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Review Owl Car Cam Security camera for cars with dashcam functionality


hey everybody its la inside button we’re taking a look today at the owl cam this is a dashboard camera for your vehicle that will monitor of course everything that’s going on on the road but it also has the ability to work like a security camera for your car so if people try to break into your car or maybe somebody nudges it in the parking lot you’ll get a notification along with a recording of what is going on and because it connects up to an LTE network you can get those notifications pretty much anywhere it can get a signal so it works without the need for Wi-Fi and it’s a pretty neat little device but it does have some gotchas which we’ll explore in this video now I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure if this is on loan from owls and we’re done with this it goes back to them all the opinions you’re about to hear are my own nobody is paying for this review nor has anyone reviewed or approved what you’re about to see before it was uploaded so let’s get into it now and see what this camera is all about so let’s take a closer look now at the hardware this camera cost three hundred and forty nine dollars as you see it they do occasionally have promotions where you might get a little bit shaved off that price but that is what it costs to get in the door that includes the hardware of course but it also gives you a year of their service the monitoring service I mentioned earlier that works over LTE networks you can choose not to renew that service at the end of the first year but you’ll lose all the notifications so a lot of the value of the camera kind of goes away if you don’t keep paying the annual fee which is $99 and there are some limitations as to what that fee gets you as well so we’ll be exploring that a little bit further in the review here now it’s unique about the camera is how it attaches to your vehicle so typically these

cameras connect up to your car’s DC adapter the old cigarette lighter Jack’s on your car but this one uses the on-board diagnostics port the OBD port to power the camera I don’t believe it’s sending any other vehicle data to the camera but it does make it a little bit easier to get the camera powered and not have to give up something that might be charging your phone for examples I thought that was pretty clever but I did find that the cable isn’t very well shielded so when I did connect it up to my OBD port I was starting to hear some buzzing out of my speakers I moved the cable around and repositioned it and that seemed to have resolved the matter but you might have an issue with it depending on how your car is configured they also give you some tools in the box that tuck the cable away and altogether I felt the installation process was pretty simple and lived up to their 15 minute guarantee that you’ll be up and running quickly now the dash cam sits very low on your dashboard as you can see here I really do like the arm quite a bit on it first of all because it employs a suction cup and not a piece of two-sided tape like a lot of these dashboard cameras often have you use and on top of that they have an arm to it so you can get it positioned and stabilized pretty well and this is removable so you can find the right length of arm that works for your car so in my vehicle I use this longer one just because I have a very steep slanted windshield but you may find yourself using the shorter one in your particular setup and you can of course try different ones to get the right fit and then the camera itself will attach to the arm with a magnet it’s a pretty strong magnet and it’s really not going to give itself up very easily here and then you can give it a good amount of force to pull it off and take the camera with you so you don’t have to take the entire mechanism down to take the camera out of the car you can just pop it off like this and then pop it back on when you want to get back in the vehicle and be on your way again now there are two

cameras on it you’ve got a 720p camera here in the front to capture what’s going on inside the vehicle there are also two lights here these are usually off but if somebody breaks into your car or an unauthorized user gets into your car these lights will turn on and begin recording so that you’ll get that notification and the video with it to see exactly what’s happening inside the vehicle the decision to turn on these lights and register that notification are dependent on the phone that you have paired up with the dashcam here so if my wife for example decides to get in the car even if she has the key and is authorized to use the car right now it will consider her an intruder and light her up so it’s something where it’s kind of right now a one person only kind of device they are working on allowing more people to pair their phones up with the camera so you’ll have more authorized users but just be prepared if you have someone that shares the car with you they will probably get lit up here by the device when they hop in the car I will also record all the audio from the cabin of the car as well so be ready for that on the back you’ve got a 1440p camera for capturing the road as you’re driving around unfortunately though you cannot get the full resolution out of this via Wi-Fi just yet so you have to use the LTE service to extract the full resolution footage from the camera let’s take a look now and see how the camera works inside the car I plugged it in a little bit earlier and will show you right now okay so we’re inside my car right now with the camera on and an operation it’s recording at the moment and it’s recording off the front-facing camera here along with the camera on the back which records was happening outside the vehicle now it’s also capturing my audio so if I don’t want that to happen I can swipe down here to turn off the internal camera and microphone and now it’s going to record just what’s going on outside the vehicle with no sound if I swipe up from the bottom here it will reactivate the internal camera and microphone unfortunately I can’t find a way to turn off the microphone but leave the internal camera running so if you are running it in this split-screen mode here it will be capturing the

