It is not a secret that ANY car can be equipped with almost ANYTHING – so to say, “aftermarket” way. Even an old Zhigulenka can be equipped with a good half of all options, functions and services available in new modern cars. Except for initial deeply integrated into the electronic platform of the car … Well, nobody cancelled a question of profitability of deep “pumping” of budget cars…
If your car is not rich with different sorts of modern electronic options, it is possible to add the whole complex of usefulness without deep investments and fierce “kolhoz”. For example, if you just implant them in the form of multifunctional multimedia device with Android operating system, which allows very flexible extending of functions and settings. Today, such systems are most often offered in the form of head units – “headphones”, to put it the old way. But there is a very simple method of introducing a multimedia-service complex in the car, which does not require interference in the interior of the car and requires a minimum of fittings and electrical work on the cabin – the installation of “android” mirror-display. The segment of such gadgets we will study today on the example of aMirror 12 Android Future model from TrendVision.
TrendVision aMirror 12 Android Future
TrendVision aMirror 12 is not easy to characterize as a class of gadgets. Even the very capacious term “combo device” it has clearly outgrown. Calling it “android rear view mirror”, of course, is possible, but it does not reveal the whole picture…
So first let’s try to identify the specifications of the device, and then – its capabilities.
TrendVision aMirror 12 is technically a tablet based on the Android operating system, made in the format of a hinged car rearview mirror and optimized for use behind the wheel. Inside it are:
- Operating system – Android 8.1.
- The processor – 4-core Spreadtrum SL8541E 1.4 GHz + Mali-820 graphics core.
- RAM – 2 GB.
- Built-in memory – 32 GB.
- The display – 11 inches, touch, capacitive.
- Wireless interfaces – GSM 3G/4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM transmitter.
- GPS / GLONASS remote module.
- Video recorder – Built-in FullHD 1920×1080 30fps camera.
- Parking camera – remote HD camera 1280×720 on a cable 6 meters.
Now what can TrendVision aMirror 12. He has the following functions as an asset:
- Video recorder with FullHD front-facing camera.
- Lane Departure Warning and Approach Warning System ADAC (works on the basis of the front camera).
- Rear parking camera.
- Navigation with route guidance.
- GPS/GLONASS information about cameras and radars.
- CarKeeper car search system, which sends the exact location of the car on the map to your smartphone upon request.
- Touch menu specially optimized for narrow and wide display and use on the move.
- Music and video playback on the device display.
- Transmits navigation prompts, music and video sound through the built-in speaker or to the FM radio of the car’s regular audio system.
- Supports memory cards up to 128 GB + 32 GB internal memory.
- Slot for SIM-card for mobile Internet.
- Full-featured Internet browser.
- Ability to distribute the Internet in the cabin of the car with the SIM-card of the device as an access point.
- Ability to receive, if necessary, Wi-Fi Internet from any smartphone in the cabin of the car, enabled as an access point.
These functions, as they are called, “out of the box”. However, aMirror 12 is a full-fledged Android gadget, so of course it has access to the Google Play app store, from which you can download and install a lot of apps to your liking.
Don’t like the built-in Yandex Navigator? Strange, of course, but please – dozens of navigation programs at your service! Are you accustomed to a specific application-informer, reporting about the cameras and radars? There are a lot of them available, paid and free. If you don’t like the limited video format support of the built-in player, download your favorite multi-format player. If you have a Bluetooth-OBD2-scanner, install the application for reading and resetting errors.
Actually, the main limitation here is common sense. All the same, aMirror 12 is a car gadget, moreover – permanently located above your head. So, probably it is unreasonable to install a reader for reading books, photo editing application or software for online shopping on it… Although, again – there are no principal restrictions to it.
Design and equipment
Externally TrendVision aMirror 12 looks quite modest and discreet – this is an important and necessary feature for the gadget, which not everyone can take every evening before parking in the yard and take home for the night … Even installed on the rearview mirror, it is almost invisible from the outside – on the one hand the usual mirror surface, on the other – black, without any apparent contrast or shiny elements.
The package of the device includes:
- Power module from the car’s onboard network.
- Rear view camera with a 6-meter wire and a set of fasteners on the adhesive tape or self-tapping screws.
