The huge amount of dash cam features and options can be overwhelming when you’re first looking into getting a dash cam.
When making an investment like this, it is important that you understand what your options are.
Because of this, the rest of this post will cover the 3 most important dash cam features for you to consider.
These may not all apply to your individual needs, but after helping thousands of customers find their ideal dash cam – this is what we think.
If you have different or specific needs for a dash cam system, contact us to find out how we can help.
There are 4 distinct recording modes which are key to a well-functioning dash cam – they are the reason that only the manufacturer made SD cards should be used.
You should look for a camera with four different, reliable recording modes. These will all be used in different events and will help to segment footage into the appropriate folders within the SD cards. This makes it easier to find what you need and removes unnecessary footage.
The cameras recording will automatically switch between these modes depending on what is happening around the vehicle.
Continuous Recording Mode – The majority of the cameras time spent recording will be in continuous recording mode. This begins when the ignition of the vehicle is switched on and ends when the ignition is switched off.
This will store recordings to the SD card in 1-minute clips. The oldest of these clips will then be overwritten once the memory card becomes full.
Event Recording Mode – Event recording mode will be triggered when the G-sensor detects impact or shock around the vehicle. This saves a 20-second video file into the event section of the memory, with footage of slightly before and after the event.
An event recording will interrupt continuous recording. The clips stored from this are in a locked file. They will not be overwritten when the memory becomes full so important footage is safe.
Manual Recording Mode – Manual recording is manually triggered by the driver. This can be done through pressing the ‘REC’ button on your camera, or by waving your hand past the sensor if you have a camera with this option such as the BlackVue DR750S. This saves the footage taken around the time of manual recording being triggered and saves it to the correct section of the memory.
Uses of this include capturing dangerous driving or road rage incidents which don’t cause impact to your vehicle and therefore wouldn’t be picked up by event recording.
Parking Mode – Parking mode requires your dash cam to be hard-wired to the battery of your vehicle. Once your ignition is switched off your camera will automatically enter parking mode. This will then only record and save files at times when motion or impact is detected around the vehicle. The parking mode files are saved in the event recording folder, meaning they will not be overwritten with new footage.
Alternatively, many cameras have a time-lapse parking mode option where the camera will record continuously at 2FPS for the duration of parking mode.
Why Is This Important?
These recording modes are important for the reliability and function of your dash cam.
The primary importance of these is parking mode as that is the sole reason that many people get a dash cam – to protect their car while parked overnight.
Having this footage saved into a locked folder which will not be overwritten ensures that your important footage will not be lost. If you cannot rely on your camera properly doing this, then you cannot feel comfortable leaving your vehicle.
Furthermore, it is important to be able to ‘set and forget’ your dash cam. Continuous recording mode allows you to do this, so that any important collision footage will be automatically recorded, rather than you having to remember to press the record button in a very stressful situation.
Integrated WiFi & GPS
The feature of built-in WiFi provides a huge benefit to the user, as it greatly improves the usability and function of your dash cam.
Integrated WiFi will allow you to connect to your camera with your smartphone when within range as if it was a router in your own home. This is done through the dash cams’ smartphone app.
From this app, you will be able to adjust the settings of the dash cam remotely. Along with this, you will be able to review footage stored on the SD card, or even download important clips onto your phone to secure them and free up space.
This can all be done without having to even touch the dash cam.
When built-in WiFi is paired with GPS, you will be able to view the location data of your vehicle alongside the footage.
Why Is This Important?
There are several benefits to built-in WiFi & GPS which make them some of the most important dash cam features.
Usability – Usability is important for any dash cam. As built-in WiFi allows a smartphone to connect to the camera, this becomes a very necessary feature.
The ability to remotely review, save, or download any important footage without having to remove the SD Card and put it into a computer makes the whole process a lot more hassle-free.
You are also able to directly alter the camera settings, making quick adjustments much more possible while on-the-go.
For people who aren’t technical-minded, or who don’t want to spend a lot of time going back and forth with their dash cam, this becomes a very necessary and important feature.
Evidence – These features provide a huge boost to the level of evidence which your dash cam can provide. As this is the exact reason you have one (or want one) installed, it is clearly very important.
Evidence provided is made better by the built-in GPS antenna which allows the vehicle speed, location, and direction of travel to be recorded. This information can be crucial when using your dash cam footage as evidence for a claim.
One of the reasons for this information being necessary is the large increase of car cloning.
This is where a fake copy of a vehicles number plate is made and used on another vehicle of a similar make and model. The ‘cloned’ vehicle is then often used for illegal activities such as speeding, theft, racing, and more.
When the vehicle is inevitably caught by speed cameras or other dash cams, the number plate will then trace back to you. This is pretty scary, and the number of cases last year increased by 50% in London alone.
Therefore, GPS information can be used to prove the actual location of your vehicle compared to the location of where you are accused of being.
This will be the evidence you need to avoid the false claims, fines, and more while on the road.
The video quality of a dash cam comes down to several variables.
Resolution – The resolution of your dash cam is the definition of the video. The standard for this is 1080p Full HD, however, you may find 720p HD in lower cost options and rear cameras.
The higher the resolution, the better the quality of your recording will be.
Frames Per Second – The frames per second (FPS) is how many images are taken by the camera per second to create the video footage.
This will improve the video quality by allowing a smoother, sharper recording with better detailing of moving objects. You can see this difference in the image below.
Dash cams will generally either record at 30FPS or 60 FPS. The higher the number, the better.
Other Factors – Video resolution and frames per second will make up the majority of a cameras recording quality. However, there are other factors which go into this which should be considered.
Higher quality parts within the camera, such as BlackVues Sony STARVIS sensor, create a much better-looking recording than a cheaper, generic sensor – even if they were both 1080p & 30FPS.
Due to this, a higher quality camera will often produce a better image with more detail than a cheaper option, despite the FPS and video resolution often matching.
The image below shows the difference between a regular sensor, and a higher quality Sony STARVIS.
Why Is It Important?
Video recording is the main function of a dash cam and should be a priority when deciding which you would like to go for.
This is incredibly important as you need recordings good enough to clearly identify important details such as Vehicle Registration Numbers.
If you are unable to make these details out, then the footage will not be court admissible, and will, therefore, be less likely to get you out of any unfair claims, or charges where you were not at fault.
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