Dashcams are not just a fun internet phenomenon on sites like Reddit and Co. The practical cameras for cars and trucks are also becoming increasingly important on the roads. In the event of an accident, dashcams record what happens while driving and can also be used as evidence in court. But you can also use dashcams for parking surveillance or as parking aids.
These all-rounders are therefore becoming increasingly important in road traffic. To make it easier for you to buy a dashcam, we have put together the big dashcam test 2021. Here we have compiled the most important functions, criteria, and features. Here we have summarised the most important functions, criteria and products to make your decision easier when buying a dashcam. This test will help you find the perfect dashcam for your vehicle and yourself.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Dashcam: Our Choices
- 4 Dashcams: Buying and rating criteria
- 5 Dashcams: Frequently asked questions and answers
- 6 Conclusion
- A dashcam is a camera that is installed in the car and films what is happening while driving. Especially in the case of accidents, the recordings can help to reconstruct the course of events. Dashcams are perfect, impartial witnesses.
- The use of a dashcam is not legal everywhere. In Germany, this has not been clearly clarified in legal terms. However, a dashcam is admissible as evidence in court.
- Depending on the model, a dashcam has many additional functions. Often, a dashcam has a built-in G-sensor that starts recording when accelerated. In addition, dashcams with GPS sensors and SOS functions are particularly useful.
The Best Dashcam: Our Choices
Dashcams: Buying and rating criteria
Dashcams come in many different models and have different functions. This can be very confusing at first. You should pay special attention to the following criteria:
In this section, we will show you which criteria you should use to choose the right dashcam for you.
The most important feature of a dashcam is the resolution. After all, the main purpose of the dashcam is to show what happened in the event of an accident. For this, you absolutely need a perfect and high resolution. A good dashcam should be able to show number plates legibly.
Resolution is the most important criterion when buying a dashcam. The images must be clear enough to show number plates clearly.
There are two values you should pay attention to when it comes to resolution. The resolution is given in pixels and frames per seconds. Dashcams usually have a resolution of 720 to 1440 pixels.
The frame rate is usually 30 to 60 fps. The higher the number of pixels, the sharper the image. A high frame rate allows details in the image, such as number plates, to be magnified without difficulty. A high frame rate makes for a smoother video.
Basically, you can't go wrong if you choose a dashcam with a resolution of 1080p. The frame rate should also not be lower than 30fps. So you shouldn't skimp here. Nothing is worse than a dashcam that doesn't capture clear images. If you can't see the number plates, you won't get anything out of the recording.
The power supply of a dashcam is a very important purchase criterion. You can usually choose between a wireless dashcam with a rechargeable battery or batteries and a dashcam with a cable.
The cable can either be plugged into the cigarette lighter or the rear view mirror. However, for a smooth power supply, the power source must be under continuous current. Most dashcams have both a battery and a cable.
A dashcam that runs on battery power prevents a tangle of cables in the car. However, most battery-powered dashcams have a very limited recording time. They also have to be connected to a cable for charging at the latest. So there is no way around a cable.
These dashcams are connected to a power source in the car. Here you have to pay special attention to whether your power supply also works without the engine. If this is the case, the dashcam will also record what is happening from a parked car. However, a dashcam can also put a strain on your car battery.
There is also the problem of the cable. You have to make sure that the cable does not get in the way. One solution is to route the cable under the panels and consoles. There are many tutorials for this. Alternatively, you can have the dashcam installed.
The recordings of a dashcam are stored on a microSD card. Depending on the model, this is supplied with the dashcam or must be purchased separately. You should pay attention to this when buying, because without a memory card you cannot use the dashcam immediately. Before buying a microSD, you should also check which cards are compatible with your dashcam. This is often stated by the dashcam manufacturer.
The price of a microSD, if you have to buy one separately, depends on the size.
Storage capacity ranges from 2 GB to 2 TB. For a dashcam, a memory size between 32 and 128 GB is recommended. The larger the memory, the more footage you can store on it.
The size of the movie files depends on the resolution. High-resolution recordings require more memory. For example, a twenty-minute recording in 1080p requires about 32GB.
When buying a microSD card for your dashcam, don't be stingy. The recordings of a dashcam are regularly overwritten, which demands a lot from a microSD card. Cheap models in particular often have problems with recording and storage. Some models are also excluded from the warranty when used in dashcams.
When driving, you should not be distracted by your dashcam. Therefore, control is also an important issue. All dashcams can be started and stopped by pressing a button on the display. However, this should not be done while driving.
