Ziggy Zapata Title

DASHCAM

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TRANSCEND DRIVE PRO 550B DASHCAM REVIEW

Transcend Drive Pro 550B Dashcam
DESCRIPTION

This is a very well-made and comprehensive all-in-one dashcam. It has the following features:

TESTING AND SETTING UP

I removed the dashcam from the package and inserted a 128GB microSD card. The memory card needs to be pushed into its spring-loaded socket until it clicks in and does not partially pop out. It is a good idea to keep a little stick of around 3mm or so in diameter to insert and remove the memory card. A 64GB microSD card is included with the dashcam, but I always recommend using the biggest capacity card that a dashcam can handle and in this case, the Transcend Drive Pro 550B can use a 128GB card.

Once I inserted the memory card properly, I then connected a microUSB cable to it and plugged the cable into a 5 volt USB power supply on my bench to test it. The dashcam started up straight away. I set up the time and date and a few other parameters, formatted the memory card and then went through all the options. I enabled GPS, set the sound volume, recording parameters - I just went through the menus and selected my preferences. This was all very easy.

There are four buttons below the screen and every setting is made with them, but the entire procedure was extremely easy. You won't need instructions, but the user manual can be downloaded from the Transcend website. One nice feature is the head-up display that I enabled and of course I enabled the WiFi and linked it to my iPhone Drive Pro app to test it out.

INSTALLATION

The suction cup mount is very neat and stable and I mounted the dashcam near my mirror, using my iPhone conneced to the dashcam via WiFi. This let me accurately see the video from both cameras on the iPhone screen. I ensured that the position of the dashcam was such that it had a good view of the outside and very importantly, a good view of inside the car from the second camera, including the driver and even out the rear window. Because I don't like wires dangling around my car, I acquired a 3 metre right-angle microUSB cable and ran it under the roof lining and behind the door pillar trim to the fuse box and connected it via a 12 volt to 5 volt DC converter to the cigarette lighter fuse.

Such 3 metre right-angle microUSB cables are available on-line from various vendors and that length should be more than enough for just about any vehicle. I actually purchased and installed the optional adhesive mount in my car, so that I had the suction cup mount in my 'Go Away' box (more on this later).

OPERATION

Once I was satisfied that the dashcam was ready, I drove my car out of my garage and went for a nice long drive. The dashcam started up automatically and began to record. The GPS took about 5 minutes to come on-line, because it had to load the almanac and ephemeris data from the satellites. This should not take anywhere as long, once the dashcam has the satellite data on board on subsequent start-ups.

For those who are interested in technical matters, here is a quick explanation of GPS Almanac and Ephemeris data.

GPS satellites transmit an almanac that consists of coarse orbit and status information for each satellite in the constellation, an ionospheric model and information to relate GPS derived time to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). An almanac is valid with little dilution of precision for up to two weeks.

GPS satellites also transmit information about their current and predicted location, timing and 'health' via ephemeris data. This data is used by GPS receivers to estimate location relative to the satellites and thus position on earth. An ephemeris is valid for only four hours and a GPS receiver uses the almanac to acquire a set of satellites based on stored time and location.
GPS IS SO IMPORTANT FOR DRIVING

The GPS came on line and the camera view switched to GPS speed as a head-up display. This is a wonderful feature, because it is in their direct line of sight and will keep users alert as to what speed they are driving. The GPS speed is logged and embedded in all the video recordings and will be most valuable as hard evidence in cases of wrongful speeding infringements. The GPS coordinates will prove exactly where an incident happened and the embedded time and date will prove when it happened.

As I drove, I occasionally clicked on the left button beneath the screen of the dashcam, which brought up the camera view, so that I could check that everything was working correctly. The display switched back to GPS speed after one or two minutes.

THE RESULTS

When I returned home, I removed the microSD card from the dashcam and plugged it into my computer and copied the video files, which were in MP4 format. Here is a screen shot from one of the video files.

Transcend Drive Pro 550B Screenshot

The video is extremely clear and sharp, but the important factor is that all the vital data is imprinted on each recording. On the left bottom is the date and time. On the right bottom is the GPS position coordinates and the GPS speed. To the left of the GPS speed is the altitude in metres - a very useful feature.

This data will prove beyond a shadow of doubt how fast the car was being driven and where and when it was driven. In a court case disputing a wrongful speeding ticket, such hard evidence will make all the difference in having such an infringement dismissed, as the GPS data is exactly the same as what the military, civil aviation and everybody else uses. A magistrate would only try to ignore it at his peril.

