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Dash camera buying guide banner Thinkware_U30002CH mobile


A dash camera’s original purpose was to provide the user with video documentation of their driving experience. Since their introduction into the marketplace, a great deal of advancements have been made such as higher video resolution, better night vision technology, smaller sizes, and advanced features that you might not have known were available.   

Why do I need a dash cam? 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts publication there were over 7.2 million auto accidents in the United States that were reported by law enforcement in 2016 (latest available data as of April 2019). When a crash occurs, it can be a very taxing experience for all parties involved. Victims often have difficulty recalling how the collision occurred and important details regarding the incident may be missed. In cases where there were no eyewitnesses the judgements are determined by the other driver’s word against yours. When using a dash cam, the user can rest assured that their driving life is being documented and take solace in the fact that you will always have a witness whenever it is needed.     

  • Evidence: If ever involved in a traffic dispute where it is their word against yours, dash cam footage can be used as evidence, and it is deemed as more reliable than eyewitness accounts of the incident. The dash cam footage can also be a powerful tool for insurance companies when determining who is at fault.  

  • Surveillance: Just as many people have security cameras for their homes, a dash cam can serve as surveillance for your vehicle. When the vehicle is left unattended, it can be  triggered by motion, and will immediately begin to record video. This is a great feature to help gather evidence of theft, vandalism or incidents of hit and runs.  

  • Peace of Mind: If you spend a significant amount of time driving for work purposes, such as making deliveries, traveling to client locations, or providing transportation services, a dash camera could be beneficial. It can provide documentation of your driving activities and potentially offer protection in case of disputes or accidents.

How Much Video Does a Dash Cam Record? 

Dash Cams typically save video on a continuous loop. For example, if the loop is 3 minutes long, once the 3 minutes have been reached, it will still record but it will be overwritten the previous loop. The length of the loop is dictated by the size of the storage device that the dash cam uses to store video as well as the resolution of the video that it records. To give you an idea of the loop length depending on the size of your card, 1 minute of video shot at 1080p and 30 frames/second requires roughly 150MB of storage.  If you desire a 10 minute loop, you would want to make sure that your storage device is at least 1.5 GBs.

  • Where does the dash cam store its video? The majority of dash cams have a removable memory card. The amount of memory of the card directly affects the length of the video loop. 

  • How do I access the dash cam video? You can access the video by removing the memory card and use a card reader to view the video. Some units allow you to connect directly to the device via USB cable and access the files with a laptop or smartphone.  

WiFi equipped dash cams enable the user to access video clips wirelessly, so they never have to remove the memory card to retrieve video clips. This is very convenient if you need to share a video with law enforcement officers or insurance companies.   

LTE dash cams work on a cloud-based system via a 4G connection allowing real time access to the vehicle’s camera footage from anywhere. Many units are capable of providing additional information such as speed, drive time, and location among other vehicle statistics. This makes for an excellent tool for fleet managers, or parents who want to keep an eye on their young drivers.   

Dash Cam Mounts 

There are two different methods for mounting a dash camera. The first is with suction cup(s). While this method typically takes up more space and is more visible from the outside of the vehicle, it may be the right choice if you are planning on using the cam in multiple vehicles.  

For a more low-profile installation, adhesive mounts are recommended. They tend to be a more robust method of securing the device to the vehicle and tend to fair better than suction cups in severe weather conditions and continuous vibration.  

Screen or No Screen?  

LCD equipped dash cams allow the user to instantly view videos, adjust settings and see what the camera sees, allowing you to adjust the camera angle to make sure that you are capturing all that you want to capture. Because LCD equipped models have a screen, they are typically larger than non-LCD dash cams making them more difficult to install in a tight location and more likely to be seen from the outside of the vehicle.  

Non-LCD screen dash cams tend to be considerably smaller so they can be mounted in tight spots and are less visible from outside of the vehicle. Typically the videos are accessed via a smartphone or computer.  


L2-Channel Dash Cams: These cameras feature a front and rear facing camera so that you have video of what is happening in front of the vehicle, and you also have video of what is going on inside of the cabin. This setup is ideal for Rideshare drivers.  


Multi-Channel Dash Cams: Using multiple cameras enables coverage not solely ahead of the vehicle, but also within the vehicle, at the vehicle's rear, or at any other desired location requiring coverage.  


Driving Impact: If a vehicle sustains an impact of a predetermined severity level the dash cam will send a message to the user notifying them of the occurrence.    


Auto-Start: The dash cam begins recording when the vehicle is started.  

GPS-Tracking: GPS tracking enhances the functionality of dash cameras by providing valuable location data alongside video footage, enabling better management, monitoring, and analysis of vehicle operations

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)

These technologies were developed to enhance drivers' awareness to their surroundings and help with a safer driving experience.  

  • Lane Departure: Alerts the driver when the vehicle is traveling outside of its lane. This feature is enabled when the vehicle reaches a predetermined speed. 
  • Vehicle Departure Alert: When stopped in traffic/intersection the dash cam will alert you when the vehicle in front of you has begun to move so that you do not delay the traffic behind you.  

  • Forward Collision Warning: (Crash Avoidance): The camera calculates the distance from your vehicle to the object in front of the vehicle and determines if a collision is imminent.  

Forward Collision Warning

Lens Optics 

Auto Exposure: Because Dash cams are used in a variety of light conditions it is important that the dash cam that you choose is capable of handling all of them. During a typical drive you may experience multiple light conditions from a bright sunny day to headlights shining on a dark night. It is important that the dash cam that you choose has a wide
dynamic range so that it can adjust quickly to sudden changes in light levels, so the video content is not rendered useless due to an oversaturation of brightness or is unreasonably dark. 

Lens Angle: A wide angle lens will allow you to capture a wider view of your driving environment. Current lenses range typically from 120 - 170 degrees.  

Video Quality/Resolution:
For the most part modern dash cams provide decent resolution. What is important is the video quality and file size. High frame rates and high resolution will give you better video quality, some units offer up to 4K, but it will also require more storage. 

GPS Features 

GPS equipped dash cams are capable of not only logging the location of the vehicle but its traveling speed as well. The data can also be used to contend with inaccurate claims of speeding.  


Geo Fencing: Allows the user to be alerted if a vehicle has left a predetermined geographical area. When this occurs, the dash cam sends a push notification via the app to the user’s smart device to inform them of the vehicle’s current location. This is a nice feature for parents of young drivers, auto rental companies, and managers of fleet vehicles. 


Safety Camera Alert: Some GPS equipped dash cameras are capable of notifying you of nearby red light and traffic enforcement cameras based on your GPS location.  


Vehicle Location: Displays the vehicle’s current location, speed and heading.  


There are a lot of dash cams on the market today and it seems that their capabilities are increasing rapidly. Once you have discovered all of the features that are available, take some time and determine if those features are right for you.

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