When you think of a camera you usually think of a gadget that is designed to take great pictures, record videos and basically captures moments you would want to relive one-day. There are several reasons for buying a Dashboard camera, here we are providing you a complete Dash Cam Buying Guideline. It serves as a wonderful companion for your everyday life and special moments. But unlike a regular camera, a Dash Cam’s job is a bit more serious. A dash cam also records events but not only for entertainment purposes. It serves as an excellent device that records everything that takes place in your vehicle, while you are on the road or even parked somewhere. Now if you have been thinking of purchasing a dash cam then there are a few things you should know about the device before cashing out and we are here to provide you with all the information you need. A complete dashcam buying guide is important when you make a decision to buy a dashcam. By the end of this article, you will hopefully know a lot more about the device so you can choose the best model when you go shopping for one. We have also included some FAQs and mentioned some solid reasons as to why you need a dash cam for your car, just in case you are still deciding on the idea of purchasing one. So, let’s get on with it.
What is a Dash Cam?
While it might seem like the answer is very obvious ‘A dash cam is a camera which you place on and record from the dashboard of your car’, it does not exactly explain what a dashcam really is, or rather why it is not merely just a camera sitting on the dashboard of your car. The correct answer to that would be that a dash cam is a device that you can install, either on the dashboard (hence the name) or attach to the windshield or at any preferred point inside a vehicle to record everything that is taking place in or around the vehicle. Although it can serve as a nice device to record a memorable trip or beautiful outdoor scenery, the main purpose of a dash cam is to record events which can be used as evidence later on.
There are a few more ways in which a dash cam operates differently from a regular cam. Let us take a look at three of those ways:
•Designed to constantly record when supplied with power – so it is an auto start and auto stop, almost like CC cameras which we install in our homes or buildings.
•Can be fixed to the vehicle’s electric system (wired) or connected via the power adapter (cigarette lighter)this eliminates the need for extra batteries.
•Overwrites old data to create space for new recordings.
How does it work?
Dash cams do not have any fancy features or buttons/switches on them. As they are only wired to circuits that become hot when the ignition key is turned on, they automatically start recording whenever they are powered on and switch off when the power dies. As mentioned above, you can have your dash cam placed on the dashboard or even behind the rear view mirror or any place discreet. If you want to transfer your recorded files to your computer then do so while it is still available because dash cams tend to record over any old files once it reaches the end of its memory storage capability.
Common Features of a Dash Cam
Although there isn’t much you can do with a dash cam and they do not have any complicated buttons or functions, there are still some important things you need to look for in your dash cam to get the best out of it. Remember a dash cam is meant to assist you with important evidence so it should not fail you in times of need. Check out the following things that you need to look for in a dash cam.
Depending on the reason as to why you wish to place a dash cam in your car, you can decide on if you want it to be discreet or out in the open. Smaller dash cams are easily be hidden but they are a little difficult to operate, whereas the larger ones can be viewed openly but are much easier to operate. If you want to record something as evidence and feel that the visibility of a dash cam may hamper your chance of collecting the evidence then you can go for a smaller sized dash cam. For general use, a normally sized dash cam will serve you well too.
This is probably the most important thing to look for when picking a dash cam. The video quality must be higher than average and preferably shoot at a high definition of 720p or 1080p. Non HD cameras may be cheap but they will not be able to capture moments in the right way and maybe even not serve their purpose right. Dash cams that record in decent HD quality are luckily not that expensive so just a few bucks can actually make a lot of difference in the long run.
To check if your camera can actually record well you can do the following two things before purchase (that is if you have the opportunity to test a product before buying):
•Record and watch night time videos. The quality of the print is usually good even with cheap cameras when you record during the day so it will be wise to see how it performs in low light or at night. You never know when you need to capture a moment and if an incident occurs at night you will need your camera to be able to record everything in details.
•Check out the recording angle. Your dash cam must record every angle accurately because if the angle if not right you may lose out on crucial footage.
Lenses are usually made of optical glass or resin. High-end dash cams usually have all-glass lenses with a metal body. Some even come with multiple layers of the lens but those are rather expensive. Get a dash cam that offers a wide recording angle so you can cover a lot of areas, in the front and as well as the side lanes.