Some dashcams are also compatible with apps. This allows you to activate or stop them remotely. However, you should not use this control method when the car is in motion. Here is an overview of the most important control options that you can easily use while driving:
- Voice control: With voice control, you can easily activate or deactivate the dashcam with a command while driving. This is especially helpful if you want to record what is happening or save the recording while driving. This guarantees that all important details are included in the recording. With this control mode, however, you still have to remember the voice commands and act in time, which may not be the case, especially in the event of an accident.
- G-sensor: A G-sensor is an acceleration sensor that registers both abrupt acceleration and braking. When the G-sensor is triggered, the dashcam automatically records. If the recording is already in progress, the footage is write-protected and thus not overwritten. The sensitivity of the G-sensor can usually be selected in the menu. On some models, however, the G-sensor is triggered very easily.
- Motion detection: Motion detection is especially helpful when the dashcam is in parking mode. Motion detection automatically starts recording when the car is moved. In contrast to the G-sensor, the motion sensor picks up even the smallest vibrations. This type of control is therefore only suitable for parking mode.
So the best control mode always depends on the intended use. Most dashcams have an integrated G-sensor. However, models with voice control are particularly easy to operate.
In addition to the usual functions, many models have special extras that set them apart from the competition. Which ones you really need depends on your needs. Many of these additional functions also drive up the price of the dashcam.
Most dashcams have parking space monitoring including motion detection. This means that recording starts automatically when the dashcam detects movement. With this feature, your car is protected even when parked and you can leave it outside without worrying. However, if your car is usually parked in a garage, this function is not so important.
Another additional function is a GPS. This continuously records the position and speed of your car. Some dashcams also offer a radar warning. However, this is not permitted in some countries. For models without integrated GPS, your location is recorded using an app on your smartphone.
Models with GPS often have an SOS function. This means that an emergency call is sent in the event of an accident. This happens automatically and even if the driver is no longer responsive. Through these functions, your location, as well as your personal data, such as previous illnesses, is passed on to the emergency services. For some models, however, an annual subscription must be taken out for this function.
Another important additional function is the night mode. Only if the dashcam has this can night recordings also be clearly recorded. This is also very important for the parking mode. The night mode must be activated separately on some models. However, dashcams that automatically start the night mode are better
Dashcams: Frequently asked questions and answers
The dashcam is a rather new phenomenon, especially in Germany. Therefore, there are many points that you may not yet be aware of. In this guide, we answer the most frequently asked questions about dashcams.
What is a dashcam?
Especially in case of accidents, they can be used as independent and reliable witnesses. Dashcams record the possible misconduct of other drivers, but also that of the owner. In some countries, the material must be passed on to the police in the event of an accident.
Dashcams are particularly widespread in Russia. The country has a high rate of corruption and hit-and-runs often occur. There, dashcams are indispensable to locate the driver in the event of an accident and to provide a true account of the accident. In Russian vehicles, dashcams are often part of the basic equipment.
Dashcams became famous mainly through the internet. There are countless videos on YouTube and Reddit that summarise dashcam recordings. They mainly show reckless driving manoeuvres, accidents and bizarre scenes.
The videos are often sorted by country and thus show typical driving styles. Most of the recordings come from Russia, where, in addition to unusual driving behaviour, natural phenomena such as meteoroids have also been captured.
Are dashcams legal?
The legality of a dashcam has not been fully clarified. In Germany, however, they still count as evidence. Nevertheless, it is important to have a loop mode.
In Germany, the use of a dashcam is controversial. The recording of number plates and sometimes also faces actually violates the DSVGO. However, recording accidents with a dashcam is admissible as evidence. However, this does not make the use of a dashcam legal. Nevertheless, in Germany one is moving in a grey area in terms of criminal law.
In order to use a dashcam in compliance with data protection laws, the recording should be kept short. The loop function is also very important. This ensures that old recordings are automatically overwritten by new ones. Basically, a dashcam should only make short recordings and not film permanently. Under no circumstances should you publish recordings of your dashcam on the Internet. This is clearly punishable by law.
In Austria, however, the use of dashcams is illegal.
They are also not allowed as evidence in our neighbouring countries. In Switzerland, dashcams are not explicitly prohibited. However, their use is discouraged. They cannot be used as evidence in court.
In the UK, Italy, France, Spain and Serbia, dashcams are allowed. In the United Kingdom, the use of a dashcam is also recommended. Some car insurance companies even offer a discount if a dashcam is used.
