Your Complete Guide to Dashcams for 2020
Have you considered buying a dashboard camera? We pride ourselves in being one of the most updated review sites for dash cams, with the latest and most accurate information out there.
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- Read our Buyer’s Guide for Dashboard Cameras
- Read Reviews of nearly all dashcams on the market
- Need a dashcam for your motorbike?
- Our guide on dual-channel (front and rear) dashcams
- The best dashcams for truckers
Dashcams with specific features
- Wide angle
- 360 degree field of view
- Dashcams with phone apps
Some of the highest rated dashboard cameras from our database
Everything you need to know about dashboard cameras
If you’re interested in the history, legal information and a top-down introduction to dashboard cameras – keep reading!
Some of the stuff we’ll address:
- Which dash cams are the best ones for 2019?
- Are the cheaper models OK? Can you get a good dash cam for $100 or less? Why is there such a big difference in prices?
- Legal and privacy issues – Are dash cams legal where you live?
- The best and newest models. Make sure you read our reviews to find the perfect camera for your use!
- Do you need dual or single channel?
Compare Dash Cams
How we’ve compared the best dash cams for cars
We’ve made it simple for you. We’ve gone through the top-tier models, best sellers, lesser known brands, and the really cheap models. To give them a proper test, we have seen how they operate under different conditions.
Our database of dashcams is one of the largest in the world!
History of dashboard cameras
The use of dashboard cams started in the United States in the 1980’s and 1990’s, used by law enforcement for many of the same reasons why people use them today. To record and have undeniable proof of events that happened.
As time passed and technology became cheaper, the use of dashboard cameras wasn’t just reserved for police and law enforcement anymore and became more widespread.
The trend of having a dash cam installed in a car became popular in Russia when an increase in the number of fake insurance claims made it necessary for the rest of the people to prove the authenticity of their car damage. It seems that the Russian courts highly preferred video evidence to eyewitness testimony.
From Russia, this practice spread rapidly to the remaining parts of the world, particularly in Europe and America.
Initially, dashboard cameras were used by the racing cars only, to prove a view of the track from the racer’s side. They were also used in movies for the filming of the scenes.
Major developmental work on the dashboard cameras was done in 1980’s by Australia’s Seven Network. Broadcast Sports Technology Inc. which was later founded by the development team of Channel Seven and began covering major racing series of US and helped the dashcam evolve into the present day high tech gadget.
Features of Dashboard Cameras
Even though it is a relatively new technology, due to its increasing popularity, there are numerous models available in the market ranging from $60 to $400. Each type of dash cam has its own unique features, but they all have a lens, just like a regular camera, although some have only a single facing lens while others have two-sided lens. There are cameras which offer video recording from multiple angles as well.
Apart from a lens, every dashboard camera has a microphone to record the surrounding voices and sounds for the video. The recorded video gets transferred to the SD card or hard drive directly where the memory is managed efficiently by splitting a single recording in loops of 1-3 minutes. The user can then view these videos, mark the important ones and delete those he or she considers unimportant.
Some cameras are dual channel, meaning that they have two cameras — typically one for the front and one for the rear. Check out our list of the best dual channel cams in the market today.
Each camera also offers some unique features associated with its model. These could be: enabling the user to transfer important videos to his or her smartphone via WI-FI, or allowing one to lower the recording resolution so that the video takes less space for storage. Other dashcams have g-force sensors for efficient memory utilization that record only important videos and do not record while the car is parked unless something important happens. For example, in a police car, the dashcam gets activated as soon as the siren is turned on.
Some dash cams have high resolution and can record even at night with their infrared LED lights while others have a backup battery for emergency situations. The user may also have the option to send emergency messages to specific numbers, or locate their current location with the built-in GPS.
Some models also have exceptional tolerance to heat. Through smart image processing, the camera may also alert the driver if he or she is about to overrun a signal or collide with another car.
Here is a quick dash cam buyers guide for some of the latest models of 2019:
The Z-Edge Z3 whose best feature is its superb image quality and the presence of g-sensors. This model has a 2560×1080 resolution at 30 frames per second, has a 32 GB memory card and shows a view up to 145 degrees.
Another model VantrueOnDash R2 also offers exceptional image quality but is regarded as a bit better as compared to Z-Edge Z3 because contrary to the former the latter comes with an SD card.
Spy Tec G1w-CB which has a lower image quality, as compared to the previous two, is extremely resistant to heat which makes it ideal for customers living in a hot and humid environment. This model runs on a capacitor instead of a battery, since batteries get damaged by heat easily, and slow down the cameras boot process and may impair it permanently.
Some of the other models include Garmin Dash Cam 20 which has a 2.3-inch display and records in 1080p, 720p or WVGA in a continuous loop and uses a 4GB SD card.
