Looking to invest in a car dash cam? Great decision! It’s an excellent way to ensure your safety and capture those unforgettable road moments. But with so many options and features out there, how do you know which one is the best fit for you? It is not hard to get caught up in all the jargon and technical details, we don’t blame you.
Well, worry not! We’re here to guide you through it and breakdown some of the must-have features you should look for in each dash cam as the bare minimum. We are here to cut your research time and double down on the right dash cam for your needs. Here are some effective and battery-efficient features you should definitely look out for when buying a car dash cam:
Features To Look out For When Searching For A Good Dashcam?
1. Video Quality
The quality of the camera is the most important feature to check out when getting your dash camera. A dash camera is, in essence, a camera; if the overall quality is poor, the quality of the pictures/videos produced will be poor. A camera with a higher quality ensures that the camera carries out its purpose, which is to record high-quality media that will be helpful when necessary.
There are three factors to consider when checking for a dash cam’s camera quality: resolution, frame rates, and field of view.
The camera resolution is essentially the number of vertical pixels in any image taken with that camera. When you take a picture and see 1080p, the implication is that the resolution of your camera is 1080p. The higher the pixels, the better the camera is. Make sure the dash cam records high-quality videos, preferably in HD or even 4K resolution – at least Full HD/1080P at the minimum. You want clear and detailed footage that can be used as evidence if needed.
Frame rates are important because your dash cam doesn’t just take pictures. It also makes videos. The frame rate is the rate at which a camera captures different consecutive frames. While getting a camera with a good frame rate is important, the frame rate you get is inversely proportional to your storage. So the higher the frame rate, the quicker your storage will fill up. So ideally, high frame rate aka FPS and high storage go well together – you should be looking for 30-60 Frames Per Second.
Field of view is how wide your camera can record. This is different for each camera so pay attention and ensure you get the best. This is often difficult to do because there is no standard way to measure the field of view except you look at the pictures taken by the camera. A wider field of view means the camera can capture more of what’s happening on the road. Look for a dash cam with at least 120 degrees viewing angle or more.
Our Recommendation Summary: Look for a dash camera with at least a resolution of 1080p. The higher the pixel, the better. We advise you to go for a frame rate of at least 30fps, which is the standard for most dash cams. If you think you might need smoother videos, then you can go for 60fps, but this is rarely necessary. Most importantly, check out pictures taken with this dashcam to see how good the camera quality is. As for the field of view, a viewing angle of at least 120 degrees for each camera is preferable, this ensures that you can capture as much going on in the one recording.
When looking for a dashcam, ensure you check the storage capacity as well. While dash cams usually come with a MicroSD card slot, it would be good if your dash cam came with a bit of internal storage so that you do not have to worry about managing storage, especially if you are not the type to pay attention to such things. As noted in the Frame Rates section, the higher the FPS (frames per second), the faster your storage will get consumed. Ideally, you would want to find something with at least 128GB, the more the better.
Our Recommendation: Find a dash cam with at least 128GB of internal storage, we have seen this go up to 512GB by Vantrue Dash Cams. This might serve you for a couple of days, so if you do not intend to delete media on your dash cam every few days, you might have to get a MicroSD card to help you. Fortunately, there are dash cameras that come with MicroSD cards already, so it is worth checking what gets included in your bundle when buying.
3. Parking Mode And Loop Recording
If you are on your way to work and in a hurry, you won’t have the time or the thought to turn on your dash cam. This is why the parking mode and loop recording features are important – parking mode is a must. This feature allows the dash cam to monitor your vehicle even when it’s parked. It activates the recording when motion or impact is detected, providing surveillance and evidence in case of incidents or vandalism.
While we have already mentioned the importance of getting enough storage, it is also probable that we might not realise how quickly the storage fills up. With loop recording, newer footage is recorded over older footage when your storage is full. If you realise and get bigger storage, you can save both the old and new footage without concern.
Our Recommendations: Parking mode and loop recording should be the bare minimum of your dash cam features. Not all accidents/incidences occur on the road whilst driving, but when you’re not in the car – theft, break-ins, vandalism and so on.
4. Wireless Connectivity and GPS Logging
There are a lot of smart dash cams out there. These dash cams come with the option of wireless connectivity. The implication is that your dash camera can connect to the Bluetooth of your phone or the internet. These features come with various benefits, like managing storage and dash cam settings from your phone. You can upload and stream media captured on your dash cam. GPS-enabled dash cams can record location and speed data along with the video footage, providing additional information for insurance claims or legal purposes. These 2 features are pretty common for most dash cams nowadays and considered the norm, your mobile app will be where you can download and view footage on your phone.
5. Night Vision
Look for a dash cam with good low-light performance or night vision capabilities to capture clear footage in darker conditions.
Our recommendation: Look to choose a dash cam that has super night vision, preferably supported by the Sony Starvis Sensor Technology.
Video is the most important thing to record. However, there are cases when audio is as important as well. Through audio recordings, any conversations that have taken place in the car can be stored. Fortunately, having this feature does not really add up that much to the camera’s cost.
There are also dash cams with two cameras. In most cases, these are cameras purchased by Lyft and Uber drivers in order to record what’s happening inside the vehicle. These are your 2 in 1 type of dash cams that can record both ways at once. Alternatively, there are units where you have 2 separate cameras in the inside, across the windshield and another in the cabin for a better view/angle than the 2 in 1 units. much to the camera’s cost. Alternatively, you can just purchase a 3 Channel Dash Cam, that comes with an interior camera.
While this can be a good feature, it also has downsides. One, since more footage is recorded, that would also mean using more storage space. It’s highly recommended to get an SD card that has more than enough space to store videos captured by the two cameras. The other drawback would be the cost. Especially if you’re opting for high quality sensors, expect the cost to significantly rise.
Voice Command Handsfree
If you are looking for a more handsfree approach to using your dash cam, some do come with voice command and voice notifications at your convenience. This means you able to command certain instructions whilst keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Some dash cams do offer a remote control that can be stuck onto the dashboard for a middle ground hands free approach. Not a must-have, but rather a personal preference for some.
Considering how common vehicular accidents are, getting a dash cam is becoming more prudent. Choosing one can be difficult, but if you use the features in this guide, you should be safe. Also, look for features that might be a good addition to your lifestyle. For example, if you tend to drive at night, you might need a car dash camera that offers night vision. We hope this piece helps with your search.
Car Care Advice For The Everyday Driver & Enthusiast
As a seasoned author on our team, Chester also known as ‘Gadget’, for his love for all things mechanical, brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, particularly when it comes to automotive topics.