What is a Dash Cam? | Why should you have it?

A dashboard camera (dash cam) is an instrument that records images, videos, and sounds. Records generated from the camera can be sent to the police or insurance company in the event of an accident. It can help provide evidence of who is guilty.

How Dash Camera Works

It is important to understand how the camera works to know what makes it different from other similar devices. Unlike other general recording devices with many features, dash cameras have just a few essential components which include:

  • Video camera
  • Programmed power input
  • Solid-state or removable storage media

The dash camera will automatically turn on and start recording whenever the ignition is on. It is designed to start recording every time the car runs without any input or interaction from the driver. This makes the camera very different from other portable recorders used by the public. 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. A problem will arise if you forget to turn it on one day and you have an accident. It will then be difficult for you to provide photo/video evidence of how the accident occurred.

Why You Need A Dash Cam?

In general, the camera is used for protection and to provide genuine evidence when claiming your car insurance. However, there are many other reasons to get a dash cam.

Protection from insurance fraud

As explained earlier, 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. Some people have been found to intentionally step on the brakes while driving to make a collision. This activity is very not justified and is usually difficult to prove without video recordings. However, you had an actual accident, and you had a dash cam, the recorded video will serve as evidence in your defense. The dash cam will help protect you from injustice on the road.

Protect your car while parking

Usually, dash cams need electric 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 feature allows the camera to record when the ignition is turned off. The dash cam will be in a state of hibernation while the vehicle is parked. If any motion is detected, it will start recording.

Do not use the parking mode of the camera if you will park your car in a hot place (above 40 degrees Celsius). The batteries can be popped due to heat.

Record interesting and beautiful trips

Dash cameras are a popular and safe way to record long and exciting trips. Whether it is the recording of beautiful mountains, roads, or documenting those unforgettable trips, dash cameras can provide high-quality recordings which you can share with friends.

Capture random and unique moments

Car cameras are perfect for recording or documenting those unique and once-in-a-lifetime events. Many non-erasable videos such as meteor explosions, tornadoes, snowstorms, and landslides which were recorded with dash cameras have appeared on websites like YouTube and Facebook.

Russian meteor explosion in 2013 recorded with dashcam.

Lowering insurance

Dash cam recordings can help prove your innocence in the event of an accident, and avoid costly and painful court fees. Also, some insurance companies offer cheaper insurance if the driver agrees to install a dash cam.

Main Features Of Dash Camera

There are several features embedded in the dash camera. They include the following:

Video Resolution

Video Resolution signifies the number of pixels on the screen. It is one of the most important things to consider if you want to buy a dash cam. This is because the resolution will determine the overall quality of the video. The Full HD or 1080p (1920×1080) is the standard resolution for Dash HD cams. However, certain cameras such as the Maisi Dash Cam offer superior quality (2304×1296).

Don’t buy a dash camera with a resolution of 720p. That is out of date.

You should always try to watch sample footage of the camera if possible. This is because some Full HD dash cameras can still capture blurry videos.

Frames Per Second

This is often abbreviated as FPS or frame rate. It is the number of images played back per second. The average frame rate is 30fps, but some cameras can offer 60fps.

As a general rule, the higher the frame rate, the better the video. Usually, cameras that offer 60fps will limit the resolution to 720p.

It is up to you to determine if 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.

Viewpoint

Some cameras will offer a wider viewing angle than others. The viewpoint 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. This will help capture any oncoming car 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 a night vision mode. However, not all cameras can handle 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.

G-Sensor

All valuable cameras have a built-in Gravity Sensor which can detect sudden changes in direction and save any recorded video. It is very important to protect your accident recordings automatically.

We recommend that you avoid cameras without a G-Sensor. This is because you cannot rely on pressing a button when an accident is ongoing. Most cameras will have different sensitivity for G-Sensors. It is best to experiment with your camera.

Loop Records

The majority of cameras record in video loops which is usually between 1 and 10 minutes (this option can be changed in the menu of most cameras). When your memory card is full, the dash cam will start to automatically overwrite the oldest recordings to create space for new recordings. If the 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 is a good idea to record in a 3 or 5-minute loop. This allows you to see the events that caused the accident. If you want to record the entire trip, we recommend turning off the loop recording mode.

Manual Emergency Key Button

Similar to the G-Sensor, the emergency lock button allows the driver to protect the video recordings. This is useful for storing events where the G-Sensor is not activated — for example, watching dangerous driving, people pulling away, or other exciting 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.

SD Card

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.

Dual Cameras

Most dash cam only provides one camera, but some models offer two cameras. For those with two cameras, one of them usually will face forward, while the other one faces 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 cam are becoming more popular. Each dual dash cam will offer the possibility of different settings. Therefore, check each model before buying. Be sure to read the specifications, because the front and rear dash cams provided at lower prices will usually give a lower resolution with the second camera.

Parking Mode / Motion Detection

As mentioned before earlier, most cameras will offer a kind of motion detection feature to protect your car when parked. When this is set, the camera will automatically start recording whenever motion is detected.

Advanced features

Some advanced features that might be interesting to consider in choosing a dash cam are as follows:

  • GPS

Many dash cameras have GPS features. This feature can also allow you to see the details of speed, making it very useful as evidence.

  • Wi-Fi

Some dash cam can create Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing you to download or stream video files to mobile devices. Although this sounds like a useful feature, the download speed is often very slow compared to PC transfers.

  • LDWS

The Path Departure Warning System is designed to warn drivers if their vehicle starts going off the track. This is a great feature to overcome the problem of fatigue while driving. It can be a savior, especially if you drive for long hours.

  • Forward Collision Warning

This will detect if there is a possibility of collision with an oncoming vehicle and notify the driver.

  • Speed Alarm

This will warn you if your speed is high.

Conclusion

The dash camera is a very useful tool, and we recommend that you use it in all your vehicle.

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