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BIF
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Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:58 pm

I think I want to get a dashcam for my car. I've done some reading, and I think I am willing to get one that can record front and rear. Some questions:

  • Do dashcams generally attract smash-and-grab thieves?
  • Wire in, or battery? I may decide to wire in if it lets me record anytime I'm in the car.
  • After an "event", can a dashcam save the video easily and quickly (to smartphone, "other", etc), so that removal of the SD card (or the camera) won't leave me without video proof?

Any advice?
 
David
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:20 pm

I have the Yi dashcam.

I'll take it off and put it in the console when my car is parked. The mount it comes with is tiny and unlikely to attract any thieves. On that point, though, I think it's widely assumed that most cars have a GPS or something semi-valuable stashed inside.

It's wired. Battery lasts maybe a minute without power. It's not ideal for transferring immediately after an incident. But I could just slide the SD card into my phone to play the video.
Last edited by David on Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:32 pm

BIF wrote:
[*]Wire in, or battery? I may decide to wire in if it lets me record anytime I'm in the car.

Hard-wiring your dashcam is easy to do, and offers the convenience of starting/stopping the camera with your car (providing an appropriate fuse is tapped). I'd definitely recommend this.
The 12V socket is permanently powered on in some makes of cars, so it might not be the ideal source in such a case. Moreover, having it plugged in runs the risk of someone unplugging it accidentally.

That said, consider if you need to enable parking mode (detect bumps on the car to trigger recording), especially if you park in the street. If so, you'd need one with a battery.

Also, consider if you're going to be parking without cover under the hot sun - in such cases its safer to skip a battery and look for a camera with a beefy capacitor instead (the cap stores enough power to power-off the dashcam cleanly).

BIF wrote:
[*]After an "event", can a dashcam save the video easily and quickly (to smartphone, "other", etc), so that removal of the SD card (or the camera) won't leave me without video proof?[/list]

You can yank the microSD card from the camera and either plug it into your phone to view the video contents, or you can use a microSD to micro-USB reader (like this) so you don't have to open up your phone to plug in the microSD card from the camera.

There are models of dashcam (e.g. Transcend) that make the dashcam a Wi-Fi hotspot, so you can connect to it to view videos or manage its contents. Keep this as a 'nice-to-have' when shopping.

When I was shopping for dashcams, I found the site https://dashboardcamerareviews.com/ invaluable.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:39 pm

Are you going to release the footage to the authorities if you are at fault?
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BIF
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:30 pm

End User wrote:
Are you going to release the footage to the authorities if you are at fault?
I live in a no-fault state and I don't do road-rage. Beyond that, I'm not going to overthink this. Do you have advice to share?
Last edited by BIF on Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
BIF
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:34 pm

arunphilip wrote:

You can yank the microSD card from the camera and either plug it into your phone to view the video contents, or you can use a microSD to micro-USB reader (like this) so you don't have to open up your phone to plug in the microSD card from the camera.
I use an iPhone, so the SD card would not work for me at the scene. I may need to look for options that can work with iPhone.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 1:14 am

AFAICT the built-in wifi stuff from those cams are not the most reliable. iOS apps and those devices seem to work a bit better, but I don't research Apple stuff as much.

Do dashcams generally attract smash-and-grab thieves?

It depends on a few variables: whether the models you chose are flashy or stealth, the location you install the cams, the crime rate of your neighbourhood, etc. If you take it out of sight when parked, then no point do a constant wired job since you won't be recording anyway. If you are in a bad neighbourhood and do want those bump sensor and/or motion detection, then you need to be as inconspicuous as possible. Black tape/paint if you have to.

My current choice is the A119/A119s, due to budget and the fact that taking rear video is not super important to me. Dual channel still has processing limitation, so I actually support the notion to buy 2 good single channel cams and just install them front and back. If your area does not get hot often, then may be a battery cam can work for you.

When I was shopping for dashcams, I found the site https://dashboardcamerareviews.com/ invaluable.

I use https://www.carcamcentral.com/ and https://dashcamtalk.com/ (especially their forums for the latest intel).
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 5:50 am

I live in the scalding-hot southeast US. I've had sunglasses melt in my glovebox. Yes, it's THAT hot sometimes.

Well, not melt melt...but it's been hot enough to melt/emulsify the accent plastics and/or lens coating on a couple pair. My car is garaged whenever I'm at home and I use a windshield shade whenever I park outside between the hours of..., well pretty much whenever batman is sleeping. I'm pretty good about remembering to use it from March to November and it is a HUGE help. It's still hot in the car and I usually drive a couple hundred yards with the windows down, but after that the A/C can overcome quickly.


So I guess the heat is a lot bigger factor than I originally thought.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:02 am

Watch some of Techmoan's dash cam reviews on the YouTubes.

