The Ultimate Dash Cam Buying Guide

There are many factors behind choosing the right dash cam, this guide will help fill in the gaps to purchasing the right dash cam for you. Traditionally we would look at the different hardware that makes up the perfect dash cam, but now we look at a combination of hardware and software in our buying decision.

Video quality is one of the most important factors when purchasing a dash cam. It is vital that the recorded footage is able to pick up necessary information e.g. licence plates and other important information to ensure your footage is going to provide you the evidence you need after an incident.

It is recommended to purchase a dash cam that records in Full HD 1080p (720p at the minimum).

It is important to note that a cheap 1080p is not going to match the quality of a high end 1080p dash cam. Purchasing cheap dash cams (generally under $100) will result in poor video quality. Cheap dash cams generally perform very average, they are normally equipped with plastic lenses which result in heat related focus shifts, night performance is usually below average and normal daytime recording lacks significantly in quality.

Below is a comparison of two 1080 dash cams recording at the same time. The first video displays a cheap dash cam, the second displays a high end dash cam.

Footage Coming Soon

Parking mode is a core feature to look for when purchasing a dash cam, offering surveillance when the car is parked. This is an important feature for anyone concerned with a possible hit and run, vandalism and other incidents that occur when you are away from your car.

When a dash cam has parking mode functionality, it can record when the ignition is off (note the camera installation must be hardwired). Some important parking mode features to look for include:

  • Voltage cut-off – This functionality automatically monitors your car battery, allowing the dash cam to switch off if your car battery drops below a certain point. This ensures you will never experience a flat battery from the camera during parking mode.
  • Motion detection – When a dash cam equipped with this feature detects motion, it will begin recording the motion footage and storing it in a separate folder for convenience.

GPS functionality utilises a satellite link to record important information such as location and speed during a journey. This information can be extremely important as it provides an extra layer of evidence to any scenario you may find yourself in. In fact, there are documented cases of individuals fighting speeding fines with the use of GPS logging.

GPS antennas are most commonly integrated in three ways; internal, external and docked/mounted. It does not matter which integration the dash cam has, what matters is ensuring the GPS antennas is installed with a good line-of-sight to the satellites in orbit.

Design of the dash cam is important in your buying decision. Some dash cams include an LCD screen used to display footage and adjust settings. Other dash cams do not include a screen and are generally smaller and more compact.

Which is better? There is no better design, it is entirely customer preference. Most people prefer a smaller compact camera that is hidden away out of sight. Others are not concerned about size, and want to be able to easily adjust setting and view footage on a screen.

With the introduction of Wi-Fi, the need for the LCD screen is decreasing. We will discuss more on Wi-Fi further in the guide.

Built-in Wi-Fi functionality allows the dash cam to pair wirelessly with your Smartphone to live stream footage, adjust settings and export footage wirelessly to your mobile device. Wi-Fi is a common feature used in the premium end of the dash cam market.

Wi-Fi removes the hassle of having to remove the sd card from the camera and connecting it to the PC just to view footage, export footage and adjust settings.

It’s important to note there is no internet connection required, many people presume Wi-Fi relates to internet connectivity. The Wi-Fi is only used to communicate wirelessly to your smartphone device, similar functionality to how you pair your phone to a bluetooth device to stream music.

ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistant Systems) takes driver safety to a whole new level offering safety guidance features in real time when you drive. These real time driver assistant tools are designed improve driver safety on the road. The ADAS incorporation is slightly different depending on the product, some features to look out for include;

  • Lane departure warnings – Alerts driver when vehicle strays out of lane
  • Forward collision warnings – Alert drivers when approaching too closely to the vehicle ahead to avoid collision
  • Front Car Movement Detection – Alerts when the vehicle in front of you moves forward
  • Speed camera alerts – Alerts when vehicle approaches red light cameras, speed cameras, average speed zones & mobile speed zone