Car Dashboard Camera Buying Guide
Table of Contents
Helping You Choose The Best Car Dashboard Camera
Why don’t you purchase a dashboard camera for your car now to make sure you have the video evidence you need. It will help you to protect yourself from increased insurance costs, resulting from accident claims, hit and run drivers and road rage incidents.
Increasingly, a dashboard camera, fitted in your car, is becoming essential. The tips below will help you to find a top rated dashboard camera with the latest features for your particular needs and budget.
What Types Of Dashboard Cameras Are Available?
There are various types of car dashboard cameras available to suit your needs. Prices range from under $20 for a budget model to over $300 for a premium dash cam. We recommend staying away from most of the lower priced budget dash cams as they offer inferior video quality compared to more expensive units.
Dashboard Camera Or A Window Mounted Camera?
Small, compact dash cams that affix to the front windshield or on the dashboard are the most popular and are the easiest to install and transfer to another vehicle if needed.
Dual Camera Dashboard Cameras?
Dual Camera Dash Cams consist of a front facing camera along with a rear facing camera that provides both front and back video coverage. Installing the rear camera using involves running a wire from the dash or front window mounted unit to the camera located on the rear window.
Rear View Mirror Dashboard Cameras?
Rear View Mirror Dash Cams require some installation but provide the ultimate in convenience and appearance. Some models also provide dual camera support for a rear camera as can be used as a back up camera as well.
What Features Should You Look For?
So before buying a dashcam car camera, you may wish to consider these important points first. Now let’s see what makes a great dashcam camera.
Once you buy a vehicle camera you will need to be able to install it into your vehicle nice and easy. Usually the dash cam is put on the windscreen or behind the rear view mirror, so it is important to get a long power cord as it needs to reach to your cigarette lighter for power. You also want a cam that comes with clear instructions as you usually need to scroll around menu’s.
Most people do not want a massive camera stuck to the windscreen that takes up most of your viewing space and screams out, “I am an expensive dashcam, come and steal me”. Most dash cams are small and discreet, but some are big and bulky – these we want to avoid.
For a dashcam to be of any use it needs a good video quality so that the recordings can be clearly seen. In any incident you may want to see clearly people, faces, road signs, and number plates etc. Some lower priced camera models record in standard definition (also known as SD) which is 640×480, these days you really want high definition (HD) to show all that extra detail. You should buy a camera that supports 720p resolution (which is 1280×720) or preferably 1080p (which is 1920×1080).
Most cams come with an integrated LCD screen so you can review recorded footage in your car. The bigger the screen the better you can see, although some cameras have no screen at all.
Night Recording in Darkness
One feature that many people overlook is the need for decent quality recording when it’s dark. Everyone drives at night sometimes and in the dark there is more likelihood of an accident occuring. As you will be driving with headlights on, most decent cameras can record in darkness but some cannot.
Avoid Night Vision LED’s
Some dashcams come with a gimmicky night vision LED’s which are said to help night time recording, but they don’t work and are usually on cheaper cams that cannot really handle recording in the dark.
Infinite Loop Recording Function
An absolute must in a dashboard camera, to make sure your camera doesn’t just stop recording when it runs out of disc space. Loop recording means that once your storage is full, the camera automatically overwrites the oldest files on the memory card, thus enabling it to record indefinitely.
Of course you have the option to mark those parts of the footage that you would like to keep. If your camera has a G-sensor (see below), files are automatically marked for safekeeping whenever an impact is detected.
A GPS feature will record your exact position and the speed you are doing. But a GPS adds size to the camera and some require external modules as well.
Standard dash cams only have a single camera which records the front view through the windshield, but dual camera models exist which can also show the view inside the car or looking out the rear view window.
Another useful feature is whats known as a G-sensor which starts recording if a stationary vehicle gets hit by a sudden impact. Any motion will set-off the record feature and the footage will be saved from any accidental deleting so you can review it. The motion detection feature when set, will only record video when the vehicle is moving. This feature is useful for cars that do not cut power to the 12v cigar lighter when the ignition is turned off.
Automatic Switch On/Off
All the dashcams we review have an automatic switch on and turn off feature. The camera starts recording as soon as you turn on the car using the ignition key. It also switches recording off as soon as you stop the cars engine.
A Date and Time Stamp
Some dashcams show the date and time on the screen which is useful if you want to use the video footage as evidence of an incident.
The main function of the WiFi is to allow you to use your smartphone as a screen to review the recorded camera footage. It is usually available on a high-end dashboard camera.
This feature allows you to keep your dashboard camera running while your car is parked. As a result, you’ll have video footage in the event of any hit-and-run accident or act of vandalism.
Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS)
This feature warns you when the dashboard camera detects that you are traveling too close to the vehicle in front. It uses GPS to determine your speed and works out an approximate safe. Normally, the FCWS activates automatically when your vehicle speed exceeds 30 mph.
Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS)
The camera continuously watches the striped and solid lane markings of the road ahead. LDWS alerts you when it detects that your car is about to veer out of your lane and warns you to get back into lane.
Car dashboard cameras are still quite a new accessory. As they become more popular, they will improve, have better video frame-rate, better video quality and more features. However, there is already a wide selection of high quality, feature packed dashboard cameras on the market today. We hope that this article can inform you of the functionality available to help you make a more informed choice.
Do you have a dashboard camera? Tell us how you like it (or don’t) in the comments below.