This feature is only available in the expensive models but they provide you with more information on footage than cameras without a built-in GPS. The GPS records everything starting from the date, time, location, speed and even route of an incident so you have more details which can come in handy. If you can afford the extra cost then this is a great feature to have.
Another useful feature, that is usually only available in the high-end models. With Wi-Fi connectivity, you do not even need your dash cam to have a built-in screen because you can easily have it connected to your laptop or cell phone and share the footage or directly run the footage from the connected device. This also increases accessibility and eliminates the need for card removal.
In most cases, you will have to purchase a memory card for your dash cam. The size support can differ from model to model but most of them support up to 32 GB, with a few models supporting up to 128 GB. Keep in mind that videos with high resolution take up more space than videos recorded with lower quality. The amount of area you cover and the time you spend every day while driving must also be taken into consideration when deciding on the storage size.
If you want your dash cam to keep recording even when your car is parked or left attended to then look for this feature on your dash cam. A lot of unfortunate incidents can take place when you are not in your car like vandalism, theft or accidental bumps and if your dash cam comes with the parking mode feature then you can easily track back to what actually happened. This allows you to keep an eye on your vehicle and its surroundings even without being present at the scene.
You will need a device that will not be easily damaged. Imagine driving for hours in hot weather or leaving your car parked under the sun with your dash cam exposed to the heat. If the device is not built well the extreme heat can hamper the video quality, cause sensor burns and damage the body of the dash cam as a whole.
One of the best ways to know how well the device performs is to read as many reviews from actual users as possible. Most selling sites, shops and manufacturers will only have good things to say about their products so it is best to find out from people who have experienced the product first hand.
Benefits of Owning a Dashboard Camera
It provides solid proof of an accident
Owning a car leads to getting into accidents if we aren’t careful enough. However, a lot of times, even when we are being careful, our vehicle still gets damaged by the reckless driving of others. And a majority of times, these hit and run drivers either manage to get away with their crime or if they get caught, they deny it immediately or worse, blame it on you. Owning a dash cam will prevent this from happening to you as it records everything continuously from the moment you turn on your engine until the moment you turn it off. If you ever get caught in a situation like the one mentioned above, simply show the traffic police your dash cam recording, and you won’t have to pay a fine for a hit and run you didn’t commit. Other than that, if, while you are driving, you come across an accident, your dash cam will record that as well. To put it simply, these cameras will provide you with firm evidence for any crime or accident that you come across while you’re on the road.
If you live in an unsafe neighborhood or if your house doesn’t have a garage and you have to park your car outside, you will find yourself constantly fretting about it getting stolen. But, thanks to the invention of dash cams, you don’t have to worry about it any longer! Most of these cameras have a GPS system installed in them, which makes it easier for the police to track down your stolen car and bring it back to you. In the same way, if you lend your car to a friend and want to make sure your car is being taken care of properly every time your friend takes it, you can simply just watch the pre-recorded videos in your dash cam and then decide whether lending your car to someone else again would be good for your car or not.
Keeps you alert
There are high-end dual-lens dash cams that have a camera facing towards the driver as well. These cameras have sensors and alarms installed in them to notify the driver when he/she is dozing off or when their eyes aren’t on the road. This prevents accidents from taking place on your behalf. What it does is, it constantly scans your face and right when it notices even a subtle change in your posture which hints that you are dozing off, an alarm goes off, thus waking you up and keeping you on edge the whole time. The same thing happens when the camera notices that your eyes are drifting away from the road.
Record your memories
When you’re on a road trip with your friends or family, and you’re having a good time, you’d want to remember the time spent clearly even after a few years from now. Filming the whole trip on your regular camera or phone takes up a lot of memory and it gets tiring after a while as well. A lot of times, the best moments are left out, provided that you weren’t filming the trip then. By having a dash cam present in the car, you will be able to record all the times spent and relive the best moments as many times as you want, whenever you feel like it. Moreover, if you forget your way back home from your vacation spot, you can watch the dash cam recordings of the trip to your vacation spot, and find out how to get home. The GPS installed in the dash cam enables you to send out your location status and get help faster if your car breaks down in the middle of the road and you have no idea where you are. Plus, if it’s already late at night, and you’re still driving towards your destination, you can find a place to stay in for the night quickly by using the map provided by the dash cam. A lot of dash cams are able to connect to your Wi-Fi network. Although these dash cams are a bit more expensive, they enable you to connect them to your phone or laptop and watch the footage. You can also share the footage with others if you want to.
