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Are OEM dashcams worth the extra cost?

The rise of the dash cam is undeniable. According to Research and Markets, the global dashboard camera market rose at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2% from $3.15 billion in 2022 to $3.79 billion in 2023. As more people are equipping their vehicles with a dash cam, we are also seeing more car manufacturers offering OEM-branded dash cams in their lineup of optional accessories.

For instance, Tesla’s built-in dash cam highlights eight surrounding cameras for AutoPilot functionality, and ingeniously repurposing for both Dashcam mode and Sentry mode. Cadillac also offers the Surround Vision Recorder in its CT6 models, utilizing four exterior cameras to record video. Chevrolet boasts Performance Data Recorder (PDR) in the Corvette and Camaro, recording video and telemetric data favoured by track enthusiasts. Subaru has also introduced the built-in 'EyeSight' system, available in many of their vehicles.

But those brands are far from all of them, as even BMW has introduced a noteworthy feature available in various models, including the 7 Series, 3 Series, 8 Series, X5, and X7, the BMW Drive Recorder and the Advanced Car Eye 3.0 tech, which is relatively the same but has Phone Integration and Parking Mode capabilities.

It’s good to see that the automotive industry never stops accomodating for road safety – although it still comes with a price, and as almost all car owners know, dealerships always charge top-dollar. Before you commit to getting an OEM dash cam, we would like to share a simple fact with you: buying an OEM-branded dashcam is frequently overpriced, and often drastically more basic than other options out there. Here’s why.

Paying More ≠ Better Dash Cam

Just because you’re paying more at the dealership doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a better dash cam.

While it may seem convenient, dashcams offered by dealerships are frequently more expensive and have fewer features. Other things to think about are fixed installation locations and reliance on dealership service centres for repairs, charging high rates. Additionally, dealer-installed dash cams with proprietary features may result in you being locked-in to their services, which makes it difficult to switch to other choices or change car brands down the road.

Conversely, we can name more benefits to selecting an aftermarket dash cam over one installed by the dealership. First, they frequently have a lower price tag, and you can also decide where to mount them, giving you more discretion and privacy. Since these systems are modular, you can also quickly upgrade them without being restricted by pre-installed capabilities.

OEM Dash Cams Are Behind The Times

For car buyers, being offered a dash cam with the same nameplate as its manufacturer may assure you of reliability. However, one thing you must know is that typically, these OEM dashcams are built by other manufacturers, and they are not as capable as an aftermarket dashcam.

While we think that Tesla's dashcam design is forward-thinking, we do have some issues when it comes to video quality and reliability. For example, the video quality of the Tesla Cam is only 1280x960 at 30 frames per second, so it's between HD (720p) and Full HD (1080p) – not even close to aftermarket’s 2K and 4K. Taking a look at the features, these can be even more basic when compared to even standard dash cams, offering a minute recording window with a 32GB SD card, impact-only parking mode, no audio recording, and little to no customizability.

Take a different system, for instance, the BMW Drive Recorder only serves two primary functions: in the event of a collision, it automatically saves footage from 20 seconds before and after the accident. If you wish to capture specific moments, you'll need to manually activate the Drive Recorder via the iDrive menu, or get the BMW Advanced Car Eye Pro 3.0 system. The catch is, that this feature will cost an additional $563 USD, which is way higher than more durable, premium, and feature-packed aftermarket dashcams.

Moreover, Cadillac’s Surround Vision Recorder can only capture a front or rear view while driving, unlike dash cams with multiple-channel configurations. Subaru’s built-in 'EyeSight' system primarily serves adaptive cruise control and lane-departure assist. It can record accident footage but only retains 22 seconds of it, and accessing these recordings can be somewhat complex, unlike Wi-Fi dashcams.

The list of cons for OEM and OEM-style dash cams just goes on. While we could compare examples from different brands for hours, the trend is clear, they can’t keep up. This is not all too surprising for us, as resident experts in the dashcam field, we see what a rapid pace dash cam improvements take, and when it comes to these big companies juggling so many car models, it’s no wonder that it takes eons for them to get with the times.

Moreover, having an after-market dash cam gives you freedom and functionality, allowing you to select dash cams with enhanced resolution, better night vision, and advanced parking settings depending on your preference. To better illustrate that, we’ll give you a couple of premium options available on BlackboxMyCar at the $563 price point, like the BMW Drive: the Thinkware U3000 dual-channel, BlackVue DR770X Box, or the VIOFO A229 Pro 3-channel dash cam. Looking for a 2K QHD dash cam? The VIOFO A229 Plus and the Thinkware Q1000 are feature-packed options. Prefer an entry-level budget dash cam? We have the VIOFO A119 Mini 2 and the Thinkware F70 Pro priced around a hundred dollars.

Why you should buy your dash cam from BlackboxMyCar

Other reasons why it’s better to buy a dash cam from a specialized dash cam retailer, like BlackboxMyCar:

1. Dash cams are our forte

Everything we do here has to do with dash cams, from testing to review to installation. We have been in the dash cam industry for almost 12 years. We are huge on informed purchases, and we do our best to ensure you get the most in-depth information available. Everyone on our team is trained to know dash cams inside and out so that if you ever come to any one of us with questions, you won’t have to bounce from one department to another just to get the answers you need.

2. We carry the latest products

Chances are dealers didn’t develop or manufacture their dash cam units themselves, so they must have sourced it from a dash cam manufacturer, similar to the case of BMW and Thinkware. Developing a supplier relationship with a major automotive manufacturer takes years. Then, after years of negotiation, there’s still the testing phase, installation phase, and the logistics of adding the dash cam to the lineup of offerings.

In other words, from the time the dash cam is developed and pitched to the car manufacturer to the time it’s available at the dealership, it could be years. Perhaps that’s why the dash cams offered by Lexus, Toyota, BMW, Audi, and Chevrolet are all still 1080p Full HD when the current standard is already 2K QHD and 4K UHD.

This has been especially noticeable this year as dash cam manufacturers have taken things to the next level, with wide adoption of Sony STARVIS 2 image sensors, taking third-party camera image quality and night vision to the next-level.

3. We have less overhead costs

Car dealerships have large showrooms with a dozen salespersons waiting to help you and a couple dozen more technicians servicing your car. They also hire professional actors for their prime-time TV commercials – they have huge overhead costs and that typically translates to higher prices on everything, for everyone. We don’t have those costs to worry about.


Conclusion

We have been working directly with dash cam and battery pack manufacturers for years and we are proud to say that our partnership with them has allowed us to bring our customers the latest and hottest products sooner than many of our competitors - that way, not only can you be the first kid on the block with the coolest new toy but our dash cam experts also have the chance to test and learn more about these products thoroughly and have the most in-depth review and feedback ready before you come to us.

If you're looking for a dash cam for your vehicle, need help with installation, or want to inquire about the optional accessories and add-ons that will enhance the performance of your dash cam, come talk to us, we've got you.