What is a mirror-type drive recorder?
Mirror-type drive recorders, as the name implies, are shaped like an interior mirror.
In addition to the normal drive recorder functionsRear camera images are projected onto the LCD screen of the main unit.The function to capture images from the rear camera onto the LCD screen is added.
At first glance, you may think that the interior mirror itself is replaced, but it is installed by attaching it to the interior mirror with a rubber band.
Therefore, installation is not so difficult, and is on the same level as ordinary DR-Recorders.
The main unit has a built-in front camera*, so both front and rear images can be captured as a drive recorder.
*Some front cameras are independent.
Advantages of Mirror-type Drive Recorders
Compared to a regular driver's camera or an interior mirror, a mirror-type drive recorder has many advantages.
1. much less blind spots in the rear
The biggest advantage of a mirror-type drive recorder is that it provides a much wider rearward view and reduces blind spots.
This is more obvious when compared to an ordinary interior mirror.
The figure below compares the field of view seen by a standard interior mirror with that of a mirror-type drive recorder.
With a standard interior mirror, you can't see anything if there is a pile of luggage in the back.
You may have experienced that you cannot see anything in the back of your car when you load a large amount of luggage on a trip or when you move house.
Similarly, if there are several people in the back of the car, it will be difficult to see what is behind.
In these situations, a mirror-type drive recorder allows you to check the rear without getting in the way at all.
The rear camera also has a wide-angle lens, so the blind spots on either side are reduced considerably. The rear camera also shows positions that could only be seen in the side mirror, making it much safer to check the rear of the car.
In most car models, you cannot see diagonally behind the car with a normal interior mirror, but with a mirror-type camera, you will be able to check such a position.
2. brighter than the naked eye at night
A mirror-type drive recorder equipped with a high-performance rear camera can see brighter than the naked eye, especially at night.
This is because the optical sensor in the camera can recognize light in a larger range than the naked eye.
In particular, Sony sensors use a technology called STARVIS, which can recognize light in the visible spectrum and beyond. Thanks to this, you can see images brighter than you can see with your own eyes.
You will feel the benefit of this especially at night or when driving in tunnels.
3. can also be used as a rear-view camera
Many older cars may not be equipped with a rearview camera.
Many mirror-type drive recorders are equipped with a rearview camera, making it easy to retrofit a rearview camera function.
By mating the rear camera cable's parking guideline wires with the car's backing light wires, the parking guideline lines can be automatically displayed when the car is put in reverse.
In addition, the angle of view can be automatically turned downward (this is done by turning the camera itself downward). (This does not mean that the camera itself is pointed downward, but rather that the lower part of the image is automatically displayed when backing up, since the camera originally takes wide-angle images both vertically and horizontally.)
In addition, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has announced that new cars will be required to be equipped with rear-view cameras from May 2022 onward. Please refer to the following for details.
4. large screen for easy operation
Ordinary drive recorders are not very easy to operate. In recent years, the number of touch-panel type drive recorders has been increasing, but their small screen makes them difficult to touch and playback of images is difficult on a small screen.
Mirror-type drive recorders, on the other hand, have a much larger screen (approximately 10-12 inches), which is much easier to operate by touch.
Also, the large, bright screen allows for very clear playback of images on the main unit.
5. much cheaper than buying a separate drive recorder, digital mirror, and rearview camera
Mirror-type drive recorders are
- Digital Mirror
- Rearview Camera
A single unit can perform almost the same functions as these three.
How much would it cost to have all of them as genuine products of the car maker?
There are many car models that do not have digital mirrors as a factory-installed option, and even if they did, the total cost would easily exceed 100,000 yen.
A mirror-type drive recorder can be purchased for 20,000 to 30,000 yen, which is quite inexpensive.
6. prevention of distracted driving
After installing a mirror-type drive recorder, many people notice that "the car behind me is now taking more distance from me! This is a very important factor to prevent bluff driving.
