After being hit by a reckless driver, there is nothing worse than hearing your insurance adjuster or lawyer tell you that your accident is a “he said, she said” situation. This means that no clear proof exists that the other driver caused the accident. The result is a devastating blow to any potential lawsuit and a massive financial burden on you.
It is possible to avoid the situation above by ensuring you have a dash camera operating in your car at all times. By providing video evidence of an accident, you can eliminate all doubt and be sure that the responsible party will be held liable. Dashcams are not expensive and usually are very easy to install. Today, we’ll cover our favorite tips when shopping for one for your car.
- How-To Guide for Buying Dash Cameras
- Warranty Coverage
- Final Thoughts
How-To Guide for Buying Dash Cameras
The days where a cheap camera was the right choice are gone. Today, even at a low price, dash cameras are able to offer complex settings that mimic what is used on expensive alternatives. For this reason, it is important to find the best options for your budget without sacrificing the essential features which make the user experience successful.
The quality of the sensor is what ultimately dictates the image quality. While there are plenty of great dashcams to consider at the moment, not all of them are ready to deal with the growing demands of changing light conditions. Sony makes great image sensors, which are then used by various manufacturers. Only a handful of brands offer quality sensors, and most dashcam manufacturers normally use them.
It is not mandatory to have a built-in display. Some dash cameras don’t have a display at all. Even more, there are a few cameras that might even struggle to offer an image preview. Others are made with LCD displays that offer real-time images so that the driver always knows what’s being recorded.
It is important to understand that a digital display will add to the size of the camera. If stealth is a major concern, choosing a dashcam with no digital display is recommended.
WDR and Dynamic Range
Dynamic range and all of its alternatives are important characteristics that dictate how images are captured in hard light conditions. For example, driving in a tunnel when there is only one strong light source somewhere on the horizon can lead to dark images for the rest of the areas. This can be balanced to an extent with the dynamic range.
The lens quality is a major concern for quality images. These lenses are not interchangeable, so the camera needs to come with great optics to capture the best images. The amount of light that can reach the sensor through the lens is measured by the aperture. The lower the aperture is, the more light the lens can capture. An f1.8 aperture is considered the golden standard in the dashcam community as it can gather enough light even during the evening.
Some dashcams fail immediately in negative temperatures. It is important to understand that most of them do not have any special seals to work in extreme conditions. However, since cars can be left outside during the winter, it is crucial to check their operating temperature range. The good news is that a small number of dashcams can work with low temperatures, which can even be as low as -20 degrees Celsius.
Wireless and Wired Data Transfer
Large files are the result of HD recording. These files can be transferred to a computer, laptop, or smartphone using a memory card. At the same time, wireless data transfer has become the norm over the past few years. WiFi connectivity ensures the recordings can be transferred with no additional data costs. USB data transfer is another great alternative for some dashcams. Some of the best products come with multiple methods to be considered for data transfer. In rare cases, they even come with TV-out connectivity.
Automatic On and Automatic Off
Automatic functions save the car’s battery life. Triggering recordings at the right time is important. For example, some dash cameras are actually programmed to start recording when approaching the scene of an accident. Other cameras are triggered by shocks specific to car accidents and start recording immediately.
Even detecting motion when parked can trigger some cameras to start recording and improve safety. Automatic functions also include loop recordings. These recordings are the ones that overwrite old footage to avoid losing the latest recordings.
Each dash camera should come with a product warranty. Most cheap cameras offer a warranty between 1-2 years for the product. 30-day money-back guarantee policies are also seen in some of the best products in this category. However, since manufacturing defects can be seen more often than with expensive alternatives, having proper warranty coverage in place can save money for every driver.
Do I Need to Go to the Car Dealer to Install a Dashcam?
A dash camera can be installed by the driver directly. All dash cameras come with complete installation instructions. Most importantly, they use suction mounts for quick installation.
Is a Cheap Dash Camera Worth It?
A cheap dash camera can be enough for most drivers. Even those who want HD quality images can rely on an affordable design for the best results. Most cheap cameras are now made with HD recording capabilities. In some cases, they can even record 4K videos.
How Can I Not Lose My Camera’s Recordings?
Automatic functions are added to the best dash cameras to quickly save the images if something goes wrong. For example, if the camera gets disconnected from its power source, the internal battery will power the camera until it saves all recordings it made up to that moment.
Will My Camera Drain My Car’s Battery?
Some cameras are designed to work even when the car is parked. It doesn’t drain the car’s battery as it only becomes active when it detects motions.
Is It Legal to Use a Dash Camera?
A dash camera is legal in most states. However, those traveling abroad need to ensure local laws allow them to record images from the car.
A cheap dash camera is sometimes all that’s needed to capture images from the road. Using such a camera still needs to be simple as many designs are too complicated. At the same time, it is not worth going over budget for a few extra features as most of them are rarely used anyway.
What dictates a great performance is often based on flawless user experience with no interruptions. Great image quality followed by easy data transfer is also important. Unlike many other types of cameras, dashcams should require minimum user input. A direction that needs to be primordial is often overlooked when purchasing a dashcam. The driver should keep their eyes on the road. Without any distractions or user input required, the dashcam should act on its own.
One of the main complaints users have about dash cameras comes with their design and operation, which can distract them while driving, especially at nighttime. Choosing the best cheap dash camera also involves choosing simplicity. Simultaneously, dashcams that come with all the accessories needed for installation are mandatory today as well. From micro-USB cables to memory cards, drivers need to ensure they have everything required before driving off. In some cases, SD or TF memory cards need to be purchased separately. It is best to invest in a fast memory card that can write data at a good pace, especially as it comes in large files due to HD image frame rates.