If you have no idea what dash cam to purchase, this buyer’s guide should help you narrow down your choices and let you know what to look out for. These are the sort of questions we ask our customers when they contact us to point them in the right direction. We also have some specific dash cams we recommend based on unique applications such as rideshare, fleets, and new drivers!
If you want to dive in and learn more about a specific dashboard camera, we have an extensive resource of Dash Cam Reviews. After following this guide and determining the features you need, you’ll be able to easily discover which dash cam is the best choice for your vehicle or fleet.
This guide has been updated for 2018. For a look into what we have recommended in the past, check out our previous version of the Dash Cam Buyer's Guide here!
The Best Dash Cam For You
There are many options, features and other differences that can make buying a dash cam seem complicated. The best dash cam for you is the one that meets all of your needs and desired features. There isn’t a dash cam that’s best for every situation, as they all offer different experiences for different needs. This article aims to educate you on everything you need to understand to find the one that best fits your specific needs and situation.
Multi-Camera Systems: How Many Channels (Angles) Do You Need?
When we mention the number of channels, we're referring to how many cameras you want in your vehicle and how many angles you want to cover. The most common choices are 1 Channel (front facing) and 2 Channel (front and rear facing), however there have been customers that want a 4 Channel setup which covers the sides of the vehicle as well. Drivers for Rideshare programs such as Uber, and Lyft might want to go with a 2 channel camera where the rear unit is facing the interior.
The number of recording channels will depend on your budget, your needs for the dash cam, and the vehicle you plan on installing in. In some vehicles, it may be difficult to mount a rear or side camera. Some companies like Thinkware let you add a rear camera afterwards as an option, but most other 1 channel dash cams like the BlackVue DR750S-1CH do not have the port for a rear camera.
Best Dual Lens Dash Cams
There are many 2 Channel dash cams to choose from, and here at BlackboxMyCar, we have all the top products to provide your vehicle with a full spectrum of visual protection. Check out our full collection of the Best 2-Channel Dash Cams to find your perfect match.
Parking Mode - Do You Need a Dash Cam to Record While Parked?
Parking mode is a dedicated recording mode that is designed to protect your vehicle even when the car is off. This is important for catching events like hit and runs or vandalism. True parking mode dash cams use technologies like motion detection and pre-buffered recording to enhance the parking recording capabilities. To use parking mode you will either need to hardwire the dash cam in your vehicle or power it using a dedicated battery pack like the Cellink B.
Some dash cam manufacturers include small internal batteries that do not supply enough power for extended parking recording and are generally unsafe to use in hotter climates. The best parking mode dash cams will also feature memory partitioning to protect hit and run files. Our favourite parking mode dash cams come from BlackSys and Thinkware.
Best Parking Mode Dash Cam
Parking mode has become a feature that’s heavily imitated, but often products miss the mark. At BlackboxMyCar we offer a collection of the Best Parking Mode Dash Cams, vetted and reviewed by trusted sources to ensure our customers receive the highest quality product.
Video Quality - Do You Need the Highest Resolution?
Nowadays, most dash cams offer pretty good video quality, even at relatively low price points. A good dash cam will have to strike a balance between video quality and file size. This is because dash cams are limited to their memory card space and very high bitrates will result in greater risk of overwriting. Higher end systems will have better sensors, lens, processors, and firmware to achieve better video quality. Some dash cams may even support higher resolutions like 1440P or 60 frames per second recording for smoother looking footage. Cameras that feature the Sony STARVIS line of sensors like the Thinkware F800 Pro or Blackvue DR750S typically offer the best low light performance.
Form Factor - Do You Need a Screen?
Dash cams come in different shapes and sizes. The two categories we’ll focus on is LCD vs. non-LCD dash cams and suction cup vs. adhesive mount dash cams. LCD dash cams offer the ability to change settings and immediately review videos on the device without the need for a computer or smartphone. Some LCD screen dash cams like the wedge shaped VIOFO A119S use a very small screen which helps to keep the size down. However, some dash cams can use large touchscreens which can be easier to use but also more visible from the outside. Many dash cams don’t actually have an LCD screen at all. With these systems you can access the files and settings by taking out the memory card. Some dash cams, like the BlackSys CH-200, may also have a WiFi app that allows access through your smartphone.
How Do You Mount Your Dash Cam?
The other thing to consider with form factor is the mounting type. Suction cups are one way of mounting a dash cam. The benefits are that it can be removed very easily and swiveled in different directions. You may want to use a suction cup if you need to switch between vehicles for work or travel purposes. However, for the most part we recommend adhesive mount dash cams. Adhesive mounts take up less space and are less visible to the driver and people walking by. They are also sturdier and much less likely to fall off in extreme temperatures or under vibration. This is a safer mounting solution that can also result in better video quality.
GPS and WiFi Enabled Dash Cams: Added Data and Connectivity
The GPS feature that’s seen on dash cams can log the speed and location of the vehicle. We highly recommend this feature if the dash cam is being installed in a company or work vehicle. You can use this data to monitor employee driving habits as well arguing against false claims of speeding. Just a note, the GPS feature does not allow any kind of navigation function.
WiFi is a feature that lets you use your phone as a screen to access and control your dash cam. You can typically view and download videos as well as change settings using a WiFi app. This feature is especially handy if you need to share your videos to an insurance company, police officer, or even just on social media. Use of the WiFi enabled app typically does not require any cellular data connection. Certain dash cams like the BlackVue DR750S-2CH even have a cloud function which lets you pair the unit to an internet source for additional features. These might include live streaming, location tracking, and even alert notifications if your car is involved in a hit and run!
Best WiFi Dash Cams
Most modern products adopt WiFi features to improve usability and convenience, and dash cams are no exception. But that doesn’t mean WiFi dash cams are all created equal. Sometimes the phone app can be a chore to use, or the connection to your device is spotty. Our team has assembled the top WiFi Enabled Dash Cams in our store to make sure customers are getting the best in market black box devices
Dash Cam Features: Additional Key Terms to Know
The features above are the primary differentiating factors between most dash cams, but they aren’t all the terms you’ll find in the store. Our guide below outlines some other features you might want to look for in your next dashboard camera. Night Vision, field of view and batteries and capacitors are all important to how your dash cam functions on a day-to-day basis. Loop recording, seamless recording and auto-start features can be great for quality of life and ease of use when operating a dash cam in your vehicle.
Still have questions?
If you’re still not sure what dash cam to go with after going through our buyer’s guide, feel free to contact us!
Let us know how you intend on using it, what vehicle it will be installed in, and what your budget is and we’ll try our best to find something that works for you!