Dash Cams and Their Alternatives: What Do You Really Need?
You know what dashboard cameras are.
They’re the cams you mount on your car that you can use for a whole variety of reasons from insurance fraud, illegal stops and seizures, to even helping teach someone how to drive.
But you’re not convinced. Why should you go out and spend money on a car camera when you already have a recording device. I know, I know, your smartphone is your life, and there isn’t anything it can’t do- making anything else pointless and not useful. Right?
Wrong. While I respect your opinion, I have to disagree with you.
Let’s take a quick look to see how other devices compare.
Dash camera vs. Smartphone app
Smartphones are amazing. I’m never going to disagree with you there, and the apps that continue to come out are blowing my mind. In fact, many smartphones even have a dash cam app that you can download and use.
Well, that’s it, you don’t need a dash cam then, right?
YOU STILL NEED A DASH CAM.
In no particular order, there are a lot of faults with this logic. Firstly, the app won’t be available for everyone or every type of phone. Not to mention that the app doesn’t run automatically and you have to remember to turn it on and activate it before using. On top of that, you have to make sure you have a holder or a secure position for your phone to rest while using it so that you’re not distracted holding it, or it doesn’t slip and slide all over the place.
Moving on, do you have enough memory for the continuous video? I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my phone tell me more than once that my memory was full and that I needed to choose what photos, videos, or apps to delete. That’s without hours of footage from a dash cam on it. Another concern is if your video will record over a previous one automatically if it runs out of room. Defiantly something you don’t want to happen.
I’ll leave this one with just two more points. Using a dashcam app is going to drain your battery. Maybe you have a charger in the car, and this will help, but more likely than not, you’re going to end up with a dead battery and pretty much make your phone useless. A dash cam battery connects with your car battery making it easy to stay charged. Remember it’s illegal to use your phone while driving in most states. I mean, with Bluetooth we take calls, and I, personally, would be lost without Google Maps. When you use the cam app, you’re most likely not going to be able to use your phone for anything else.
Your smartphone already does enough, don’t burden it with one more thing.
|Model||Screen Size||Angle of View||Max Card Size||Min Operating Temperature||Max Operating Temperature||Max Photo Resolution||Price|
|1||Top Budget Pick||Vantrue X1 Full HD Dash cam||2.7in||170°||64gb||32°F||150°F||-|
|2||Top Rated||Z-Edge S4 Dual Dash Cam Review||4in||150°||128gb||10°F||140°F||2560x1440MP|
|3||Popular Choice||Falcon Zero F360 HD DVR Dual Dash Cam||3.4in||180°||32gb||10°F||141°F||1080MP|
|4||Our Top Pick!||BlackVue DR650S 2CH IR Dashcam||-||129°||128gb||-4°F||158°F||1920×1080MP|
Dash camera vs. Digital camera
If you have a digital camera, video camera, or anything that records, you may think that it could act as a substitute for a dash cam.
You’re kind of right and kind of wrong.
While a digital camera CAN record events as you drive, there are a lot of downfalls to consider. The most important thing to note is that a digital camera will not produce videos that are high quality when compared to a dashboard camera.
- They might not focus well
- Do not produce stabilized footage
- Can’t always be relied on to auto focus for different light settings (especially at night or in the bright sunlight)
Another downfall with using a digital camera is that they battery doesn’t last as long as a dash camera; you have to make sure you recharge the battery before every use, unlike the dash camera it is attached to your battery no need for a recharge. What happens if the one time you actually need your digital camera to record something, it runs out of batteries mid-recording? That wipes the whole file. Can you afford to take that risk?
>> You can read more about dashcams in our buyer’s guide!
Just a couple more points. A dash cam is already attached to your car or easily attached. Your digital camera is not. Your digital cam also will not be able to hold as much footage as a car cam. Lastly, your digital camera doesn’t automatically turn on, in the case of accident, theft, collision. If you’re in an accident or feeling threatened, it’s probably not going to be your first instinct to turn on your camera.
With a dash cam, you can make sure it is recording while you take care of more important things, like your safety.
Dash camera vs. Surveillance camera
Another option is trying to repurpose a surveillance camera and use it as your dash cam. To do this, you would have to figure out a way to wire it to your car battery.
Of the 3 alternatives, this would probably result in the most similar footage to a dash cam, but it’s still not going to be as good. Remember, if you’re using the footage in court or for legal matters, the details really need to be clear, and a surveillance camera just isn’t going to cut it.
One of the benefits of using a surveillance camera is that you can have it running 24/7. Where dash cams usually are not on when the car isn’t running, though there are settings to make them “wake up” in the case of a bump, scratch, or theft is detected around the car. Plus, having the camera on all the time will drain your car battery, making starting your car a constant guessing game of will it start or will it not start.
Why you need a dash cam
Dash cams are useful for a many numbers of things, many of which might not have ever crossed your mind, and to put it mildly; there is no substitute.
It’s like going to a restaurant and ordering steak but getting fish. It’s similar, but it’s not really the same at all is it?
If you’re thinking about getting a cam at all, don’t settle for an alternative, they simply just can’t measure up to the functions, features, and surveillance a dashboard camera can. You get better quality footage, automatic recording, no video overriding, longer battery life, signal or dual channel options, auto uploading, and so many more benefits by getting the device that is meant to be used as a dash cam.
Don’t settle for second best, when there is a whole range of budget friendly to luxury options that can fit your every need.