video and the audio from what’s going on inside the car if I tap on the screen I can get some additional settings here there is a little beep that happens every once in a while so the volume control will adjust that sound you also have the ability to make the display brighter or dimmer here and you can also turn on a feature to tap to create a clip if you don’t want to use the voice control and there’s an option to disable the display completely when you want to get out of this you just tap on it again and you’re back out to the front screen so let’s jump into their phone app to see what else we can do to configure the camera you should note that the Android version of their app was a little behind the iOS version but as of this week the time I’m recording this video I believe they are now at feature parity so what you see here on the iPhone should also apply to Android now you will also notice here that they have a area which talks about how many credits I have left for this month and the option to buy more of those credits I’ll talk more about that in a minute but before we get to that I did want to talk about the recording modes that you have available to you so the first thing you’re going to see here is guard mode and what this is is when the car is off and the camera powers down it then moves into that mode where it is looking for events that it might notify you about so it stops recording but again if somebody were to try to break into your vehicle or if something is loud outside it will trigger the camera and begin recording once again and of course light up those lights for the interior to see if anybody’s trying to steal your stuff or run off with your car the maximum though is 72 hours on that mode and one of the things that frustrated me about the camera is that I have no battery indicator in here to know exactly how much time I’m going to get so they say that when it’s in guard mode it’ll use about two percent

of a good battery per day if it’s not getting triggered so I suspect they could go longer with this but right now at the time I’m recording this it’s limited to 72 hours so it’s probably good for parking your car overnight but it won’t be good for leaving it at the airport for a week or something like that now loop recording is how much it stores on its internal storage there’s no SD card on this it uses only its internal storage and when the car is turned on and you begin driving it will start recording out of both cameras continuously so even if you don’t have an event that triggers anything it will have the footage for a period of time so you can limit that period of time to only thirty seconds if you want or you can have it go for 24 hours so after the first day the stuff from yesterday gets erased I have mine right now set to max which means that once the storage is filled up it begins erasing the earliest videos on the device so that might be a great way to just keep a constant log of everything and it really depends on how much you drive to figure out exactly how much it will store I believe they estimate you’ll probably get a week or so if you are an average driver if you’re you know driving to Florida or something from Connecticut where I live it certainly would be a different story so it’s all dependent on how much you do one thing to keep in mind with dashboard cameras is that although it could show that you are innocent of something should there be an accident it can also show that you’re guilty of something as well which is why they leave these kinds of options on here so if you are feeling like you don’t want that liability set it to 30 seconds and then you just have to tell it when to preserve something and I’ll show you that feature in a minute there are camera beeps that can come out of the camera which you can disable there and of course you get all of your information on firmware versions and all

that good stuff the camera will update its firmware automatically so now let’s take a look at this Credit System because this will impact some of the other features we’re going to be talking about so as you know you pay a $99 annual fee to use the product that’s part of your purchase price initially but after that you’ll get dinged 100 bucks a year to keep going and that is anything that involves the LTE radio on the camera so for that $99 a year fee you will get 60 credits per month and I don’t know if they roll over or not I don’t believe that they do and if you run out of credits you can buy more for five bucks and if you click on the little information icon here you can see what those credits will get you so what you can do with the camera which i think is pretty cool is watch what’s going on inside your car when you’re not with your car so you can basically use it like your home security camera for example on your phone but when you do pull that up you’re charged one credit per minute of watching so that’s one thing you’ll get dinged for there you can also log into the cameras history and look at all of the video that it’s recorded and if you do that over the LTE service then you will be charged a credit per minute for looking back in your prior footage and even the exporting of the footage will count against that so there’s an alternative that’s free you can actually connect to the camera via Wi-Fi which I’ll show you in a minute but remember the camera only works in your car so you have to be sitting in your car to pull all this footage out and there’ll be another limitation I’ll talk about in a second the third thing that they’ll get you for is when you do what’s called an okay presto event and what happens with that is that if something were to take place in front of you like maybe some crazy driver and you don’t want that piece the footage to get lost you can scream out to the camera ok presto it will then take the last 20 seconds that it recorded and send it up to the cloud for you for safekeeping and what’s kind of cool about this feature is that you can also uh Terr a

description of what just happened which will then get recognized as text and then labeled properly on the video after it goes up so I thought that was pretty cool so basically it’ll record everything 20 seconds before you said ok presto and preserve it but when you do that you get dinged for a credit every time now to access the camera whether it’s for a live view or recordings you go over to this car cam option here at the bottom now you’ll notice my camera is currently offline even though I have put it back in my vehicle and the reason it’s offline is that I have very lousy AT&T reception where I live in fact my entire neighborhood is an AT&T dead zone for the most part and coverage around town isn’t all that great either so if you don’t have good AT&T service where you plan to park your car most of the time this is probably not going to be the product for you because whenever my car is in the garage or even in the driveway it is not able to actually communicate with the server up there and therefore I’m not going to get any notifications at all but if I did have service what I can do is click on the right-hand side of the device here to have a look at the history or get the live view now there’s also an option here for history Direct Connect and I don’t think this is going to work because my car is kind of far away from me in the basement here but let’s try it out now what will happen here is that this will initiate a direct Wi-Fi connection to the camera which appears to maybe be working at the moment here we’ll see and yeah I’m thus out of range here but if I was sitting in my car I could directly connect up to the camera that way and I did shoot some footage a little bit earlier of me doing that so you can scrub through all the footage it will label where there was an incident perhaps hopefully not but maybe if somebody hit your car it would have recorded that as an incident and you’d have that clearly marked on your history there so you can maybe pull out maybe additional footage

