A few years ago the three co-founders of Pearl RearVision were working on iconic Apple devices such as the iPod and iPhone when they decided to branch out of Apple to develop their own, game-changing, life-altering products. What they came up with was Pearl, which they tout as the most advanced rear view camera and alert system on the market. Per the folks at Pearl, RearVision combines sophisticated hardware with intelligent software to improve your driving experience, from backing up to parallel parking. Beneath its sleek exterior is its cutting-edge camera technology, efficient solar panels, and vision algorithms powered by a high performance processor.
Pearl is designed to be installed wirelessly and connect to your phone via bluetooth and wi-fi and give you the ultimate review camera experience. Pearl recently hooked us up with a unit for testing and we outfitted a test vehicle to see how the Pearl performed. Here’s what we discovered…
- Camera Frame:
- Weight 13.1 oz
- Unibodoy alumnium frame
- Dual HD cameras; one optimized for day, one for IR-sensitive for night
- 1/3″ CMOS sensors; 2.2 um pixel size
- 180 degree of view
- WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n – 2.4 and 5GHz and Bluetooth 4.0
- 2650 sqmm solar module with maximum power point tracking
- Car Adapter:
- Weight 1.5 oz
- Octa-core processor (4x Cortex-A15 – 4x Cortex-A7)
- 2GB LPDDR3
- 8GB eMMC
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Speaker Amp
- On-board diagnostics port (OBD-II)
- WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n – 2.4 and 5GHz and Bluetooth 4.0
As you can tell from the tech specs above, the technology in the Pearl system is no joke. The camera frame features a weatherproof, unibody aluminum design that will install securely around your license plate. The cameras will connect wirelessly to the car adapter in your car’s diagnostics port. The car adapter connects to the camera frame and your phone via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You will plug the adapter into the car’s OBD port, it receives data like vehicle speed to manage when to show video in the app. All of this information connects through the Pearl App, which is available for android and iPhones. When the app is launched it will display video of what’s behind and around your car right on your phone.
The frame features two HD cameras. One is sensitive in the infrared spectrum which is designed for night use and the other is optimized for daytime. Each has a custom, seven-element lens with up to 180° field of view and a hydrophobic coating which is designed to keep rain away in inclement weather. The frame also features an image processor that is designed to manage exposure and corrects distortion in real-time for reliably clear, super-wide-angle views. While installing the Pearl we kept looking to install some batteries to give it power and we were amazed to discover that the frame has a built-in solar panel that charges in both direct sunlight and indirect light through clouds. The frame’s built-in battery is an energy reservoir to help during those less sunny days. The Pearl is truly a wireless system.
Finally, the RearVision’s obstacle alerts are powered by what is called stereo-vision algorithms. The car adapter has an eight-core processor that is said to run billions of calculations per second to analyze images from both cameras while you’re backing up. When an obstacle is detected, a tone sounds from the built-in speaker in the Car Adapter, and the object is then highlighted in the Pearl App.
Given that there are no wires then that means no drilling and running wires. What that means is a ton less time and much less of a pain in the butt. You simply screw in the camera frame around your license plate with their special tool that is included. This special screw allows the Pearl to be theft resistant. After screwing the frame on you simply plug the car adapter into your OBD port, and mount your phone using the provided phone mount. You will then setup your Pearl App and connect everything together wirelessly and you are on your way.
All said, you are up and running in less than 20 minutes. The phone mount features a magnet system that allows you to easily place your phone in viewing site. One issue you might see is if you use a case for your phone. This makes the phone less secure and more apt to fall off. We ended up removing the case to get a more secure fit. When you get the app setup they ask you for some measurements and some other questions to better optimize the camera. We highly suggest you do this as it does improve the experience and allows the camera to be personally fitted to your car’s measurements.
For all of the impressive technology this is where the true test lies. For all that Pearl can do, the one thing it can’t do is be a factory installed version. However, there is a reason you don’t have a factory installed camera- they don’t make them on your car or you didn’t want to pony up and pay for it. What the Pearl gives you is that option. Online reviews may complain about the wait time for the camera to load on the phone. We tested it over 100 times and the average wait time was 5.6 seconds! 5.6 seconds to wait for a beautiful back-up camera is not much at all.
Other reviews may complain about having to take their phone out of their pocket to put it on the mount. Most everyone we know always has their phone somewhere on their dash (we don’t encourage this), what the mount does is give you a great place to put your phone. Also, the App allows you to instantly connect with maps so you could bring up your GPS on the fly and you have an in-dash navigation system as well. You may experience some issues while using the app. Since it is technology it will occasionally crash but it is very minor.
By far the best thing about Pearl is the beautiful camera system. The picture is crystal-clear and the optimization of the cameras for day and night-time use is extremely impressive. Compared to high-end cars with factory installed cameras the Pearl is better than most of those cameras, if not all. The High-Definition camera offers impressive images that allow you to safely back-up or park your car. You will not be disappointed by the camera quality. The camera does feature technology to whisk away rain and snow from the camera. You may occasionally get some residue that needs to be cleaned up, no different from regular cameras.
Priced at $499 the Pearl RealVision will definitely cause some sticker shock. If you have a need, then you probably want the best and Pearl is the best. It’s ridiculous technology and design is far superior than competitors. It also offers impressive back-up images and support to help you safely maneuver your car. If your car has the capability of getting a camera installed from your local dealer, you can go that route, but it is much more expensive and invasive. If you are willing to pay for a great experience and superior technology, then the Pearl is an option for you.
- Easy install
- Great camera quality
- Nice custom options to optimize for your car
- High price
- App is fast to load but still not as fast as a factory install