What Is a Car Dashcam?
A dashcam or a dashboard camera is a camera that is mounted on a vehicle’s dashboard. Its primary purpose is to record happenings on the road and inside the vehicle. In case of an accident, dashcams can also act as a witness.
Dashcams are carefully constructed to accurately record all the details on the road. They are incredibly useful as they allow you to protect yourself if someone tries to falsely accuse you or sue you. You can also use it to prove who is at fault in case of an accident or monitor the car’s driver.
Do You Need a Dashcam?
A dashcam is an excellent tool to protect yourself because it gives you peace of mind that everything is being recorded. With the increase of cars on our roads, it is essential to have a dashcam as it protects you and others on the road.
With a device recording at all times, you can drive with the security of knowing that you have proof if there is an accident or roadside emergency. It can also help someone else because, in case of theft and accidents, dashcams of other cars work to provide evidence.
You can share the video your dashcam has recorded with the proper authorities to ensure that justice is served.
How Do Dashcams Work?
Dashcam cameras are designed to be placed at either the front or rear of your car to record footage from your car’s point of view. It is used to record what is going on around and inside the vehicle. The recordings are usually looped, meaning that unimportant footage is written over by new footage.
Most dashcams also come with various built-in sensors. These sensors can pick up changes in G-force. Therefore, if a car collides with yours, the incident will be recorded and saved to the memory card. It will also be locked to ensure that it is not written over or lost. You can review the footage later and save it or submit it to the authorities.
Dashcams are either powered through a power outlet found in cars or through batteries. Some prefer a hard-wired dashcam because there is no fear of the battery running out of charge. Others prefer battery-powered dashcams because they always remain on and do not miss anything.
Once the camera is switched on, it starts capturing footage and saving it as video on a microSD card. If there is a collision and the dashcam has G-force sensors, it will flag the footage, and you can review it later.
To review the footage, remove the memory card and connect it to your computer. From there, you can check the footage, copy it, delete it, etc. Nowadays, dashcams also come with additional features, such as Wi-Fi connectivity, that allow you to review your footage on a different device.
Different Kinds of Dashcams
If you are in the market to purchase a dash cam, you have three different kinds to choose from. Your choice of dashcam should depend on the sort of features you want.
Basic dashcams are designed to do the most basic job: capturing a video of the road in front of the vehicle. These dashcams are the most affordable and easiest to set up and maintain. Due to their price range, they have limited features and work on a simple loop recording setup. These cameras also do not have a lot of storage capacity.
Advanced dashcams are more expensive than basic dashcams but have more options and features. Most dashcams in this category have GPS functionality, accelerometers, speed sensors, and the ability to record audio.
Some advanced dashcams also have thermal cameras to catch all movement around your vehicle.
These features allow the advanced dashcams to provide more security as you can capture more. Some advanced dashcams also offer an uninterruptible power supply, meaning that the dashcam will keep recording even if the car is off or the power shuts off for some reason.
Dual-camera dashcams are also called interior/exterior dashcams. They have two cameras instead of one, which has added benefits. With such dashcams, you can monitor the inside of the car and the outside at the same time. An added camera angle allows you to protect yourself against theft and fraud.
You can also use it to assess the driver’s state and warn them if needed to avoid any mishaps.
Features To Consider
When purchasing a dash cam, you must buy one with added features that will allow you to protect yourself better. Therefore, you must remember a few features before making your purchase.
Dashcams come with many features, but arguably the most important is their image quality. If the image quality is not up to the mark, you will not be able to use your dashcam to its full potential.
When purchasing a dashcam, ensure that it has a high-quality camera. Such cameras produce better pictures, which can be instrumental if the camera records an accident. A sharper camera will help you see all the details clearly.
The resolution of the camera is also essential in ensuring sharp images. It is often depicted through the number of vertical pixels on an image. Generally, the higher the number of pixels is, the better the camera and the image quality output will be. It would be best if you aimed to purchase a camera that at least has a 1080p resolution.
Dashcams with better cameras are more expensive, but if you have the budget, you should aim to get one with 4K.
The frame rate of dashcams is also essential. As these cameras are designed to take videos, the number of frames they can capture per second is important. The standard frames per second are 30, and this fps is fine for most users.
If you want something much smoother, opt for a camera that captures video at 60fps. It is important to note that videos taken at a higher fps will occupy more space. Therefore, you will run out of room quicker.
If you are unsure of the fps you prefer, purchase one that has the option to change the fps. That way, you can lower the fps if you face storage issues.
The camera’s viewing angle or field of view is how wide a camera can see. This feature can vary greatly depending on the camera and its lens. Dashcams that have a wider viewing angle are able to capture more.
A greater viewing angle does have a few tradeoffs. The larger the camera’s view, the more the pixels spread out. This spreading can significantly affect the image quality and decrease it. Aim to purchase a dashcam with a large viewing angle but ensure it is not too wide.
Gauging the viewing angles of dashcams is difficult because manufacturers fail to provide accurate details about them. Additionally, there is no standard measure, so each manufacturer measures it differently. Some offer a horizontal measurement, and some a diagonal one.
The best way to see the angle is to find either actual footage taken from the camera or screenshots of the footage. Be sure to take note of the details on the side of the image and how detailed and sharp the overall image is.