before or after that event I will also keep track of all the times you that okay press though so those events will be locked in there and then anytime it gets notified during the guard mode it will also give you those indicators too so even if you don’t have the service you can connect via Wi-Fi and look at all of those notifications and events after the fact so even if you don’t have the service you still have some degree of marking footage on the history but it doesn’t give you any other data so you can’t get speed or location nor can you synchronize up the front-facing camera in the same window now you also have the ability to export footage you can export a minute of footage or a five-minute of minutes of footage but not everything but here’s the biggest issue with this product you cannot extract 1440p video out of it unless you agree to continue paying them year-to-year 1440p video output which is the native resolution of the recording camera on the front is only extractable using the LTE connection not the Wi-Fi connection if you extract video via Wi-Fi it comes out heavily compressed at 720p it looks muddy it doesn’t look good at all in fact it’s hard to get a lot of the details drawn out of license plates and road signs and that sort of thing the resolution of the camera is something they are marketing pretty heavily in their product description yet if you don’t pay that $99 at the beginning of your second year of ownership the best you’re going to get is a muddied 720p image and while you are paying them the extraction of that video will burn one credit per minute as you’re going through some of that stuff to get it out of there but this interface really needs some work it’s very cumbersome as you can see it’s also very slow and when you’re connecting to the camera over LTE to get the full resolution exported you’re also being metered here and it’s very possible to blow through a good chunk of your monthly allocation just trying to find what you’re looking for I’m often feeling pressured to move quickly through here so I’m not burning too many credits and that just is not a good consumer experience here so that was a real turnoff for me because my experience with prior dashboard cameras is

that you can pop the card out stick it into your computer and copy whatever you want exactly as it was recorded here it is a ver different story and again you will not get the advertised resolution if you don’t pay in year 2 onwards so just keep that in mind as you are making your shopping decisions here they could decide to change this this seems like something that is easily a software fixable problem if they do adjust this policy I will certainly update you down in the video description but for now be warned you will not get the full resolution after the first year unless you keep paying all right so all that said let’s take a look at the video quality when you do extract it at 1440p I found a time to be pretty decent on the camera it looks good details are pretty crisp and you can see what it looks like here extracted at that one credit per minute price night time did better than I saw some other reviewers saying a little bit earlier in this products life so I think they may have made some improvements to night driving you can see me driving here with no overhead lamps and it looks pretty good to me the interior camera of course might be pretty dark while you’re driving around in the evening depending on what’s going on but again if somebody were to break into the car those two lights will turn on and give you a much crisper image in fact owl has posted up some images of people breaking into cars with the Howell equipped to show you what it looks like so I’m convinced you won’t have any issues there with the inside camera now the inside camera looks pretty nice on this thing during the day as you can see it’s actually kind of fun to evaluate your driving seeing where your eyes are looking as you’re scooting around town with it one thing though to keep in mind is that although the footage is stored on the camera most of the time should there be an accident it will push that up to the cloud automatically so if you did have something occur it’s going to record the moments leading up to that accident and everything afterward including the audio so that can help you in certain circumstances but if you did something wrong it will also show

that and it would be within reach of government agencies with a warrant or a proper subpoena should there ever be some kind of lawsuit or a criminal case that arises from something that happened while you were driving your car so remember this can certainly prove your innocence but it can also prove your guilt and if you are not an attentive driver this might make you more attentive given that you’ll have an eye on you the whole time you are driving and that’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s something you’re comfortable having in your vehicle so overall I am relatively pleased with the owl cam I am just very leery of how this subscription thing works especially as it relates to the exporting and video we’ve seen examples and other companies where there was a subscription fee attached but it wasn’t all that restrictive but then it got more restrictive over time and features kind of were away on the free side of things so I’m just hoping that they might look at this a little bit differently but right now I’m just not comfortable recommending something for people that don’t want to pay that ongoing fee because you can’t get the full feature set of the product right now unless you agree to continue paying and I think that is a bad practice in my opinion until next time this is Lion Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold-level supporters Chris alligretto the four guys with quarters podcast Tom Albrecht and Callie Ann Kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month head over to LAN TV slash support to learn more and don’t forget to subscribe

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