Dashcams have been growing in popularity over the last few years due to their affordable price and high-quality footage. These devices are designed to offer protection from insurance fraud and capture scenic views and memorable moments. However, like any other electronic device, dash cams have various features that make them more or less appealing depending on the video quality and cost.
This article is an essential one-stop guide to help you understand and choose between the different types of dashcams on the market.
What Is a Dashcam?
A dashcam is a short form of a dashboard camera. It is a video camera that is mounted on top of the dashboard inside a car. It captures the front view of the automobile and streams it in real-time to any connected device via WiFi.
The popularity of these devices has risen, particularly through cautionary videos floating across various social media platforms, showing police violence or fatal accidents. However, these cameras have their pros and cons, so it is essential to know them before deciding whether they are appropriate for your personal use.
Some Key Features
Most of these cameras offer impressive features, including:
1) High-definition image quality
2) Long recording time
3) GPS recording capabilities
4) Audio micro inputs (optical/coaxial/buzzer)
5) Built-in GPS transmitter for location logging.
6) Auto power off and on feature
7) Built-in speaker for audio playback
8) Night vision features for better visibility in low light conditions
9) WiFi connectivity
10) Timestamp GPS logs
11) Memory cards
Types of Dashcams
There is a wide variety of dashcams, including front, rear, SD and network-connected. The price of dash cameras varies depending on their features. Some high-end models go up to $300, though users buy models which range between $100-$200. The range also depends on the model number and the brand name. To keep it simple, here are the most popular types of dashcams.
1. Basic Dashcams
These are the ones you can pull out from any car’s dashboard and start recording. It is a simple plug-n-play device installed in any vehicle and does not require any expert knowledge or experience to operate. One of the downsides of these dashcams is their low image quality. You can get a basic one for around $50-$100. However, if you want better video quality and more features, you will need to shell out closer to $200-$300.
2. Premium Dashcams
This type of dashcam has a high-resolution CMOS sensor and a built-in WiFi module. It is designed to capture footage from other driving sources like the telephone or the stereo radio. These cameras are delivered with dedicated software for recording, editing and sharing videos. However, this software is only available for Windows OS currently. You can purchase them for around $400-$600 on average.
3. Dual Lens Dashcams
This type of camera uses two separate lenses to record both the front and back of the car simultaneously. The cameras are mounted directly behind the rearview mirror, providing a broader scope of view. These dashcams are perfect for people who like to record their drives or want to provide evidence in case of a car accident. It is also helpful for drivers with more than one passenger in the car.
4. High-Resolution Dashcams
These dashcams offer ultra-high quality recording and can be considered the ‘next generation’ digital video camera. The cameras record at 1080p (1080 pixels per second), offering sharp and clear footage even when the camera is moved at high speed. Also, they record videos and images at 30fps.
5. Wireless Dashcams
These dashcams offer built-in WiFi and GPS connectivity to manage user settings and document footage during a drive. The camera captures footage and uploads it to the cloud. The recordings are then stored on a built-in SD card for subsequent viewing. These cameras add another dimension to the traditional dashcam by including WiFi connectivity and GPS coordinates for later reference.
6. Motorcycle Dashcams
These cameras are designed especially for motorists and are mounted on the motorcycle’s handlebar. The camera streams footage directly to the driver’s smartphone or tablet. These cameras are a cost-effective option, and you can get one for around $100. They are also helpful in all kinds of car-oriented activities, including long trips and races. Furthermore, these cameras entail a wide-angle and zoom lens that provides an advantage in capturing both the driver’s and the passenger’s view.
7. Sensor-Oriented Dashcams
These are dash cams with built-in sensors to provide more accurate recording of speed, G-force and location information. In an accident, the sensor-oriented dashcam can be used for court evidence or law enforcement purposes. You can get a sensor-oriented dashcam from $100-$200.
8. GPS Tracker Dashcams
GPS tracker dashcams have become popular in recent years and are often used for personal and commercial use. Compared to regular dash cameras, GPS trackers are a little bulkier and noisier in operation. They are mostly installed on trucks as they can record distance traveled, speed, the status of breaks and engine functions. These dashcams use GPS technology to keep track of your driving patterns.
Pros and Cons of Dashcams
1. Parking Mode
Many dashcams have a built-in parking mode that can be activated when the car is parked. This feature helps users in capturing unauthorized people on camera, thereby protecting themselves from any unexpected incidents. When the parking mode is activated, the dashcam can record without a live view on the display, automatically saving recorded footage. However, parking mode needs to be appropriately adjusted for optimum performance. The results of this camera can vary according to the car and its features.
2. Auto-Start Recording
A popular feature of these cameras is the auto start recording option. Usually, dash cams have to be manually turned on at the time you want to start recording. This model, however, automatically turns on when it detects any motion in front of the vehicle.
3. Automatic Videos
Dash cameras record automatically when they detect motion or sound. They can also record only audio or both sound and video at certain frequency intervals. This feature is handy in keeping a record of movements that happen around the car. You don’t need to worry about manually turning it on when needed.
