In today’s fast paced world and with our busy lifestyle’s that involve constant rushing around, car accidents are more likely to happen than ever before. If you are the unfortunate victim of a car accident, imagine how much worse it will be if the other driver falsely blames you. Here is where a car dashcam camera will prove invaluable.
Available at a very low cost, dashcam cameras will sit on your screen or rearview mirror and record everything that happens on the road ahead of you. They cleverly just keep recording from when you turn on the ignition until you stop at the end of your journey.
If you are involved in an accident or witness something happening (such as bad driving, another accident, or any other crime) then you can replay/download that footage and send it to the police or your insurance company, or even put up on Youtube to shame the perpetrator.
Dashcams are generally placed on the front windshield (just like a satnav) and record. But there are also rear view cameras available for your car as well. Once you have a camera setup in your vehicle it will make your driving experience a lot less stressfull.
Although dash cameras can be fun as they can record all kinds of incidents and events, the main reason you need a dashboard camera now is for security, as the evidence it will give after any accident or hit-and-run could prove invaluable to your insurance companies or if you end up going to court (although with camera evidence, the chances of going to court will be much less as the guilty party is likely to settle in the face of overwhelming evidence).
Reasons to own a dashboard camera:-
- Use as evidence after an accident
- To record and report road rage incidents
- Any damage caused to your car while parked
- Protect from cash for crash insurance fraudsters
- Catch unusual events and sightings
- Record fun trips and scenic routes
A car dashcam filming idiot drivers
So now that we know how great a dashcam camera is, which one should you buy and what do you need to look for when choosing a dashcam?
The Important Points to Consider
There are a whole host of cameras available with many features, they come from a number of manufacturers such as Garmin, Genesis, Falcon, and so many. The most important features to look for when choosing a car camera are:-
- The lens should be of an high enough resolution to ensure that the quality of the captured video and images are clear even in high traffic/bad weather/low light. If the image quality is not clear, then you could have a problem when assessing any incident during playback.
- The lens should be of wide enough angle so that you will be able to view the full coverage of the road. The wide angle view will provide the maximum road detail.
- The cameras should have plenty of storage capacity so that there will be no disruption when capturing the video of your journey. If the storage is not big enough, then it will start overwriting the beginning of the journey when it runs out of space potentially losing some vital evidence. Usually the cameras have a good storage space and supports external storage by SD card or MMC card.
- The cameras should be fully automatic and switch on and off without you needing to think about it, so that all traffic incidents can be monitored continuously during your trip.
- After buying a camera, it needs to be easy to install. We are looking for easy and quick installation without being cumbersome.
Dashboard cameras come with a wide range of prices from sub $20 to $200 plus, but usually cheap units will come with obious trade-offs. Either the quality will be low and it will be hard to see fine detail in the footage, bad night recording quality, low quality build etc. Some cheap cameras are certainly up to the job though, but on the whole prices increase along with quality and features.
Are Dashboard Cameras Legal?
This will depend on which country it is used in as all laws are different, but if you live somewhere where it is OK to photograph pictures in the street, then dash cams are probably okay too as that’s exactly what they do.
The Essential Dashcam Features
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.
Our Top 3 Dashcam Picks 2015
|Product Name||Garmin Dash Cam 20 Standalone Driving Recorder||Panorama S 2015 edition with updated Sony Exmor||SplashETech Mini 0805 Dash Cam|
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|Model||010-01311-00||PANORAMA 2S/ IIS||MHUK-00001M|
|Where to buy||Click Here To Buy||Click Here To Buy||Click Here To Buy|
Number 1 – Garmin Dash Cam 20 Standalone Driving Recorder
Reliable and easy-to-use HD Driving Recorder with GPS and 2.3-inch LCD display. You can also take still images with the Snapshot feature. An integrated microphone can record sounds inside the vehicle. An incident detection sensor automatically saves footage of collisions and incidents. The GPS feature tracks the exact location and time. Mount the camera to your windshield and record your drive in 1080p, 720p or WVGA. Dash Cam records in a continuous loop, using the included 4 GB microSD™ card.
Click Here To Check Out The Garmin Dash Cam 20 Standalone Driving Recorder Now >>
2nd place – Panorama S 2015 edition with updated Sony Exmor
The Panorama S dashcam records in true 1080 HD at 30FPS and produces a very sharp video. It has a big viewing angle that captures pretty much the entire windscreen view. Add a built in microphone and superb quality of picture both night and day and you have a winning camera.
Click Here To Check Out The Panorama S 2015 edition with updated Sony Exmor Now >>
Runner Up – SplashETech Mini 0805 Dash Cam
The SplashETech Mini 0805 is a very small HD dash cam recorder (1.5 inch screen) that easily mounts to your windshield and is powered by a USB lead. It has a number of options including video quality, recording in a loop or stopping when disk is full, recording at all times or when motion is detected, recording car speed and gps data. The camera records in HD 1080p video on a 120º Wide Angle Lens. The video quality is excellent.
Click Here To Check Out The SplashETech Mini 0805 Dash Cam Now >>