UPDATED December 11, 2021 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
A lot of people install dash cameras on their vehicles and all for different purposes. When kitting out your vehicle, you want to make sure you have the top-rated dash cameras to choose from.
Some install them to have video evidence in case of an accident and for insurance purposes. And some people use dash cams to record their journey when they are out on a trip. Then, others use it for professional reasons like cab driving and delivery services.
First, let’s go through some basics about dashcams, such as how they work and why you need them.
Dash cameras are powered by your car’s power supply; you usually need to plugin them to your car’s fuse box. You can also plug them into your car’s 12V cigarette lighter. So, whenever you hit the car ignition, the camera powers up instantly and starts recording. But there are a few issues when powering the dash camera from your car battery such as:
- The camera won’t work when your car is parked
- The camera will drain your car battery over time and decrease battery life
- You may not want to hardwire it directly to the fuse box
And that’s why the better option is to use a battery pack – an external battery pack specially designed for dash cams. A battery pack takes the load away from your car battery, keeps the camera powered in parking mode, and doesn’t require any hardwiring.
Now let’s talk about the recording and storage system of dash cams. Dashcams record videos continuously as long as they are powered on. But they don’t store the entire recording all the time. You can set up the camera to save the recordings automatically, either at specific intervals or only when a collision is detected, and you can also do it manually when needed.
2Why Should You Have a Dash Camera in Your Vehicle?
The most obvious reason for having dash cams is for safety purposes. It serves as a piece of evidence in an unfortunate event like that of an accident. And it will also record any other mishaps you might face on the road such as altercations with other irresponsible motorists and drivers.
In short, it gives you insurance against anything bad that may happen with you on the road. Your dash cam can help others too if you happen to record any incident between two people when you’re driving. Also, it serves as a protective measure against theft or vandalism when your car is parked.
3Things To Consider When Buying Top Rated Dash Cameras For Your Car
You should consider the following things when buying a dash camera to make sure you get the top-rated dash camera that gives you excellent value for money:
It’s a no-brainer that battery life is one of the most important things in top-rated dash cameras. There are two types of battery packs you can get for your car camera.
- Normal batteries typically last 6 to 8 hours, but they can get damaged by extreme weather conditions. If you live in an area where the temperature is moderate most times, batteries will work fine. These are most suitable for short-term uses, so if most of your driving time includes traveling back and forth between your home and office, normal batteries should work fine.
- Supercapacitors can last anywhere between 36 and 72 hours and have an impressive lifespan of 10 to 15 years. They also withstand extreme temperatures a lot better. These are perfect for people who spend a lot of time driving, such as professional drivers.
SD cards are the storage unit for dash cams, and they can range from 8 to 128 GB. Your budget and how long you use the camera will determine what storage capacity is best for you. Those who drive for long hours regularly or those who record high-quality videos should go for higher storage, preferably 64 or 128 GB.
Those who use their vehicle only a few times during the day can go for a 16 GB card. And if you lie somewhere in between these two categories, just go for a 32 GB card.
There are mainly three options to mount a driving camera to your vehicle.
- Suction mount
As the name suggests, it uses suction cups to mount the dash camera to your windshield. It’s very simple to attach the camera with suction mounts, and you can unmount or remove it easily. So these mounts give you the flexibility of using the same dashcam on different vehicles.
- Adhesive mount
Adhesive mounts use double-sided adhesive tape to fix the driving camera. So, one side of the mount attaches to the windshield, and then you stick the camera to the other side. While these amounts are very strong and secure, they are permanent, as it’s very difficult to remove them.
- Rear-view mount
This type of mount will attach the camera directly to the back of your rear-view mirror. You can also buy a rear-view mirror with an in-built dash cam at the back, and replace it with the factory rear-view mirror of your car.
Buying a vehicle camera that records high-quality videos is always the better option. Low-quality videos where most of the recording is blurry or not very clear kind of defeats the purpose of having a dashcam in the first place. Of course, higher-quality videos require more storage space too. That doesn’t mean that you should go for 4K videos right away. Based on your budget and requirement, you can settle for less, but it’s best not to go below 480p video quality.
Dashcam models may or may not have an in-built GPS module. And it’s always better to buy one that does have a pre-installed GPS. Its biggest advantage is that it will record the speed and location/route of your vehicle. So, you will have evidence that you were following the speed limits when you get in an accident and won’t have to go through trouble during a legal investigation and insurance claims.
Collision sensors are a must-have feature of in-vehicle cameras. These sensors can emit a warning alarm whenever your vehicle gets too close to another vehicle in front of you, helping you to prevent accidents in the first place. And in case a collision does occur due to no fault on your part, the sensor will trigger the camera to save the recording of the collision immediately.
Voice control is an optional feature and mostly a matter of preference. If you have installed the camera as a necessary measure, then having voice integration is essential. Cab drivers and people who need to drive a lot should go for this feature. And if you don’t use your wireless dash cam for the car a lot, the absence of voice control won’t make a huge difference. But as long as your budget allows, you should certainly go for a camera with voice integration simply for the convenience it provides.
These are the essential features of top-rated dash cameras that you must consider when you’re buying one. A bit of research before you make a purchase will help you find a product that gives the best value for money and serves you well for a long time.