Dashcams: Front and Rear Dash Cams to Protect You and Your Car
Dash cams are cameras that drivers or riders attach to their vehicles, allowing them to capture the road in front of (or sometimes behind) their vehicles. Commonly used to help with potential insurance claims, they have plenty of other uses as well, and are a really handy addition to almost anyone's motoring setup.
However, good dash cams don't come cheap (and it's essential to choose a reliable model, as we'll see in a moment). So how can buyers find the very best dashcam deals around? This hotukdeals buyers guide will help you decide which dash cam to buy, or whether a dash cam is even necessary. And we'll also provide plenty of pointers about seeking out unbeatable dash cam offers from the best dash cam sale. But first, where did these compact, useful devices actually come from?
A Brief Look at the History of Dash Cams
Around 10 years ago, the term “dash cam” was virtually unknown, but now it's a household name. The reason could well be due to an epidemic of alarming (but often entertaining) videos posted onto the web by drivers or motorcyclists. These videos showed attempts to stage insurance fraud claims that were hard to believe – but actually happened. Since then, drivers across the world have added security cams to their dashboards, letting them capture every second of their drives, providing some extra reassurance, and helping to keep their claims record spotless.
The actual technology behind dash cams is older. Cameras have been secured to car windows and dashboards for decades by Hollywood, while off-road cyclists have long been able to film their descents via helmet-mounted cameras. But modern dash-cams have an important difference to these cameras, which has been made possible by the advent of streaming, high capacity data storage, and the internet of things.
As smartphones became nearly universal from 2010 onwards, dashcams started to appear which used their compact processing and memory technology to store hours of continuous footage. With the appearance of wireless internet and cloud storage, these cameras could also beam footage to repositories, where it could be kept ready for analysis – a huge leap from simply adding a video camera to your dashboard. Now, dashcams provide a constant stream of footage – often from multiple angles, in high resolution, and with wide-angle lenses. So it's a history of engineers combining elements from various fields (such as networking, smartphones, camera design, and automotive design), and coming up with something totally new. But are dashcams as useful as their makers claim?
What Are Dash Cams? And Why Are They Useful?
At a basic level, dashcams are simply video cameras that are used to capture footage from inside automobiles or other powered vehicles. They will typically capture footage through the windscreen or windows of a car, via an attachment on the roof or dashboard of the car (hence the term “dash”).
Most dashcams come with screens that face the driver, so they can see what is being captured. That's useful for rear-mounted cameras, which can capture blind spots that are inaccessible to the driver themselves.
Dash cams aren't just decorative additions to car interiors. They have quite a few beneficial purposes:
Capturing Footage of Potential Insurance Claims – As we've already noted, dashcams can be used to capture video footage of accidents or incidents involving pedestrians, helping motorists to provide an accurate account of events. In the past, insurance claims have often relied upon the word of bystanders and those involved, resulting in many inaccurate judgements. Now, drivers can prove who was responsible, and keep their insurance record clean. Hopefully, this should lead to lower car insurance premiums, meaning that a well-used dashcam can actually pay for itself over the long run.
Assistance with Criminal Cases – There's also a more public-spirited reason to use dash cam footage. In many accidents (such as hit and run incidents), the identity of the vehicles involved isn't clear. But the more dashcams there are on the road, the more likely it is that criminal drivers will be caught. On a more everyday level, dash cams can also capture footage of reckless or potentially drunk drivers, which can also be passed to the authorities to help make the roads slightly safer.
Parental Reassurance - Many families share vehicles between parents and children, at least for short periods in their lives. But this can lead to anxiety on the part of parents, who may not be 100% confident in the driving skills of their offspring. In those cases, dash cam footage can assure mums and dads that their kids have what it takes on the road.
Tourism and Recreational Recording – Not all dashcam footage is about fighting insurance fraud or reporting wayward driving. It can also be used to create footage of memorable drives during holidays, or just as part of recreational filming. Modern cams record in high definition, providing a crystal clear recording of whatever roads you travel.
Stay on Track for Your Destination – Good dash cams do more than just film. They also tend to come with onboard GPS, and can double up as a Sat Nav device. By providing instant location readouts and mapping services, these cams can be an invaluable way to stay on course for wherever you are headed.
