Basic Dashcams vs. Advanced Dashcams vs. Dual Camera Dashcams

There's a range of features available for dedicated dashboard cameras

Three types of devices can be used as dash cameras: purpose-built dashcams, digital cameras, and smartphones. If you want to set up a dash camera and have it automatically record whenever you're behind the wheel, then you'll want a purpose-built device. In this guide, we look at the three kinds of dedicated dashcams that are available.

Basic Dash Cams Advanced Dashcams Interior/Exterior Dashcams
The cheapest option. More expensive. Most expensive.
No advanced features. GPS, audio, and sensors. Monitors interior as well as exterior.

Among dashcams, you'll find some basic no-frills cameras, sophisticated dashcams with advanced features, and cameras that record both the inside and outside of the vehicle. As to which features to look for, that depends on your budget and what you need the camera to do.

Basic Dashcams Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • The most affordable type of dashcam.

  • Simple and easy to set up.

Disadvantages
  • Only records exterior/front-facing view. No interior view.

  • No advanced features like GPS tagging, speed sensors, and accelerometers.

Basic dash cameras serve the purpose of sitting on the dashboard and capturing footage of the road ahead of you. As these can be set to record when the car starts, these cameras have a "set it and forget it appeal." These dashcams are typically hard-wired into a vehicle's electrical system. However, some are designed to be plugged into a cigarette lighter or 12V socket, and some include built-in lithium-ion batteries.

Basic dashcams constantly record video and loop over old footage to make room for new footage. The built-in storage is removable, giving you added control over recorded content. If that sounds good enough to you, or if you're working on a tight budget and want the cheapest option available, then look no further.

Advanced Dashcams Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • Advanced features (GPS tagging, audio, and accelerometers) can prove invaluable after an incident.

Disadvantages
  • Only records exterior/front-facing view. No interior view.

  • Pricier than a basic dashcam.

Although the majority of dashcams are fairly simple, some come with more advanced features. These extras include:

  • Audio recording
  • GPS logging
  • Speed sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS)

You are almost certainly dealing with more expensive products in this category. One of the most interesting features you'll find with dash cameras is GPS logging. Devices with this feature have built-in GPS receivers, which provide a video overlay for a vehicle's physical location. This is useful if you have to establish the location of your vehicle after an incident has occurred.

Speed sensors and accelerometers can also be useful. These systems provide a record of how fast your vehicle was traveling at the time of an incident, as well as the change in acceleration when another vehicle was struck.

An uninterruptible power supply allows a dash camera to continue recording even if the power is cut. This feature is useful if you want to use the camera as a surveillance device when your car is parked since it doesn't drain the car battery.

Interior/Exterior (Dual Camera) Dashcams Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • Surveils the interior of a car. Ideal for capturing thieves or monitoring children.

Disadvantages
  • Generally, the most expensive type of dashcam.

  • Despite the price, may not have advanced features like GPS tagging, speed sensors, or accelerometers.

Some dash cameras are two cameras in one, with one side facing the windshield and the other facing the interior. These dash cameras have two main purposes:

  • They allow parents to monitor their kids driving behavior.
  • They allow owners to surveil both the interior and exterior of their vehicles.

If you are the parent of a new driver, then this type of dash camera may be useful. With footage of the car's interior, including a clear view of the driver, as well as a front-facing view through the windshield, it allows you to monitor your kids' driving behavior. These images are typically composited into a single video, which can provide a concerned parent with proof of their child's safe (or unsafe) driving habits.

Although this type of parental surveillance will undoubtedly upset any privacy-minded teen, it may provide an opportunity to open a dialogue about privileges, responsibilities, trust, and privacy. According to a study commissioned by American Family Insurance, teens exhibited a 70% reduction in risky driving behavior after these devices were installed in their cars.

This type of dual-camera device can also be useful for security purposes. If you set one of these devices up to record while your vehicle is parked, it may catch video evidence of theft or hit-and-run accidents.

Final Verdict

While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, you can find a dashcam that suits your needs by keeping these features in mind. Maybe an inexpensive, no-frills unit will get the job done. If you live in a high-crime area, you may be better off with a dual-camera model. You might also consider an alternative device like a smartphone app that mimics the functions of a dashcam.