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  1. Car Computer Install: Backup Camera Installation

    by , 06-06-2012 at 02:59 PM

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    Sean shows us how to install a backup camera with a Lilliput monitor pre-wired for backup camera connectivity. These special Lilliput monitors have a wire (usually green in color) that extrudes from the back of the circuit board. When this wire receives +12V, the monitor automatically switches from your PC input to AV2, where your camera is connected. So, if you connect this wire to your backup lights and your camera to AV2, when you shift into reverse, the display will switch to your camera input.
  2. GPS Review: Comparing the BU-353 with the new BU-353 S4 edition

    by , 06-01-2012 at 12:57 PM

    Looking for a new USB GPS device for your car PC installation? Check out this video on the latest entry from USGlobalSat, the BU-353 S4 and see how it compares to the forum favorite, BU-353.
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    Product Reviews
  3. Car Computer Install: Noise In The System

    by , 04-12-2012 at 01:10 PM

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    Sean discusses problems with noise in the system and ways to eliminate them.
  4. Car Computer Install: First Boot

    by , 03-26-2012 at 03:34 PM

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    Sean boots up his car computer for the first time. Be sure to make sure all positive wiring is connected to the appropriate accessory or capped with electrical tape before you reconnect the positive power cable to your battery. With any luck, your computer should boot properly the first time. Sean's enthusiasm on the video is testament to the difficulty associated with any car computer installation and his relief is apparent when everything works properly.
  5. Hardware Review: Pittasoft BlackVue DR400G-HD Driving Recording Device

    by , 03-22-2012 at 08:35 AM

    What is it?

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD is a high-definition audio/video recording device with built-in GPS & accelerometer. Video is recorded for playback on an included 16GB micro SD flash drive.

    The Verdict:

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD improves over competing video recording devices I've tested with a brighter more vibrant capture and a smaller footprint.



    What’s in the box?

    The DR400G-HD comes with the high-definition camera, a 16GB micro SD card with adapter and USB dongle, a windshield mount with adhesive, a 12 meter cigarette lighter power plug, 3.5mm to composite audio/video cable, and a 3.5mm to composite video cable. Wire looms and instruction/installation manuals are also generously thrown in.


    Description:

    A few months back I did a review on the Rupel iVox102H driving recorder system. One of the negative points for the device was the size. The iVox102H stood out like a sore thumb though no matter where it was placed on the front windshield. Enter the BlackVue DR400G-HD. Similar in technical specifications, the DR400G-HD is a sleek and visually appealing driving capture device, sitting at a fraction of the overall length and size of the competitor. The DR400G-HD definitely improves on the competitors footprint, but can it stand toe to toe in regard to the one area that matters most, video quality?


    Simply put, the answer is a resounding "yes". In fact, in similar conditions, the DR400G-HD replayed my driving sessions with more color intensity and brightness. The technical specifications on the box indicate the camera sports only a 2mp chip, but it appears that despite the size and weight difference between these two units, the DR400G-HD sacrifices nothing on video quality. The size of the unit has no effect on the angle of view either, giving a nice full windshield view. The size savings comes from the lack of a proprietary solid-state hard drive for the BlackVue. Instead, the DR400G-HD utilizes your every day micro SD card, found in most modern smart phones and handheld electronic devices. Simply install the side card into the slot on the DR400G-HD camera housing, provide 12v power, and the device records away. A small hitch in the ease of installation is the difficulty sliding the tiny micro SD card into the camera for people with left-hand drive vehicles. The card slot is on the right hand side of the unit when it faces outward towards the windshield, and if the camera is mounted in the ideal position (behind the rear-view mirror) it becomes quite the chore to insert/remove the card. Most users may opt to simply uninstall the camera from the included mount instead, which can be easily done with a simple press of the lock button.


    Another knock on the competing iVox102H was the bright light emitting from the device when powered. Sadly, the DR400G-HD triples the number of lights, and even causes the record indicator to blink continuously while powered. Thankfully, these lights can be switched off in the settings menu in the cameras playback program. On top of the visual feedback with the lights, the DR400G-HD also utilizes voice prompts indicating when the device is powered and recording is started. These too can be turned off via the settings menu.

    In speaking of the program, I must state, like the iVox, the BlackVue camera stores its companion playback application on the storage medium. That means the playback application can be run from "any" computer. A somewhat disappointing omission in regard to this application is it can not be run on a 64-bit windows system. Hopefully the software team is working on a fix for this.


    Once running the software application does a great job of allowing users to playback video with accompanying GPS mapping and accelerometer feedback all indicated. Users can select different dates and times to watch, and all files can easily be backed up to a larger external storage medium. This is somewhat important because in my week with the device I've filled up the 16GB card several times over with the video at its highest quality setting.

    The audio capture is a bit muddy, especially when music playing in the background, but its still easy to pick up the conversation of people in the front and rear of the car.



    The Positive:

    • Superior video capture quality
    • Sleek and small means it doesn't stick out on your windshield
    • Auto-power on/off
    • Captures GPS and accelerometer data and uses it for event detection
    • Included software gives you all the video information in a nice GUI
    • Parking mode set automatically by accelerometer feedback


    The Negative:

    • Muddy audio capture
    • Software is not 64-bit ready
    • SD card installation is somewhat a chore based on location of slot on the camera


    The Verdict:

    The BlackVue DR400G-HD improves over competing video recording devices I've tested with a brighter more vibrant capture and a smaller footprint.