A dash cam is a camera mounted in your car, usually just below the rear view mirror. The main function is to record the road ahead of your car, but you can also purchase multiple dash cams to use as backup cameras or to monitor the sides or interior of your car. Recorded footage can be used to document traffic accidents (especially hit-and-runs) or create a great time-lapse.
Typically, these devices are powered by plugging into your car’s cigarette lighter port or by professionally wiring your car’s battery. Newer devices send data to your smartphone or computer via built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, although some still choose to write data to a local microSD card. Some can support several GB of data, but usually these cameras just record footage until you save the clip.
Dash cams are generally small and can be mounted more or less discreetly on the windshield. Some even have a small built-in screen and navigation bar that lets you view footage and adjust settings without using a phone or laptop. When it comes to dash cams, it’s fair to say that you get what you pay for.
Super cheap or super expensive dash cams are rare, and the best ones usually sell for between $150 and $300. In general, higher-end models offer better video resolution (which is important for capturing small details like license plates, dents, etc.), wider viewing angles, and maintaining good video quality when shooting in low-light conditions.
Advantages of Dash Cam
- Dashcams can help you fight speeding tickets, catch car theft or other unexpected events, and record evidence of dangerous drivers or traffic accidents (even if they involve you or other drivers).
- Dash cam owners may also qualify for reductions from several auto insurance providers. Some dashcams also have useful features like built-in GPS that can geotag the specific location you’re recording.
- This is great for finding out exactly where that beautiful road you drove last Sunday was or providing evidence of a car accident.
- The new dash cams also integrate smart assistants like Alexa or support voice commands that let you tell the device to save a clip when you put your hands on the steering wheel.
- Some on-board cameras can warn you of impending slowdowns and traffic cameras. Which can prevent you from getting an unnecessary ticket. Some can warn you of lane and rear collisions, helping you be a safer driver.
- They are also a great tool to have in your teen’s car. Make sure they are driving safely and keeping an eye on the road.
- Another great feature that some cameras have is Emergency SOS. Which can alert emergency services if you are incapacitated in a traffic accident.
Finally, some dashcams have a second camera that can be used as a backup camera or to record the inside of your car. It can be a great way to keep an eye on your kids or catch car thieves.
Disadvantages of Dash Cams
- Depending on what features you want—and even professional installation—dash cams can be expensive. Like over $500 expensive.
- On the other hand, super cheap options are almost always problematic with an unreliable or missing important components.
- No matter how much you spend on your dashcam (and it’s worth remembering that good devices cost at least $200), there’s always the risk that they could be stolen because they’re out there and easy to find. And if a thief decides to break into your car because of this, he can find other things nearby.
- This is a significant risk, especially considering the fact that a dashcam isn’t something most people need.
- Some models of dash cameras may record audio or include a secondary camera to monitor the interior of your vehicle. Because the cameras are mounted in your car. This means they can record the conversations and actions of you and your passengers.
- This also means you can record your text messages while you’re driving or doing other things you shouldn’t be doing. While well-intentioned, there are privacy concerns. Especially if the dash cam of choice stores data via the cloud rather than an internal SD card.
- You are also responsible for informing your passengers about these features and asking for their permission.