Dash Cams, your onboard unbiased witness.
Dash Cams are becoming more popular and are an important accessory for any driver on today’s roads.
Dash Camera is a video camera used for recording incidents during driving a vehicle. It’s usually mounted on the windshield of a vehicle.
There are 2 features that even the most basic models of Dash-Cams offer over traditional video cameras – it starts and stops automatically and records videos in a continuous loop when you start your car and shuts off automatically when you turn your car off.
Also referred to as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR), a Dash Cam is intended to record an accident or other driving incidents so that it can be used as evidence for supporting insurance claims, road rage or defend against traffic violations.
Premium Dash Cameras today come with a lot of advanced features to not only ensure driving safety and protection against vehicle accidents, traffic infractions and fraud, now also feature Driver Assist functions like lane departure and collision warnings.
Another very popular feature with the Premium Dash Cams is Park mode, allowing a quality Dash Cam to continue recording while your vehicle is parked.
Most of the premium Dash Cams are manufactured in Korea. Pricing, features, performance, and reliability vary widely between different manufacturers, brands and models.
Even the buying preference varies with one’s requirements, budget, and usage. So, this guide does not intend to recommend any specific Dash Cam to the reader. Instead, it intends to equip you with the information that would enable you to decide the best dash camera for you all on your own.
Here is what you should look for while buying a dashboard camera.
1 CHANNEL VS. 2 CHANNEL DASHCAMS
Many of the Dash Cams are designed to record incidents only on the front of your vehicle but if you also want to record incidents on the rear of your vehicle (say, for example, someone trying to intimidate you by driving closely behind your car), you need to buy a 2-channel camera. A 2 channel unit will have front and rear Cameras.
Video quality will help you capture more details like car license plate numbers and people’s faces.
You may not notice much difference in day time recording, but the real test begins at night. In order to have clear videos during nighttime and in low light conditions, your Dash Mam will need to have good dynamic range, higher ISO, or with most premium brands now offering super night vision to give quality usable vision captured in poor lighting situations.
The quality of videos mostly depends upon image sensor with many of the Premium Dash Cams featuring the high-quality Sony STARVIS image sensor and also have image stability to offer a higher quality video file. Glass lenses are considered far better than plastic lenses. Field of view of the lens decides how wide your camera can capture.
Most Dash Cams also features audio recording capability (Note: Some dash cams do not give you the flexibility to turn off the mic). So, look out for these features if you are particular about recording sound as well. Some Dash Cams have the feature a standalone button that allows you to turn off the audio recording with the click of a button, rather than having to scroll through a menu. This comes in handy if you have audio recording turned off and want to easily turn it on during a police traffic stop for example.
G-SENSOR AND AUTOMATIC INCIDENT RECORDING
G-Sensor detects impacts and unusual movement in the vehicle and stores the incident in a separate folder on the SD making it easier to find the file. Apart from automatic recording, it also locks the footage against deletion during looping. When your memory card is full and the camera is recording over it again, the file that was involved in the accident or impact will be saved and protected. It’s a very useful feature for monitoring the environment while the vehicle is parked.
Parking mode allows you to record an incident like vandalizing or a hit and run case when your vehicle is parked. Check out how parking mode is to be activated in your Dash Cam – some cams have automatic activation, some through pressing a button, and others through a menu.
GPS AND ADVANCED DRIVING ASSISTANCE SYSTEM (ADAS)
GPS adds time and location details to the footage. Dash Cams supporting GPS may either have it as an inbuilt unit or as an optional add on module to be purchased separately. GPS unit usually also has several ADAS features integrated with it. Most popular among them are Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) and speed alerts.
CAPACITOR POWER and BATTERY BACK UP
A Dash Cam can use either a capacitor or a battery as a backup to save files when it stops receiving power from the vehicle.
Capacitor based cameras are more resistant to heat and are thus more suitable for use in extreme temperatures. They are also more reliable when compared to battery-powered cameras.
One common misconception among new dashcam buyers is that the battery is meant to power the unit in a similar way as a digital camera battery would. This is not the case. Dashcam batteries are not meant to be used to power the unit while recording video, the battery is only meant to keep the camera on for a few seconds to save the video file after you have turned your car off.
Dash Cams are usually attached to the windshield of your vehicle using either suction mount or tape/adhesive mount. A suction cup mount is reusable and easier to detach but if not strong enough, it may vibrate and even come down over time. Suction cup mounts work well if you want to completely remove your dashcam setup on a daily basis, but they may fall off often in higher heat and direct sunlight. Some dash cameras are designed to be attached on the mirror instead of the windshield. These can either be built-in in the mirror (which will require mirror replacement) or can be attached using a mirror grip or a mirror clamp. The team at Sound Garage recommend a more permanent setup like a dashcam with a mount that uses a self-sticking adhesive for the mount. Although the mount may not easily be removed, your dashcam will be able to be taken on and off of the mount with ease, only leaving the stuck on the mount.
Some dash cams use a USB cable while others use a power port. Sound Garage recommends the high-end cameras that come with accessories like car power adapter, wire clips, and card reader. Some choose to have their dash camera hard-wired into their car, where the power connection from the dashcam is spliced directly into the wiring of the car. Hardwiring your dashcam into your car is usually best left to the professionals to do and not recommended for a first-time buyer.
Apart from above, other considerations that may go into your buying decision may include ease of menu/navigation, kind of warning/notification system, startup time, WiFi connectivity, physical durability, memory card compatibility, price, warranty, and customer support.
Always use caution when buying a dashcam on person to person marketplaces like eBay, as there are many counterfeit dashcams being sold using false claims on the specs of the cam.
Sound Garage only use legitimate suppliers and products to ensure our clients get the best results. We have a fully equipped workshop to ensure all installations are carried out to the highest standards