What types of dashcams are there?
|Dashcams with wide angle||especially large field of view, no blind spots||no disadvantages|
|Dashcams for front and rear||also films the inside of the car, especially suitable for taxi drivers||rather unnecessary for normal car drivers|
|Rear-view mirror dashcams||inconspicuous, does not get in the way||could be distracting, dangerous in case of steering problems|
|Rear dashcams||records events behind the car, helps when parking||installation difficult, double load on battery|
|Helmet-mounted dashcam||suitable for multiple vehicles, not distracting as you can't see it||requires helmet|
|Dashcam for motorbike||suitable for motorbike, helps with accidents||not a good anti-theft device, should always be removed|
As you can see, there are many ways to place a dashcam. The most suitable location depends on the vehicle and the desired functions.
How does a dashcam work?
Dashcams also have a built-in G-sensor that automatically starts recording or saves files in the event of a vibration. Alternatively, some dashcams can also be activated via voice control. In parking mode, they are activated with the help of a motion sensor.
You can then transfer the video material to your computer using a USB cable or SD card. Some models also allow transfer via WLAN. You can delete individual files directly in the dashcam menu
How much does a dashcam cost?
|Price range||Available products|
|35 - 85€||Models that mostly only film in the front, 720p resolution|
|85 - 125€||Models with additional functions such as motion detection, loop function and app, 1080p resolution|
|125 - 250€||Models with rear camera, additional functions like motion detection, GPS and SOS function, 1440p resolution|
As you can see, the price depends mainly on the resolution and the extras. A good model with all the important functions is available for as little as 80 euros. So you don't have to spend much more for a dashcam.
What are the alternatives to a dashcam?
|App||Many apps have almost the same functions as a dashcam. For example, most apps allow recording in loop mode. The smartphone GPS also records the location and speed. In addition, the recordings are managed directly on the mobile phone. However, the apps do not have a parking mode or G-sensor. Since you probably won't leave your smartphone in the car, you have to reattach the phone and start the app every time you drive.|
|GoPro||A GoPro as a dashcam also offers similar functions. You can also record in loop mode with the GoPro. The installation is also similar to a conventional dashcam. However, GoPros do not have a G-sensor, motion sensor or other additional function. In addition, GoPros are more expensive than most dashcams|
|Normal camera||A normal camera should only be used as a dashcam in exceptional cases. After all, it does not have the normal additional functions, such as a loop mode, and is therefore often not legal.|
As you can see, a smartphone is the most suitable alternative for a dashcam. However, it is not suitable in parking mode. Other alternatives such as GoPros or normal cameras are rather unsuitable. For these, it is worth buying a dashcam.
For which vehicles are dashcams available?
- Car: This is the most common place of use. Most dashcams are designed for cars, so you can easily use any model.
- Truck: For trucks and buses, you should use a dashcam with an extra wide angle. You should also make sure that the dashcam is suitable for these vehicles. If you are a truck driver, you could discuss the purchase of a dashcam with your company.
- Motorbike: There are many different models specifically for motorbikes. These are mounted on the handlebars or windscreen. Motorbike dashcams are extremely weatherproof. However, these dashcams do not have good protection against theft.
- Bicycle: Dashcams for bicycles are attached to the handlebars and are battery-operated.
- Helmet: Helmet dashcams are a special form. These are particularly suitable for motorcyclists and cyclists. However, apart from a GPS sensor, the dashcams have hardly any additional functions. They do not need a power supply because they are battery-operated. One disadvantage of these is that you cannot check whether they are recording while driving.
As you can see, there are dashcams for every means of transport. However, almost every vehicle needs its own model. If you want to use a dashcam for several vehicles, you will have to buy different models.
How do I install a dashcam?
So installing a dashcam is quite easy. Simply mount it in the chosen location. You can either let the dashcam cable hang down or hide it behind the covers. However, this requires a bit of skill.
To install the cable in the car, you will need leverage tools. You can install the dashcam yourself, but be careful. There are plenty of tutorials on the Internet. Alternatively, you can have the dashcam installed by a garage. However, this is more expensive.
A dashcam can help you in the event of an accident or damage to property and is also admissible as evidence in court. Dashcams also have many additional functions that improve the driving experience, such as a parking aid and the possibility to record beautiful landscapes. When buying a dashcam, you should therefore carefully consider which additional functions you need and for which vehicle you need them.
Dashcams are easy to install and easy to use. Dual dashcams that film the front and rear are particularly helpful. Some models also film the inside of the vehicle. In general, using any dashcam model will keep you safe and give you an advantage in court. However, you should inform yourself about the legal situation before buying.
Photo source: 123rf / Tawan Chaisom