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Why do we love Tesla

Why do we love Tesla

Tesla is known for breaking industry innovation over the last decade. If you’re a fan of by technology and touch screens, and if you prefer software updated to tune-ups and most of all, if you love the idea of skipping the gas pump and live life fully charged, then you’ll dig the Model X, Model S and the latest Model 3. Did you know that the Tesla Model 3 is the number one selling electric vehicle in Canada in 2019 Q3?

We’ve had a few of those come into our Service Centre in Richmond and we have to say, it’s quite evident that everything Teslas has done up to this point has built towards the Model 3 - it comes with all the sensors and cameras (8 cameras, to be exact) it needs for Autopilot functionality. A software update earlier this year added dash cam functionality and Sentry Mode capabilities.

Whoa, wait a minute, the Model 3 comes with built-in multi-camera dash cam functionality, but owners are still bringing them into the BlackboxMyCar Service Centre for a dash cam installation appointment?

Brief Introduction of the Tesla Dash Cam

While there are eight cameras on the Tesla, only its forward-facing 3-camera unit and the rear camera is used for recording footage. Just like any typical front-and-rear dash cam system, each of the four TeslaCam cameras records and saves footage as a separate file, so for each one minute of recording, you will see four different event files.

Not sure how to unlock recording from the rear camera? The function was part of the TeslaCam Version 10 update released a few months ago. Check your Tesla dashboard for the firmware update.

With four cameras recording the road ahead and behind, why are people still fitting aftermarket dash cams into their Tesla's?

Main Inadequacies of the TeslaCam

The eight cameras on the Tesla are built and optimized for the auto-drive AI and are not designed to produce high-quality footage. Let’s take a look at these cameras and their coverage.

Eight cameras provide 360-degree coverage. Three forward-facing cameras are mounted on the back of the rear-view mirror. The main forward camera has a 50-degree field of view. The narrow forward camera looks ahead a 35-degree field of view. The rear camera sports a wide-angle view, but it faces downwards, creating a distorted curved reflection that stretches across the bottom of the screen, allowing you to see parts of your car’s rear bumper - something that is important for autopilot and maybe in events of fender-benders during Sentry Mode or tailgating, but not so much for general traffic-behind dashcam footage.

Viewing angles are just one of the areas the TeslaCam falls short of the Thinkware or BlackVue.

TeslaCam

Thinkware or BlackVue

Resolution

1280x960

Full HD: 1920x1080p

2K QHD: 2560x1440

4K UHD: 3840x2160

Frame Rate

36 FPS

30 or 60 FPS

Audio Recording

No

Yes, (built-in microphones)

On-screen text overlay

No

Parameters like speed, location, date and time

Image enhancement and stabilization

No

Yes, including Wide Dynamic Range, Auto Exposure, Super Night Vision and more, depending on dash cam model

Recording resolution

As you can see, the TeslaCam records at a fairly low resolution when compared with most dash cams. At this resolution, a license plate can only be read when the car in front is about 8 feet or less in front of you, and we all know that resolution is king when it comes to any type of surveillance camera.

However, we have to mention, the quality of the TeslaCam’s rear camera is much better than the front-facing cameras.

Colour and Light Balance

Many Tesla owners have reported a dim, greenish cast on the footage files. Very possible that it has something to do with the optical effects of the light going through the windshield. But because the front-facing camera unit is built-in and designed to lay flat against the windshield, there is no way to angle the lens or fit a CPL filter to minimize these optical effects (plus, our money is on the image sensors and processors).

With the greenish grainy cast, the overall quality of the footage resembles a 4:3 CRT from the olden days, and it doesn’t help the situation that the TeslaCam adopts a 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of the 16:9 that Thinkware and BlackVue use on their dash cams.

There is the option to adjust the brightness and contrast, and perhaps with some color-corrections, the quality may improve. However, do note that TeslaCam uses an odd frame rate of 36FPS, making it a tricky should you need to edit the files. First of all, it will appear pixelated and jittery when viewed on most video devices that require conversion to 30 or 60FPS. Second, many video editing software and applications do not support that frame rate.

File Storage

Let’s be honest, the setup required just to get driving footage is a lot, and most people are not going to want to go through all those steps. Plus, apart from the physical issues of the cameras, the USB is the source for many TeslaCam issues and malfunctions.

In order to record with the TeslaCam, you will need a FAT32 formatted USB flash drive - it does not support anything else. You can format a USB drive as FAT32 if you have a Windows computer or as MS-DOS(FAT) on a Mac, but there are limitations - Windows can only format up to 32GB in FAT32 partition. You will need a third-party program to format a 128GB USB drive. You will need to add a base-level folder called TeslaCam, with a capital T and a capital C. If you don’t do that exactly right, it will not work.

