Basic Dashcams vs. Advanced Dashcams vs. Dual Camera Dashcams

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

Dash cameras are available in three types: purpose-built dashcams, digital cameras, and smartphones. Purpose-built dashcams automatically record whenever you're behind the wheel. Here, we look at the three kinds of dedicated dashcams on the market.

Overall Findings

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 basic no-frills cameras, sophisticated models with advanced features, and cameras that record both the inside and outside of the vehicle. Your budget and intended use will dictate which kind is best for you.

Basic Dashcam Pros and Cons

Advantages
  • The most affordable type of dashcam.

  • Easy to set up.

Disadvantages
  • Records only exterior/front-facing view. No interior view.

  • No advanced features (such as GPS tagging, speed sensors, and accelerometers).

Basic dash cameras sit on the dashboard and capture footage of the road ahead. Because you can set them to record when the car starts, these cameras have a "set it and forget it" appeal. Typically hardwired into a vehicle's electrical system, some are designed to plug into the car's 12V socket, while others include built-in lithium ion batteries.

Basic dashcams constantly record video and loop over old footage to make room for new. The built-in storage is removable, giving you added control over recorded content. This is the cheapest option available.

Advanced Dashcam Pros and Cons

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

Disadvantages
  • Records only exterior/front-facing view. No interior view.

  • Pricier than a basic dashcam.

Although most dashcams are fairly simple, some come with more advanced features that can include:

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

One of the most interesting features you'll find at this pricier level is GPS logging. A built-in GPS receiver provides a video overlay for a vehicle's physical location, which is useful if you must establish the location of your vehicle after an incident.

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 if you've struck another vehicle.

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 without draining the car battery.

Interior/Exterior (Dual-Camera) Dashcam Pros and Cons

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

Disadvantages
  • Generally, the most expensive type of dashcam.

  • Despite the price, might lack advanced features.

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 interiors and exteriors of their vehicles.

If you're the parent of a new driver, this type of dash camera can be useful. With a view of the car's interior, including 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 combined 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 can 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 percent reduction in risky driving behavior after these devices were installed in their cars.

This type of dual-camera device is also useful for security purposes. If you set one of these devices up to record while your vehicle is parked, it can 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 might be better off with a dual-camera model. You might also consider an alternative device such as a smartphone app that mimics the functions of a dashcam.

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