If you have children or a younger sibling or other family members who you’re taking care of, and you went out of the car to run some errands, only to return and find out that they are missing, or if they went out to play in the park while you sit in the car and watch or wait, you can still keep an eye on them and your surroundings. In case if anything bad happens to them, or if they suddenly disappear without a trace, you will know where to look for evidence. Watching the video that was filmed the whole time while you were in the car and your kids were outside or vice versa, might lead you to the cause of their disappearance, or at least provide you with a little bit of information on that matter. This will make work easier for the police, and your children will be returned to you in no time. However, it’s better if you accompany children whenever they go somewhere, unless you have something important to do, like completing a research or creating a file before a meeting which will force you to stay in the car cause, better safe than sorry, right?
Reasonable and worthy
Long ago, dash cams were only used by professionals and police officers due to their high price. But in recent years, the price of dash cams has dropped considerably and almost everyone who has a car is installing one. These cameras are, no doubt, one of the best ways to prevent accidents from happening to you or your loved ones. They are extremely helpful, reasonable and come in a variety of models. Many dash cams also have an audible notification system that will keep you updated on every piece of information that involves your camera without delay. Aren’t dash cams an amazing asset to possess?
Where can I buy a Dash Cam?
If you do not want to get scammed then be careful when deciding on where to purchase your camera from. You can get yours from a local vendor if they are trustworthy and reputable or you could check out some online dealers from countries like China and Korea. The drawback with online dealers is that you have to buy directly from them and they hardly provide you with any warranty or protection. If you prefer to purchase online then you can also check out sites like Amazon, eBay, and Aliexpress which offer decent buyer protection and return policies. Another advantage of these online sites is that you can read reviews from customers on them. Expect to pay a little more than when buying directly from online dealers though.
Where Should I Begin?
We understand that getting a dash cam for the first time may be a little overwhelming and with so many kinds available in the market you may feel lost. To make things easier we would recommend that you start by surfing the internet and looking through sites like Amazon and eBay (or any other well-reputed selling site). Take your time and compare products, read their pros and cons and customer reviews to get a better idea of what to expect. You can also check out the price range this way, especially if you have a budget to follow. You can also check out some local stores if you wish to test the cameras before buying. Whatever you do, take your time and do some research.
Having a dash cam installed in your car will be extremely beneficial when you need to provide evidence of any accident or fraud to the police. They serve as a fantastic ‘onlooker’ and can capture moments which are not possible to record with a phone or a regular camera while driving. The constant recording ensures that you miss nothing important while you are on the road or even parked somewhere that turns out to be a crime scene. Affordable and easy to use, dash cams are a must have for all vehicles.
Frequently Asked Questions:
»»»What is the difference between a single-lens and dual-lens dash cam?
A single-lens dash cam records from one camera lens, usually facing the front. This is mainly used to record everything that is taking place in front of the vehicle. The dual-lens camera has two camera lenses, one for the front and one to record what’s happening at the back. If you wish to keep an eye on what is going on inside your car as well as on the road ahead then you must get a dual-lens dash camera.
»»»Can I install a dash cam on my own?
It is not very difficult to install a dash cam. You will first have to insert a memory card and then mount the device where appropriate. The camera will have an instruction booklet to help you through the process.
»»»Do dash cams have inbuilt batteries?
Some do but they are not designed to provide the camera with power for long. Dash cams get their power from the vehicle but if your camera has a built-in battery then the backup battery can help with continuous recording in case the car cannot provide any power for some reason.
»»»Are dashcams expensive?
No, they are no longer that expensive. Even a few years ago dash cams were only used by the police or on vehicles that required high protocol but since the drop in prices, a lot of people are having the device installed in their cars.
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