What to look for when buying a Dash Cam. What to consider
Why should I buy a dash cam?
You've seen them on the news, crime shows on TV and even viral sensations on social media platforms, but what is all the fuss when it comes to having a dashcam hooked up to your car? As the eyes on your dash board, dash cameras record everything that unfolds in-front and or behind your car as you're driving so that even in the heat of the moment, no information or detail is left un-documented. For a deeper insight into the benefits of dash camera ownership and why you need one, here are five reasons you should consider buying a dash cam:
You can have cold, hard evidence of a car accident.This is the number one reason that people buy and install dash cams in their cars. Whether you or another road user is involved in a collision, your dash cam can record every moment of the event including the details leading up to the crash. Whether you need to prove that a collision wasn't your fault, take note of license plates or even provide evidence of road signs to contest incorrect traffic offences, a dash cam is the only truly legal, fool-proof way to record the necessary info. Without proper video evidence, the other driver may claim that the fault was entirely yours even if this was not the case. A dashboard camera is your best friend and the most effective method of proof when it comes to collisions.
You can prevent car park damageWith the correct dash cam set up and necessary features (we will go into this later), you can record evidence even when your car is switched off and parked. Have you ever walked out to your car in the car park to find scratches or dents with no note or evidence of who caused damage to your beloved car? With loop recording or G-force sensor equipped dashboard cameras, you can record important details of pesky motorists who damage your parked car and have them repaired without spending your hard-earned dollars.
You can record your entire road trip!If you're fond of coastal road trips or camping adventures in the mountains, you can use your car dash cam to record a point-of-view video of the entire drive and transform it into a permanent memory. For those with an extra creative touch and some video editing know-how, you can even add this video to more footage for a complete documentary of your trip to share with friends and family! For this application, we recommend investing in a dash cam with great resolution capabilities, so the image doesn't go blurry when viewed on the big screen. A 4K-capable dash cam will do wonders here.
You can report bad drivers who are breaking the lawWe've all seen people disobeying speed limits, traffic lights, stop signs or even littering. With use of your phone while driving illegal, its difficult to record important details to bring these drivers to justice. With a dash cam you can easily recall the necessary information to report reckless and irresponsible drivers all in the name of making the roads safer.
Instantly capture photos at the scene of a crashWhether you need to document photos of the damage after a car crash, send a photo to your mechanic when broken down on the side of the road or even just take some happy snaps on your road trip, some dash cameras are equipped with a digital display and photo mode. Dash cameras with photo mode put a high-quality, compact, digital camera right in the palm of your hand so you can record detailed evidence of any traffic mishaps or holiday highlights.
What should I look for when choosing a dash cam?
4K Ultra HD Video Recording
4K recording capability is ideal in all situations when it comes to using your dash cam. The extra detail is ideal for recording clear and precise footage of number plates, street signs and other road details. This comes in handy when you need to make a claim and important detail is out of range for lower quality dash cam units. The high resolution allows you to crop and zoom in on footage without losing detail and pixelating important information. Alternatively, if you're keen to record your next road trip or take some happy snaps in photo mode, it's always nice to have a bit more detail and a cleaner, clearer looking image or video to show your friends and family. If a 4K dash cam simply doesn't fit within your budget, we recommend opting for a unit that can record in at least 1080p as anything lower than this severely compromises on recording detail.
With a basic dash cam set-up, you can have great eyes on the road at all times, recording everything that unfolds in front of you. However, what happens if you get rear-ended at a stop sign or are being aggressively tail gated on the freeway? Since most dash cams only record what's in front of you, events unfolding behind your vehicle can be difficult or even impossible to prove when filing a report. A two-channel front and rear dash camera system comes with a front camera just like other set-ups, however it also includes an additional rear dash cam which is mounted to the rear window to record events occurring behind the vehicle. According to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration states that rear-end crashes are the most common type of traffic collision and make up approximately 29% of all car crashes which is why you need to have a dual dash camera covering both ends of your car.
Impact motion sensors
On-board G-sensors and motion sensors play an important role in controlling your dash cam and ensuring that footage is recorded and saved when you need it the most. On most dash cams, motion sensors are used to mark in your footage when a collision or emergency braking event has occurred which tells the dash cam to start recording or instantly save the footage of the event. This ensures that footage is collected to strengthen your claim and confirm details of the incident without data being lost or recorded over.