- Remote GPS/GLONASS receiver for navigation, speedometer and remote car search.
- Two sets of silicone clips for fixing aMirror 12 on the rear view mirror of any size.
The gadget is installed on the regular interior mirror of the car, a little longer than most regular mirrors. Accordingly, in the protruding part on the left there is a camera module, and on the right – the sound speaker.
Fixation to the mirror is made by elastic silicone ties with “steps” of length adjustment. The TrendVision aMirror 12 comes with two sets of ties, long and short (we needed the short ones). Installation with the elastic ties is very reliable, eliminating camera vibrations, unlike similar devices that are attached to the mirrors through rigid spring “legs”.
To be able to adjust the optimal position of the camera in relation to the road, the lens is made movable, on a ball joint:
Many gadget functions require GPS coordinates for operation. Navigation, speedometer, car search, overlaying speed marks on the video from the DVR, etc. But since the device is mounted on the interior mirror, its body is covered by the metal of the car roof, like an umbrella! Not to say that it completely blocks the reception of satellite signals, but at least it significantly worsens it and increases the time of cold start. Therefore, the TrendVision aMirror 12 GPS / GLONASS receiver is made in a separate module connected by wire. The receiver is mounted on a simple double-sided adhesive tape on the glass – usually in the area of the silk screen in front of the mirror. The extra wire is hidden under the ceiling trim. Spare cable is needed if for some reason you decide to mount GPS on the rear window – the length is enough!
The device has only one button, located at the bottom, on the lower horizontal edge of the case. It is a power on (by holding it down) and switch to sleep mode (by short pressing) – just like any smartphone or tablet. There are no other buttons on the body – all the management is done through the screen.
On top of the body are two slots – for memory cards and SIM-card for mobile Internet. There is also a small round slot for the “jack” rear parking camera, a power connector and a GPS jack.
Rear camera can be mounted on a double-sided adhesive tape inside the cabin on the glass, as well as on screws outside – on the license plate frame or plastic molding backlighting.
Menu and operation
The gadget menu will not cause problems for anyone who is familiar with smartphones and tablets on Android. However, even the “Apple user” with experience with it will understand it quickly enough. The mirror desktop is simplified and optimized for easy control on the move (although for any manipulation it is better to stop!) – all functions the driver needs on the road are controlled by large buttons and huge icons: turn on the camera, navigation, Bluetooth-Hands Free, etc. Well, the auxiliary, not the most necessary (like settings, menus of all installed applications and icons of additional applications) – small. To use them already, of course, unequivocally need to park and provide a safe environment.
The TrendVision aMirror 12’s built-in “Launcher” (desktop) looks like this.
On the left – permanently active area switching cameras, large buttons “home”, “step back” and the path to the settings that android-smartphones are in the menu of the upper bar of the screen (display brightness, turn on wireless networks, access points, etc.)
To the right is the screen of the recorder’s video recording in progress.
In the center is a horizontally scrolling bar of eight large tile icons, of which four are permanently on the screen:
- “Navigation”, which launches the pre-installed Yandex-navigator with GPS-informer about cameras and radars.
- “Camera”, needed to return to the desktop window of the DVR, if it is minimized, closed by other applications.
- “Music” launches the pre-installed online service Yandex music (requires an account and subscription).
- “Bluetooth” to use the mirror as a hands-free.
- “FM” activates the FM transmitter (transmitter), which allows you to broadcast all the sounds of the device to the cabin audio system through the radio receiver of the headset.
- “Video” – interface for viewing the clips recorded by the recorder.
- “Settings” – system settings.
- “Applications” – a complete list of icons of all installed applications, including Google Play, from which you can also install any additional applications.
Menu of installed applications:
FM transmitter is an excellent and very convenient function for the output of sound to the regular speakers of the car audio system (although the sound of the built-in speaker, to be objective, is very loud and juicy, without the “telephone effect”). To transmit any frequency of your choice is available throughout the range from 87.5 to 108 mHz.
The radio transmitter in aMirror 12 is very powerful, it is not even necessary to retune the receiver to an empty frequency, as you have to do when using small FM transmitters with flash drives plugged into the cigarette lighter. The transmitter in the mirror calmly and cleanly overrides the station’s signal while tuned to the same frequency.
