In plain sight: A Transcend DrivePro 550 review

Dashcam: the gadget you never knew you needed

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In plain sight: A Transcend DrivePro 550 review DrivePro 550. Protection both inside and out.
By  David Ndichu Published  November 13, 2018

There are various reasons you would want to invest in a dashcamera, or dashcam, as they are commonly known.

Perhaps you like to chill out in the evening and relive your morning commute; or you saw a video of a traffic incident on YouTube that went viral and are in pursuit of your own moment of glory (a bad idea this one as I will explain later).

Or you are like most people, and you want a record in case of a traffic accident for legal and insurance purposes.

Either way, the right hardware is crucial. 

Enter the Transcend DrivePro 550 dashcam, from the Taiwanese-based manufacturer of digital and multimedia products.

Features

Transcend's DrivePro 550 is a dual lens dashcamera that records both in front of the car and inside it.

The DrivePro 550 is small, and light: less than 10cms at its widest in fact, and weighing just over 100 grams. It is shaped a bit like a typical digital camera, with a square main body attached to a rotating arm on the side that holds the rear view camera. The front lens juts out of the front.  

At the top is a slot through which the suction mount attaches to the dashcam. The device is powered by a car lighter adapter through a micro USB connection. The car lighter connects through an extra-long cable which allows you to wrap the cable around your windshield to hide it from view. Also included in the package is a 32 GB Micro SSD card for storage from the same manufacturer.

The main front lens features a Sony image sensor at F/2.2 aperture that captures video in Full HD 1080P glory. The 180° rotatable rear lens is equipped with four Infrared LEDs, which automatically turn on in dim light to enable recording inside the car in in low light conditions. 

The front lens has a diagonal viewing angle of 160° while the rear lens boasts a 110° angle. At the rear is a 2.4" colour TFT LCD screen.

Perfomance

The DrivePro 550 starts and stops automatically when you start or stop the car. The dashcam connects via Wi-Fi to your phone via the DrivePro app. Once you make the connection, video is downloaded directly to your phone. This means ease of access to video evidence for reporting incidents to law enforcement and insurance companies without the need to remove the device’s memory card. You can even watch the video in real time on your phone. 

Video is what you would expect with a Full HD lens. It captures the traffic in front with great detail, enough to read number plates at distance. The lens also adapts well to changing ambient light conditions.

The infra-red rear lens shoots in monochrome in dim light. Both images are shown on the screen, with the smaller image from the rear camera superimposed on the left hand side of the screen.

The DrivePro 550’s built-in GPS/Glonass receiver can geotag videos and photos, precisely identifying where an incident happened. This makes it easier when filing reports with police or insurance companies.

A range of safety features come with the dashcam such as current speed, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, headlight reminder, and driver fatigue alert, all displayed on the DrivePro 550’s Head-Up Display.

Activate the parking mode when you leave the car and the dashcam will start recording when it senses any motion near the car. A built-in Li-Polymer battery ensures recording and storage even when the engine is off. There’s also an emergency recording feature which prevents overwriting of the file being recorded at the time when the G-sensor detects impact.

The DrivePro Toolbox that comes with the app features a sorting function to quickly locate video clips by filename, recording date, or group. The time-lapse function, if activated, takes you right to the footage of an incident without needing to view hours of incident-free video.

Applications

There’s a bit of confusion on the legality of operating a dashcam in the UAE. Dash cameras are not illegal. In fact, Dubai Police has said it welcomes videos being submitted via its We Are All Police initiative.

What is illegal is sharing that content online or through social media sites. Any incident recorded must be shared only with the police to resolve a traffic dispute. Otherwise, you could find yourself afoul of the law which prohibits publishing pictures of people without their consent, which could result in jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to Dh500,000.

There are numerous dashcam videos on YouTube, some of horrific accidents. A large part of that content originates from Russia. The apparent reason for that is because almost every car in the country has a dash camera, largely to counter widespread insurance fraud.

Dashcams are becoming increasingly popular especially or commercial fleet operators such as taxi and bus companies and delivery companies. Dubai for instance is in the process of equipping its taxi fleet with cameras, (one in the front and another at the back, in addition to another one inside the vehicle.) The cameras, with smart features such as face and plate recognition, are designed more for monitoring activities on the street.

There’s a certain level of peace of mind when you have dashcam installed, as I have learned in the past month I have been testing the DrivePro 550. You are assured any traffic incident will be resolved faster and with less drama.

That peace of mind in my opinion is worth shelling out the AED 650 for the Transcend DrivePro 550. Even better, this particular device goes beyond mere recording, adding a raft of safety features. The extra lens is also a thoughtful addition. If you are in the market for a dashcam, the DrivePro 550 is one of the very best options out there.

For: Full HD; Safety Features; Compact.
Against: Weak in-built battery
Verdict: If you decide to invest in a dashcam, the Transcend DrivePro 550 is one of the very best

          

 

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