Oh, and if you’re reusing a USB that you have previously used to store music, or if you are hoping to use one USB to store both music and dash cam data, you need to be careful. You may need to delete the original music partition which occupies the whole drive and then create 2 new partitions.

Once the USB is set up, you will need to plug it into one of the USB flash drive ports in your Tesla. If the USB drive is properly plugged in, you will see the Dashcam icon on the dashboard display screen, which tells you the TeslaCam is ready to capture all the adventures on the road ahead. Finally, tap the Dashcam icon on the display screen and the system will save the last ten minutes of footage to the USB stick.

Sentry Mode far from perfect

Image source: Tesla Club Sweden

If you lean on it, bump into or scratch a Tesla with Sentry Mode activated, it will display an alert on the screen that says the cameras are recording. The cameras all around the car will be activated to capture what’s happening to it. If a window is broken, or the car is broken into, Sentry Mode will sound the alarm, increase the screen brightness to full, and blare classical music through the audio system. The owner will also get a notification on the Tesla mobile app. Tesla’s sentry mode is probably one of the most well-received features Elon Musk has pushed to his EVs, but it’s far from perfect.

First up, if you want to record video, you have to make sure your USB is properly formatted and plugged into the car prior to activating sentry mode. Yes, you will need to activate sentry mode each time you want to use it - ie. every time you park the car - by tapping through the on-screen controls. If each step is not done exactly right, you will not get parking footage files. Then, let’s hope you parked close by because while you are notified with an alert via the Tesla mobile app, you will need to return to your car, remove the USB drive, and download the videos to your computer - all before the 1-hr loop/overwrite kicks in.

We have also been told that Tesla's Sentry Mode eats up a lot of power - better route your trip through Supercharger locations and make sure the credit card on your Tesla Account is still valid - Superchargering is not free!

Tesla cars are capable of some wonderful things - they can pretty much drive themselves, so requiring drivers to jump through all those hoops feels like a whole lot of hassle in this day and age.

Powering dash cam for parking mode

The most challenging part of installing a dash cam in the Tesla, or any electric vehicle, is finding a constant power source and keeping the power on. To make matters worse, various solutions designed for electric vehicles work poorly on the Teslas. For example, while BlackVue recommends using the PowerMagic Pro add-on, it's not our best recommendation - at least not the Tesla Model 3, which will not work with the Power Magic Pro no a spliced 12V cigarette cable. To save headaches and all the guesswork, we recommend either using an external battery pack connected by CLA or installing using an OBD cable.

What happens to your dash cam and external battery pack when you're parked at a charging location?

As soon as your car is powered down, your dash cam will turn to the battery pack for power for parking mode coverage. In other words, just because your car is plugged in at the charging station doesn't mean the power is shared to your dash cam, too. Your dash cam will continue to draw power from the external battery pack for the duration of the parking mode coverage, or until the external battery pack runs out of power, which then the dash cam will simply shut down - but don't worry, the external battery packs we carry all come with a smartphone app that allows you to monitor the battery's status so you know how much more "usable time" you have at all times.

Now, once you're car is all charged up and on the road again, the engine will recharge the external battery pack automatically.

Got a Tesla? We can help!

So, in a perfect world, what should sentry mode look like? A little dashboard-mounted camera that streams video directly to your smartphone, live or on-demand, 24/7. It films outside the vehicle, front and back, and offers a bunch of additional smarts. If an incident should happen while the car is parked, the camera needs to be smart enough to record and protect the footage from being overwritten. You also shouldn't have to mess around with USB drives or microSD cards - because you should be able to get all the video footage right on your smartphone. Footage file in 4K clarity wouldn't hurt, but basic image and light enhancement technology is a must so you can actually read details in both daytime and nighttime footage.

Hey. We can help!

Getting Your Dash Cam Installed

Live in the Greater Vancouver area? Bring your dash cam and your Tesla into our Service Centre for a no-hassle installation by our in-house technicians. Appointments take anywhere between 1-8 hours, dependent on availability, vehicle make and model as well the dash cam. You can view our availability in the calendar below. Not sure if Installation Service is right for you? Book your appointment or learn more about it. 

Now that you know where to find the perfect dash cam for your Tesla, the Model Y and the CyberTruck are due out in 2020! When you do get your new Tesla, you know where to find us!

