Hands-on with two Pioneer dash cams
A review of the Pioneer VREC-DZ700DC and VREC-DH300D dash cams
In this article, I take a look at two dash cams from Pioneer – the VREC-DZ700DC and VREC-DH300D. Both kits include a rear-mounted second camera and record everything in full hi-def video. Read on for more details.
Recently, I had the chance to check out two dash cameras from Pioneer. With an hour commute and our crazy local streets, I've been in the market for a dash cam anyway, so when our buyer was looking for someone to get hands on with these two models, I jumped on the opportunity.
Dash cams are a great addition to your daily drive for safety reasons, not to mention the possible entertainment opportunities. If you're thinking about adding a dash cam to your vehicle, read our Guide to Dash Cams for shopping tips. You can also check out our Best Dash Cams article for a look at some of our top sellers.
Common features of these Pioneer cameras
These cameras have a lot in common, but there are a few things that make them very different. Let's start with what they have in common.
- Both of these cameras are two-camera systems. Each one has a front-mounted dash cam to record the road ahead and a second camera that mounts on the rear window to record the road behind you. Alternatively, you could position the second camera to record the interior of your vehicle – a great option for ride-share drivers.
- Both cameras (well, all four, technically) feature high-sensitivity CMOS image sensors that record full high-definition, wide-angle video. The video is clear and responds quickly to changes in lighting conditions. The cameras are capable of capturing fine detail (especially license plates) even in dark conditions.
- Pioneer includes a 16GB micro-SD card, but that high-def footage really eats up the storage space, so I recommend upgrading to a 128GB card (that's the largest the cameras can use). The best and easiest way to get footage off the camera is to remove the memory card and download the video files to your computer.
Now, let's take a look at what makes the two cameras different.
The low-profile Pioneer VREC-DZ700DC is a great choice for permanent installation.
The hardwired option – VREC-DZ700DC
The Pioneer VREC-DZ700DC is a compact dash cam that's intended for permanent installation and has to be hardwired into your vehicle. Once installed, it fades into the background and becomes part of your car. There aren't any unsightly cords or cables and the camera turns on when you start the car. Of course, since I was only installing it temporarily, I was a little sloppy with the cables.
As dash cams go, the DZ700DC is pretty nifty. The controls on the camera are easy to use, which is a big bonus. When I first powered it up, I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the simple button layout and onscreen menus. That turned out to be a good thing because I initially mounted the camera behind my rear-view mirror. Given the fixed (non-adjustable) mounting angle and the mirror mostly blocking my view of the screen, it was difficult to operate the controls for video playback. I relocated the camera a bit to the left and everything was better.
One of the major perks of the DZ700DC is the Pioneer Dash Camera Interface app. The app connects to the camera over WiFi. Once that's done, you can see the camera's display on your phone screen. The app lets you adjust the camera settings and see the files currently saved to the camera's memory card. To view the video files, you first have to download them to your phone. Once there, you can watch them, share them, or post them to the Internet.
Screenshots from the VREC-DZ700DC camera's interface app
While the camera can record in hi-def 1080p video, I found that this creates rather large video files that took a long time to download to my phone. I dropped the video quality to 720p and the recording time to three minutes (I initially had it set to 5 minutes, which further impacted file size). Doing this allowed me to transfer files to my phone in just 2-3 minutes and the video quality was still superb.
As a high-end dash cam, the '700 also features audio recording. The mic picked up my sad, off-key singing quite well. After testing it, I turned the mic off. No police officer or insurance agent needs to suffer through my caterwauling.
The camera also features a built-in shock sensor, which automatically protects footage in the event of an accident by detecting unusual vibrations or bumps to the vehicle. That same shock sensor is used for Parking Mode. This activates both cameras and starts recording if your car gets bumped while parked, even when the car is turned off. It's a very helpful thing to have in the event of a parking lot hit-and-run.
The VREC-DZ700DC's tiny rear-mounted camera
The rear-mounted second camera is similarly low-profile and also offers full 1920 x 1080p HD resolution. You can view that camera's feed on the front camera's view screen or with a tap of your phone screen via the app. The rear camera connects to the dash camera via a single cable that provides power and video connections. The 29.5-feet of cable was ample length for my car, with plenty to spare.
Watch the video
Installation note – fuse taps simplify the task
Hardwiring the VREC-DZ700DC means you have to connect two power wires and a ground wire in your car. To do this, I took advantage of a pair of Accele fuse taps. They slide right into the car's interior fuse box, letting me add a new circuit. I talked to someone from our Tech Support team to help me find appropriate fuse locations to tap into for a constant power connection and a switched power connection. I connected the camera's ground wire to the metal chassis near the fuse box.
Here's a tip for using these fuse taps: Neither the taps nor your new gadget will include fuses for the new slot you're creating, so make sure you have some on hand. I purchased a pack of Install Bay low-profile ATM fuses (since that's the type my car uses). Read more about using the Accele fuse taps.
Faster, easier installation – the VREC-DH300D
Next I installed the Pioneer VREC-DH300D dash cam. This installation was a lot easier because it's powered by a power port (cigarette lighter) adapter, rather than hard-wired connections. Between finding the right fuses to tap and then making the connections, it took me about an hour to install the DZ700DC. With the DH300D, I had the camera powered up and was playing in the menus in five minutes.
The Pioneer VREC-DH300D dash cam is the choice for quick and easy setup.
Easy installation doesn't have to be messy, however. Pioneer made the power cable thirteen feet long, so you can route it along the upper edge of the windshield, down the front pillar, and to your power port location. Since I was only trying it out for a few days, I just let the cable hang down to my console. Nothing fancy here. I still had to run the cable to the rear window to mount and connect the second camera, but that really wasn't hard, either.
As I mentioned above, the DH300D has the same image sensor technology as the '700 model, but this one records in full 1440p, so the video footage is even better. I found this camera easier to operate because it has a hinged mount that I could adjust to give me easier access to the camera controls and a better view of the screen.
Speaking of the view screen, it's a full 3" diagonal (an inch larger than the DZ700DC). That's a good thing because the DH300D doesn't have a companion phone app, so you have to do everything from the camera itself.
This camera system worked as well as the other one. Despite having a slightly larger size and footprint, the DH300D was still unobtrusive on the windshield. Sure, I can't download video files to my phone, but frankly downloading the files is easier and faster via computer anyway. The phone app just makes it possible to do it before I get home.
Watch the video
Optional hardwire kit for the VREC-DH300D
Pioneer made the DH300D dash cam for the person who wants to get set up and recording quickly and with ease. But with the optional RD-HWK200 hardwire kit, you can get rid of the power port connection in favor of a permanent installation.
Additionally, with the hardwired power, you can enable Parking Mode to protect your car while you're away. The G-sensor and parking mode capability are already built into the DH300D – which shows that Pioneer was thinking ahead!
Final thoughts about these Pioneer dash cams
Both of these dash cams are standout performers. The image quality is great, which is the main thing you want from a camera. From an installation standpoint, the included cables are well made and plenty long enough to let you route them out of sight in most vehicles.
Easy set up time and incredible picture quality make the VREC-DH300D dash cam system the best choice for the convenience-minded. If you're looking for a dash cam, but don't want to spend an afternoon installing it, this is the one you want.
But for me, the pick is the VREC-DZ700DC system. The smaller footprint makes it more inconspicuous, so much so that I don't even notice it's there most of the time. I prefer the hard-wired aspect of the system, too. It just feels like it's part of the car. And having it turn on and off with the car is really helpful, especially for someone as absent minded as I can sometimes be.