Your life and your car are probably the two things you love the most. Would you risk something so valuable for an accident, a mischief or even someone else’s poor driving? If your answer is an absolute no, then a best dash cam for car is an investment you should be looking for.
After considering this investment, there are obviously a few questions arising in your mind. Letus address those one by one.
1. What is a dashboard camera?
2. Why is it required or is it even needed?
3. How does this camera work?
4. How is it different from an action camera?
5. What aspects to look out for in a dashcam?
6. Which is the best dash cam one should buy?
What Is A Dashboard Camera?
Seems like the innovator of this camera did not give its name much of a thought! As the name suggests, this is a device that is installed on the dashboard (or windscreen) of your car while it constantly records through the perspective of the vehicle’s front and at times even rear. It is basically a car camera recorder.
Is A Dashboard Camera Really Required?
A lot of times we imagine ourselves living in the ideal world. We assume that since we drive defensively, nothing unfortunate would strike us. But can we trust a random stranger driving a car along the same crossroad as us?
Definitely not! We do not know what can lead to an accident, and a full proof evidence is what we need in such circumstances. Someday, you may need to prove your innocence in the court and a small investment of a dashcam can make it a lot easier than you could imagine.
Suppose for a moment that you have entered into a car accident and it has led into a heated argument as to who was at fault. Your dashcam can provide sufficient evidence to get you out of it, and the driver at fault can pay for his actions.
In many scenarios, certain drivers commit fraud. It means that they intentionally crash into your car and ask for money even when it is not your fault. At the same time, they claim to be injured and acquire insurance money. The best dash cam for cars could prevent you from such frauds and also limit these social offenders.
We cannot ignore the astonishing features a dashcam can provide. One can view through the camera portably by connecting to the local devices. They generally come with WiFi and GPS which makes it handy for navigation as well. With these superb features, your road trip videos will showcase an altogether unique vibe. This camera comes handy in every situation, be it as unfortunate as an accident or as blissful as a road trip.
How Does a Dashboard Camera Work?
As described earlier, a dashcam is installed on the dashboard or the windscreen of the car. It is powered through the cigarette-wire cable or is directly connected to the vehicle’s fuse box. Since it works on the battery of the vehicle itself, it can afford to function continuously. Because of this feature, it records every incident and provides the required evidence whenever needed.
But how does it have so much memory?
It does not. It functions on the basic SD cards, but keeps overwriting the previous data with the latest data unless an unexpected motion is observed, when it stores the three-minute segment that led to it. This looping reduces the memory used, and of course, one can always insert a new memory card whenever required.
How is a Dashcam Different From An Action Camera?
The one question that most customers have is that if an action camera can serve the purpose of a dashboard camera as well, why buy an additional equipment? Well, can your action camera record continuously record for an infinite amount of time? Can it withstand the extreme temperatures inside a vehicle? Can it detect whether a vehicle has entered an accident?
No! An action camera has a completely different purpose, and can never compete with a dashboard camera. Even if one tries to prove the multipurpose nature of an action camera, he will fail to alternate it with a dashcam because of the difference in their basic working.
Types Of Dashcams
These are of two types, basic and advanced. Basic dash cams were innovated to serve the basic purpose of recording events happening in front of the vehicle. They do not consist of features like GPS or even motion detectors. They are budget-friendly but do not provide a full-proof system against accidents.
Advanced dash cams were innovated later, when the gravitational sensors, motion sensors, GPS navigation and many more features were merged with basic video recording.
Are Dash Cams Legal?
This is a very controversial aspect regarding dashboard cameras. But there are two very basic conditions that resolve it:
The installed dashboard cameras should not obstruct the driver’s view or distract the driver in anyway.
It should not intrude anybody’s personal privacy. It is recommended to keep the audio muted in public transports like taxis and buses.
What Aspects To Look Out For In A Dashcam?
The features and specifications of any kind of camera are endless, and a dashboard camera is no exception. With abundant uses, a dashboard camera comes with innumerable qualities as well. Let us take a tour of the few important ones.