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Based on 4468 reviews
85%
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11%
(477)
3%
(145)
0%
(21)
0%
(12)

I don’t install yet

Less Strain On Car Battery (2020 Hyundai Kona Ultimate)

It has been 4 days since the installation of the Cellink NEO Battery, serviced by a fantastic installation team. The NEO gives me an ease of mind knowing that it has added an extra 13-15 hours of running time to my Dual Channel Thinkware U-1000 dash cam system whilst my vehicle is turned off (parking mode). First off, it has been less stressful for me when starting my car because I don't see the "Battery Discharged" warning anymore, knowing that the NEO has put less strain on my car battery. Additionally, with a 40 minute drive-to-charge time frame, it isn't bad at all as my commute to and from work equates to approximately 45 minutes. Therefore, I get a full charge on the NEO that gives me 20-22 hours of run-time on my dash cam. One advice I would give to potential dash-cam buyers in making the jump to buy this battery is: if you haven't gotten a dash cam yet and if you are opting for the installation service, purchase your dash cam and the NEO together and pay for just 1 installation. I made the mistake of having to pay for 2 separate installation services because I decided to buy the battery later on and could have saved $200.

Hi Kevin, thanks for leaving a review. Great advice! Hope you're loving your Cellink NEO. Come back anytime if you have any other questions.
Fits 2020 Rav4 XSE hybrid

I installed this on the small space right hand forward of the spare tire. The thickness of the Cell link Neo is just perfect. It it was a little bit thicker the rear cover will not be flush with the floor. Negative connection was done directly to the vehicle 12V accessory battery as it is mounted at the right rear tail. ACC input was connected to the accessory rear 12V outlet. Cell link Neo powers 2 Garmin dash cam minis.

I wish the Cell link Neo have an option to change the name in the app. I have another Neo battery on another vehicle and it is hard to remember the serial numbers. But overall it works great.

Hi there, thanks for leaving a detailed review. Glad to hear that the Cellink NEO is everything you're looking for :) let us know if you have any questions in the future.
Easy installation

Works as described

Hi Vinh, thanks for leaving a review!

Great service

Thanks for leaving a review, William!
Product and shipping

Shipping and blackboxmycar are great.

Product is expensive and 3m tape will not fit properly. For an expensive product from thinkware i would assume products would come with vehicle specific or general items to install properly. Other options than the 3m tape.

Keep in mind to take measurements for placing the main unit. It may not fit or able to be placed under your seat.

I have spent more money on a front stand and bolted the camera. The rear camera ive made brackets and bolted it.

Hi Blkhze, thanks for leaving a review! Sorry to hear that, but glad to see that you found a solution. If you have any future questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.
A pricey dash cam

Very pricey, yet not quite the "jump" in video quality I expected for the huge pricetag.
When the vehicle is not in motion, then video quality is very crisp and clear. However, as soon as your vehicle is in motion (driving...) the video becomes extremely "contrasted" almost like it is over-correcting for image quality, and in-turn making it worse. I had a rexing V1 (1080p) for 3 years, and saved me through 2 hit & runs... simple, good quality, cheap. I expected the jump to 4k to be huge... The video is "brighter" at best, but my Rexing V1 was definitely smoother while driving. Hopefully this is something a firmware update can fix. I have messed with the 2K @ 60fps, but the video quality drops noticeably... to worse than my 1080P Rexing V1. (Doesnt add up)
I have had my eyes on this camera since before it came out, but I am still hoping it can pull through...

Hi Kyle, thank you for leaving a review. We will definitely relay this feedback back to Thinkware. They're constantly working on new firmware for their models, especially the U1000, so we do expect it to get even better over time. That said, have you updated your dash cam to the latest firmware? If you need help, please don't hesitate to reach out to our team. We're here to help!
BlackboxMyCar is Excellent!

Incredibly fast service! Excellent price! Perfectly packaged! Thank you.

Hi Theo, thanks for leaving a review. We try our best! ;)
Excellent item

Bought this filter for my sister and my brother in law they both love it

Hi Michael, thanks for leaving a review! Glad to see that your sister and brother-in-law loves it.
Convenient

I purchased a spare ScanDisk SD card for my BlackVue. Not much to say.. Good quality and value.

Hi DJ, thanks for leaving a review!

[$50 OFF] Thinkware U1000 4K UHD Dual-Channel Cloud Dash Cam

Thanks for leaving the review, Pavlo!
Service

The best in customer service and advice.

Thanks for leaving a review, Alan. We try our best ;)
Awesome Product and Support

BackBoxMyCar helped me make figure out which Dash Cam system was best for my 2015 Lexus RX350. Their live chat team is great to work with and they made figuring out the best dash cam for me very easy. After having it installed I am very impressed with the reliability and capability of this product. Also it was shipped out to me in less then 3 business days, which I found really impressive. Going forward I will continue to purchase from BlackBox due to this wonderful experience.

Hi Ben, thanks for leaving a review! We try our best to help our customers, so we're glad to hear that you had a great time with us! Come back anytime.
Excellent Purchase and Service from BlackBoxMyCar

This radar module was a great addition to my Thinkware U1000 dash cam system. The setup was very straight forward and this accessory is a must for passive parking mode. BlackBoxMyCar helped me with decision to make this smart purchase through the help with one of there representatives on live chat. Their customer support team is world class and very helpful.

