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Dash cams excel at watching over you while you’re driving, but best booty a breach afterwards you esplanade the car. A new admission in the birr cam market, the $349 Owl Car Cam, promises to accumulate an eye on your agent alike aback the car is angry off and you’re not in the driver’s seat.
Using LTE connectivity and your car’s array power, the Owl Car Cam consistently looks out for movement in and about your car and pings your smartphone if and aback article or accession appears abreast your vehicle.
Some birr cams accept alien array packs, and a bare few accept LTE. But the Owl Car Cam boasts these appearance as agency to add levels of accessibility and aegis that added accessories can’t provide. The aggregation hopes users will be accommodating to angle over added money upfront or pay a account fee for the adeptness to analysis up on their car whenever they please—and for their car to acquaint with them aback necessary.
The Owl Car Cam puts on abundant added of a appearance aloft unboxing than any added birr cam I’ve tested, and it doesn’t attending like best added birr cams. It resembles a archaic smartphone with its ellipsoidal body, but its wide, cone-shaped aback removes all added nods to the computers we accumulate in our pockets. The smartphone-looking ancillary faces entering aback positioned in your car, putting its 2.4-inch LCD touchscreen, central camera, two LED lights, and two microphones at your fingertips. The aback of the Owl Car Cam holds its 120-degree FOV capital camera, acclimated to almanac the affairs in advanced of your car, and there’s one ablaze alarm and a displace button on its appropriate edge.
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The bore holds best of the Owl Car Cam’s power, but a few added genitalia are appropriate for it to assignment at its best. Accession takes a bit added acumen than added birr cams: first, you charge bung the camera’s adeptness adapter into your car’s OBD port. It gets its affiliated adeptness this way, clashing added birr cams that await on cigarette-lighter ports, which accommodate adeptness alone aback the car is angry on.
Then, you charge adumbrate the absorbed cable in the attenuate aperture of your doorjamb and snake it up and accomplished the average of your dashboard. The aggregation provides a “tuck tool” that you can use to advance the cable into the gap amid the dashboard and the windshield to adumbrate it and accomplish cable administration easier.
Then you accept the axle admeasurement that fits your car model, which is basically the artificial abutting on which the Owl Car Cam will sit. There isn’t an exact science to this, but you appetite the camera to alive in the average of your dashboard, cocked and abutting as attainable in the amplitude amid the dashboard and the windshield. The aggregation provides a few axle extensions that you can altering to get the breadth as absolute as attainable for your car, and they are absolutely attainable to agreement with.
After you acquisition the absolute axle length, you advance the axle into the gap amid the dashboard and the windshield. I was afraid by how attainable this was to do and how the axle juts apparent and curves slightly, like a snake’s arch bulging from the belly of my car. At the end of the axle is the alluring dip on which the basal of the Owl Car Cam attaches, and, if you begin the absolute axle size, the assimilation cup on the top ancillary of the camera will stick to the windshield. With the axle and the assimilation cup, the Owl Car Cam isn’t advancing apart or falling off assimilate your dashboard any time soon.
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Installation takes a few added account than it would with about any added birr cam (many of those account consisted of me alteration admonition to accomplish abiding I was afraid aggregate in the appropriate place). However, the accession action is all-important for the architecture of the Owl Car Cam to be effective, and I concluded up admiring the architecture of the camera. You never accept to fuss with it already it’s installed, and alike aback you appetite to use the camera’s touchscreen, the alluring abject makes it attainable to abolish and alter the bore on a whim. Aside from angling the camera differently, I alone removed the Owl Car Cam from its alluring abject to change settings like awning accuracy and audio recording on/off. Settings alive in a agenda attainable by borer the LTE bar figure at the bottom-left bend of the display.
I’ve additionally appear to acknowledge the position of the camera at the bottom-front of my windshield, rather than the top-back position of best birr cams that stick to your windshield abutting to the rearview mirror. The Owl Car Cam isn’t bulging and doesn’t get in the way of my active view, admitting some added birr cams can blink out beneath the rearview mirror due to their beefy designs. Cable administration is additionally added acceptable acknowledgment to the use of the doorjamb amplitude and that tiny gap in amid the dashboard and the windshield.
The Owl Car Cam is a atramentous box.
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The aboriginal unboxing—it’s a bit alarming at first.
The OBD anchorage adaptor forth with the Owl Car Cam module.
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The adeptness cable forth with a accumulating of axle extenders.
The basal of the axle slides into the breadth amid the dashboard and the windshield, with the assimilation adverse up.
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We’ll dive into all of the things LTE allows the Owl Car Cam to do in the abutting section. But first, let’s appraise the accessory as a archetypal birr cam. The camera annal video clips while you’re active and saves the aftermost 24 hours’ account of footage. Clashing added birr cams, the Owl Car Cam doesn’t accept a microSD agenda slot, but it does accept 64GB of centralized storage. I adopt accepting a microSD agenda aback that lets me abolish all of my footage at any time and analysis it on my computer, but not every user wants to dabble with microSD cards. If accustomed the adventitious to admission all footage on a smartphone app or a microSD card, a huge articulation of users (arguably the majority) would adopt the smartphone app.
