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The Ultimate Dash Cam Buyer's Guide
New to Dash Cams? Become an Expert Here.
If you have no idea what dash cam to purchase, then this dash cam buyer's guide will have everything you will ever need to become a dash cam expert yourself. We're here to 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.
Dash cams are extremely versatile, and can be used in many different types of situations. From daily driving to driving for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing to even fleet managers operating a fleet of commercial vehicles, there is a dash cam out there that's right for you. BlackboxMyCar covers every scenario to make sure you're protected, no matter where you are.
This buyer's guide has been updated for 2019.
Dash Cam Basics
What is a Dash Cam & Why Do I Need One?
A dash cam stands for a dashboard camera that is mounted inside the vehicle, usually on the front windshield. A dash cam, depending on the model, can do many things such as record both when the vehicle is being driven and when it’s parked, record audio, provide a connection to a smartphone app so that video can be reviewed and saved on the spot, etc.
Dash cams can come with 1-Channel (Front), 2-Channels (Front & Rear), 2-Channels (Front & Interior) or even as many as 3-channels to protect you and your vehicle. Take a read in our article to find out how many you need.
What is an IR Dash Cam & Why Do I Need One?
An IR dash cam is a dash cam with infrared lights that provide recording details under poorly-lit conditions, as well as total darkness. These are dual-channel dash cam setups with a regular front-facing unit and a secondary unit that comes with infrared lights.
The secondary unit is typically mounted to face and record the interior of the vehicle, and thus is especially recommended for rideshare users, such as for Uber and Lyft, or for commercial use, such as fleet managers.
What are the Basic Features of a Dash Cam?
The basic features of a dash cam, including its ease of use, can be important factors in the decision of purchasing a dash cam. The products we carry all do their basic jobs easily and conveniently without much work involved. This article breaks down the basic features of a dash cam, covering terms including auto-start, auto-recording, loop recording and more.
Why Consider a Premium Dash Cam?
A question that we are frequently asked is: “Why are these particular cameras so much more expensive than ones on Amazon that are priced around $100 or lower?” There are a few reasons as to why this is the case, and these reasons make a huge difference.
Learn more about premium features including designs, parking mode, smartphone integration, 4K UHD video resolution, g-force, ADAS, memory card storage and more.
Dash Cam Features
What is Parking Mode?
Parking mode recording is a feature of a dash cam that keeps your dash cam recording footage even when the vehicle is off. Typically found only in premium dash cams, parking mode provides around-the-clock protection and surveillance for the vehicle.
Remember that an accident can happen at any time, and it’s always worse when the driver is away from the vehicle without any witnesses. The ability to capture footage while parked, to prevent hit-and-runs, door dings and vandalism, can prove to be very useful.
What is Wi-Fi & GPS for Dash Cams?
The GPS and wi-fi features in a dash cam can be highly useful, and sometimes even crucial in daily use. Traditionally, only higher end premium dash cams offered these features but there are now a variety of lower-end dash cams that have these included as well. We always recommend a dash cam with these features.
What is Video Resolution?
Almost all dash cams in the market today have Full HD 1080p resolution. With prices ranging from $150-$450, actual video quality varies greatly between these dash cams. So, what exactly is 1080p and how is it different between different dash cams?
What is Form Factor?
Form factor refers to the shape and size of a dash cam. This is an important aspect to consider as it can affect the driver’s field of view as well as the amount of attention drawn from people outside the vehicle.
Dash cams are typically discreet in nature. Some are rectangular, while others are more circular. Some offer an LCD screen, while others do not and offer a phone app integration instead. Find out which one is right for you.
Should I use Adhesive or Suction Cup Mounts?
Dash cams are typically mounted on the front and rear windshields of the vehicle and come with either adhesive or suction cup mounts.
While suction cup mounts may seem convenient and easy to use, they are not recommended since they can come off the windshield easily and are much more prone to vehicle vibration, which makes video footage shaky and blurry. Almost all dash cams use adhesive mounts for good reason, as they are much more durable and reliable in the vehicle.
What are SD Cards & Storage?
When buying a dash cam system for your vehicle, many people tend to forget one hugely important item: the microSD card.
MicroSD card usage in a dash cam is so vital because some cards fail very quickly and you may lose crucial footage in case of an accident. In our experience, the best micro SD card for dash cams are high capacity cards that are Class 10 with MLC technology, which basically translate to fast download and upload cards with added durability.
What is Memory Partitioning?
Memory partitioning refers to the ability of a dash cam to separate video files based on the type of recording, so that only the same kind of files can overwrite each other. This is actually an extremely important feature, found only in premium dash cams, as it provides significantly more protection.
What is Night Vision?
This feature is a software/firmware-based processing effect on the video to boost exposure in lower exposed areas. In the sample video, you can see that the park that's on the right of the vehicle (left in the rear clips) appears a lot brighter when super night vision is turned on.
What is Impact Detection / Motion Detection / G-Sensor?
Impact and motion detection is one of the most crucial aspects of a dash cam, and typically found only in premium models. Impact detection refers to a video file being recorded when triggered by an internal, built-in G-sensor and motion detection refers to a video file being recorded when triggered by movement sensed by the video sensor.
These two features ensure that your vehicle is being protected at all times, such as when a person or vehicle pass by and, more importantly, when there is damage to your vehicle.
Download Dash Cam Firmware, Viewers & Manuals
If you are experiencing issues with your dash cam (or just purchased a new dash cam), then chances are that you may be required to perform a firmware update. Common issues include random restarts, recording errors and GPS/wi-fi issues. The good thing is that there are a lot of resources available from our manufacturers to help you troubleshoot any issues and update your firmware.
Learn About Our Dash Cam & Accessories
At BlackboxMyCar, we value the importance of buying a high quality product that will exceed your expectations. To make sure that all of our customers are well educated on their dash cam options and have accessible reliable information, we do thorough dash cam reviews and first impressions of the products we sell. Instead of letting you rely on the product description alone, we’ll give you the information you need to make a smart purchasing decision.
In our first impressions, you’ll be supplied with our expert immediate reaction to the specified dash camera. Reviews come second to our first impressions, which explain our knowledge of past products, company history, and knowledge of this new dash cam. We’ll let customers know what they should expect with this new model before we take the time to review it thoroughly ourselves.
We give our best dash cam reviews after taking some time testing the model. We provide customers with an overview of the key features of the dash cam, pros, cons, and technical specifications. Also provided are in car dash cam reviews that show real life testing of the dash cam’s filming abilities. This detailed dash cam review will make you feel like you’ve already used the camera before, and know exactly what you’re purchasing.
Ready to read up on your next dash camera? Links to our product reviews and first impressions can be found directly through our product pages. You can find them through our dash cams for sale today! If you’re looking to learn more about these products, or have other inquiries, contact us today!
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Got More Questions?
Not to fret, our in-house product experts are here to help. We have spent years curating helpful content and video guides, helping customers with their dash cams, but we understand that we can always do better. Contact us using the form below and we'll get back to you as soon as we can. We love what we do, because we're here to help you make the most informed purchasing decision.