The human eye never likes to strain itself to a grainy video. Low resolution is as useless as daylight is, for an owl. A dashboard camera is meant to record something as critical as a road accident, so it cannot afford to capture a video full of pixels providing nothing but an unclear and hence a pointless view of the situation.
In today’s world, nothing below high-definition is acceptable. Every top-end dashboard camera should have a high 1080p and beyond resolution.
Video quality is more than just a clear picture. It should be able to capture 60 frames per second while providing the user an option to choose lower fps values. This makes the video smoother to watch. A dashboard camera can only be justifiable if it records a smooth video in a crystal-clear resolution.
This is a very obvious feature one should look for in a dashboard camera. These cameras are designed to record over the previous footage. But with less space, it will keep looping over the same video segment, again and again, providing no substantial video output when required.
The memory cards used in the dashboard camera are classified in classes ranging from one to ten. This classification is based on the write speeds of each category of a memory card. Class 10 is considered the best corresponding to 32 GB, and more memory space which is meant to store approximately 6-12 hours of data based on the quality of resolution it is being recorded in. Similarly, a 16 GB memory card is meant to store between 4 to 8 hours of data, and 8 GB between 2 to 4 hours. For better video output, choosing a memory card with an ample amount of space (class 10) is essential.
This is the latest and the most important feature of a dashboard camera. If safety is your priority, you must choose a camera with this feature. This quality of a dashcam is what classifies it as a safety device.
What Exactly Is A G-sensor?
G-sensor stands for gravitational sensor. It detects any kind of crash or an extreme jerk thence activating the recorder and locking the footage. This prevents the footage from being overwritten. It senses any kind of an accident or a break-in, making the dashcam a smart device. Not only does it record the footage of an accident, but also activates the camera when it senses a theft in a parked car. A dashcam without a g-sensor is of no use.
4. Night Performance
An excellent low light performance is a major win for a dashcam. Certain cameras may shoot brilliant footage in daylight, but in case of a crash during the night, they are of no worth. High-end dashcams are provided with a separate low light sensor. If you tend to drive more at night or even evening, a camera with a high dynamic range (HDR) is recommended.
The Sony Exmor sensors are considered to be the best in low light scenario. Few cameras come with an infrared vision which sounds exciting and useful, but is pretty much useless in most of the crash scenarios. Rather than choosing features that sound unique and overwhelming, choose the camera with basic good-quality core features.
Needless to say, a GPS system is a very convenient add-on in any device. Same goes for the dashcams. Nowadays, a GPS adds speed, time and location to footage, hence providing full proof evidence whenever required. In certain situations when the driver has to prove his innocence in the court, this one footage will do the needful.
The GPS system also provides navigation on the screen and discards the need for a separate navigation device on your dashboard. This saves your space, money, and energy.
Dashcam GPS systems come with driver assistance provisions as well, such as a detection of road signs, monitoring discipled driving, deviation from lane and many more. If one can afford a little extra price for a GPS system, it would be worth it.
6. Extreme Temperature Tolerance
Imagine one sunny day, when a random driver comes and crashes into your car but claims that it wasn’t his fault. You decide to bring in the dashcam for help and that’s when you realize, it stopped working because of the constant heat and sun!
A dashcam with low resistance to extreme high and low temperatures can deceive you at the very moment you need them. Therefore, this feature is definitely needed when you buy a dashcam. Be it extremely hot or cold, a dashcam should not stop functioning. Resistance to extreme temperatures is the differentiating factor between dash cams and normal cameras.
At times, your dashcam doesn’t stop working immediately, but its quality starts deteriorating when exposed to harsh conditions and the video output stops serving your purpose. To avoid this, check the amount of temperature it can withstand before you buy it.
Almost all the dashboard cameras record at a wide angle. They use a fisheye perspective lens. Generally, an angle of 170 degrees is considered optimum as it covers the complete front view. Although you may find cameras with a wider angle, even near 360, they aren’t of much use. Instead, they tend to distort the image more.
So, it is better to choose a camera with the widest angle and minimum distortion. Instead of spending more on a wider angle, it is advisable to spend on a camera with a dual perspective (front and rear).
