These days, you can’t be too careful about automotive security. Insurance scammers and thieves can quickly ruin your day, and it’s even worse when you can’t identify them. A dash cam can help with this. For example, suppose you get rear-ended, but the other motorist says that you brake-checked them. Without an eyewitness, it’s your word against theirs. In many states, this can lead to a no-fault claim, which means your rates will go up. If you have a rear-facing dash cam, it will be their word against the camera’s. This can make the difference between a steep rate hike and business as usual.
The Acumen Mirror Dash Cam is one of the more innovative dash cams on the market. And because we love all things innovative, we decided to give it a look. We examined all of its features, from the construction to the video quality to the data storage. And now, we’re going to tell you what we learned.
Design & Engineering
The Acumen XR10 Mirror Dash Cam is designed to mount directly over your rearview mirror. This makes it stand out from the crowd, since most dash cams mount on your windshield. By mounting on your mirror, the Acumen keeps your view as unobstructed as possible. It measures 10 inches wide, 2.7 inches high, and 0.5 inches thick, which is a good fit for most mirrors. On thinner mirrors, it simply clips on. The clips are adjustable, so they can fit various heights and widths. If you have a thick, fat mirror, you’ll still be able to mount it. Acumen includes a pair of elastic straps in the kit for just this purpose. The camera is fairly lightweight, at just 12 ounces. As a result, it won’t cause your mirror to droop or sag.
The front camera is actually a touchscreen, with the lens mounted on the back. The lens is attached to an extendable arm, so it will protrude from the side to see out the windshield. The touchscreen itself is very well-designed, and performs a number of functions. By swiping left or right, you can switch the display between the front and rear camera. You can also swipe up or down to adjust the rear camera angle. Now, don’t get too excited. The rear camera isn’t motorized. But it does have a wide-angle, 100-degree lens.
Swiping up or down simply adjusts what part of the image you’re actually viewing. As a result, the rear camera can be mounted in a variety of positions and still provide good visibility. You can also use the touchscreen to adjust your settings. Turn the brightness up for good daytime visibility, or turn it down for night use. Finally, the screen allows you to snap still photos with a quick tap of your fingers.
The rearview camera is tiny, about the size of your average USB web cam. It mounts on the back of your car with a powerful 3M adhesive. The adhesive is included in the kit, and won’t damage your paint job. Just make sure to follow the instructions and prep the surface beforehand. Otherwise, your camera may end up falling off while you’re driving. The camera is waterproof, and does a good job of providing a clear image in most road conditions.
Both the front and rear Acumen cameras record in 1080p. A few years ago, this would have earned them a 10 out of 10 rating. But times are changing, and more and more dash cams are offering 2K or even 4K resolution. For many purposes, the difference is purely academic. Provided you know the identity of the other drivers, 1080p is certainly enough to identify a car. But if you need to read license plates from a distance, 1080p may not be sufficient. Don’t get us wrong, the pictures are crisp and clear. But you might have trouble if you need extreme levels of detail. The framerate is 30 frames per second (FPS). While many cameras now record at 60 FPS, the difference is irrelevant for security purposes. Even at highway speeds, 30 FPS is more than sufficient.
At night, they’ll switch over to infrared mode. It doesn’t have any built-in infrared lighting. However, in most circumstances, there will be enough ambient light to get you through. Distant street lights or even starlight are good enough to get a clear picture. The only issue would be if your car were parked in a rural area with no ambient light on a cloudy night. Considering that rates of car theft are near zero in most rural areas, this isn’t a major concern. Be aware, though, that the night vision is lesser quality than daytime footage. Again, this isn’t a security issue, but don’t expect gorgeous full-color images.
For even better video quality, you’ll need to pony up a few more bucks for a 4K dash cam. The Thinkware U1000 is an excellent choice if you’re going to go this route. It has a relatively slim profile, and won’t obstruct much of your view.
Connectivity & Storage
One thing we appreciated about the Acumen dash cam is that it doesn’t rely on a WiFi signal. Yes, a WiFi camera allows you to store video in the cloud. But it also requires a mobile hotspot, which requires a monthly fee. Cloud-based storage also typically requires a monthly fee. Unless you park in a high-crime area, this is usually more expense and headache than it’s worth. If you do require a WiFi camera, check out our review of the VIOFO A129 PRO. It’s fairly large, but it’s an excellent choice in most other regards.
Instead of using the cloud, the Acumen stores your video on a Micro SD card. It supports sizes up to 128GB (Class 10 and above), so you can store nearly a week’s worth of footage. When the SD card is full, the camera will automatically loop the recording. In other words, it will continually override the oldest footage, ensuring that recently-recorded video is always available.
The rear camera is connected to the front camera with a cable. It’s long enough even for a full-sized SUV, so it’s suitable for all vehicles. That said, you might have some routing issues getting it to the outside of your car. The easiest way, on most vehicles, is simply to drill a small hole in the bottom of your trunk. Be careful when doing this, though. You don’t want to accidentally drill into anything important.
The Acumen camera requires no batteries. It’s powered from your car’s cigarette lighter. On the one hand, this saves you the trouble of worrying about keeping a battery charged. On the other hand, it means you can drain your car’s battery if you leave the camera on overnight. If you want to use the Acumen 24/7, do yourself a favor and buy a hardwiring kit.
The Acumen Mirror Dash Cam will automatically record data under two conditions. First off, it has a built-in G-sensor. When it senses a sudden jolt – for example, from an accident – it will automatically protect that footage. In other words, it will prevent the accident footage from accidentally being overwritten. Secondly, the cameras have a built-in motion detector. When the car is parked, they will automatically start recording when they sense someone moving nearby. Again, if you’re going to use this feature, make sure to hardwire your camera.
The Acumen also helps keep you safe while you’re driving. The front camera has a built-in lane sensor, which will sound an alarm if you’re drifting. This is a great feature if you’re prone to getting sleepy on long rides. However, it’s not effective on back country roads or roads with poor lane markings. In these conditions, just go into your settings and turn off the lane departure warnings. It also provides guide lines for backing up when you’re in reverse. You’ll need to calibrate this feature based on your camera position, but it works well once it’s set up.
Acumen provides a 2-year warranty on all of their products, including the Mirror Dash Cam. If you want to extend this coverage, simply register your camera online within 30 days of purchase. This will provide you with an impressive 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the Acumen XR10 Mirror Dash Cam. The most obvious feature is the innovative design. This is a great feature if you frequently travel with a lot of cargo, blocking your rear window. That said, it’s not a true security camera unless it’s hardwired, and the video quality is so-so. But the look and feel is great, and the safety features are very effective.