Three Things to Know Before You Buy a Dash Cam

Considering purchasing a dash cam for your car or truck? Here are a couple of things to consider before you make your decision.

Dash cam installed on the car dash
Dashboard video cameras aren't just for taxi drivers anymore.Photo by David Tran on Unsplash

The options for dash cameras can be staggering. Between the various fields of view, resolutions, smart features, wireless capabilities and more, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. Consider these three things to dial in on the right dash cam for you.

Video Quality

APEMAN Mini Dash Cam
This affordable dash cam shoots 1080p 30fps with a 170-degree FOV. It also has crash detection, night vision, parking monitoring, and a color screen.APEMAN

Video evidence isn’t going to do you much good if it’s all pixilated and blurry, right? That’s why video quality is one of the most important factors, and there’s a very wide range. There are two main things to look at here: resolution and frame rate. For resolution, keeping it at 1080p (full HD) should be a minimum. Cameras that are 720p and lower just won’t have the detail. Some cameras even go as high as 4K resolution. Frame rate is the number of still images it takes per second, and here I would say look for cameras that do 30fps (frames per second). Slower than that and you’re liable to get motion-blur. You also want to make sure it has a nice wide field of view. 170-degrees is excellent.

Smarts

Rove R2-4K Dash Cam
This little camera can shoot up to 4K (2160p) resolution, and has built-in GPS to record your speed, as well as Wi-Fi to quickly transfer important videos to your phone.ROVE

Dash cameras record on a loop, continuously deleting old footage to make for the new stuff. The idea is that you only need to save the footage when an incident happens, right? A good dash camera will have a sensor that can detect crashes and automatically lock the video in storage, so you don’t have to think about it in the wake of an accident. Some cameras have built-in GPS, so it can overlay location data as well as your speed of travel. Some have Wi-Fi, too, enabling you to quickly transfer an important video to your phone so you can share it.

Second Camera

APEMAN 1440P&1080P Dual Dash Cam
This two-in-one cash cam supports front-facing resolution up to 1520p and a rear camera with 1080p. It also has crash detection, parking monitor, night vision, and a wide field of view.APEMAN

While virtually all dash cams record what happens in front of your car, some have the option of working with a second camera. This gives you the option to add a backup camera to your car, even if it wasn’t designed to support one. That will be an even bigger relief for people towing trailers or boats. Some cameras also have a rear-facing camera on the unit, which records not only what happens in front of the vehicle, but also in the cab, a feature parents of new drivers may want.

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