The video from the interior camera is just as sharp and detailed and has the same data imprinted on it. The interior camera has four infra-red LEDs next to the lens, so at night, the recordings are really good, although in greyscale. But they are more than good enough, day or night, to prove that the driver was always wearing a seat belt and not holding a mobile phone or doing anything else that could be construed as dangerous or illegal.

The nice thing is that MP4 is the most widely used video format in the world and literally every computer, every smartphone and even every smart TV will happily play MP4 videos. Unlike many other dashcams on the market, the Transcend Drive Pro 550B videos can be played natively on virtually any device without requiring special software and all important data is imprinted on every video clip.

DRIVE PRO SOFTWARE

Transcend provides the free Drive Pro Toolbox for Windows, Apple and Linux computers and the Drive Pro app for Apple and Android mobile phones. Both apps are excellent and very easy to use. The Drive Pro Toolbox will import the video data from the microSD card and play it, along with a Google Map display showing the exact position of the vehicle. It is extremely valuable when displaying this evidence in a disputed traffic infringement or any other road incident.

CONCLUSION

The Transcend Drive Pro 550B is by far the best all-in-one GPS-equipped dashcam that I have ever seen or used - and I have tested many of them over the years. It works very well, is easy to set up and is crammed with features. Most importantly, it delivers all the critical video, audio and GPS data that will destroy a wrongful traffic infringement or a stitch-up by a rogue cop. Of course it will prove who is at fault in a collision and will provide hard evidence in matters of road rage and other motoring incidents.

I personally would never drive without such a dashcam in my car. We pay a fortune for comprehensive car insurance and it is a necessary evil every single year. This Transcend Drive Pro 550B is a one-off insurance policy that hopefully you will never need to use. But if you are wrongfully booked by a speed camera or a rogue cop, have an accident and have to prove that you are innocent, or are the victim of an incident such as a road rage attack, you will thank your lucky stars that you have hard indisputable video and GPS evidence at hand. I keep at least three months of backups on my computer, so that if an infringement notice arrives, I can review the video of the alleged booking and see if it is justified and if not, I will contest it - and win.

What most people don't realise until it is too late that a traffic infringement does not just cost the penalty imposed. Your CTP and comprehensive insurance cost will rise for the next few years, as long as you admit to having demerit points. But if you decide to contest a wrongful booking without any video or GPS evidence, chances are that you will lose and you will not only have to pay the fine, but court costs as well, plus suffer those higher insurance costs. So that $300 speeding ticket could cost you well over $1,000. It is very important to fight wrongful bookings and beat them and the only real way that this can be done successfully is by having hard indisputable evidence that you did not commit the offence.

MY GO-AWAY BOX

I can highly recommend the Transcend Drive Pro 550B. The best thing about it being an all-in-one device is that I can remove it from my car in an instant and take it with me on trips to use in a rental vehicle. In fact I have a 'Go-Away' box with a small iPhone cradle, a dual USB port car cigarette power plug, a Lightning cable for my iPhone, a microSD cable for the Transcend and the suction cup mount. So when I am going to travel to some place where I have planned to hire a rental car, I put my dashcam into my 'Go-Away Box' and thus have all the equipment that I need to quickly set up my iPhone and the dashcam in that rental car and be protected in the same way as if I was in my own car.

WHERE TO GET THE TRANSCEND DRIVE PRO 550B DASHCAM

Firstly, a word of warning. Many companies that are based overseas and pretend to have an Australian presence either take months to perform warranty repairs or don't do them at all. So you should always keep in mind that the cheap prices offered by such overseas-based companies may cost you dearly in the long run. Even some very well-known Australian on-line marketing companies have an appalling record of warranty returns and I have personal experience of this.

However, I have set up a great deal for this dashcam directly with Motrex Australia. This company is a direct arm of Motrex Korea that has been appointed as the official Australian distributor of Transcend mobile devices that are manufactured in Korea. The company is based in Sydney and will certainly look after anybody whom I recommend to it.

So if you wish to purchase this wonderful dashcam, please contact Raphael Ahn at Motrex directly on his mobile phone number and tell him that Ziggy said that he would give you a good deal. Raphael is a really good guy and will look after you. Here are his details:

Raphael Ahn
Motrex Australia
Level 2, 394 Lane Cove Road
Macquarie Park, NSW 2113
Mobile Phone: 0426-611-174
IMPORTANT NOTICE I am not getting any sort of commission or kickback from Motrex for recommending this company. I previously imported the Vacron all-in-one dashcam for my Campaign Against Road Ripoffs subscribers at no profit and this is merely a continuation of my personal campaign to get as many motorists as possible to protect themselves against wrongful infringements and other motoring problems.