In June 2017, I was involved in a minor road accident. Back then I did not have a dash camera. A week later, I had one installed.
Dash cameras are important investment and may be useful in case of accidents. I have prepared a guide on how to choose a dash camera, and identified the essential and optional features present in most dash cameras.
Any dash camera should serve you well. If you have a dark or mirror-like tint, you may need a dash camera with enhanced capability, such as night vision feature found in higher-end models. In the camera that I am using, it automatically toggles to night vision mode (you will hear it mechanically change internal fiters) to accept infrared light, thus, yeilding enhanced sensitivity in low-light conditions. At daytime, it records color video, at night, it switches to infrared recording (black and white video, like a CCTV camera).
A dash camera must have a decent screen, and dedicated playback buttons. You should be able to play and scan the saved video using the dash camera (no laptop required), which will come handy when settling a dispute on the road.
Look for a dash camera with a dedicated microphone on/off button (for privacy reasons) and a dedicated save video button (quick-access button to save current video). Some cameras even have touch-screen functions, which is an optional feature.
Some dash cameras feature GPS mapping to log information about the vehicle’s location and speed. Wireless connectivity (like Wifi) is an optional feature, which allows live viewing of the dash camera (and playback access) through your phone.
Check if the dash camera has an accident auto-save function (locks the current video when it detects vibrations). To those worried that their vehicle might get damaged while parked, some dash cameras have a parking-accident auto-record feature (just make sure to buy a dedicated power pack to avoid draining your battery, since the dash cam in park mode must be powered continuosly even when parked).
A dash camera must have a built-in battery, so it could save the video the moment power is disconnected. Please note however that dash cameras with built-in batteries may suffer from premature battery degradation due to exposure to heat. Newer dash cameras are equipped with capacitors instead, which can work well without degradation, even at high temperatures.
Having a dash camera, even the cheap ones, will always be better than having no dash camera at all.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)