Every new driver is given the same piece of advice before they get behind the wheel for the first time: expect the unexpected. While this mantra is great as a general rule, sometimes accidents happen and can be unavoidable regardless of how diligent and alert you are. Anyone who’s spent a reasonable amount of time in the car will have a story about a dangerous driver, a crazy cyclist, or some other incident that will leave you wondering what kind of nutcases you’re sharing the road with. If the worst happens and you find yourself involved in a collision a Dash Cam could save you thousands.
What Is A Dash Cam?
Dash Cams (shorthand for Dashboard Cameras or Dash Cameras) are small camera units that attach to the inside of your windscreen and capture a wide angle, continuous video of the road in front of you. There are a number of reasons you might want to do this, but by far the most popular one is to protect your insurance premiums. More on this below!
How does a Dash Cam work?
Many Dash Cams have a small internal battery, however, this is really only meant as a backup in case power is lost; your dash cam will be powered via your car’s 12v cigarette lighter port, or you can hardwire a dashcam directly to the battery if you’re feeling adventurous! Hardwiring is well documented by most major manufacturers and you can usually find decent installation guides on YouTube. With your dash camera plugged into a power source it will automatically power on and start recording as soon as you start your engine, meaning it really is a ‘set and forget’ device.
Most models of dash cam will have a small internal memory, but like the battery, this is only meant as a backup. By installing an SD card or Micro SD card you can massively boost the amount of footage your dashcam will store for a relatively low price. Generally speaking, many Dash Cam models will continuously capture video in 5 minute clips until it runs out of space, at which point it will go back and overwrite the old clip and work forwards again. This is called loop recording, which means that in the case of an incident happening you don’t need to immediately preserve the recording, you’ll have several hours worth of driving/recording time before the important clips are overwritten. Some higher end dash cam models even have crash detection sensors and will lock clips where a collision occurs so they won’t be recorded over later.
Some Dash Cams also come with a rear facing camera or as a dual camera setup, meaning you’re capturing a full rear view too. Fancy!
Why Do I Need A Dash Cam?
This is the real question here. The main use most drivers would have for a Dash Cam is to prove fault in the case of an accident. High definition video footage beats ‘your word against mine’ 100% of the time. If you’re involved in an accident and you’re not at fault, simply wait until you’ve resolved the situation and retrieve the footage off your Dash Cam SD card. Your insurer can then use the footage to determine fault and you can avoid costly claims on your policy. With premiums and dodgy claims constantly on the rise, a Dash Cam will provide extra peace of mind. In fact, Dash Cams are so effective against scam claims that some insurers are offering discounts on quotes for vehicles fitted with them, meaning your purchase will pay for itself within a year or two even if you never need to use it!
Dash Cams are totally legal to use on the road in Ireland and the UK, and their footage is admissible as evidence in court. Otherwise, legality can vary by country, so do your research before you hit mainland Europe.
Dash Cams aren’t like a GoPro or other sports camera - you’re probably not going to be watching much, if any, of the footage afterwards. It just sits there recording, whether you interfere with it or not... and that’s the point. An always on camera won’t forget to hit record at the wrong moment! It just does it’s thing in the background and can be ignored until you need it.
How Much Does a Dash Cam cost?
Dash Cams were once only really found in Formula 1 cars and emergency service vehicles, and the place you were most likely to find footage from them was in late night police chase shows. Those cameras were either bulky and expensive or small and MEGA expensive. In-Car tech has come on leaps and bounds since those days, and Dash Cam pricing can start as low as €30… you won’t get much for that money though.
When shopping for a Dash Cam the number one most important thing to look at is quality. There’s no point at all installing a camera that’s only going to display jerky, blurry, low quality footage. If you consider that a Dash Cam is really an investment in your personal safety rather than just another gadget, it becomes much easier to justify spending a little bit more on a reputable brand. At the VERY LEAST you want a camera that records in 720p quality, at 30 frames a second (. This will ensure your footage is clear and smooth enough for you to read reg plates or other identifying features. The second most important factor is viewing angle - a camera with 120 degrees (or more) of forward vision will capture a wide angle view of the road in front, meaning you won’t miss anything! The final thing you should look at is mounting/installation. Is the Dash Cam too big and obvious? Can it be stowed away when not in use? Can it be wired in for auto-start/stop? Will it wipe the card for me when full? All of these features vary between manufacturers so it’s worth reading reviews to ensure you’re not missing out.
MicksGarage Dashcam Top Picks
Budget Option - NextBase Dash Cam NB112
The NextBase 112 is one of our best sellers, and it’s easy to see why. This high quality unit continuously captures 30fps 720p HD footage at a 120 degree viewing angle, saving the video to a removable SD card. It’s not as discrete as pricier units, but the magnetic mount means you can quickly snap the camera off for storage out of sight when you leave your vehicle. The NB112 also has a 2” LED screen to allow you to review video clips without needing to plug into your computer and supports auto power on and auto clip recording/wiping.
Midrange Option - NextBase Dash Cam 312GW
The NextBase 312GW is a beefed up version of the NB112, and the specifications reflect the increase in price. The resolution is increased to Full HD 1080p, the viewing angle gets a bump to 140 degrees (meaning even more of the road ahead is captured), and a larger 2.7” screen makes an appearance. A larger sensor also improves performance at night or in other lower light situations. The Nextbase Dash Cam 312GW also adds wifi support, allowing you to view and save video clips via an app on your smartphone. Also new to this model is GPS speed and location tagging, allowing you to provide even more proof of innocence in a dispute.
Premium Option - Blackvue Dash Cam DR590
The Blackvue Dash Cam DR590 is a high end, high performance Dash Cam with some seriously upgraded specs. Blackvue Dash Cams ditch the screen in favour of a slim design which tucks discreetly away behind your rearview mirror, meaning you don’t have another bit of kit vying for your attention on the windscreen. This model matches the 1080p and 140 degree angles of the Nextbase Dash Cam 312GW, but boosts the framerate of the footage up to 60fps. This means the footage you capture will be silky smooth and much less prone to blur, regardless of speed or shaking. This Blackvue dash cam also features an enhanced night vision mode and 16GB of internal memory, though you can expand this with a micro SD card if you need to.
Additionally, the Blackvue Dash Cam DR590 is also available as a dual Dash Cam bundle, with a second camera capturing rear footage - perfect for those little fender benders. Buy a Blackvue Dash Cam and you’ll never use another!
The Rolls Royce Option - Blackvue Dash Cam DR900s
If the DR590 didn’t tick your features box, we’ve got the creme-de-la-creme of Dash Cams - The Blackvue DR900s. It claims to be the world’s first 4K camera, and it more than lives up to the hype if the sample videos on Youtube are to be believed. The DR900s also features an ultra-wide 162 degree lens for an unmatched view of the road as well as the front sides of the vehicle. While it only captures 30fps footage, at 4K the image is guaranteed to be sharp regardless. The Blackvue DR900s Dash Cam also comes equipped with Dual Band WiFi and Blackvue Cloud, allowing your footage to be uploaded to Blackvue’s servers straight away to ensure video is preserved if the Dash Cam or your smartphone are destroyed. The quality of the footage, especially at night, and this handy backup service are where the DR900s really comes out at the top of the pile. Like the DR590 it’s also available as a twin bundle, coming with a rear view camera with specs to rival most other main Dash Cams!
So there you have it, we hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding. All these dash cams make for a safer driving experience. If you having questions about, car accessories, simply send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will help you to get Car parts for less. We will help you and we'll make sure that you're getting the best price every time!
Until next time,
MicksGarage.com the Car Parts Experts.