Why fit a dashcam?
The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates that 30,000 “crash for cash” incidents – for example, when a driver slams on their brakes to make a following car hit them – take place every year. Dashcams can help insurers identify fraudulent claims and determine who is at fault, so some offer a discount for drivers who have one installed, as long as they agree to provide footage on request (check with your insurer to see if a deal is available with your chosen dashcam).
Bear in mind that police will get involved if someone has been injured in an accident; they have the power to seize footage, which may be used as evidence.
How do dashcams work?
Dashcams are smarter than your basic video camera. Yes, you could attached a forward-facing GoPro or Dogcam to your windscreen and record your whole journey in one long file, but what if you run out of space on your memory card before the end of the journey?
Dashcams get round the problem by splitting the video into small chunks, usually video files of 1-3 minutes. When the memory card is full, the oldest file will be deleted to make room for a new file, meaning it will always record.
However, important files can be locked and protected from deletion, either manually (by pressing a button on the device) or in most cases automatically if the device detects a sudden change in speed (because of an accident or emergency stop).
Are there different kinds?
Yes, there are several types of dashcams, and while they come in all shapes and sizes, they may be classified into a few distinct categories:
• Single-lens dashcams
• Multiple-lens dashcams
• Rear-view mirror style dashcams
• Action-cam style dashcams
Single-lens dashcams are the most basic type of dashcam. These record from a single camera lens, like a normal camcorder. Typically people mount these dashcams in their front windshield in order to record what is happening in front of the car.
Multiple-lens dashcams are a bit more complex. These dashcams can record from more than one camera lens at a time. Typically they utilize one forward-facing lens to record what is happening in front of the vehicle, and one inside-facing lens to record what is happening inside the vehicle. These are particularly useful for fleet or commercial vehicles where typically the driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle.
Rear-view mirror style dashcams are a special type of dashcam. These mount on top of your existing rear-view mirror, and provide video from a small forward-facing lens. This style of dashcam is great for those wanting a less-conspicuous solution.
Action-cam style dashcams are a bit different than the traditional dashcam, these are used by those desiring a battery-powered or waterproof dash cam. In most cases, these don't need to be connected to a constant power source which is unlike most traditional dash cams. Some of these models can be mounted outside of the vehicle, no matter the conditions, but they do require more steps to use (in contrast to standard dashcams, action-cam style dashcams typically must be manually started and stopped).
Do I need to wipe the memory card manually?
Yes. Although the oldest video clips are deleted automatically to make way for new footage as the dashcam records, you may find that the protected (emergency recording) files build up over time and eventually fill the card, perhaps causing an error message to appear. For this reason, it’s best to format the memory card once every couple of weeks or so. In most cases, you will be able to do this via the dashcam’s menu.
Where can I mount a dashcam?
Dashcams should intrude no more than 40mm into the swept area of your windscreen wiper blades and must not be mounted in the area directly above the steering wheel.
Does the car camera drain the battery when the car is off?
No, most car cameras automatically switch on/off as the power to the cigarette lighter comes on/off. The power to the cigarette lighter comes on when the ignition is switched on and then goes off when the ignition is switched off. So, the camera is not powered when you're not using the car. Some cameras have internal batteries which can be used to take the camera out of the car to take photos or to use the parking mode (until the battery runs out).
Can I playback the videos on any computer?
Yes, you can playback the video files (either AVI or MP4 format) on any computer including both Windows and OSX, providing you have the correct video codecs installed. You can simply copy the video files off the SD card onto your computer and play them like any other video file. Some cameras also come with special software which allows you to manage camera settings and playback videos with the additional GPS maps and g-sensor data (if supported). This software may not be compatible with all platforms so check before you buy.
Can I connect the camera directly to the battery?
Yes, if you prefer to connect the camera directly to the battery for a cleaner installation you can. Additionally, many cameras have parking mode which generally only work if you connect the camera to the battery since the cigarette lighter is only powered when the car is running. We can even hardwire your dash camera for £40
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