Key Features to Look For in a Good Dash Cam
So, what sets elite dashcams apart from the crowd? It's important to note here that the dashcam market has expanded rapidly in recent years, and you won't struggle to find suspiciously cheap dashcam offers from companies shipping straight from factories. But think twice before taking up that kind of dash cam sale deal. Instead, match up the specs on offer with these features to ensure that the cam has what you require:
Resolution – Video resolution is absolutely crucial when selecting a dash cam. With lower resolution, you may struggle to make out licence plates, and the actual footage can be blurry, making it harder to process insurance claims. 720P resolution is a bare minimum, but look for 1080p or 4K if possible, as the results will be noticeably more impressive.
GPS – As we noted above, GPS has become a popular addition to dash-cam models, essentially turning them into a kind of Sat Nab system. But GPS on dashcams isn't really about navigation. It has a much more critical function. When you are involved in an incident, the dashcam will record the precise location and time, providing invaluable evidence for police or insurance investigators.
G-Force Sensors – Similarly, these sensors record the forces at work during crashes or other incidents. This provides evidence of the direction blows came from – a sure sign in many cases of which vehicle was to blame. On good cameras, these sensors are automated to save footage during critical moments when G-forces spike.
Special Features for Parked Cars – Dashcams don't necessarily stop working when you've parked and left the car for a spot of shopping. Many accidents occur when vehicles clip or bang into parked cars, and these accidents are often the toughest to trace. But with a dashcam installed, it's often possible to capture footage of offending vehicles. Look for models with sensors that can tell when accidents occur, and make sure the camera is pointed towards the most likely impact points.
Storage – Cheaper dash cams will come with limited on-board storage that will be erased periodically to accommodate new footage (which will probably be labelled in listings as “loop recording”). You can get around this by changing the SD card on a regular basis, so buying a few cards to keep in reserve is often a good move. More advanced cams allow users to stream footage onto their smartphone, or to store it on Cloud-based services. And almost all will feature some facility for transferring footage onto laptops, but not all will offer wireless connectivity or up to date USB connections.
Cable Length – A small detail, but one which makes a huge difference, having a cable of the right length will let you connect the dash cam to your car's power socket, and to place it in exactly the right location. Shorter cables measure around 1.4 metres, but they can be as long as 5 metres, providing much more flexibility.
Lens Type – The material used in dash cam lenses can vary with price. The cheapest models may rely on flimsy plastic lenses, which won't deliver the clarity that high-end users demand. So try to find models with glass lenses instead.
Size – Size is definitely not everything when it comes to dashcams. In fact, some of the most expensive dash cams are actually some of the smallest. Why would that be? Partly, it's because small cams won't distract drivers, even if the viewing screen is fairly small. But small cameras are also harder to spot from the outside. Sometimes there are advantages to keeping your dash cam setup “stealthy” (such as deterring car theft).
Rotation – Dashcams differ in terms of their field of vision. The cheapest models are pretty much fixed in place, and can only be altered by physically moving the camera unit. Better models feature 360 degree mounts which let you direct the lens towards side windows if required.
Smartphone Features – If you intend to combine your dashcam with a smartphone, choose a model with a slick, feature-rich app. Most can be consulted on iTunes or Google Play, and good apps will make a huge difference to how dashcams are used. For instance, they may allow real time playback from the dash cam, letting you check on your vehicle while you wait at the doctors. Others offer in-depth analysis, notifications, or options to tweak G-force settings. So check the app listings before buying.
Different Types of Dash Cam
As with most advanced electronic devices, there isn't one type of dash cam. Here are a few styles that you'll come across when checking out the dash-cam sale bargains at hotukdeals:
Front Facing Cameras – Basic dash cams are designed to bolt onto the front of the car, and provide front-facing footage. That's often enough for drivers to feel reassured, and these cameras tend to be simple to install, cheap, and effective. But it's important to note that more deluxe models are available.
Front and Rear Dash Cam Models – Drivers can also choose whether to opt for a front and rear dash cam instead. As the name suggests, a front and rear model will include cameras to record in both directions, capturing traffic in your wake. That's obviously going to be a big help if you are worried about being hit from behind, something that standard dashcams simply can't accommodate. However, be aware that front and rear cams are more complex to install and use, as well as being more expensive. So while they add a useful extra dimension to recording, they aren't for everyone.
Adhesive and Suction Mounts – Dash cams can also be divided according to how they attach to the vehicle in question. Many models use simple suction cups to connect with the windscreen or rearview mirror. These are cheaper, but tend to suffer from higher vibration levels, which can compromise image quality. Others come with adhesive pads which are designed to last for extended periods. They should be more secure, but users should note that the pads can't be reused, so replacements may be required after a few months.