For example: https://youtu.be/7OPrYBWCAYc

He discusses many usability issues of various cameras and provides in-car examples of operation.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:50 am

Thank you all for the input so far. I have homework now!
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:45 am

I use a Transcend Drive Pro 100 and been pleased with it. It is a basic version, forward only, small size and very easy to set up. It came with a 16Gb microSD card which will do 2hrs of 1080p video in 1min to 5min increments depending how you want to record. It plugs into the lighter socket and powers up and shuts off automatically with the vehicle operation. It's not wireless so recordings need to be transferred manually.
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:38 am

Probably a dumb question but why not just go with a Go Pro and a window mount? Is there something very specific that's needed or that a "dashcam" has that a standard Go Pro doesn't?
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:51 am

tanker27 wrote:
Probably a dumb question but why not just go with a Go Pro and a window mount? Is there something very specific that's needed or that a "dashcam" has that a standard Go Pro doesn't?

Not too dumb of a question, in fact, it has been asked quite frequently:
https://www.lifewire.com/car-tech-key-concepts-534885
http://www.thedashcamstore.com/blog/don ... heres-why/
https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/g ... hcam.8083/

There are a few features that a out-of-box (you can overcome some of these with mods, for example power) Go Pro does not have over a proper dash cam. Mainly the loop recording and the bad guys do know a Go Pro costs more (unless you put a Thinkware/BlackVue in the car).
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Mon Jun 05, 2017 10:05 am

The only reason I asked is because my dads 2017 Tacoma cam with a windshield Go Pro branded mount factory installed. (the truck is fully loaded so it came with the TRD off road package)
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Wed Jun 07, 2017 11:48 am

I definitely would second the recommendation for https://dashcamtalk.com/best-dash-cams-of-2017/ as they get into the details for the stuff they review.

If you're recording 1080p with audio + wifi capability, don't expect a battery to last long. Definitely go wired. Most of the time you can just run the wire under the dash, up the passenger door brace, under the front of the headliner and back down behind the rear-rearview mirror. Transcend makes a range of dash cams, such as the DP 520 that have everything you mentioned, but it costs a bit more. You can angle the second cam to see the driver and out the back window, and it has GPS + wi-fi capability. It syncs to an app installed on the smartphone.

I do like the suggestions of two cheap cams front & back, but removing them so they don't melt from the tropical sun every time you get out of your car would become a chore. Also increases the risk of someone noticing one or both of them and deciding its worth breaking a window for them.

I worried about people stealing my dash cam a few times, but since I live south Texas without shade to park under the sun will kill it regardless so it is a moot point. I have to pop my dashcam off its mount just so the heat doesn't melt it, and at night nobody will notice it behind the rear-view regardless. You can also hide them between some split/dual sunshades and the rear-view mirror during the day, as another option against heat or pilfering.

Some cams include SDXC cards, what they don't advertise is that most are cheap TLC that will wear out quickly. Transcend ships its own brand endurance brand MLC cards with its cams, so I favor them for that reason.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Wed Jun 07, 2017 2:16 pm

I looked into his myself and there seems to be little consensus among dashcam review sites as to which camera is best. Each site seems to have its own favorite, and what gets a good review on one site usually gets a mediocre review on another. It's hard to get a feel for what makes a good dashcam with all of the conflicting reviews I read.

Part of the problem is that it's unclear which review sites are reliable, which are sponsored, and which are just trying to get clicks.

Am I missing something, or is this what other people are finding as well?
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:34 pm

The BlackVue's, the A118/119/s, StreetGuardians seem to get pretty consistent good reviews for me. Where did you find bad reviews for those? Do not confuse issues with the thing being bad though. None of these, especially at the ~$100 mark, is going to be perfect.

Also, we need to see under what circumstances those bad reviews are conducted. Is it in really harsh conditions? Was a decent SD card used? Did the reviewer wipe his windshield before testing? There are so many variables and inconsistencies ever since anyone and their dog can do a random video "review" and post it on YouTube.
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:51 pm

Dash cams are a lot like motherboards. Different users have different needs so there is no perfect one-size-fits-all for either piece of hardware. Best to pick the features you need, then shop pricing, then find live recordings and snapshots from the cam that meets your needs.

Just because modern dashcams can produce a decent looking thumbnail doesn't mean they can take a photo with a legible license plate 25 feet in front of the vehicle, even if it's a genuine 1080p sensor. The image sensors optimized for day recording may not have the extra fabrication steps required to optimize for night recording. Some cams play with the FOV angle so that can distort or reduce vision distance, yet some users specifically want wide coverage in front and to the sides of the vehicle to cover front side-on impacts. A cam that may do well up north may not be able to handle harsh direct glare and high-contrast conditions down south (it really affects plate legibility despite the extreme brightness). That's not even getting into extra features like speed, GPS, infrared LED recording, wi-fi, multiple cams, adjustable cams, live feeds, apps, stealth, etc.
 
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:30 pm

So far the best dashcam review site I've found is The Wire Cutter, with this review. They explain their methodology and reasoning better than any of the other sites and seem more trustworthy to me.
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Re: Dashcam for my Car - Buying Advice Needed

Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:06 am

BIF wrote:
End User wrote:
Are you going to release the footage to the authorities if you are at fault?
I live in a no-fault state and I don't do road-rage. Beyond that, I'm not going to overthink this. Do you have advice to share?

I'm against the surveillance state so I sure as hell am against being surveilled by its people.
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