The LCD screen glows brightly, so the car behind you can see that you are in the picture.
With an ordinary driverless car recorder, it can only record the incident when a driver is involved in an incident. However, with a mirror-type DRR, it is possible to prevent the driver from being hit by a driver.
Disadvantages of Mirror-type Drive Recorders
Although the mirror-type drive recorder is convenient, it is not all good things. There are some disadvantages.
It is difficult to hide the wiring depending on the car model.
Most mirror-type drive recorders have three cables connected to the main unit: a power cable, a rear camera cable, and a GPS cable.
Depending on the car model, these wires may be conspicuous. In many car models, the cables can be hidden in a gap between the interior ceiling and the original interior mirror stay to make them less noticeable, but this may be a problem in cars where the mirror stay is spaced from the ceiling.
However, this point is more a question of how much you personally care about it. If you are very particular about the interior, you may want to think twice.
Perspective is hard to grasp.
The images from the mirror-type drive recorder's "LCD screen + wide-angle rear camera" are very clear and easy to see as a stand-alone unit, but some people may find it difficult to grasp a sense of perspective.
Because of the wide-angle camera, the image appears smaller than that of a mirror. Also, with a mirror, the eyes focus on the image in three dimensions, but with an LCD screen, the image is viewed in two dimensions.
This makes it difficult for some people to grasp a sense of perspective.
However, this is largely a matter of individual differences, familiarity, and the habit of how one checks backward. Those who have a keen three-dimensional sense of distance may be able to perceive a large difference. Also, those who used to check the rearward view when changing lanes mainly with the interior mirror may feel a greater sense of discomfort.
In the case of the author, I did not feel any discomfort at all about the sense of distance, partly because I have always had a dull sense of the vehicle (laugh). Even when changing lanes, I was mainly using the side mirrors for confirmation, so the difference in the visibility of the interior mirrors did not bother me much.
In fact, it seems that most of the respondents felt some discomfort at first, but got used to it after a while.
Also, in many cases, the original mirrors were almost invisible behind the car, so there seems to be no sense of discomfort or anything.
Points to keep in mind when selecting a mirror-type drive recorder
When choosing a mirror-type drive recorder product, it is necessary to take a different perspective from that of a regular drive recorder.
The following is an explanation of points that you should pay special attention to.
1. some products have LCD screens only on a part of the mirror
The aforementioned advantages of mirror-type drive recorders are only available if the entire mirror has an LCD screen.
However, some products that are called "mirror-type drive recorders" have LCD screens on only a small portion of the mirror, as shown below.
This is still a "mirror-type drive recorder," but...
However, this type of product has almost no advantage as a mirror-type drive recorder as mentioned above.
Currently, this type of recorder is common, especially in older products made by domestic manufacturers.
Please check the actual product and the product website carefully before purchasing.
2. focus on the image quality of the rear camera
If you are purchasing an ordinary drive recorder, you do not need to be concerned about the quality of the image. Once installed, you will rarely even check the images unless there is an accident.
However, with a mirror-type drive recorder, you will be viewing the video frequently while driving. The frequency of viewing the images may be higher than that of a car navigation system. If the image quality is poor, driving itself becomes stressful.
The image quality of the rear camera is especially important.
While ordinary drive recorders focus on front images, mirror-type drive recorders are mainly used to check the rear of the vehicle, so the image quality of the rear camera is very important.
First, be sure to select a rear camera with a resolution of Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) or higher. If the resolution is less than this, the license plate number of the vehicle behind may not be readable.
Also, for nighttime brightness, choose one with a Sony optical sensor as much as possible. Even if the advertisement says, "Sony sensor adopted! but the front sensor is only used, and the rear sensor is often a cheap Chinese-made sensor. Also, as mentioned below, many of the specs themselves are misrepresented, so be careful.
Even with a cheap, low-performance rear camera, it is possible to brighten the image by applying software correction. This is like using Photoshop to correct photos taken with a cheap smartphone.