GPS is another helpful feature that makes dashcams more functional. They allow you to log the speed and location of your car alongside the footage it captures. The added information can be handy to avoid getting wrongfully fined or sued.
A GPS feature in your dashcam also allows you to track the car and monitor driving habits. In case of an accident, You can evaluate who was at fault by locating the car and viewing the footage captured by the camera.
If you are in the market for a new dashcam, choose one with wireless connectivity. Such dashcams have apps that allow you to manage your footage and settings for the dashcam from your phone. Thus, you don’t have to pain yourself into trying to navigate through the small built-in screen found on most dashcams.
Internet connectivity also allows you to upload your footage to a cloud. This makes accessing the footage from your phone or computer a lot easier. You can download the footage and save it to view later.
However, only some people need Wi-Fi capabilities on their dashcams; for most, Bluetooth connectivity will be enough.
Night vision or low light vision is a beneficial feature to have in dashcams. They allow the camera to catch sufficient detail if an incident occurs when it is dark outside. Therefore, it provides protection even at nighttime.
The footage may be less detailed or bright, but it should be good enough to capture text like a car’s number plate.
|What to Expect
|$30 to $60
|It has basic features such as a built-in display, automatic loop recording, and 1080p resolution.
Models costing more may feature voice control, Wi-Fi capabilities, and low-light vision.
|$60 to $100
|These dashcams will have all the features of basic cameras, a wider angle lens, and support for SD cards. Dashcams in this range may also have better resolution and protection.
|$100 to $300
|Dashcams in this range offer up to 4K Ultra and GPS functionality alongside other features. They allow you to insert SD cards with larger storage and automatically upload footage via Wi-Fi.
|$300 and above
|Dashcams that cost more than $300 have features such as image stabilization, defogging features, and alerts for speed bumps and traffic lights.
Dashcams usually use your car’s power to run. Thus, when you turn your car on, dashcam will turn on and start recording. Some dashcams have a built-in battery to ensure that the dashcam always remains on. If you want your dashcam to stay on even when your vehicle is parked, you should purchase a dashcam with an inbuilt battery.
Due to their small size, most dashcams have small batteries with short battery lives, which is why a dashcam powered through your car is a better option.
Ensure that the dashcam you choose has plenty of storage. Some dashcams do not have a lot of internal storage but allow you to attach an SD card. Thus, you should choose one that allows you to expand the storage space.
Most dashcams start with 4GB of storage, so you can choose not to have external storage. If you want to store your footage on an SD card, make sure that the dashcam supports at least a 64GB MicroSD card.
Pros and Cons
|They allow you to have first-hand evidence in case of a theft or accident.
|The ones with built-in batteries have short battery lives and may shut off and not record important events.
|It encourages safer driving because dashcams allow others to monitor the driver.
|They are expensive.
|It prevents staged accidents and fraud.
|They can become a distraction for the driver.
When choosing a dashcam, you should choose one from a reputable brand. Although these cameras may be a bit more expensive, they will use high-quality materials and the latest technology. They will also have all the necessary features and more.
Nextbase dashcams are some of the best in the industry because they use high-quality materials and have advanced features. Most Nextbase dashcams allow you to record steady 4K video that captures tiny details. Thus, you can keep yourself safe when you are on the road.
Some models also feature built-in polarizing film that helps reduce the glare from windscreens. Image stabilization also ensures that the video is not too shaky, and viewers can clearly see the footage.
Some popular Nextbase dashcams include the Nextbase 522GW and the Nextbase 622GW.
Garmin dashcams are usually smaller, but they pack a lot within their compact design. Most dashcams by Garmin offer Full HD video with HDR and voice control. You can rely on these dashcams to record sharp footage, making picking out key details easy. These dashcams are also straightforward to use and simple to mount.
Some popular dashcams by the company include the Garmin Dashcam 67W and the Garmin Dashcam Mini 2.
Nexar dashcams are some of the most advanced dashcams you will find on the market. Many of their models have dual cameras, allowing them to record outside and inside the car. They are easy to set up and connect to the Nexar app.
This app allows you to generate incident reports and fine-tune the setting to your preference. The camera resolution is only 1080p for most cameras, but they are apt at picking up details.
Some popular cameras by this brand include Nexar Pro and Nexar Beam.
Can the dash cam wire be hidden from view?
Yes, you can hide the dashcam wire by tucking it into the crevice between the dashboard and windshield. That way, you can prevent it from obstructing the driver’s view.
How to tell if the car dashcam is on?
Most car dashcams have an LED light that lights up when it is recording. Typically this light is either red or green. If the light is on, then it means that your dashcam is on and recording.
How many GB do I need for a dashcam?
A dashcam with 32GB of internal or external storage is typically enough for most people. This translates into around 4 hours of 1080p recording. If you only use the dashcam when driving, then 32GB is enough. If you want to keep the dashcam on even when the car is parked, you may want one with more storage.
How long does a 16GB card last in a dashcam?
A 16GB dash cam can record around 2 hours of footage before it starts rewriting old footage.
When purchasing a dashcam, you need to consider the level of security you want because it will impact the features you need. Many dashcams are available on the market, but to get your money’s worth, you need to decide what features you need and which you can go without.
To get a camera best suited to your needs, focus on the price, image quality, wireless connectivity, and battery life of a dashcam.