We’ve done the hard work of doing all of the research to find the best dash cam of 2017. There are many dashcam options available, with more and more appearing online every year, which is hard to keep up with.
That’s why we’re here.
Dashcams used to be reserved for police cars to record rather grainy imagery that would be watched on late-night cop shows. With the rapid acceleration of digital camera technology, a $25 basic cellphone will have better quality than those old cop dash cams.
Why are dashcams becoming so popular with everyday drivers suddenly?
One reason probably has something to do with our fetish of watching YouTube crash compilations. But that is just a fun byproduct of the real practical reason to own a dashcam. If you get into an accident, it can be quite difficult to prove whose fault it was. It’s easy to lie and claim it was the other driver’s fault when there are no cameras or witnesses to say otherwise. Dash cam footage would be essential in determining not only what happened to cause the accident, but also who was at fault.
No one gets into their vehicle with the intention of becoming involved in an accident. Dash cams provide an unbiased, factual observation of any incidents that occur, meaning that unreliable witness testimony no longer needs to be relied upon.
What Is A Dash Cam?
Dash cams differ from other recording devices, like smart phones and digital cameras, due to their intended use. Functioning primarily as a protective device, it is near impossible to know if a car has a dash cam installed or not.
Some people buy a dash cam hoping that they will never be in a situation where they will need to pull footage, but install it just in case. Others cannot justify purchasing something that may never be used. However, if there comes a time where you find yourself in a road-related predicament, a dash cam is invaluable to own.
But what dashcam should you buy?
Is it as simple as buying the cheapest one you can find and plopping it on the dashboard?
Due to the growing popularity of dash cams, there are numerous models emerging on the market. There are a number of models out there and some have nifty features that will help you in the event of an accident.
To make it easier for you to choose a dash cam best suited to your needs, we have compiled some information about what to look out for, what features to not compromise on and how your driving experience may be changed if you have your own dash cam on board.
What to Look For in a Dash Cam
Every dashcam is different, but they all have certain qualities that you need to think about before making your purchase.
Dash Cam Storage Capacity
The majority of dash cams require a Micro SD card to record and save footage onto. A 32GB capacity has proven to be the most popular storage capacity. An individual with a longer commute, or who spends a lot of time driving, may opt for a dash cam that supports 128GB Micro SD cards, such as the Lumina Full HD Dashcam.
While it is important to think long term about how the dash cam will be used in order to determine the ideal storage capacity for you, it is just as important to check that the camera itself comes with its own Micro SD card. It can be incredibly annoying to get home from purchasing something, only to find you are missing an integral part you need to make it work!
Most dash cams come with and 8GB or 16GB SD cards, which is a good starting point. You can always upgrade to a higher capacity card if you find you need it later on.
Loop recording is a convenient feature that goes hand-in-hand with storage capacity. A dash cam with loop recording will record over old footage automatically, maximizing the space on the memory card. Most dash cams on the market boast this feature. It is incredibly useful as it means you don’t have to remove the SD card to delete footage when it reaches capacity. Otherwise, you may fill the card, the dashcam will stop recording, and you could easily forget to wipe the card and start over. However, a larger card is still beneficial to record longer periods of time, continuously.
Some cameras include a g-force sensor. If the camera detects a sudden change in acceleration, or deceleration, like what happens in an accident, the camera will save that section of video footage and not record over it.
Dash Cam Audio Recording
The cheaper dash cams on the market may not support audio recording, so if this is a feature you are interested in you will want to check it out. In saying this, most worthwhile dash cams will be able to record audio within your vehicle. Some cameras have a mute button to turn off audio recording, such as the Vantrue N2, if that is what you desire.
Dash Cam Video Quality
Video quality is of the utmost importance when it comes to choosing a dash cam to purchase. This may even be the most important feature to consider. At a minimum, you should choose a camera that has a main lens that records FHD (1080p) video, but you could also consider an HD (720p) dual-facing camera which records both you, and what you are seeing. Anything below HD will record very pixelated images, which will not be particularly useful if the footage is ever needed for evidential purposes.
To ensure you capture all of the action in front of you on your journey, make sure you choose a camera that has a 150-degree field of view (FOV) at the very least. A bigger field of vision is a bonus, as you will be able to gain footage from outside of the windshields view.
Just as there some cameras are dual-facing, there are also dash cameras that have attachments to go on the rear windscreen (basically another camera to record behind your vehicle). These are fairly non-essential attachments, as they mainly capture the vehicle being rear-ended, though there are circumstances where having a rear-faced camera on the rear windscreen has proved useful at recording accidents or incidents involving other road users.
Remember that video quality is key. If you are stingy on the quality, you might as well not buy the camera. If you have to choose between good video and other features, go with the good video. Also, consider getting the camera with a wide angle that will capture more of what happens on the sides of the vehicle and not just directly in front.
Dash Cam Mounting Options
When it comes to installing a dash cam, it is valuable to consider how it is able to be mounted. A great way to install a dash cam is with a suction mount on the front windshield.
Another option is a dashboard mount, however, if you wish to transfer the camera between vehicles or reposition it within the same vehicle it is a lot harder to change.
Dash Cam Night Vision
If you ever drive at night, it’s a good idea to look into the quality of the night vision aspect of the camera. Night vision is not that dependable or very high quality on dashcams because the technology hasn’t kept pace with other digital video recording technology. Get the best you can but don’t expect too much.
Extra Dash Cam Features
Another feature that you can find on dashcams are motion sensors that will turn the camera on and off automatically whether your car is on or off.
Dash Cams And Your State Laws
Be sure to look into the recording laws in your state or country.
Because of privacy laws, some countries do not allow dashcams. And some will allow video recording but not audio. As long as it isn’t illegal, it makes complete sense to have a dashcam in your car. They aren’t expensive and they may save you a huge headache later.