8. Motion Detection
This is another feature which describes dash cams as one of the most significant devices. You must have noticed scratches on your car that came out of nowhere, and you probably don’t remember how half of those scratches were caused. That’s because they occurred when your car was parked and probably your neighbor or a random driver passed by your car and accidentally scratched your car.
In such situations, you end up accepting the fact that nothing can be done about it. But in case you have a dashcam with motion detection feature, your dashcam activates when it detects any kind of motion of the car and provides you with footage of the crash. It helps you to identify the culprit and demand your rightful justice.
This is a very useful feature when your car is parked. It records break-ins and thefts while your vehicle is parked and you are not around.
Certain dashcams are connected to your phone and alert you when it detects a crash or a theft. A dashcam with a motion sensor is what completes the dashcam systems. Without this, they are only half as useful.
This is an important aspect to consider as you do not want your dashcam to grab a lot of attention. But the solution is not getting the smallest possible dash cam, as smaller the dashcam, lesser the features. Small dash cams may not have a screen playback, GPS, WiFi, etc. To find a perfect dashcam, we must settle for a middle ground between features and sizes.
10. Mounting and Installation
A dashcam must have an easy installation. Sometimes it is easy to install, but the rearview camera is difficult to fit. It may be connected externally using a cigarette lighter cable or attached to the battery directly through the fuse box. One must decide which one is better for their personal comfort.
A dashcam comes with different types of mounts according to the sizes and where it is meant to be installed. Certain dashcams are meant to be fitted on the windscreen, while some behind the rearview mirror. The driver has to decide where he should install it so that it doesn’t obstruct his vision or distract him.
They are either mounted using suction cups or adhesive. The ones that use suction cups are bulkier but can be repositioned anywhere and anytime the driver wishes to. Whereas the ones that use adhesive are mounted permanently, and will require a good amount of effort to reposition it. Which mount to use is completely the driver’s choice. .
11. Dual Channel
The newer versions of dashcams are provided with both front, and rear view. It is always great to have a rear perspective of your vehicle in order to record the crash, if any, on its rear end. But even a single lens camera (front perspective) is sufficient to record a road trip and provide evidence for most of the accidents.
The user has to decide whether or not to pay extra for the rear perspective as it is a useful feature, but not a necessity if your budget is not enough.
You must be wondering what runs the dashboard camera. Like every other electronic device has its own CPU or chipset, so does the system of a dashcam.Obviously, better the processor, faster and easier the working of the dashcam.
Choosing a dashcam with the correct processor is a challenge in itself because there are around 12 big companies that specialize in making chipsets. It is advisable to choose the dashcam with the best processor or the latest processor of the following brands:
Famous for their latest chipset, NT96650 supports 1080p at 30 fps and WDR. The previous models are outdated and do not support a high resolution. Generally cheaper dashboard cameras contain these lower quality chipsets (NT966320, NT96220). These do not support a resolution above 720p resolution at 30 fps.
But sometimes, people end up seeing these processors with a combination of a higher resolution of 1080p. It is not a very useful combination as it does not provide a good compatibility and end up shooting at lower than expected fps values. So we would suggest if you want to choose a dashcam with Novatek processors, choose the latest chipset (NT96650).
This company makes entry level processors for cameras. They provide a decent performance if they are compatible enough for the specific camera. They have two families of chipsets- ‘COACH’ and ‘ZR’.
It currently has two series-COACH 10 and COACH 12. COACH 10 has 4 models and COACH 12 has 3 models. COACH 10 is an older series. The 12 series consists of COACH 12MDV, COACH 12V and COACH 12P.
The C12 series is used in dashcams nowadays. The C12V and C12p have two models compatible for resolutions of 720p and 1080p. although, the C12V60, which is the model compatible with 720p resolution, reduces the quality of the dashcam resolution so it is better to stick to the C12Pi which provides a sharp resolution at 1080p.
Zoran has upgraded its versions further more. They have reached the phase of COACH 13,15 and even 16, but dashcams are yet to use it. The latest dash cams use the C12 ZR364246BGCG processor.