A separate feature is the ADAS+ function, marked in the video window with the “S” button. It is a warning system of lane departure and dangerously shortening the distance to the car ahead. It is integrated into the DVR camera interface and can be activated by a separate button. By the way, the same principle (using the camera, not the radar) operates a system of electronic assistant driver Subaru EyeSight.
ADAS+ in TrendVision aMirror 12 is not a bad thing and sometimes it really helps. But let’s be frank: it is still significantly inferior to the systems with similar functionality, which are installed in cars. ADAS+ often loses the marking and sometimes is silent when it should be notified…
A separate service is the function of controlling the location and finding the car remotely. To use it, you need to download the free application CarKeeper on your smartphone from the Market, then run the same application on the mirror (it is already pre-installed) and take a picture with your smartphone QR-code that appeared on the screen of the mirror. After this the devices are paired and at the display of the phone you will see the location of your car on the map from any place. In fact, it is a tracker function.
In sleep mode, the mirror screen goes off, displaying only the clock and date. In this mode, the display surface of the TrendVision aMirror 12 works like a normal mirror, giving only a slightly dimmed image – like a tinted. In addition, a small red light indicates that the video recording continues.
The DVR settings are separate from the general system settings and are called from the video recording window. Fortunately, there are not too many manual settings, I would even say minimum. This is very good, because many manufacturers of video recorders blatantly abuse their abundance, only confusing the user. The thing is that in a moving car the shooting conditions (direction to the sun, illumination, light polarization, etc.) are constantly changing, and it usually makes no sense to adjust them manually, unless you stand still for a long time. That’s why automatic adjustment of most settings is the best solution for most situations.
The quality of video recording is quite decent, especially taking into account the fact that the TrendVision aMirror 12 has not the trendy today ultra-resolution but rather the classic FullHD. In no small measure, the absence of vibration, which in many DVRs is formed in the mounting bracket on the windshield has a positive impact on the shooting. In this case the arm is a regular mirror, and if its “leg” is intact and not loose, the rigidity of the mount is very high.
Connecting the “android mirror” is extremely simple, available to any car enthusiast who can replace the light bulb and fuse in his own car.
The gadget is powered by a special converter, coming with a 12-24 volt on-board network of 5 volt connector miniUSB. The converter is connected to the fuse box in the cabin.
In principle, the gadget can be powered from a normal USB adapter in the cigarette lighter with a cord with an appropriate connector, but this connection will not be correct: the device can not automatically turn on and start recording – it will have to do every time manually, with a button on the body, which is inconvenient. Also, remote car location search will not work, since both sleep mode and GPS are turned off with the ignition. You can not use the function of recording events in the parking.
But with the native power cord, everything works properly, since it is connected to both the constant plus and the ignition. The first wire ensures that the functions work in standby mode, without the screen lit, while the second wire ensures that the device automatically wakes up and starts video recording. It is not difficult to connect them. Power wires have ten-amp fuses (type “mini”) at their ends, and they should be inserted into the fuse block instead of the two regular fuses, one of which always has +12 volt, and the second +12 volt should appear when the ignition is turned on. This way allows you to power the device without cutting wires. You can find the optimal connection points by yourself with a simple car tester with a bulb, or any electrician can do it in a few minutes.
Oh, yes – and the mass, of course, do not forget: its terminal is clamped under any bolt under the torpedo!
The final step in connecting the TrendVision aMirror 12 is to supply power to the rear parking camera. From its cable comes out a short stripped at the end of the wire in red insulation, which must be extended and connected to the plus of the back lamp in the trunk. The procedure is generally simple, but you may need to do some fittings to remove the trunk trim (not necessarily, depends on the design of the car) and/or remove the tail light assembly. Again, this work is not too difficult for a handy car owner servicing the car himself, and certainly not for any auto electrician.
The “android mirror” format is probably the easiest way to get a very interesting and rich multimedia-service functionality in any car, the potential of which can be further expanded by various useful applications. Plus, it is important that these investments in the car are reversible. In the case of android multimedia boombox, you’ll actually have to give it to the new owner when changing the car, and the mirror is removed in one movement, and the power and parking camera wiring is dismantled in half an hour without a trace. After that, it can be installed in reverse order on the freshly purchased car!