashcam, but it had pretty bad reviews and the company that made it recently got sold.)
So, what am I leaning towards? I guess I'll go with Blackvue again. Likely their newest model because it can even capture license plate numbers better.
This time, instead of hardwiring with Power Magic Pro (https://www.blackvue.com/power-magic-pro/) (didn't work too well in my previous vehicle), and instead of buying another Power Magic Battery Pack (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/blackvue-power-magic-battery-pack) (now being used in the new replacement vehicle), I'm going to try this new thing that plugs directly into the OBD port, the Snap N Go Quick Hardwiring Kit (https://www.amazon.com/Hardwiring-Continuously-Recording-BlackVue-Compatible/dp/B07BCWX2MM/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1529286219&sr=8-2-spons&keywords=blackvue&psc=1).
Here's the online vendor in the U.S. that I'm leaning towards, who conversed with me above: https://www.thedashcamstore.com/
Here's another online vendor that is very active in the dashcam forums community and seems very reputable, but they're in Canada and I don't want to ship to Canada if I have any issues: https://www.blackboxmycar.com/
Here's the online dashcam forum: https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/
Hope this helps. Will update if/when we get another set of dashcams.