4. GPS Tracking
Dashcams with built-in GPS offers precise location tracking for improved recording and accuracy. People can upload the GPS data onto any computer for easy playback and documentation of their trip, which allows them to record their route for future reference.
5. Power Saving
A lot of dashcams are designed to be highly power efficient. They function according to the working of the engine. In short, they do not drain your car’s battery, which is a feature many users are looking for. These cameras also have auto-start recording and GPS tracking to help save power.
6. Night Vision
Some dash cams are equipped with a feature called night vision, which helps improve the quality of night-time recordings. The night vision includes automatic sensing of high-intensity light and advanced illumination, and it can only be used when recording is done in low light conditions. It is extremely useful in creating clear recordings at night, especially when driving along unfamiliar roads.
7. Wide Angle View
Most high-end dash cams have a wide-angle view to capture footage of the full road in front of the car. With this feature, you can record everything happening in front of your vehicle without blocking your view. This mode is best used at night time or in foggy weather when visibility is less. It ensures the capture of all relevant events in case something happens.
1. No Physical Protection
There is no physical protection offered by these cameras. This means that if the dashcam gets damaged, the footage will be lost. Moreover, you cannot customize settings if it gets damaged in a crash. To protect your dashcams at all times, it’s necessary to have a backup system in place. Many insurance companies also do not support the use of dashcams as they say it does not boost safety.
The installation of a dashboard camera requires specialist expertise and is generally expensive for most users. Additional costs also incur if the dashcam is damaged in an accident. Using dash cameras is not cheap, especially if you are buying one for personal use. The overall cost of a dashcam ranges from $100-$300. Don’t expect them to be affordable anytime soon, especially since the technology needed for making dash cams has to be perfected.
3. Larger Than Usual
Partially due to the need for better equipment, dash cams tend to be larger than the usual ones you find in a car. Their size is meant to provide additional protection for the camera, but some users have found that this makes it difficult to access certain controls while driving.
4. Needs Proper Hardware
Because of the need for better technology, dash cams need to be connected to the car using special wiring. This is because they are large and not designed for traveling. The overall installation process can be complicated, and it also requires professional help.
5. No Warranty
The dashcams that are sold online have no warranty or customer service available through the manufacturer. They are typically made with basic components and, therefore, are not suitable for professional use. It is best to buy extra accessories instead of using the original ones if they do not come with a warranty.
How to Install a Dashcam
1. Mount the camera on the outside of your windshield to get a clear view of the car. You need to have plenty of room for placing it in your dashboard.
2. The best way to mount the camera is to drill holes and bolt them onto the windshield. You can also anchor it to the car’s side or roof through suction cups or sticky tape. Just ensure that it is firm, stable and holds the dash camera firmly.
3. Connecting the dashcam to the car’s battery can cause problems, so it is better to use an alternate power source. You can also connect a power adapter to the camera. This is only applicable if the dash camera requires power.
4. Turn on the parking mode and GPS tracker when installing one in an automobile with these features. The dash camera should be able to auto-start when it detects motion or sound. If not, you need to adjust its settings manually.
5. When you’re done with your trip, make sure the dash camera has been turned off for security reasons. This will prevent it from recording any audio or video data outside the car.
6. Finally, remember that dashcams are not meant to serve as a substitute for the driver’s eye. It is just an additional safety feature to help you stay alert when driving in different cities. In addition, they are meant to record significant events and not your daily commute around town.
Some Popular Dashcam Brands in Market
There are plenty of manufacturers in the market today that high promise functionalities and better products. The most popular brands include:
6. Rexing V1/V2
Dash cams are useful devices for recording everything that happens around your car while driving, which makes them priceless when keeping a record of the road trip. You can use them to monitor a vehicle in parking lots and garages. However, not all dash cams can provide high-quality recordings. As a result, many drivers face a tough time deciding what camera to buy out there.
Q. What is the difference between digital and analog dash cams?
A. Digital dash cams are designed to offer better picture quality when compared to analog ones. Their sensors are also more sensitive and provide clear images of the road ahead. Analog dashcams, on the other hand, can be accessed easily and are simpler to use. They include video outputs that allow users to record the footage and store it onto VHS tapes or DVDs.
Q. Do dashcams capture audio too?
A. Several dashcams are equipped with an inbuilt microphone that records audio along with video footage. You can use the recorded audio as evidence or for legal use. Some cameras can also record audio without the sound of the car’s interior, including the engine.
Q. Can I take a picture using my dashcam?
A. Some dash cameras can take photos when triggered by motion or sound (i.e., parking mode). However, you cannot use them to record or playback videos and pictures that you took on a smartphone or tablet via WiFi without buying an extra adaptor for it.
Q. Is it illegal to use a dashcam in public?
A. The use of dashcams is not illegal in states like Virginia, New York and Florida. However, if you sell or distribute any footage you took through your dashcam, this could be considered a violation of privacy. Also, the use of dashcams without the permission of the owners can lead to fines and lawsuits.