If another driver backs into your car, they're not at fault—you are. Or at least, that's the opinion of most every police force and insurance agency in the country.
If only you had a dash cam.
"Dash cams," or dashboard cameras, are gaining popularity as a way to provide proof of what really happened during a collision with another driver.
A dash cam can protect your finances, your time, and your personal property in a number of ways:
A dash cam can even help you save good memories or increase your YouTube hits. But whatever side benefits you get from a dash cam, the core benefit is that it provides a rock‐solid, nearly indisputable alibi.
You have to buy one first, of course. But if it saves you from even one wrongful citation, a dash cam could essentially pay for itself.
Crystal clear HD
#1 Best Seller on Amazon
Some customer complaints
No touch screen
Uses adhesive pads for mounting to free windshield space
Larger and easier to use
Long backup battery life
Velcro mount option
Complaints of malfunction in extreme temperatures
No touch screen
Temperature resistant up to 170 degrees
Quality HD recording
Premium wide angle lens
Suction mount is large
Longer power cord
Bigger memory card
No temperature durability data
Super HD video recording
No temperature durability data
Complaints about WiFi connectivity
These days it may feel odd, outdated, or even extravagant to buy a camera with a single function. Next to a smartphone, a camera can seem so inefficient.
But dash cams are sophisticated devices doing a job that other cameras, even professional photographers' cameras, just can't do. They're designed to meet the needs that arise while driving a car—to keep your field of vision clear, to protect yourself from loose items, to be able to monitor the road instead of the camera, and so on.
The features below make a dash cam what it is. You'll find them on most, if not all, dashboard cameras on the market today:
Dash cams are designed to turn on and off with your car, that is if you leave the camera plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet between drives. If you disconnect the camera between drives, just plug it in to power up.
For most dash cams, the number of frames captured per second (fps) is 30, but some cameras take 60fps to better capture fast action.
Many dash cams start recording the moment they turn on, while others activate the record function by sensing when the car is in motion.
Wide‐angle lenses help dash cams see and record more of the areas surrounding a car.
Dash cams come with a built‐in microphone to capture audio along with video footage.
Many dash cams have some ability to manipulate light within an image while recording so that night shots, high-contrast imagery, and low‐light footage are clearer when you play back the recording.
Most dash cams have an LCD screen and the ability to play back video on the spot. Instant playback is one of the most valuable features of a dash cam: it can exonerate you on the spot instead of in the courtroom.
Most dash cams attach to your windshield with a suction cup.
To keep you from having to manually erase hours of non‐collision footage, dash cams are designed to record over existing footage (starting with the oldest) when the memory is full.
Most dash cams take microSD cards with up to 32GB capacity (about five hours of HD footage). Some dash cams are fussy about the class of the card, so read the reviews to see what's worked for other customers.
Most dash cams have a sensor that detects sharp turns, rapid braking, and other signs of collision and then saves that footage automatically or with the touch of a button.
Download footage anytime using an SD adapter or USB cable. Some dash cams come with companion software, but not many‐it's usually your job to find a compatible media player for your camera's file type.
Almost all dash cams record in HD (1080 x 720 pixels or more) to help you see license plates and other details clearly.
When you start shopping for a dash cam, don't be afraid to take it slow. Dash cams have so many features in common that it can be hard to parse out what makes each one unique. To give you a head start, I've researched a number of cameras available on Amazon and chosen six winners to share.
The Black Box G1W Original comes with all the standard features of a dash cam, including an Aptina AR0330 lens with a 140‐degree view, LED night vision, and a specialized chipset for smoother image processing.
The low price suggests the manufacturer used inexpensive parts for this camera—otherwise, they wouldn't make any profit. That said, low prices don't always mean poor quality, and high prices don't always mean good quality.
The Black Box G1W Original has all the standard features, plus a few extras, for far less than other dash cameras cost, and most customers seem pleased with the quality‐especially as compared to other low‐end cameras. If you're on a strict budget or want to try your luck with an inexpensive camera, this is the dash cam for you.
