A common question that we receive here at BlackboxMyCar is "how do the Wi-Fi and GPS work in dash cams and why might I need these features?" Rather than allowing you to surf the web or receive map directions, a dash cam’s Wi-Fi and GPS are used for accessing footage data. In this article, we’ll be going over how different brands incorporate Wi-Fi and GPS into their products, and what the benefits are of having a dash cam equipped with these features.
Unlike the Wi-Fi you have at home, the signal from your camera does not give you access to the internet. Instead, this Wi-Fi connection lets you pair your smartphone directly to your dash cam, allowing you to view and download footage right onto your phone. A great benefit of having a Wi-Fi enabled dash cam is the ability to use the live view while installing your camera. For cameras without this feature, you must place the unit in your car, start recording, take out the SD card, review the footage in your computer, and then repeat the process until you’ve found a good angle. This can be a rather time consuming exercise if you're a bit unlucky.
Another (and perhaps our personal favorite) advantage of having Wi-Fi is the ability to review and save your footage on the go. For example, if you are out on the road with no access to a computer, you can simply connect to your dash cam using your phone. If you come across a car accident, you're able to show the police officer the video clip right on the scene.
Of course, having a screen on your dash cam is another way to solve this issue. A unit like the Thinkware X550 will give you a live view directly on its screen, kind of like a viewfinder on a regular camera. However, cameras with a built-in screen will have a larger footprint when compared to those without. If we take a look at the Thinkware X550 vs. the Thinkware F770, the F770 will take up significantly less space while installed in your vehicle.
As for GPS, there are two ways of including this feature with a dash cam. Some models, such as the Thinkware F800 Pro, have a built-in GPS which provides speed and location data while you are reviewing the footage. Meanwhile, others like the IROAD X9 have an external GPS dongle that can be purchased as an extra addon. Having a GPS in your dash cam is a must if you are looking to use Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as lane departure warnings and forward collision warnings. The dash cam GPS also collects crucial information such as your speed and location, which are especially useful when you need to use your footage for an insurance claim.
In the end, choosing a camera that features both Wi-Fi and GPS will always be the best choice. In case of an accident when you need to show your footage right away, Wi-Fi allows you to download and save the video, while the GPS function allows you to prove your innocence if anyone accuses you of anything like reckless speeding.