We have provided the following features typically found in dashcams to help you to develop a comprehensive understanding of the sophisticated technology found in dashcams. It is useful for you to be knowledgeable about what these novel devices are capable of doing, the purpose that each feature serves, and the options that are available in different models. The combination of features varies depending on the dashcam model that you purchase.
Auto Power On/Off
Cameras have automatic initiation which allows them to power on and begin recording your journey when the ignition for the vehicle starts. The same principle occurs for the camera to power off when the vehicle’s ignition is turned off. This is made possible by a power cable that is typically connected to the vehicle’s cigarette lighter outlet or when it is connected to the electronic system of the car. This feature helps to efficiently manage the recording of cameras.
Audio recording helps to provide a complete viewing experience on playback of video footage. With the built-in microphone, all ambient noises from both outside and inside the vehicle are recorded. This feature can be turned off at any time depending on your needs, however, we recommend that you leave it turned on.
Battery Power Source
Most cameras have a built-in lithium battery that provides power to the camera when it is not connected to a 12V DC power supply in the car. This is more commonly found in models that have a built-in display screen. This allows you to: position the camera lens for optimal Field-of-View from the windshield, playback recorded footage on-site, and also record footage in a point and shoot fashion. Battery power can typically last for up to 30 minutes of viewing time. This feature is useful for portable use and handling of a dashcam.
Cyclic Recording (Also known as Loop Recording)
Cyclic recording, more commonly known as ‘Loop Recording’, allows the camera to automatically record over old video files that are stored on the memory card when it becomes full with video data. The camera instantly begins to write over the old data, unless you program it to protect or remove a particular video file from the memory card before your next journey. This feature is very good for effortlessly managing video files which can accumulate very quickly, depending on the recording settings.
Capacitor Power Source
Some camera models have been designed to use a capacitor as the power source rather than a battery. This technology is considered to be a more viable alternative to batteries due to: their better operation tolerance in higher temperature ranges, lower chance of component failure due to extreme heat exposure in your car’s windshield, and a higher reliability profile due to the unlikely failure of the capacitor. Cameras that have this technology tend to cost a few more dollars but are considered to be good value for money. This feature offers an alternative to the possible shortcomings of potential battery failure in other cameras.
The electronic heartbeat of a car camera is supported by the integrated circuitry component known as the ‘chipset’. Located on the motherboard, it manages the data transfer and communication between the processor, memory card, and peripherals of the camera, i.e., the lens. The technological attributes of a chipset are considered to be directly linked to the video quality output, which is commonly used to determine the overall grade of a camera. Without even knowing it, this component plays a critical part in narrowing your options of which car camera you may purchase.
This refers to a stamped mark on the video that typically indicates the time, day, month and year a video was recorded. This feature can be activated in the camera settings to appear on each video to provide a time reference with every journey that is recorded. Once the date stamp is set correctly, this feature is essential for supporting the credibility of the footage as video evidence in the event of an accident. It is advisable that the time and date are input accurately when setting up a dashcam.
The decode format supported by many dashcams is the H.264. This refers to a highly efficient data compression method used by a video codec device or software to convert data into a particular format that can be used after it has been captured and processed. It is used to improve the video quality by processing elements such as the video sharpness, brightness, contrast and saturation. This feature is important for obtaining high quality video footage while keeping file size reasonably small, which is important for efficient data storage on memory cards.
Some camera models have been designed with both a front and rear lens, which enables it to record two different field-of-view directions. For some models you can record both in front and behind the vehicle using two separate cameras that are specially connected for this purpose. In others, two built-in lenses within a single camera enable recording of both the exterior and interior of the vehicle. This two-way channel recording feature can be quite useful depending your particular needs, or a desire for a higher level of dashcam coverage.
The frame frequency, also known as frame rate or frames per second (FPS) is a measurement of the display device performance represented by the number of consecutive images captured in each second. Frequencies can range from 15 FPS (less smooth video footage), to 60 PFS (very smooth video footage), depending on the camera model. While the higher frame rate yields a more desirable viewing experience, it requires more processing power and it produces larger file sizes. As a result, this feature can have a significant impact on the storage capacity of memory card you choose to use in your dashcam. However, the rate can be adjusted on some camera models.
