Update 4/6/2020: Owl Cam appears to have been acquired. As of now, my camera is still working, but there have been no app updates for ~4 months. It’s unclear what the new company will do with them! I am looking for other options.
As you know, I’ve written a few blogs about vehicle dash cameras, as I am a big fan of having one, you just never know what you will see. Each camera I’ve reviewed has been a step up in my opinion from the last. Recently I checked out the Owl Cam, after seeing their ads all over Instagram and Facebook, and decided to give it a try… Within 24 hrs this camera already caught someone hitting my car with their shopping cart at WalMart!
Here’s the basic premises of why I bought this camera
- LTE built in, so you can check in on your car at any time, from wherever
- Keeps recording even when the car is off, so you can get alerts of bumps, or (hopefully not), a break in!
- Easy to connect, plugs into car OBD port, so no wiring or cigarette outlets needed
- Easily save your videos, no cables or SD cards required. Fast transfer via wifi or LTE
- Beacon and lighting for alerts and to discourage intrusion, or light them up if they do
This camera definitely comes at a premium, with a $350 price point, but given that it captured an impact to my car in the first 24 hours, it had some crazy quick time to value for me!
- Just wedge the arm between dash/windshield, and make sure suction cup is touching the window
- There is a tool that helps you hide the wire between dash/window, so there’s no jamming of your fingers trying to get it to work
- The camera is powered by the vehicle ODB port. This enables it to run when the vehicle is turned off.
- If you have something else plugged into the ODB port like I do, you can get a splitter, as seen in the second picture from Amazon.
- Attach the power cable, both ends are magnetic, and the camera will turn on
- Make sure you have the Owl Cam app downloaded
- Scan your camera screen QR code to pair your camera and phone
Camera – Parking Lot + Shopping Cart + IMPACT!
Within 24 hrs of using the camera, and my first trip out, I got my first alert. As I was walking out of WalMart, I got an alert for impact. I walked out and saw someone getting in the vehicle next to me and driving away. The camera records front/rear video, so the alert included both views. I watched the interior view first, and thought perhaps I got door dinged.. When I watched the front video, I clearly saw the cart.
As you can see here, the video shows the cart approaching, then suddenly jumps ahead. I’m unclear why the video of the actual impact appears to be lost, but I will ask Owl support about this and report back, and also see what happens with future events (though I hope I have none)
Even through the rain and dark skies, I got a great view of the person who was involved here. I was pretty impressed by this!
Here’s a live view that I took, at night in my pitch black garage. The camera does a good job lighting it up, and would definitely be enough to get a view of any intruder.
One thing that I have found really neat is the ability to automatically save off and title clips just using your voice. Often times after a crazy incident I’d see while driving, I’d be frantically reaching for and pressing buttons on my camera, trying to save it. That’s dangerous! With Owl Cam however, I can just say “Ok Presto”, then the title of my clip I want. Check out this video of me doing that.
The app is where saved clips will appear, where you will go when you get alerts to view, and where you go if you want to view video.
Buy Owl Cam
Where I’d Improve So Far
- Notifications should include previews, at least a still photo
- Viewing the app should give you live views of the location and video. Stock images is kind of odd? I get that you don’t want to run up usage and car battery from showing previews, but if someone takes time to go to the app, they probably want to view
- Valet/auto service mode? People you don’t want to freak out with flashing lights and recordings, plus run up your usage.
- The app should work in both portrait and landscape modes
- When I first got the camera, there was at least 3-4 updates it went through. Would be nice if it could just be one update cycle to get ready.