Chipsets made by this brand are widely trusted by many of the best dash cams of 2020. They have a wide range of processors, and keep upgrading along with the development of cameras. It is the most popular when it comes to 1080p and beyond resolutions.
They have 9 families of processors with each family consisting its own chipset. They started their production in 2007 with the A2 processor and chipset A2s60 and A2s70. After passing through phases of A3, A5, A5s, A6, A7 and A7L, they made A7L-A with the chipset A7LA50D, which is widely used in many dashcams providing 1080p and even 1440p resolution.
Along with this chipset, Ambarella also built the A9 processor. But A2, A5 and A7 are still the most widely used processors, among which A5 and A7 perform brilliantly with 1080p. The A2 processor (A2s60 and A2s70) finds it difficult to shoot beyond 25 degrees at HDR or 1080p resolution creating a distorted image.
Generally, a dash cam with an Ambarella processor is a wise choice, but when it come to the A2 chipset, you would want to rethink.
If you are looking for a dashcam with dual channel technology, and assuming you have narrowed it down to two options claiming that every feature but the processor is the same, then the Allwinner technology processors will be the winner. They produce 4 processors- A31, A10, A20, F20. The F20 is most widely used as it gives the most stable performance when it comes to dual channeled dashcams.
13. Easy To Use
This is one of the aspects which is subjective. But, one can get a basic idea of how a particular dashcam works by taking a look at its interface.
With so many features to look out for, deciding the best dash cam could be a challenge. Making it simple, the following are few of the best dash cameras that are available in the market.
Top 10 Best Dashboard Cameras of 2021
1. Rexing V1P
It does not occupy space in a display screen and connects it to your phone. It also provides a wide-angle display of 170 degrees. One of the best features of this camera is that it comes with a rear view recording camera. Although the rearview camera is difficult to be installed, it is a major plus point. This camera is also known for its good-quality low light resolution.
2. Vantrue N2 Pro
A brilliant design with everything at its best. It has a dual channel with 1440p resolution and an infrared night vision mode with 1080p resolution. The Sony Exmor sensor on the inside camera along with the 170 degree wide outside camera together gives a complete non-distorted view around the vehicle.
One of the best features of this dashcam is the change in temperature that it can deal with. It can withstand temperature from -4 degree fahrenheit to 158 degree fahrenheit of -20 degree celcius to 70 degree celsius .
This dashcam is full of features and is easy to use. Ithas a G-sensor, an optional navigation GPS, and a 24 hours parking mode. Although the amount that you will have to shell out for this camera is slightly more, it is good for someone who drives daily and can afford to invest in it.
3. Garmin Dash Cam 55
Finally, here’s a brand that everyone has heard of. This is a beautiful, smart dash camera with probably the best video quality that could be offered. Beyond just having a resolution of 1080p, it has a polarizer which removes the glare out of the videos, making it not just good for an accident but also for a road trip.
Apart from an excellent video quality, it also consists of good voice control features, drive awareness warning and most importantly, a travelapse feature.
Although Garmin has not ignored the basic g-sensor, it has a small battery and a very narrow view as compared to other dashcams. This makes a brilliant camera and a wonderful user-friendly design to be installed in a car but ignores the essential features of a dashcam.
This model has a full HD 1080p display as well as a playback screen. It consists of a six -glass lens which provides a superior quality night vision. It is built to perform ideally at every temperature.
It has an automatic motion detection sensor along with a g-sensor. It supports a 64 GB and a 128 GB memory card. This model is considered to have one of the best designs.
5. WheelWitness HD Pro
It provides 3X mounts- two sticky or adhesive mounts, as well as one suction cup, making it easier and convenient to use. Along with a sufficiently wide 170 degree angle view, it also provides a GPS navigation system. A stylish design of WheelWitness HD pro is a reasonably priced product too.
6. Old Shark 1080p
If you are looking for one of the cheapest dash cams, still competing with the best, this should be your choice. It provides all the necessary qualities but may not provide you with extra features. With a perfectly good quality resolution of 1080p and a wide view of 170 degrees, the old shark also provides a superb night vision.
Costing nearly half or even lesser than other high-quality dashcams, the old shark makes a decent option for regular drivers who simply want to record everything day and night with a “shark” vision!