Global Position System logging is supported in some camera models to determine an accurate geo-referenced location of the journey travelled by a vehicle. This is made possible by a module (either built-in or separately connected) that communicates directly with a satellite link to record the precise position, time and speed of your vehicle over the course of your journey. Using special software, the data is superimposed onto a map or satellite imagery for analysis after the journey. This technology should not be confused with GPS tracking which allows you to track the location of a vehicle in real-time. The GPS logger feature is useful for review purposes together with the video footage from the dashcam.
G-Sensor (Also Known As: Crash Sensor)
A G-sensor (crash sensor) detects a sudden change in the gravitational force (g-force) of the vehicle. This is simply a measurement of acceleration or forward moving force felt as weight. When a vehicle experiences an impact from a crash, the camera is designed to secure the last set of video data files captured on the memory card, protecting them for review purposes. This feature safeguards the footage from being damaged and arms you with the proof you need following an accident or incident.
High Definition (HD)
Smart devices in today’s technologically advanced world are outfitted with High Definition (HD) technology as a standard and the same applies to dashcams as well. Most models offer a higher resolution than some of the earliest dashcam models. At 720 pixels and higher, developers have ensured that dashcams are using up-to-date technology to ensure they are recording HD quality video footage. This feature offers better video resolution, colour fidelity and an increased frame rate, thereby providing a higher quality video playback and better viewing experience.
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a compact audio/video interface used for transferring video and audio data from an HDMI-compliant source device, such as a camera, to a compatible display like a digital television or digital audio device. It basically allows you to connect your camera to your computer monitor or television using an HDMI cable to watch your video footage. HDMI technology has made it possible for you to connect your dashcam to two devices that are conventionally built on different technological platforms in a simple and easy way. This feature provides an alternative to watching your video files on a digital display other than your laptop, tablet or smartphone via the micro SD card.
Motion detection is the ability of a dashcam to detect movement in range of its motion sensor or a change in its surroundings in relation to itself. Usually referred to as ‘Parking Mode’, this function is activated when activity occurs within the immediate vicinity of your vehicle when it is parked and you are not in the vehicle. For example, if someone is riding a bicycle and it hits your parked car, the camera will start recording as a result of the movement in front of the camera and the vibration from the impact. It is possible the activity or movement may not occur within the Field-of-View of the camera and therefore may not record the source of the activity.
Night vision is the functionality of the camera to record footage under low lighting conditions at night using infrared technology. This feature ensures that you are protected any time you are driving, especially at night, when driving conditions generally deteriorate and become increasingly challenging for motorists.
Some dashcams have a built-in display screen or “LED screen” which is quite useful for positioning the angle of the lens when setting up the camera in the windshield, or also for viewing playback of video footage on-site. Smaller dashcams often do not contain a screen due to their ultra-compact form factor. As a result, the data can only be viewed on a separate device when the files are transferred to it or the dashcam is connected by an HDMI cable. This feature will prove quite handy to you when you least expect it.
Some dashcams models that have a built-in display screen also have a screen protection setting for them. This feature deactivates the LED screen shortly after the camera begins to record your journey. It turned off by default and needs to be activated when setting up the camera for the first time. You can typically choose 3mins, 5mins or 10mins for the time it takes before the screen turns off after the dashcam begins to record. This feature avoids any chance of the screen being a distraction in the vehicle, especially at night when the illumination from the LED screen can be a nuisance or even a hazard to the driver. Screen protection is most effective when it is set at 3mins.
Video recording is the primary function of dashcams! They record your daily journey on the roads and provide proof of your good driving habits or video evidence that can be provided to the police and your insurance company if you are involved in an accident. With camera lenses that range from 120 degrees to 170 degrees wide, there is very little that these devices miss. All vehicles should have a dashcam installed in their windshield.
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
Wide dynamic range (WDR) is the technology that determines the capability of a camera’s sensor or imaging system to process the colour contrast adjustment between bright and dark areas in an effort to produce a clearer image. This occurs where the back light and illumination intensity vary substantially, thus making it very difficult for cameras to normalize the two extreme ranges of light. WDR plays an important role in discerning the details within its field-of-view when both very bright and very dark areas are occurring at the same time. This is particularly useful at night since it can support the infrared capabilities of dashcams and enhance the camera’s ability to capture details where both low lighting conditions and bright lights from street lights and passing cars are present at the same time. Although it is not perfect, it still has a useful purpose.