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1080p and What That Means to You

1080p and What That Means to You

With most current dash cams being equipped with Full HD and priced anywhere from $150-$450, an important question should be asked: what exactly is 1080p and how is it different from between products?

Full HD refers to 1080p image resolution or 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. (approximately 2 million total pixels). This shouldn’t be confused with the term "HD" because HD may be used interchangeably with Full HD to describe a cameras resolution. This can easily lead to confusion, as HD can also refer to standard high definition, or 720p. For clarity, you should know that the term HD mainly refers to 720p and Full HD refers to 1080p. In our top 2-Channel dash cam lineup, all cameras come with Full HD front & rear quality. If you are uncertain of a display's image resolution based on the product description, look at the specifications to determine the actual image size.

Despite multiple cameras advertising 1080p or Full HD, more details should be taken into consideration. Video bitrate is an important contributor to video quality and is a crucial metric to track. Unfortunately, a bitrate number alone doesn't communicate much - 1000kbps might look good or bad, depending on resolution and content type. You would have to add the lens size/quality, processing power and camera viewing angle.

For example, a Full HD 1080p from a dash cam 3 years ago doesn’t mean that the image quality is the same as a Full HD 1080p from a dash cam today. As we know, technology changes fast; hardware, lenses, software, and codecs are improved and are more efficient. Keep in mind that more pixels don’t always equate to a better video but being familiar with how pixels affect resolution and the overall quality can help you understand which cameras have better recording quality and why.

To compare, we can look at the BlackVue DR650S compared to the newer DR750S. Both are rated as Full HD cameras, however, they both provide different quality footage. In the end the newer DR750S has the better video quality. Why? That would be because of the DR750S’ better lens, bitrate and software. The DR650S boasts a 2.4mp Sony Exmor lens while the DR750S uses a 2.1mp Sony Starvis lens.

Now although the Starvis lens is physically smaller, due to the quality of the lens, it is capable of recording the superior night-time footage. The viewing angle of the DR750S is slightly wider as well, but thanks to its ability to record in 60 frames per second, the unit is able capture smoother video and sharper details. With that all said, the major difference between the two would be the bitrate. The DR650S comes with 10Mbps Front and 5Mbps in the rear compared to the DR750S 25Mbps Front and 10Mbps in the rear. This directly translates to greater quality, the ability to capture more light and to record smoother video.

To conclude, many factors play a role in video quality. The 1080p rating can mean only so much, so we suggest reading on other specifications as well. Do note that higher quality/bitrate cameras do take up a lot more space on the microSD card than lower bitrate cameras, so make sure you have the appropriate size for your dashcam use!