Dashboard cameras or dash cams are not whimsical car accessories to dress up your vehicles; they are additional components that can be used to protect and safeguard you for insurance purposes, inform you of your speed and location, and provide you with some level of peace of mind that major events can be accurately captured in video to resolve disputes and arguments. In addition, you can store great bonding moments with family and friends. In our search for the best dashboard camera in the market, we focused primarily on entry level to mid-priced units. However before going into the nitty-gritty of dash cams, there is one common thought that many consumers dwell upon: Why not just use a regular video camera? After all, it is more affordable and can even be used in and out of the vehicle.
Compared to a basic video camera, the dash cam is a smarter appliance. Unlike most video cameras, the dash cameras are able to split video files into smaller files of 1 to 3 minutes so that when your memory card has been maximized, the oldest short files will be deleted so you always have space for new recordings. This is what is called loop recording. On the other hand, you can also opt to save critical files so they are not deleted automatically.
Best 5 Dashboard Cameras For Car
|Dashboard Camera||HD Format||Viewing Angle||Price|
|1. THINKWARE TW-F750||1080P||149 degrees||$$$|
|2. Garmin Dash Cam 35||1080P||N/A||$$|
|3. Swann DriveEye 150DCM||1080P||160 degrees||$|
|4. Magellan MiVue 538||1080P||130 degrees||$|
|5. Cobra CDR-895D||1800P||140 degrees||$$|
Looking at technical specs for the dash cam can be confusing because of the wide and varied choices and add-ons. Here is a brief summary of the features you might want to consider when looking at dash cameras:
Auto Power On/Off – This is a standard feature found in top-of-the-line dash cam units, although you can manually disconnect/plug it in whenever you want using your vehicle’s cigarette lighter. Alternately, an adaptor may also power up the dash cam if your cigarette lighter
Parking Mode or Buffered Parking Mode – If your vehicle gets hit while parked, the dash cam will automatically turn on to record the event. However, in buffered parking mode, the dash cam does not power off when you are parked. This allows a greater chance of capturing an event as it happens.
Auto Record – This feature allows the dash cam to automatically start recording once the car starts moving.
LCD Screen and Image Correction – Most dash cams are equipped with high resolution (HD) LCD screens [1080p or 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is five times more detailed than standard definition (SD)]. An HD dash cam with a wide angle lens is able to capture a minimum of 30 frames/second (FPS) to a maximum of 60 FPS. The best dash cam is able to manipulate the lighting and correct the image while recording. Thus, you can have clear video files even under low light conditions.
Instant Playback – This feature allows quick access to recently-recorded footage.
G-Sensor – This sensor allows a dash cam to automatically save footages based on possible signs of collisions.
Motion Detection – Able to detect motion to warn and help drivers when parking rear end first or when switching lanes.
Single or Dual Channel – Single channel refers to one camera (front windshield only), while dual channel means there are two cameras (front windshield and rear interior or rear window).
Global Positioning System (GPS) – Not all dash cams come with GPS. Usually, the lower-priced and smaller units do not have this feature. That being said, there are dash cams without this feature but still allow you to connect to an external GPS device. While it is doable, having an extra device in addition to your dash cam might take up extra space that may clutter your dashboard.
Other Important Aspects About the Dash Cam
In the United States, the dash cam is a legitimate car accessory. However, there are legal aspects about installing a dash cam that car owners should be aware of:
First, it is illegal to record a conversation when passengers are not aware they are being recorded. This falls under the “surreptitious audio recording law,” also known as the Digital Media Law.
Second, the dash cam cannot and should not obscure the view of the driver or front passenger. In most states, the general rule is that the dash cam can only occupy five square inches from the driver’s side and seven square inches from the passenger’s side. To be on the safe side, do check with your local authorities.
Third, while loop recording automatically deletes footage by writing over it, it is still highly recommended to manually clean and format the memory card every two weeks using the car dash camera’s format menu option. Without doing so, dash cams may start displaying error messages, which is something that can happen whenever a memory card is close to being maxed out.
Fourth, most of the time a dash cam with a built-in screen cannot be turned on when you are driving as it can distract the driver. There are exceptions to this law, however, such as providing parking information and status of vehicle.