However, this software correction has its limitations. By forcibly brightening the image, it tends to produce a noisy, grainy image. Also, because the dynamic range is narrow, dark areas tend to be obscured when illuminated by headlights.
Therefore, it is best to choose a camera with a high performance sensor.
3. beware of products with falsified specs
In some cases, especially with Chinese products sold on Amazon.com, the specifications on the product page are misrepresented.
Do not rely on the information on the product page, but buy from a reputable manufacturer or seller. Amazon has many cherry-picked reviews, and the number of reviews is not reliable at all.
Please read the following page for more information.
4. choose a product made by a domestic manufacturer with excellent support
No matter which manufacturer's product you choose, you may still encounter malfunctions or initial defects.
However, in the case of a mirror-type drive recorder, it is easier to be concerned about even minor problems than with a regular drive recorder.
This is because, due to the nature of the product, you will be looking at the screen almost the entire time you are driving.
With an ordinary drive recorder, once it is installed, most people will not even check the video unless there is an accident. Even if it is malfunctioning and no longer records or displays, it is often unnoticed.
With a mirror-type drive recorder, however, you will notice even if the screen disappears for a brief moment.
Or the color of the image may look strange, a little bluish, or the image may be blurred, and even that level of blurriness can be noticed by those who are concerned.
Therefore, we recommend that you choose a product made by a domestic manufacturer that offers the best support possible.
If you use a product made by an overseas manufacturer, you may not know how much support they can provide if you have a problem. It also tends to take a long time to request repair or replacement.
5. focus on screen brightness and legibility
The brightness and legibility of the LCD screen is also very important.
However, this point cannot be seen on the Internet or in stores, and often cannot be understood without actually attaching it to a vehicle to check it, so most people purchase without even being aware that there is a difference.
For the same reason, very few manufacturers seem to pay attention to this point.
See also the related articles below.
- High Brightness LCD Makes Mirror-type DVRs More Comfortable in Daylight
- Screen Surface Material Changes the Mirroring Situation
- How to Reduce Screen Glare
How difficult is it to install a mirror-type drive recorder?
Installation of a mirror-type drive recorder is not very difficult. As mentioned above, installation is as simple as attaching the unit to an existing mirror with a rubber band.
The slightly troublesome part is the installation of the rear camera. The cable for the rear camera needs to be brought to the rear of the vehicle. It is not difficult, but a little time-consuming, to make the cables reach to the rear of the vehicle while keeping them neatly hidden.
However, the work is not much different from that of a normal two-camera type. It is not a difficult task, although it is troublesome.
Please refer to the following for the actual work or to request a contractor to install the system.
- How to install a mirror-type drive recorder by yourself
- How to find a contractor to install a mirror-type drive recorder
What happens if it malfunctions?
Mirror-type drive recorders are convenient, but some people may be concerned that they may not be able to see anything if they malfunction. You may be worried that you will not be able to see anything if your mirror-type drive recorder malfunctions.
However, this is not a problem at all.
When the mirror-type drive recorder is turned off, it can be used as a mirror with a mirror reflection.
So even in the unlikely event of a malfunction, you can simply turn off the power.
Furthermore, since it is originally only attached to the interior mirror with a rubber band, the original interior mirror can be used as soon as it is removed. It takes only a minute to remove it, so all you have to do is pull over to the shoulder of the road for a moment and do the work.
Learn more about mirror-type drive recorders
To learn more about mirror-type drive recorders, please see the following articles
We have helped tens of thousands of users of mirrored drive recorders and have written about what we have found in the process.
For more information on the Mirror Cam series of mirror-type drive recorder products, please refer to the following
- Mirror-camPro Mirror-Type Drive Recorder with 3 cameras (front, center, and rear) + 24-hour infrared constant monitoring
- Mirror Cam R MRC-2020R Mirror-Type Drive Recorder Front/Rear Cameras + Digital Mirror Right Camera Specifications