What is a Dash Cam? | Why should you have it?
The dash camera is an instrument that records images, videos, and sounds. Records generated from dash camera can be sent to the police or insurance company. In the event of an accident, you can provide evidence of who is guilty.
How Does the Dashboard Camera Work?
To really know what makes dash cameras specifically made separate from general devices, it’s important to understand how dashcam really works.
Unlike general recording devices with many features, dash cameras have consisted with a few basic components:
- Video camera
- Programmed power input
- Solid-state or removable storage media
The dash camera will turn on when the ignition is on and start recording.
Thus, you can see how this simple device is designed to automatically turn on and start recording every time the car runs without the need for input or interaction at all from the driver.
This is very different from a portable recorder for public use. Even though you can use almost any recording device as a dashboard, you have to turn it on and set it to record every time you enter the car
If you imagine a scenario where it sneaks your mind one day, and you happen to have an accident, it will be easy to see images of specially made devices.
Why Do We Need a Dash Cam?
In general, dashboard camera is mainly used as protection and insurance, but there are many other reasons to get a dash cam.
Protection from insurance fraud
As previously explained, recorded videos can be used to combat the increasing number of insurance fraud claims.
There are still many people who try to fake accidents in exchange for compensation. Sometimes intentionally stepping on the brakes while driving to make a collision.
Although this activity is very not justified, it is very difficult to prove cases without video recordings. However, with a dash cam, this will serve as evidence in your defense. Making you protected from injustice on the road.
Protect your car when parking
Usually, dash cams need the power to run via the 12v socket in your car. However, it works only if the ignition is on.
As you may have guessed some cameras have a feature called Parking Mode. This allows the camera to record when the ignition is off.
This feature will keep the dash cam in a state of hibernation while the vehicle is parked. When motion is detected camera will start recording.
Don’t use parking mode camera if you leave it running inside a parked car on a hot day (above 40 degrees of Celsius). The batteries can be popped due to the heat.
Record interesting and beautiful trips
Dash cams are a popular and safe way to record long and interesting car trips. Whether it’s recording beautiful mountain roads or documenting unforgettable trips, dash cameras can provide high-quality recordings for you to share with friends.
Capture random and unique moments
Car cameras are very good for taking very unique events and once in a lifetime. Many non-erasable videos appear on sites like Youtube and Facebook, showing meteor explosions, tornadoes, snowstorms, and landslides.
Russian meteor explosion in 2013 recorded with dashcam.
Dashcam recordings can help prove your innocence in the event of an accident, avoid costly and painful court fees so some insurance companies offer cheaper insurance if the driver agrees to install a dash cam.
Camera Dashboard Main Features
There are several main features embedded in the dashboard camera, including the following:
The number of pixels on the screen. This is one of the most important things to consider if you are going to buy a dash cam, because the resolution will determine the overall quality of the video. Full HD, or 1080p (1920×1080) is standard for Dash HD cams, but certain cameras such as the Maisi Dash Cam offer superior quality (2304×1296).
Don’t buy a dash camera with resolution 720p. Totally out of date.
You should always try to watch sample footage if possible because some Full HD dash cameras can still capture blurry videos.
Frames Per Second
Often abbreviated as FPS or frame rate, this is the number of images played back per second. The average frame rate is 30fps, but there are some cameras that can offer 60fps.
Higher frame rates give results for smooth video, but usually, cameras that offer 60fps will limit the resolution to 720p.
It’s up to you whether you want a higher resolution or frame rate for your video. Most cameras that offer the 60fps feature usually allow you to switch between 720p @ 60fps, and 1080p @ 30fps. We recommend testing both settings to see what you want.
Some cameras will offer a wider viewing angle than others. This allows the camera to record more from each side of the road. Cameras with wide-angle lenses will usually take the entire width of the road, and see the car overtake much earlier than the standard lens.
This feature is very important because being hit from the side is one of the most common accidents on the highway.
Night Vision / WDR
The majority of cameras will offer night vision mode, but not all cameras can handle while driving at night. For this reason, we recommend watching footage from the camera before you buy.
WDR stands for Wide Dynamic Range and implies that the camera can handle bright and dark conditions and improve quality of freeze frame. In recent years, even cheap models have been supplied with the “WDR” function such as CarCam Tiny, Prestige DVR-390, and DVR-478.
All valuable cameras have a built-in Gravity Sensor, which detects sudden changes in direction and saves recorded videos. It’s very important to automatically protect your accident record.
Recommended to avoid cameras without a G-Sensor because you cannot rely on pressing a button in the event of an accident. Most cameras will have different sensitivity for G-Sensors. It’s best to experiment with your camera
The majority of cameras record in video loops, usually between 1 and 10 minutes (this option can be changed in the menu for most cameras).
When your memory card is loaded, the dash cam will start automatically overwriting the oldest recordings to save space on the card. If G-Sensor detects an impact, or the driver manually activates an emergency recording mode (usually by pressing the button), the current loop will be stored as a whole.
It’s usually a good idea to record in a 3 or 5-minute loop because this allows you to see the events that caused the accident. If you want to record the entire trip, we recommend turning off loop recording mode.
Manual Emergency Key Button
Similar to the G-Sensor, the emergency lock button allows the driver to protect video recordings. This is useful for storing events where the G-Sensor is not activated, such as watching dangerous driving, people pulling away, or other interesting events.
Date & Time Stamp
Some cameras will stamp the date and time in the lower corner of your video recording.
This is useful for determining the time of the accident and provides strong evidence if needed. For this reason, it is recommended to activate this feature.
However, if you want to record an interesting trip, turning off the date and time stamp will make the recording cleaner.
A MicroSD card is used to store video recorded. Each dash cam will need a microSD card but often requires a specific one. For most cameras, a Class 10 microSD card like the Samsung 32GB Evo will be suitable, but you have to check before buying it.
Every time the recording is overwritten, the SD card is slightly damaged. Therefore each microSD card will have a limited lifespan, although some are built to be more durable (Transcend Ultimate).
Some of the best Cams dashboards will require faster microSD cards like the SanDisk Extreme 32GB Class 10, for recording at higher resolutions.
Most dash cam only provides one camera, but there are several models that provide two cameras.
Usually, one camera will face forward, while the other will face the cabin, or exit the rear window.
This feature is very useful for taxi drivers and Uber and may be mandatory for some taxi businesses.
Because getting hit from behind is one of the most common and hard to prove accidents, rear cam, and dual dash are becoming more popular.
Each dual dash cam will offer the possibility of different settings, so check with each model before buying. Be sure to read the specifications, because the front and rear dash cams at lower prices will offer a lower resolution with a second camera.
Parking Mode / Motion Detection
As I said before most cameras will offer a kind of motion detection feature, to protect your car when parked. When set, the camera will automatically start recording whenever motion is detected.
Some advanced features that might be interesting to consider in choosing a dash cam are as follows
Many dash cameras have GPS features. The GPS feature also allows you to see detailed speed, making it very useful as evidence.
Some dash cam has the ability to create Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing you to download or stream video files to mobile devices. Although this sounds like a good feature, the download speed is often very slow compared to PC transfers.
The Path Departure Warning System is designed to warn drivers if their vehicle starts off track. This is a great feature to overcome the problem of driver fatigue and can be a savior, especially if you drive for hours.
- Forward Collision Warning
Will detect when an incident will occur, and notify the driver.
- Speed Alarm
Warning you if you speed is high.
Definitely, a dashboard camera is a very useful tool and we recommend to use it.