This $249 dash camera records HD videos, helps prevent theft and break-in, and has WiFi hotspot for your car - here's how it works
- Average car security systems are less effective than most people think. Blaring sirens are usually more annoying than deterring.
- The PureCam Connected Car Security System redefines security by working as a dash camera while on the road and security against burglars and accidents while parked. It also comes equipped with a Wi-Fi hotspot and alert system to notify your family and friends if you've been in an accident.
- At $250, the PureCam costs just as much, if not less, than an aftermarket alarm system - and it's much easier to install.
- Priced about $100 less than other smart dash cameras I've used, the PureCam still did an excellent job and giving me peace of mind on the road and while parked, which makes it a very solid value for any driver.
Most people's idea of a car security system is a blaring alarm that's supposed to alert the owner of someone encroaching on their vehicle and hopefully scare away thieves, but those type of systems are hardly effective.
The average person will find the siren to be more annoying than alarming - and that's if they haven't already programmed themselves to be completely tone deaf to the sound. In theory, a thief could trip the alarm and continue to burglarize your car without raising a concern bigger than your neighbors wondering when the alarm sound will stop.
If you want a security system that will do more than the average system, the PureCam Connected Car Security System by PureGear is a great choice.
the device works as a dash camera and a security system protecting you against burglars and accidents while parked. It's equipped with dual cameras for recording inside and outside of your vehicle, a combination of micro SD and cloud storage, built-in GPS for locating your car whether it's been stolen or you simply forgot where your parked, 4G LTE connectivity, and a sophisticated G-Shock sensor - all of which can be monitored through an easy-to-use smartphone app.
While those features are what you can generally expect from any smart dash camera/security system worth its salt, the PureCam is unique in that it also can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to three devices.
How to set up the app and install the device
The first step of the setup process is to download the PureCam app, which is available on the App Store or Google Play. You'll need an iPhone with iOS 9 or later or an Android with OS 6 or later installed on it.
Secondly, you'll need to mount the camera on your windshield using the included suction cup. Do your best to mount it as close to the center of the windshield as possible (you can use the position of the rear view mirror as a guide), so that the exterior-facing camera has a clear view of the road and the interior-facing camera has a clear view of the interior.
Next, you'll need to locate your car's OBDII port, which is usually located on the driver's side of the interior, so you can run the power wire to the device. Keep in mind that OBDII ports can be found in all cars model year 1996 or newer, with the exception of some Telsas. The OBDII port in my 2003 BMW 540i was located on the left side of the knee bolster, but every car is slightly different. If you're having a hard time locating yours, I'd recommend checking the owners manual or doing a simple Google search.
The camera comes with four cable clips to run the wire, but to keep the wiring neat and hidden, I ran it from the camera directly up and underneath the roof panel, to the left, down the A-pillar (the panel in between the windshield and the front window), and into the OBDII port. It's not a difficult task as it doesn't require you to take anything apart in your interior - simply tuck the wire behind the panels as you work your way towards the OBDII port. Although it's not imperative, using some sort of plastic trim tool can help you tuck it in without damaging the wire, nearby glass, or the upholstery on the panels. If you don't have one laying around or you prefer not to buy one, it's doable with just your hands.
Once your device has power, you'll be met with a quick slideshow on some of the device features and a QR Code to connect it to your smartphone. You can pair the PureCam to an unlimited number of smartphones, which is great for vehicles that are shared between family members. Just use the same email address and password to maintain one account and you're ready to roll.
How it performs on the road
The exterior-facing camera has a 1080p HD resolution, while the interior-facing camera has a slightly lower resolution of 720p. I wasn't overly concerned with capturing videos inside the cabin of my car while driving, so I didn't mind the lower quality - it's perfectly fine for its intended use. The exterior-facing camera, however, is very crisp during both daytime and nighttime driving, regardless of how well-lit the streets were.
In addition to the 16-GB micro SD card that's included, you'll also receive 7.5 GBs of cloud storage per month for the first year, so you won't have to worry about constantly wiping your memory card for space.
While video footage is automatically sent to the cloud (you won't have to worry about pressing a record button before an accident) you can also manually record clips to be saved on the SD card for as short as one minute or as long as five minutes. If you're hoping to record lengthy driving content for a specific use such as a YouTube channel or vlog, you should definitely opt for a device like a GoPro camera and only rely on the PureCam for its security and safety features. Although the PureCam is constantly recording and sends footage to the cloud, it gets deleted if there is no triggered event. Videos of incidents like break-ins or accidents are automatically saved, whereas a day of driving without mishaps will be deleted.
How security monitoring works
Much like other smart dash cameras, you can monitor your vehicle from anywhere via the live stream in the smartphone app. This is especially useful if you have to park your car in a bad area or you're just generally nervous about your car being safe and sound.
Even if you don't regularly check the app, you'll have peace of mind knowing that something does go wrong (like a hit-and-run accident or a break-in), the device's G-sensor will be triggered, which initiates a recording, and you'll be notified.
I was pleased to find that the interior camera does record well in low light, but the one security feature that I wish PureCam included is a LED interior light for when the G-sensor is triggered. Since thieves like to operate in the cover of darkness, it would be an extra measure for making sure they're clear and visible on camera.
The data plan, Wi-Fi hotspot, and other useful features
Similar to your smartphone, the PureCam uses a 4G LTE wireless data plan to achieve its connectivity. The device comes with 7 GBs of data per month for the first three months and after that, you can choose from a variety of data plans for as low as $16 per month with a three-month commitment.
The cloud storage, streaming, and GPS features are important, but my favorite feature supported by the 4G LTE is the hotspot. All you have to do is go into the Wi-Fi tab in the app, toggle the Hotspot button, and you can connect up to three devices. That means you won't have to scavenge for free Wi-Fi while on the go - and your passengers can entertain themselves with non-LTE devices (like tablets and laptops) during long road trips. Some high-end modern cars are beginning to come equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots from the factory, so this is a convenient and affordable way to upgrade your older vehicle to have similar functionality.
Although I didn't get any use out of it, I also really appreciate the emergency alerts feature. You can add up to three contacts to be notified by email when a triggered event occurs. This could prove to be useful in the event of an accident where you couldn't notify them yourself.
The bottom line
Priced at $250, the PureCam is pretty packed with features, even when compared to more expensive smart cameras. Although you do have to manage the storage of the micro SD card storage rather than using a self-deleting cloud-based system, features like the app layout, the Wi-Fi hotspot, and the ability to send alerts to family or friends make up for it.
The video quality is more than adequate for it's intended purpose of security and on-road safety, and it's easy to install. And if you still think the price is high, you'd realistically pay the same amount (if not more) to have a one-dimensional siren alarm system installed in your car, so it's a pretty good trade-off.
Pros: Affordably priced compared to other alarm systems and smart cameras, easy to install and uninstall, HD cameras work well in all light, Wi-Fi hotspot, flexible LTE data plans
Cons: No LED flood lights for thieves in your interior, large screen display might obstruct your view minimally, requires the user to manage memory on a micro SD card
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