Best Dashboard Cameras

Are you wondering what the point of having a dashboard camera is and how to pick one? Check out some top dash camera benefits and options.

In this era of technology, taking videos of events is more popular than ever before. Most of the time, that task is now accomplished with cellphone cameras. Yet, there is at least one time when capturing life with a cellphone camera is not legally possible. That is when you are driving a car. Instead, you need a hands-free way to record the scenery around you. That option is available. It is called a dashboard camera, or more popularly a dash cam.

You have probably seen dash cam videos online frequently. Your friends or family members may even have dash cams in their personal vehicles. However, if you have never owned one, you might not know all of their benefits. You also may have difficulty choosing a particular model. A little research can help you make the right choice. Use the information below to start your search for the best dashboard camera.

What is a Dashboard Camera?

A dashboard camera is a camera designed for use in a car.  Most dash cams are indeed mounted to the dashboards of vehicles. Although, some do attach to mirrors. Certain dash cams are designed to stay in position on a semi-permanent basis. Others are easily removed when the vehicle is not in use. 

When dash cams are on, they visually record events that take place outside the vehicles in which they are mounted. Some of them also record audio from within the vehicles. The recordings are saved for later review. Some models have finite amounts of storage space available. Those models store data on Secure Digital (SD) cards. However, there are also models available that use cloud-based data storage. Often, more storage space is available via the cloud than on SD cards.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Dashboard Camera?

There are three primary benefits of having a dashboard camera. The first is it allows a driver to record accidents or traffic stops involving his or her own vehicle. Many car accidents occur annually in the United States and abroad. On average, 1.35 million accident victims die each year worldwide. Often, who is at fault in fatal and non-fatal accidents is unclear. Dash cams record accidents to give law enforcement officials more accurate information regarding crash causes. They also help drivers dispute tickets after traffic stops.

The second benefit of a dash cam is it allows a driver to record vandalism or theft around or within the vehicle. Video evidence can prove such an incident took place. It may also reveal detailed information about goods that were stolen or images of the thieves. Therefore, it is often useful for court and insurance purposes.

A third reason to install a dashboard camera is to record scenery around the vehicle. A driver may do that for the purposes of remembering a specific trip or route. He or she may also enjoy recording unique scenery, such as when on vacation in another state or country. While recording scenery, a driver may also randomly capture interesting, unusual, funny, or scary events, such as:

  • Unusual Weather Patterns (Tornadoes, Hurricanes Etc.)

  • Funny or Cute Wildlife Encounters

  • Plane Crashes

  • Forest Fires

Can Dashboard Cameras Cause Any Problems?

There are some problems associated with dashboard cameras. One is that personal dash cams are not always legal. When they are, they are not necessarily legal in all situations. For example, if a dash cam records audio, all passengers must give consent before it is turned on. Check the laws at the local, county, and state levels in your area before purchasing one.

Another potential dash cam issue is audio and video recorded in a vehicle is admissible as evidence against the driver and passengers in that vehicle. If a driver or passenger is arrested or suspected of causing an accident, the police can confiscate the dash cam. If they do so, they may review all recorded information. That raises issues of possible invasion of privacy.

A third concern is many dash cam purchasers believe dash cams deter thieves. In reality, some thieves know dash cams are often expensive. Therefore, they may view vehicles with dash cams as good targets. They can easily steal dash cams and resell them. In the process, they may also find other items in the vehicles to steal. That is why many dash cam users opt to remove their cameras when they are not using their vehicles.

What Are Some of the Best Dashboard Cameras?

Many dashboard camera models are available. They each have specific features and functions. For instance, some incorporate Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Some also offer extra features like emergency recording options, LCD screens, or mobile app compatibility. When selecting a dashboard camera, it is important to identify desired functions and features before making a purchase. Here are some top dashboard cameras to consider:

  • The Garmin Dash Cam 57 is a small, powerful device. It comes with a magnetic mount and incorporates voice control capability. It also provides theft-proof cloud storage and SD card storage options.

  • The Nexar Beam includes GPS location tracking. It is capable of recognizing road hazards. It also features a dedicated app loved ones can use to locate drivers who are running late. It records HD video, and free clip storage is available.

  • The Vantrue N4 has extensive recording capabilities. It can record images in front of, behind, and within a vehicle. It also features a rear screen for clip review, rather than requiring cell phone app integration. The camera's motion sensor activation feature allows drivers to see outside activities that occurred when their vehicles were not in use.

  • The Owlcam Classic 5.0 features a low mount for inconspicuous recording. It offers road-facing and in-vehicle recording. The Owl's infrared sensor system makes it ideal for recording videos after dark.

  • The Kenwood DRV-A601W features optional rear camera recording and built-in GPS. It also offers touch panel control and 4K 8.3-megapixel image recording. 

How Much Do Dashboard Cameras Typically Cost?

The costs of dashboard cameras are usually commensurate with their brand names, ages, and features. A new model from a top company can sometimes cost as much as $450 to $500. However, it is also possible to find a basic dash cam for as little as $50. The five models listed above range in price from $139 to $269. When purchasing one, you must base your choice on your budget and the features you desire most.