Updated on February 11, 2023
Video recording has become a mainstay in everyday life; whether it’s using a GoPro or your smartphone, videos are being taken and shared all day across the globe. However, this is not limited to social media, news, or even special events. The newest addition to the scene is dashcams. They have become increasingly popular on today’s roads for many reasons. Not only the average Joe, but also law enforcement agencies use them for capturing video evidence of criminal activity. Taxi companies use dashcams to monitor employees and improve customer service. Among social media users, dashcams have been used to share the craziness of other drivers to the world. Such videos are very popular on YouTube and dashcam forums and are often the spectacle of shock and amazement.
In terms of the technology, it should come as no surprise that the more they are used, the more advancements are made to the dashboard cameras. Whether you already own one or are in the market for purchasing a new one, it’s good to know what solutions exist for capturing video data while driving. For this, our experts can help and advise you further. Dashcam devices and types can be broken down into various categories, which we will discuss in-depth within this article:
Common Types Of Dashboard Cameras
The Traditional Dash Camera
This is specifically built for use in a car, truck, or SUV. It can be mounted along with the dash or even attached to the upper part of the front windshield. Check our recommendations on the best mounting position for more information on this topic.
The traditional dashcam, of course, has a singular use of being placed in a vehicle. It functions by recording videos of what occurs in front of the car while driving. You can also pick up something called a dashcam with parking mode (for example the WheelWitness HD Pro), which will detect and record footage if the vehicle is struck when unoccupied and stationary. Some have a feature that can record what is going on inside and outside of the car at the same time, known as a dual camera dash cam such as the KDLINKS DX2. Typically, the power source for dashcams is wired directly into the car. It powers on when the car turns on and starts recording automatically. Also known as in-car DVR’s because they save to storage, these types of cameras use removable storage media, which are most often micro SD cards. Most dash cameras, such as the Rexing V1 have a feature called loop recording, so there is no need to worry about ever running out of storage capacity, it merely gets overwritten.
The benefit is that you can install these dash cameras and then completely forget about it unless you need it to retrieve footage of course. Dashcams these days also have the added benefit of GPS, which can come in handy. For example, two from our best dash cam list have a built-in GPS, but the other three require modules.
Rear View Mirror Dash Cam
Every dashcam exists to record footage, and most of them have a similar set of key features as mentioned above. However, there is another type known as a rearview mirror camera (see the below image). These are clever in design because they are discreet and unobtrusive. A rearview mirror dash cam comes in the shape of a rearview mirror, and clips onto or over the existing mirror in the car cabin. That way it doesn’t restrict the driver’s forward vision or cause distractions because it functions merely as the current rear view would, but has a built-in camera at the same time. These are very popular for cars and SUVs, but no use for trucks due to the lack of a windscreen mounted mirror.
Dual Camera Dash Cam
Also known as a dual lens dash cam, these are literally as they sound. Instead of one forward-facing camera or lens, the device has a second camera, or lens, which can point out of the side window or towards the rear of the vehicle. These cameras often swivel, hence getting the name 360-degree dash cam. As you can see from the pictured Falcon Zero F360 HD here, it has dual lens functionality which means it can record forward and rear vision at the same time. It also has the benefit of being a rear view mirror dash cam with a Picture In Picture feature. Although this device looks rather big, there are much smaller options, and some have a second camera on a long wire which mounts on the rear windscreen of the vehicle, as opposed to being installed at the front and capturing the vehicle’s entire of the rear cabin. A dual-lens dash cam is undoubtedly recommended in this day and age with the increase in insurance scams and careless drivers; there is nothing better than having a 360-degree vision around your vehicle at all times.
Using a digital camera is the older and cheaper option, which is where the idea of dashcams came from. It allows you to use what you have already and only requires the purchase of a mount. You will also have to remember to start recording when you start driving. The power source is usually plugged into the car’s outlet, such as a cigarette lighter, but can also run on battery and be charged via USB at home. Again, the digital camera uses removable storage media such as SD or micro SD. What’s great about this type of dashcam is the cost is low. The downside is that you have to start recording prior to setting off. Also, the quality may not be great depending on your camera’s image stabilization ability. These are great for stills and home videos, but for the open road, it’s probably better to invest in a purpose-built device.
The smartphone option is most common among users new to this scene, social media users, and those on a tight budget. There are plenty of free and paid-for dash cam apps for android and iPhone which can quickly transform a smartphone into a dashcam. Some people prefer this solution because these apps often run in tandem, so, using your phone as a satellite navigation system while recording footage and speaking on Bluetooth all at the same time through one device is entirely possible. Plus, they can easily be dashboard mounted using an optional add-on from almost any store, so is a cheap option because mounts are inexpensive and widely available.
Some social media users will perform live vlogs while they speak to their followers and can easily use the phone to upload onto social media once they are parked up. The power source is usually an external charger that plugs into your cars, such as a micro USB or lightning cable. A downside of using the smartphone as a dash camera solution is that it can only be set to record manually. Apart from that, this is an excellent solution because almost everyone has a smartphone, and it can be easily set up to function as a dashcam for daily use.
Although slightly less common at the moment, tablets are also being used as dash cams in certain parts of the world. As people begin to want larger and more sophisticated screens and in-car entertainment systems, people have begun to utilize small tablets on mounts in the same way smartphones are used.
Tablets can cause an issue if the view is obstructed. However, in marketplaces like Amazon and eBay you can easily find a suitable tablet mount for your car dash that won’t obstruct your view, yet can still record the road ahead. The same apps used for smartphones found on Android and App Store will apply to tablets.
Always ensure to buy the best tablet within your budget, simply because tablets aren’t primarily designed for recording continually like a dash cam, so it could put extra strain on the device.
Regardless of which camera you decide to use, once you make the choice to install, you will find yourself joining millions of users. A dashcam can offer a great sense of security.
With more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, Ash possesses a deep understanding of the diverse needs and challenges faced by drivers on the road. His relentless commitment to road safety and ongoing research is fueled by a genuine desire to create safer environments for all drivers.