More and more drivers these days are investing in car gadgets that either help them navigate easier around town, or which help them have a safer and more economical drive. Another gadget which has been around for a while, but gaining popularity these days is the dashboard camera, or dashcam, which provides drivers with a record of every drive they take.
In the case of an accident or other traffic problems, drivers who have car dashboard cameras can have indisputable proof of what happened. In many cases, this can help in court or in insurance disputes where drivers have to prove their innocence and there are no witnesses who can testify.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Dashcam for your Car
There are some factors to take into account. A little research goes a long way, and for you to get the best product for your money, you will have to spend a few days reading reviews and comparing products.
While dashcams have a wide price range, decent models can come in the lower part of the price spectrum. But before we take a look at some cheap and premium dashcams, let’s see what you need to look for.
- Video quality is not the same in all cameras. Even though image sensors have evolved in the last years, there are still some models out there that will shoot video at low resolution and with poor quality. It’s usually best if you avoid these, as poor quality video might not be accepted in a court, and basically useless for all practical purposes.
- Most car dashboard cameras nowadays have pretty decent daylight sensors that shoot acceptable video. However, the difference between a good and a rubbish camera is seen in night mode shooting. Buying a camera that doesn’t offer night time shooting is not at all recommended, as the possibility of an accident happening at night is pretty high.
- Endurance is a must have for car dashboard cameras. Keep in mind that this camera will sit right against the windshield, so it will be exposed to direct sunlight and temperature extremes from summer to winter. Before you part with your money, be sure that the camera can keep on working in high or low temperatures. Heat can break down electronic circuits, which can render the camera useless in no time.
- Size Matters! Some drivers who want to install a car dashboard camera might not want it to take up all their dashboard and be seen by everyone from a mile away. This is why choosing a slick bodied camera can be useful in hiding the camera under the rear-view mirror or directly on the dash. This is also useful when your car sits in a car lot, and having a low profile camera will not attract attention to it. Hidden dashboard cameras are highly recommended.
- Look at the features before you buy a car dashboard camera. Expensive models have lots of features, as well as quality sensors, but for those that don’t want to invest too much in such a technology, doing some research to find these features in cheap dash cameras is a must.
Here are some of the features to look for in a dash cam, which can be of great help:
- Loop Video – Most cameras have this feature nowadays, and what it does, is to let the camera record over the oldest videos once the memory card is full. Pretty much any camera has this feature, but be sure to check, so that you don’t have a surprise when you get home.
- Short or no gap between videos – while the camera records video non stop, it does break that video into more manageable files, but once it does this, there is a gap between when it stops one video and starts recording again. While this gap is only a few seconds long, something might happen just then and you will not have any video proof.
- Audio Notifications – Sometimes these notifications can be useful, especially when the camera powers on or enters stand by, or even when it changes the video file. Knowing what your camera does via these audio cues can be helpful.
- Mute Button – Most cameras have audio support, which can come in handy for recording conversations or outside sounds. But sometimes, you want to have a private conversation, or there is simply no need for recording audio. This is why having a way to mute the microphone can be useful.
- GPS Capability – More complex cameras have a “car black box” that can record the exact position of the car, as well as the speed of the vehicle. This information is usually overlapped on the video feed itself, so you can have a complete record of each drive. This is a great feature to have when trying to prove something in court, or if you own commercial vehicles and want to review footage of how your drivers work.
- Support for big SD cards – This feature speaks for itself: a bigger SD card allows drivers to record more video footage. This means that the camera won’t overlap video feeds too soon.
- Battery support – Although car dashboard cameras are powered via the cigarette lighter socket, it is sometimes useful to have it record when the car is stationary. This means that the camera should have a battery pack, but at the same time, this feature will also make the body bigger. Try to weigh in which of these features offers you the bigger advantage.
- Infrared lights – IR LEDs are usually installed on security camera, so that they can capture good quality video at night. Infrared light cannot be seen by the naked human eye, but the camera can “see” it very well in low light conditions.
- Auto On/Off – This feature is a must have in a car dashboard camera. Sometimes you might forget to turn it on and you will not have any evidence if something happens. The sensor in the camera will automatically start recording once you’ve started the engine, and it will enter in sleep mode once you turn it off.
- G-Sensor – Something to look for in a car dashboard camera is a G-sensor, which allow the camera to sense impacts. Once it has detected an impact, the camera will mark that video file as important and it will keep it safe and not record over it.
Choosing between cheap and premium car dashcams
The main difference between a low end model and a premium dashcam is video quality. Especially night time recording, where more expensive models have the upper edge. A very important aspect is also the number of features that the device provides.
If you are willing to pay a little extra for a quality dashcam, then you can expect your device to have GPS capabilities, support for larger SD cards, IR LEDs for night recording, next to no gap between video files and in some cases, a dedicated battery pack that can film when the car is stationary and the engine is off.
Cheap Dashcams for your Car
Now that you know what to look for in a dashcam, think about what features are best for you. If you’re looking for a cheap car dashboard camera, then it will probably not have all those features. Be sure to pick one that has the options that you need the most.
Also, before you click that “Buy” button, check online for some reviews of the cameras. Look a few reviews for each product before you make a decision. This will ensure that you have a solid knowledge of the features and the quality of the product.
Here are a few models of cheap dashcams that will keep you under the $100 mark. While they aren’t the best around, they offer pretty good quality both in day time and at night.
- DVR-027 HD720p IR Car Vehicle dash Camera – Price $63.70
- K6000 1080p in Car Dashboard Camera – Price $33.99
- Novatek HD 1080P Car DVR Vehicle Camera Recorder – Price $49.88
- F302A H.264 Full HD 1920x1080P 30FPS Car DVR – Price $69.99
- Mobius Action Camera 1080P HD Mini Sports Cam – Price $89.95
Of course, there are other models available that are under the $100 price mark. These are at the lower end of the spectrum, but if you want to spend more money on a premium device, expect them to have prices pushing $300-$400 or even more.
Mid – Premium Car Dashcams
If price isn’t the issue, then you have a wide market of awesome dashcams available. Your choice will only be based on the size and the features of the device itself. Usually, in this price range, you will find full HD cameras that shoot 1920 x 1080 video at 30 fps with audio support. Some models also have an LCD screen, where you can modify certain settings or view the recorded video.
Multi-channel cameras also come in this higher price range. These systems allow recording from two or more cameras, so the driver has video feeds from more angles. These are great gadgets to have if you want to film from the rear of the vehicle, or from another angle of your choosing.
We’ve put together a list of some great dashcams that would interest users. They offer great night and day quality, as well as a host of features that will allow them to be more at peace on the road, knowing that they have a complete record of what happens to their car.
- JAEWONCNC IROAD IONE-3800FU – Price: $174.99
- DOD Ls300w – Price: $175.00
- DOD F500LHD – Price: $186.29
- GARMIN GDR35 – Price $229.00
- Dash Cam Dual Camera Mini DVR System – Price: $249.00
- BlackVue Wi-Fi DR500GW-HD – Price: $296.92
- Finevu NEW CR-500HD 16gb Full Hd Record Car Vehicle Black Box – Price: $310.00
- ITRONICS New ITB-100HD SP “Smart Plus” – Price: $326.51
- URIVE MD-8000P 2CH 5.0 Mega – Price: $352.40