Importance of Dashboard cams, And Popular Uses
This world is an unexpected place, and a person can not know what might be coming their way. In this state of unpredictability, keeping a dashboard camera in your car is one of the most responsible things to do. It is highly advisable that every motor vehicle owner installs a properly functioning dash cam in his or her car since it will help in the following ways.
Dash cams are used by truck drivers, cab drivers and people just driving to work. You never know when something might happen.
Recording Car Accidents
With the increase in population all around the globe and with the recent advancement in technology, the world is getting mechanized with every passing day. Nowadays every third person owns a car. With this rapid increase in the number of cars the probability of a person getting in car accidents has drastically increased.
For a minor accident, a dash cam will help determine the party at fault. While in a major car crash, when the law gets involved, this gadget will provide the court an accurate view of the event. It also protects one against people who try conning money out of individuals by staging fake accidents.
If you are considering a dashboard camera, for this reason, it is important to pay attention to the resolution, frame rates, and focus abilities of your camera. The resolution will help capture clear information, such as the license plates of any other car in question, while the higher frame rate help with getting all the details. Focus and aperture settings that can adjust themselves accordingly to the light conditions outside make sure your video won’t be overexposed or too dark.
Some of the insurance companies provide 10% discount to people willing to get a cam installed in their car. These are important to help them determine whether the claim for insurance was a legitimate one or not. With a 34% increase in false insurance claims, these cameras have become an absolute must for the companies.
Your Electronic Road Trip Diary
This camera is not just for providing evidence for bad events. It can also be used by people who love to travel and want to keep a record of all the breathtaking views and the beautiful journeys they have been on. You can later transfer these videos on your smartphone and share them with your friends, family, or travel companies.
A dash cam, unlike a regular camera, does not need to be handled by a person all the time thus enabling the driver to concentrate completely on the road while recording each and every second of their journey at the same time.
Additionally, a dash cam can record your GPS location throughout your trip. This is helpful when you want to sort out all your footage so you know where you might want to return to, or recommend to other people.
Recording Events In Your Absence
A dash cam can act like a person’s third eye. With the help of this gadget, one does not need to worry about their ride getting vandalized by an unidentified stranger when it is parked. With the aid of this camera, any such activity will be recorded and can later be provided to the formal authorities as proof.
If your dash cam has a parking mode feature, it is set not to record when you are parked, which helps save your battery. But as soon as any abnormal force or movement is detected, it will turn on and record the surroundings. This is helpful for hit and runs, parking lot back ins and vandalism.
If you’re using your dash cam for this purpose, it might be wise to look a dual channel one, one that records the front and rear, instead of just a forward recording one.
Keeping A Lookout For Unexpected Activities:
It is important that the dash cam is used at all times. It is not only important for your safety but also helps to record unusual events. These cameras provide reliable evidence of unexpected activities like the recording of the Chelyabinsk meteor which flew over Russia.
People also use them to film unique or exception events to share on social media for the rest of the world to see thus providing a source of entertainment for us all. Does anyone remember the chewbacca mom? She even got to meet JJ Abrams!
While these cams are usually used for driving or motor purposes, don’t forget they can be utilized for other things too. Most people have a phone to record videos nowadays, but if you already have a dashcam, you’ll often get better quality sound, stability, and resolution from them.
Get Out of a Ticket
If you have ever been stopped and been wrongly given a ticket for a driving offense, there is no better proof to fight it than with your dash cam.
Most of the time. If you point out you have a camera, the officer in question will review the footage with you before they issue a ticket. If this isn’t the case, you still can fight the citation in court and bring your video as evidence.
This is especially good for wrongly issues cell phone violation tickets. Like in this instance here where the driver was just scratching his ear, when an officer believed they were talking on a cell phone while driving. Thankfully he was able to show the video to avoid an unjustified ticket, saving him points on his license, time, and money from an increased insurance premium.
Sending Emergency Messages
The emergency messaging feature present in the gadget provides the diver safety. It is particularly useful when a person has to travel alone, at an unexpected hour to an unfamiliar place. Any sign of suspicious activity and the person can send an instant message to call for help.
Particularly useful if the driver loses consciousness, many dash cameras have a g sensor which can detect a sudden movement and then the stoppage of movement, which might happen in an extreme cases, like a car accident. If this happens, your cam can send out emergency messages and signals so people will know you need help and where to find you.
Improve Driving Skills
You can use a dashcam to help improve your driving or the driving of others. This is great when learning a new skill for young drivers like parallel parking. By reviewing the footage of your, or their driving, you can see what you’re doing right and what you need to work on.
It’s kind of like when sports team watch videos of their game, and the coach can show where they could have improved and how to do better the next time around.
Showing Off Your Driving Skills
This is basically the opposite reasoning of the last one. Dashboard cameras aren’t just for the bad things; they can be used to prove just how awesome you are as well. If you have ever told people about your amazing driving skills only for them not to believe you, well here is your solution.
For those individuals who love to drift, race, or glide down mountains, here you go. Also perfect for track days, autocross runs, or trying to create your own Fast and Furious stunt scenes (on a track, not a public road!).