Blackcam's BCH-1000 Hybrid has all the standard features of a dash cam, including a 126‐degree wide‐angle lens, dual WDR for light correction, and more.
To state the obvious: this camera is expensive. But at about $180 each, the Hybrid cams are still more affordable per unit than other high-end models, and with all the bonus features, you get a lot for your money.
The BCH‐1000 Hybrid is a highly sophisticated dash cam. With front and rear coverage, plus parking mode to protect you between drives, the BCH‐1000 captures double the footage of most other dash cams and does so with precision and style.
The Mobius Pro has all but three standard features of a dash cam: (1) LCD screen, (2) G-sensor, and (3) suction mount. But read on before you skip this option. The Mobius Pro is compact and versatile precisely because it's missing these features.
Some customers say the Mobius Pro doesn't work in too‐high temperatures. But this problem isn't unique to the Mobius—most dash cams haven't been tested for temperature durability. If you do have to remove the Mobius between drives to prevent malfunction, take comfort in the fact that it will be easier to remove and carry around than any other dash cam out there.
The Mobius Pro takes up almost no space in your windshield yet manages to achieve the HD picture quality, wide field of vision, and 32GB storage capacity of much bigger cameras. Plus, it's easily removable and instantly usable for a variety of activities. Most importantly, despite not having instant playback, the Mobius still provides exactly what you need from a dash cam: proof of what happened in an accident.
The KDLINKS X1 dash cam has all standard features, including an emergency lock button for collision footage and a premium, f1.6 Six‐Glass Lens that captures a 165‐degree angle.
The X1's suction equipment is not subtle, so you may not feel comfortable leaving the camera mounted and plugged‐in between drives. Still, the X1 is so durable that you know it will be safe stowed away in your car; you don't have to tote it around, as you might with a more temperature‐sensitive camera.
With all the standard features and a wide range of bonus features, the KDLINKS X1 dash cam is an excellent overall choice. The HD resolution is incredible, and the GPS and speed recordings give you that much more data to present in your defense. Most impressive, however, is the X1's durability in extreme temperatures. Few dash cameras can even approach, let alone promise, a tolerance of up to 170 degrees.
The FalconZero F170HD+ has all the standard features of a dash cam, including auto-save after a collision and an f/2.0 Six‐Glass Lens that captures a 170‐degree angle.
There's no data on the F170's performance in extreme temperatures. If it turns out not to be heat‐resistant, parking mode will be fairly useless. Read through the reviews, recognize that you're taking a chance, and maybe relax‐remember, FalconZero will replace a device that gives out within five years.
The FalconZero F170HD+ dash cam is a quality device with a generous set of bonus features. This dash cam gets Best Bet because of the peace of mind offered by its two top features: the parking mode and five‐year warranty. Parking mode gives you evidence when it's usually hardest to come by; and a five‐year warranty means that the manufacturer is confident that this dash cam will last a long time.
The Cobra CDR 900 has all the standard features of a dash cam, including a 160‐degree view and an Ambarella A7LA chipset for better night vision.
Reviews are divided on how well the Wi‐Fi actually functions. That's unfortunate for a dash cam that is otherwise pretty average, but there are enough positive reviews that it's possible the debate stems from a confusing user manual and not from dysfunctional software. Read the reviews before you buy‐they'll give you a better idea of what problems you could face and may even include troubleshooting tips.
Also, as with most other dash cams, there is no data on the CDR 900's performance in extreme temperatures. Leave in your vehicle at your own risk.
With so many wireless devices cropping up these days, mobile control seems to be the way of the future. If you can get the CDR 900's mobile features to work, this dash cam will give you not only excellent footage but also the flexibility and control that we've come to expect from modern technologies.
If one of the above cameras is for you, congratulations and enjoy your new dash cam! If not, it's time to head over to Amazon and do some shopping of your own. You can search using the same method I used: First, keep the list of standard dash cam features handy and tick them off as you find them. Then, note the bonus features and potential drawbacks.
Keep in mind that there's no one dash cam that's objectively perfect—everyone has different priorities. As long as your dash cam honors yours, you've found a winner.