Dash Cam for Motorbike – Motorcyclists can benefit from dash-cams just as much as car drivers, and specialist cams have been developed to cater for their needs. Ideally, these cams are more rugged than car-based models, are easy to install, and offer instant visuals for riders, thanks to clear screen interfaces. Size matters here – and the smaller the better. But always think about resilience when choosing dash cams for bikes. Check for IPV6 ratings (to avoid moisture damage), and devices that can be securely mounted. Paying a bit more is advisable here, and brands to check out include: Oxoqo, Nextbase, and Blueskysea.
How to Fit a Dash Cam
If you're worried about how to fit dash cam devices onto your car or bike, don't worry. Today's leading manufacturers have developed models that are designed to be simple to install, even for those with very limited engineering knowledge. But there are some things to know about when adding a dash cam to your vehicle.
Keep Things Simple – If you aren't an AV or automotive expert, don't buy a dashcam with elaborate mounting procedures. Instead, choose a model that plugs into your car's cigarette socket with ease, and which uses adhesive pads to attach to their windscreen or dashboard.
Manage Your Cabling – Before attaching the cam or plugging it in, train the cable around the rim of your windscreen, tucking it firmly under the edge. Then pass the cable down the side of the car, along the dash, and directly down to the power socket.
Choose the Right Location – Now, place the camera where it will have the best field of vision. Assuming you are going with a front facing camera, sticking the pad or suction cup directly behind the rear view mirror makes the most sense.
Double check that your vision is fine – Before driving anywhere, carry out a visual inspection. Make sure that you can see to the left and right, and that the cam isn't obscuring your view of the road in any way. It's intended to be a safety enhancement, not a potential hazard, so make sure your vision isn't impeded in any way.
What Are the Best Dash Cam Brands?
One good way of zeroing in on a dashcam which works for you is to go for the leading brands in the field. In this case, there are a few brands to go for, but here are some of the leading contenders that pop up regularly among the cheap dash cam discounts at hotukdeals:
Garmin – One of the biggest names in wearable tech and GPS, Garmin makes a range of sleek, effective dashcams that very rarely let customers down. It's hard to go wrong with the standard Garmin Dash Cam or the diminutive Garmin Dash Cam Mini. However, if you want to combine different functions, the Garmin DriveAssist is a must-have. Basically a dash cam with Sat Nav capabilities, it makes it easy to get around town without fear, while providing add-ons like lane departure warnings, and traffic alerts.
Nextbase – Garmin's major competition at the premium end of the dashcam market, Nextbase offers both motorbike and automobile cams. The 222 model is a favourite, thanks to its high definition recording and mid-range price tag, the 522GW incorporates Alexa compatibility, allowing drivers to issue voice commands to their dash cam. And the super cheap 122 is simple to install, and handy for almost any vehicle.
Thinkware – Known for their touchscreen dashcams, Thinkware is also associated with high performance, durable cams for motorsport applications. So if you intend to drive at high speed, or need a dash cam that can handle some serious G-forces, it could be the brand to choose.\
How and When Find the Best Dash Cam Deals
Hopefully, you now have a pretty good idea of whether a dash cam is necessary for your car, and the kind of cam to aim for. These devices certainly have their advantages, and they provide plenty of reassurance in an increasingly risky world – but picking the right model at the right price can still be tricky.
If you want to find the world's leading dash cam brands for less, hotukdeals is the first place to look. Our listings include big names like Garmin and Nextbase, along with less well-known contenders like BlackVue, as well as established giants like Phillips or Motorola. So we've got every inch of the road covered, providing the widest possible choice of angles.
When you browse the hotukdeals dashcam listings, you'll find dash camera deals from merchants like Currys, Argos, Halfords, John Lewis, eBay, and Amazon, often at discounts of 40-50% compared with regular listed prices. That applies all year-round, but discounts can be even more dramatic during peak sales periods like Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday. So if you want to pick up the best dash cam you can afford, or a deluxe dash-cam Sat Nav hybrid, timing your purchase makes a lot of sense.
Feel More Secure Behind the Wheel with the Dash Cams for Sale at hotukdeals
Feel at ease and protected against fraudulent insurance claims with a high-quality dashcam installed in your vehicle. These advanced cameras deliver a continuous stream of HD footage to smartphones and laptops, providing a foolproof record of motoring incidents, both for car drivers and motorcyclists. They could be an invaluable addition, so pick up the latest and best models at the hotukdeals dashcam listings.