Hi Ben, thanks for leaving a review! We try our best to help our customers, so we're glad to hear that you had a great time with us! Come back anytime.
Fast shipping and great communication

I found this website after looking at youtube videos with vortexradar after searching for dash cameras. I have a 4 year old a119 that I have tried for hours and hours over the years to update the firmware on with no luck. It also isnt 4k and it doesn't have wifi. I find it a pain in the butt to take the memory card out and have to use the computer to download files. Now I can do it via wifi with my phone. Wifi is working fine for me with their app. I liked the a119 wedge shape and this is essentially the exact shape. The mounts are not compatible but not a big deal. This a129 pro has a much more substantial feel to it but isn't any bigger than the old model. I kind of wish I had ordered the rear camera bundle at the same time but I can always order the rear camera later. Everybody needs a dash camera to avoid the he said/she said bs that happens when there is an accident.

These guys ship fast. I am in Washington and ordered on a Monday. Camera arrived 2 days later on Wednesday. I had several texts and emails during that time keeping me updated on the progress of my order. I was so impressed that I am thinking about buying my next radar detector from them, the 360c. I am not sure if I am getting that one but that is the only one they carry.

Hi David, thanks for leaving a review. We hope you're staying safe out in Washington! We're glad to hear that you're loving your VIOFO and it's everything you need. Do reach out anytime if you have any other questions. One more thing, if you're interested in any other models of radar detectors, do reach out and ask. We may be able to source it for you at a great price. Thanks!

[LOW QUANTITY] VIOFO A119 V3 QHD+ Dash Cam

Hi Larry, thanks for leaving a review!

[$50 OFF] Thinkware U1000 4K UHD Dual-Channel Cloud Dash Cam

Hi Gerald, thanks for leaving a review!
The complete package!

I recently purchased a thinkware F800 front and rear camera combo for my M4. After researching, I heard that BMWs are sensitive to voltage drops when the camera is in parking mode.

I purchased the battery and searched youtube for a camera install video. Ironically the video I watched was a video blackbox my car made specifically for the BMW M4! Great products provided and great tutorials that helped me get it installed, thanks again Blackboxmycar!!

Thanks for leaving a review, and an image as well! We're glad to see that you had a great experience with us, Rob. If you have any questions, come back anytime!
A nice dash cam with GPS capabilities

I am very satisfied with the Viofo A119 V3 camera after using it for a week or so. It takes great video and is simple to operate. With the included GPS base I can select the speed and/or location to be recorded on the video. I just installed the optional wiring harness but have not experimented with the parking mode as of yet. Overall I am very satisfied with the build quality. The menu is easy to maneuver through and the buttons on the front are easy to use even when driving. I would definitely purchase this again!

Hi David, thanks for leaving a review! We're glad to hear that you're loving your VIOFO as much as we do.
Excellent cam

Good rear view cam with great picture. Awesome thank you!

Hi Raymond, thanks for leaving a review!
So far so good.

Good tracking notice. I’ve only had it for a short time so I’m still playing with it to get it figured out. Video is very good quality (I’ve only used it in daylight so I can speak for nighttime). Instructions are minimal but I was able to get it figured out since it is pretty simplistic (I had to search the internet to get the time zone properly set). As it stands now I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good and simple dash cam.

Hi Jeff, thank you for purchasing at BlackboxMyCar, and thank you for leaving a review! We're glad to hear that the VIOFO was everything you were looking for. That said, if you have questions in the future, please don't hesitate to reach out to our support team. We are always here to help!
Viofo 3 Hardwire Kit

Installation seamless and easy. Made for cleaner setup. Highly recommended over using the provided cigarette lighter/USB.

Hi Mark, thanks for leaving a review!
Alex

I wrote one over a week ago didn’t you bother to read it?

Let me know if you lost it!

Hi Jim, we definitely read it and responded to it ;) We have let our Marketing team know to adjust the amount of review requests that get sent out. Thank you for leaving another review regardless!
courteous and prompt communication, item shipped promptly

I ordered dash cams and accessories from blackboxmycar and have been very happy with their services. I had to communicate with them several times regarding my order, including talking to them over the phone and emailing them. Every single time I received very courteous response and satisfactory answers. The items were shipped promptly and I had them professionally installed. Overall, I am very satisfied. Thank you.

Hi Chin, thank you for shopping at BlackboxMyCar, and for visiting our office! Glad that our team was able to help you with everything that you needed.
Easy to install, easy to use!

BlackBoxMyCar sent everything I needed to install my Viofo A119 V3. A quick YouTube search gave me the easy steps for burying the wires and finding my fuse box for my F-150. And I was off and running! Thanks a bunch!

Hi Adam, thanks for leaving a review! Glad to hear that it all worked out for you :)