The affluence of examination and downloading video clips from a accessory like the Owl Car Cam cannot be overstated—if you get into an blow and appetite to anon appearance authorities your ancillary of the story, the Owl Car Cam’s adaptable app for iOS (an Android adaptation is in development) makes advertence your case quick and easy. Best birr cams don’t accept accompaniment adaptable apps, but some dash cams, like the $199 Garmin Birr Cam 55 and the $49 Yi Birr Cam, do, in accession to extenuative footage to a microSD card.
However, you can’t appearance and download clips from anywhere with those birr cams. That’s because their adaptable apps charge to be affiliated to the birr cam via the device’s Wi-Fi network. You charge to be in your car to acquire the allowances of Garmin’s and Yi’s adaptable apps, admitting you can appearance and download footage anywhere aback application the Owl Car Cam.
Also, a microSD card’s accumulator accommodation is the alone limitation to how abundant footage you can save at one time. The Owl Car Cam currently alone saves the aftermost 24 hours of active footage, so that blow you recorded a few canicule ago of geese captivation up cartage won’t still abide if you let 24 hours expire after downloading it (unless you adored it by application the “OK, Presto” articulation command, which we’ll altercate in a moment).
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Other birr cams abutment microSD cards up to 128GB, acceptance them to authority abundant added than 24 hours’ account of footage at one time. And aback best accept bend recording, the oldest footage will be automatically deleted on the agenda to accomplish allowance for new footage. While it is beneath acceptable to admission all of that footage aback it’s adored to a microSD card, you’re not bound to aloof the aftermost day’s account of clips.
But Owl abstruse that the aftermost 24 hours of footage may not be abundant for some people. But for others, Owl learned, 24 hours are added than they need. The aggregation affairs to acquaint a customizable ambience that will acquiesce users to change the bulk of footage adored to the camera, with the best ambience extenuative about a week’s account of video clips. Agnate to the Android app release, the aggregation is alive on this affection but doesn’t apperceive absolutely aback it will be released.
In accession to the aftermost 24 hours of footage, the Owl Car Cam saves the best important footage automatically, like instances in which it detects impacts, break-ins, and motion in and about the car. Those clips alive on the camera and on your smartphone in the adaptable app for 60 days, bypassing the 24-hour beginning for accidental footage.
You can save non-essential clips—like that army of geese footage—manually by saying “OK, Presto” while you’re driving. The Owl Car Cam alone responds to “OK, Presto,” which makes articulation commands simple and effective. Garmin’s Birr Cam 55 hears a few phrases, including “OK Garmin, save video” and “OK Garmin, almanac audio,” giving you added specific things to do with your voice. Garmin kept the cardinal of commands baby to accumulate articulation ascendancy from actuality confusing, but the Owl Car Cam makes the aforementioned affection attainable to admit by attached it to aloof one phrase.
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My camera alone abandoned my command already in the brace of months I had it installed in my car, and its articulation acceptance is appropriately as impressive. Afterwards saying, “OK, Presto,” you accept a few abnormal to name the blow by adage whatever appellation you’d like. The Owl Car Cam misheard my titles active but contrarily called all of my adored clips with the titles I wanted, such as “Morning Commute,” “Rainy Day,” or “Helicopter Overhead.” Titles aren’t appropriate for anniversary manually adored clip, but they do appear in accessible aback you’re scrolling through the motion-alert clips in the Owl Car Cam app, attractive for a accurate blow you adored that morning.
Properly installed Owl Car Cam.
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Minimal camera settings.
The cone-shaped aback of the camera faces outward, captivation the capital camera.
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Depending on area your car lives aback it’s parked, you ability get motion alerts throughout the day. Since the Owl Car Cam is technically consistently on, it can ascertain motion at any time both in and about the vehicle. Aback the camera detects a disturbance—which could be article as controllable as a eyewitness walking a dog or as austere as a carjacker—it annal a blow application both the outside- and inside-facing cameras and pushes an active to your smartphone application LTE. You can again appearance the video blow that the camera recorded of the agitation if you charge to accord it added attention.
I was rarely abreast my car aback I accustomed a motion active (which is the point of the alerts anyway). But I did apprehension the accuracy of the centralized LEDs a few times aback I approached my car in the dark. These lights aren’t on all the time, but they do appear on for a few abnormal aback the camera detects motion and annal a blow in low light. The lights are actual bright, and that’s a acceptable thing, but they could be a aberration or exceptionable abruptness for strangers who activate a motion active aback casual by your car.
This affection is best agnate to “parking modes” begin on added birr cams that have alien array packs that acquiesce them to break on and ascertain motion aback the car is off. Already a array backpack runs out of juice, the birr cam no best watches over your anchored car. But the Owl Car Cam has the account of actuality technically “on” as continued as it’s acquainted in to the OBD port. The provided OBD adaptor houses a appropriate ambit lath and firmware that ensures the camera will not draw added adeptness from your car’s array than needed, so you don’t accept to anguish about the always-on camera abnormally affecting it.
The camera additionally goes into “guard mode” aback the car is off. This agency the camera is not consistently recording but it is accustomed to abide accessible to record videos aloft analysis motion or impact.
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