If might want to take a look at the full HD dashboard cameras for this type of thing, or search for the best dash cam at night, when mountain racing and street racing are most popular.
Record Your Passengers
This might sound weird at first, but a dashcam that enables cabin view (or taxi view) is becoming increasingly popular for Uber, Lyft, or similar companies out there.
If you make money picking up people and driving them around, you never really know what state, or type of person, might be hopping into your car. By having a video recording of your passengers, you can dispute any claims they make to the companies against you and or have evidence for criminal or civil actions in the case that is needed.
A Gadget For Concerned Parents
These cameras are also the perfect solution for parents who constantly need to worry about their children. Dash cams help them keep an eye on their children and make sure that they follow the rules and do exactly as they are told. This gadget won’t allow your child to sneak out when he is grounded of when its way past his bedtime. Or least tell you the next morning if they did.
Cutting Short Fuel Costs
For companies who intend to lower their fuel cost, these cameras help them make sure that their drivers are not using the company’s transport for personal use and whether they are abiding by the traffic laws or not. This is a common concern for companies that employ truck drivers to transport their products.
Monitoring Law Enforcement Bodies
These dash cams have particularly been helpful in keeping an eye on the law enforcement bodies especially in Russia where these cameras have unveiled police corruption with additional evidence. Also with the presence of a camera, the traffic police cannot issue an individual unjustified over a speeding ticket or act unreasonably in any way.
In the case of an unjust ticket the driver can inform the officer of the dashcam, and if he still fails to admit his mistake, the recorded proof can be brought to court so that necessary legal action can be taken.
Considerations, Legality and Privacy
Privacy Issues And Legality
Although dashcams have provided us with many facilities and reduced the crime rate at the same time, there are still many issues to taking into account. The first and the foremost issue being that of personal privacy.
Some countries go as far as declaring the device illegal including Austria. In Switzerland, as well as Luxembourg, the government prohibits the use of such cameras in public places while the German law does not allow the users to post any such videos where they may be visible to other people, including, the social media. These videos, however, can be provided to the court in the case of a legal issue.
The Australian government gives its citizens a little more relaxation in this matter by allowing them to film such videos as long as they do not invade an individual’s personal space and are not considered inappropriate.
Dash cam laws by state
In the United States, however, the “videotaping of public events is protected under the First Amendment” right. The videotaping of nonpublic events is dealt with at the state level.
In the state of Maryland, it is legal to record videos using a dash cam if the other party has no reasonable expectation of privacy. While in Massachusetts it is illegal regardless of the issue of reasonable expectation of privacy. In contrast, in Illinois, it is illegal to record law enforcement officers, even while in the performance of their official public duties.
Just make sure you have the basic information about the legality of footage where you live.
A Distraction For The Driver
Although dash cams provide an unbiased detail of an accident and help to get justice, they can also be the cause of the driver ending up in jail in case the fault was his.
Also with cameras having displayed the driver may get distracted and cause an accident.
For this reason, you might want to look for a discrete dashboard camera. Make sure you’re comfortable with the size and placement of it, to minimize distraction. Usually, you can either attach it to the interior of your windscreen, or on the top of your dashboard, with the help of a suction cup or adhesive tape mount.
Mainly found it black, or a dark muted color, to again reduce the distraction of the driver from the road.
They Don’t Always Capture What You Need
There have been instances where the dash cams present in the police mobiles were disabled to prevent these from recording events which show us that these cameras are not entirely fooled proof.
Also, some cams provide a limited view of the surroundings, and it is possible that the object of your attention may not be caught on the camera. Be sure to take in consideration the range you want your dash cam to capture when buying.
Theft Results In Additional Financial Loss
There are affordable dash cams and more expensive cameras that in the case of theft, will just add an extra item to your list of stolen goods.
Having said this though, it is not very common. A lot of people believe they will be caught on camera while trying to break the windshield or grabbing your camera, which prevents this from occurring.
Technical Drawbacks of Dash Cams
The recorded video can only be stored on the SD card of a particular quality which narrows one’s choices. The capacity of the dash cam space also can create an issue for people who don’t remember to review their recordings. It is important to go through your videos and sort them out after regular intervals.
If you fail to delete unnecessary footage, you may lose your older recordings because as soon as the memory gets used up, the camera just starts rewriting on your older ones which is more likely to happen if you have a dash cam with small storage capacity.
But at the end, it all boils down to the fact that dashcam is a very beneficial device. The pros and uses far outweigh the drawbacks. It is a great investment and provides all those features it advertises and last for years. They’re easy to use and easy to install.
It has helped different people for different purposes whether it is an instructor at a driving school or helping a wrongly ticketed person fight the charges.
Moreover, the dash cam market is flourishing every day which increases the buying power and provides, even more, choices to the customer not only regarding features but also regarding numerous price ranges, making it easy to find one that fits your budget and needs.
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