Looking to invest in a dash cam but have no idea where to even start? With many deciding factors and features like parking mode, smartphone integration, and 4K video resolution, choosing the right dash cam can be somewhat intimidating. Here’s a handy guide on exactly what to look for when you want to purchase a new dash cam.
Dash cams are most often bought so that they will be there to capture vital evidence in the unfortunate case of a car accident. The footage that your camera captures can legally be used in a court of law in the UK and maybe the only evidence of your innocence.
There are dash cams available for every price point and preference, and even an inexpensive dash cam can now provide HD footage. The price of a dash cam can range anywhere from £25 to more than £400 and these small cameras are mounted onto the dashboard or windscreen and powered by plugging the camera into a car’s cigarette lighter or by hardwiring it to the power supply. These in-car cameras tend to use a loop recording system and store segmented clips on a micro-SD card. When this card is full then the camera will begin to record over the oldest clip so that it essentially never runs out of memory.
There are a number of features that can be found in all front and rear dash cams, including the ability to switch on and start recording automatically when you turn on your car, and the capacity to record audio within your vehicle. Many dash cams have a G-Sensor that has the ability to detect an impact. When a pre-set value is reached then the recorded footage is automatically protected and moved into a folder that cannot be overwritten. Most of these devices also have a photo function that allows the dash camera to be used as a still image camera.
So, if all those features are found on most available dash cams, what features should you look for that make a dash cam stand out? Here are a few things that could be a priority.
How Clearly Do You Want Your Footage to Be?
If your priority is peace of mind that you’ll have clear footage in the unfortunate event of a car accident, then you should consider cameras with more premium features, such as 4K video quality, night vision, image stabilization, and extreme weather mode.
Do You Want to Keep an Eye on Your Car While It’s Parked?
If you are concerned about the safety of your vehicle at night or any time that it is left unattended then the best dash cams to look at would be models that include a Parking Mode. This mode will automatically switch on the dash cam if an impact is sensed while the car is unattended. This feature is particularly useful for recording incidences of vandalism or theft.
How Many Angles Do You Want to Capture?
If you’re wanting a consistent view out of both the front and the back of your car then the best option would be a front and rear dash cam. The rear cameras can usually be purchased for as little as an additional £50 and are either clipped into your existing front-facing dash cam or are an individual unit that can be placed elsewhere in your vehicle and attached to your front-facing camera with a simple cable. There are three types of cameras in addition to the classic front-facing dash cam: a rear-view camera, a rear window camera, and a cabin view camera.
How Important is GPS Location and Speed Tracking?
If your priority is safety, then it would be beneficial to look for models that include GPS tracking and an Emergency SOS feature. This feature means that the dash cam will be able to alert paramedics to a location, as well as providing the driver’s medical history, blood type, and allergies. Some have even integrated what3words into their system in order to provide an accurate location, even without cell service.
What Type of Mount Do You Prefer?
There are several options for how to attach your dash cam to your windscreen. It is crucial that you install your dash cam correctly because if it is later proven to be obstructing your vision or distracting you in any way then any evidence that it may have captured during a car accident or other incident could be null and void.
Suction Mounts are the most common mount style for slightly more inexpensive dash cams. They are easy to use and come off with little trouble, usually leaving no residue behind. The only downside to these mounts is that they are quite visible and may sometimes struggle to stick to the windshield.
Adhesive Mounts use double-sided tape and a slide/clip-in plate. This is more of a permanent type of mount and taking it off could prove to be rather difficult, and if you do manage to get it off, there’s a high chance that it will leave a residue behind.
Rear-View Mirror Mounts clip directly onto the rear-view mirror and tend to look very professional. The downside to these is a lack of reliability at times.
Some of the more premium models have a Wireless Mount design that uses high-strength neodymium magnets. This instantly links the mount’s power source to the camera and allows for easy removal of the camera at any time, and still ensures the dash cam is safely attached while the car is in motion.
Do You Want All the Bells and Whistles?
If you like additional features, especially those related to safety, then a premium dashcam would be the best option for you. Many of these cameras include additional accident prevention features, such as a Fatigue Alert, a key feature that will remind you to take a break from driving if it senses that you haven’t taken a break after being on the road for a specific amount of time. Another safety and accident prevention feature to look out for is a Low Light Alert, which will detect that the light levels are too low for high-quality camera footage and will remind you to turn on your headlights. Some dash cams now come with voice recognition, or even Alexa, and make it incredibly simple to use voice commands to play music, ask for directions, and listen to audiobooks, as well as controlling the dashcam itself.
There is probably more to consider when buying a new dash cam than you may have originally expected but hopefully, after learning more details about the many available options, choosing the right one for you will be a little easier now.
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