This is an elaboration on the previous point of motion sensors as this function generally uses the same hardware to operate in parking mode. Parking mode allows the camera to operate in standby, it remains on and ready to record at the drop of the hat, however it won't needlessly record stationary footage in the carpark or overwrite footage when in loop mode. Motion sensors will detect the need to start recording in the event that your car is hit, bumped, scratched or even if someone is attempting to break in. The use of parking mode usually requires installation of the dash cam to be hard-wired to the car, if your dash cam did not come with a hard wiring kit, most popular brands offer this separately.
In the digital age where everything is instant and hard-copy media is pretty much obsolete, it is imperative to have important documents stored safely and backed up properly. With WiFi enabled dashcams, you can easily take footage from your dashcam and save it to your phone, computer, cloud storage or other storage options by simply connecting your chosen device to the dash cam via WiFi. This limits the need for annoying memory card readers and means that you can access your footage instantly on the road without the need to head home to the computer, remove the memory card and load up your footage. Some models even have the capability to control important functions and change settings via your phone, giving your full control of your dash cam from the palm of your hand.
When buying your dash cam, make sure to keep an eye out for all of the other handy features which make these the ideal companion for your daily driver and classic weekend cruiser alike. Deciding which features are best suited to your application makes choosing a dash cam for you much easier. Here's a quick run-down on some of the other features you can expect to encounter when selecting your dash cam.
Dash cams which are cloud-enabled can automatically upload footage to an off-site cloud-based storage system which means your recordings are safe even if your dash cam becomes damaged in an accident, lost or experiences a hardware failure. Some dash cams will require you to upload this footage manually, however some offer this as an automatic function.
We've spoken about WiFi connectivity already, but if the best possible upload speeds are important to you, keep your eyes out for a 5G enabled dash cam. 5G technology offers fast download speeds when exporting dash cam footage to your phone or other devices.
GPS tracking allows your vehicle's exact location to be tracked and timestamped, over-layed onto your footage. With this information you can confirm accurately the speed you or other drivers are travelling which can be useful in legal battles or court cases.
Angle of view
Also referred to as field of view, this is the number measured in degrees which indicates how much your dashcam can see. For example, a 160 degree field of view will see further outwards (wider) than a dash cam with just a 100 degree field of view.
Built-in ultra-sensitive microphones can be used to record audio from within the cabin and vehicle surrounds in the instance that a window is lowered.
Hand gesture control
Fiddling around with tiny buttons on a dash camera can be a pain, that's why you should look out for a dash camera with hand gesture control. This allows you to take photos, save recordings, start recording and actuate heaps of other functions with the simple wave of a hand without taking your eyes off the road.
Dashboard cameras with built in screens offer many benefits including ease of set-up, no guesswork with how the camera is aimed as you can see in real-time what the camera will see. Easy play-back of footage on the device and a more user-friendly photo-mode are some of the other great features of built-in displays. Some units even offer touch screen displays for easy navigation of menus and set-up screens.
Loop recording is a feature which ensures that your dash cam won't simply stop recording when the memory card is full. Once it reaches maximum capacity, the recording process starts again, erasing previous footage to make space. This means you won't miss a moment and files which have been protected manually, with hand gesture controls or automatically by impact sensors will not be erased as they are protected.
Included SD card
Your dash cam is useless without an SD card to store the footage on. Some units are supplied with an SD card, however without one you will have to factor this in at an extra cost. For 4K units you will need a larger SD card as this footage will take up much more space. We recommend an SD card with at least 16GB capacity for most units and at least 32GB for a 4K enabled dash cam.
Since all dashboard cams mount inside the car, it is important to maintain a clean windscreen in order to allow the dashcam to function correctly. Built-up dirt, road grime or salt spray can severely compromise the performance of your dash cam. Without a clear windscreen the camera will struggle to record the finer details you need from the footage such as license plates. We recommend keeping on top of this with a quality windscreen cleaner and even a water repellent solution to prevent rain build-up from blocking the camera. This is also a great idea for reversing cameras and sensors on your vehicle.