7. Kdlinks Dx2
A compact design with front and rear camera is a wonderful choice as it provides a superb resolution of 1080p in the front camera and 720p in the rear camera. The front camera is 165 degrees wide which is a little less compared to its competitors but sufficient. Also, with the 125-degree wide rear camera, it provides you the view of almost every required zone around your vehicle.
It comes with auto-motion detection sensors and G-sensors. Its superior night vision is something that wins the trust of the user. The 6-lens glass is perfectly designed inside the KDLINKS DX2 to provide you a beast quality night vision, which may not be as good as HDR but in this case it does put up a good competition to HDR or WDR.
This dashcam is capable of bearing temperatures as low as 40 degrees fahrenheit, which is decent if not the best. Everything is brilliant but the dash cam doesn’t sound worth the price. If you have a high budget, this is a good choice but not the best.
8. Aukey Dual Dashcam
If you are looking for something with a dual channel and a wider perspective, this camera makes a reasonable choice at a reasonable price. it consists of the sony exmor sensors which provides a crystal-clear vision at 1080p resolution.
It also serves a six-lane perspective with its 170-degree wide front camera and a 152-degree wide rear camera, both functioning at high resolution. Apart from a sensational night vision, it also consists of a necessary g-sensor and a GPS navigation system.
Another important feature is its ability to bear extreme temperatures. It can bear as low as -30 degree celcius to 75 degree celcius. Although temperature conditions never reach this extreme, it is a good add on feature.
9. Nextbase 612 GW
Providing a sharp 4k resolution, and being the first one to do so, Nextbase 612 GW uses Sony CMOS sensor and also has a 3-inch LCD display. It has basic yet the best features. Although it has almost every feature one wants in a dashboard camera, it lacks a good design. A better design could take the camera to the next level.
10. Z-edge Z3 Plus
This is a stylish dashcam with an all-around performance. It is a compact device with a 3-inch wide screen offering an FHD resolution above 1440p. this is the highest resolution available. It supports an SD card up to 128 GB with a 180 mAh internal battery.
The complete system provides footage of over 10 hours at 1440p resolution in MOV format. It has a motion detector as well as a G-sensor. It records at a sufficiently wide angle of 170 degrees. It also provides and high definition range (HDR) for better night vision and a parking surveillance feature along with GPS.
It is very simple to use except for its camera mode. It uses a suction cup to be fitted on the windscreen. It is a brilliant choice as it offers almost every necessary feature.
After reading the above descriptions, some of you may ask which is the best dash cam for a lower budget range, or the camera which provides the best video quality and many more. If you want to narrow down your options furthermore, consider it done and take a look at the following criteria-based suggestions.
Best Budget Friendly Dashcam
As discussed earlier, the Old shark 1080p provides a super fine video quality for the price we pay for it. Definitely, there are cheaper models, but what’s the use if you cannot rely on them the one time they are needed.
Unlike the other cheap models, an Old shark 1080p competed with some of the higher range models making it capable enough to be called the best budget friendly dashboard camera.
Best Video Quality
The Garmin dash 55 suits perfectly for this criterion. Garmin has focused on more than just the basic video quality. They have defined a video quality which cannot be described in terms of resolution.
The only camera that runs parallel to this is the Nextbase 612GW with a 4k resolution, but lacks many other features which the Garmin dash 55 can provide.
This is mostly a subjective choice, but the THINKWARE F800 pro has a stealthy design with outstanding qualities. This could be one of the most top-end models of dashcams but the price tag is quite heavy. If one expects to buy a stylish design, the MIO MIVUE J60 will be the runner’s up.
It is not easy to declare one out of the top 3 – Z-EDGE-Z3 PLUS, Rexing V1P and Garmin dash 55. But Rexing V1P serves a similar competition even though it costs very less in comparison. Considering all the aspects, Rexing V1P would be the most satisfactory purchase.
When your safety is at stake, you cannot afford any risks. Decide the aspect that is the most important one for you and choose accordingly. It is not an easy task but the options listed above will definitely make it simple for you!