BlackboxMyCar Dash Cam Buyer's Guide

The Ultimate Dash Cam Buyer's Guide

If you have no idea what dash cam to purchase, this buyer’s guide should help you narrow down your choices and let you know what to look out for. These are the sort of questions we ask our customers when they contact us to point them in the right direction. We also have some specific dash cams we recommend based on unique applications such as rideshare, fleets, and new drivers!

If you want to dive in and learn more about a specific dashboard camera, we have an extensive resource of Dash Cam Reviews. After following this guide and determining the features you need, you’ll be able to easily discover which dash cam is the best choice for your vehicle or fleet.

This guide has been updated for 2019.

Featured Dash Cams

There are many options, features and other differences that can make buying a dash cam seem complicated. The best dash cam for you is the one that meets all of your needs and desired features. There isn’t a dash cam that’s best for every situation, as they all offer different experiences for different needs. This article aims to educate you on everything you need to understand to find the one that best fits your specific needs and situation.

Discover Our Best of the Best

Jump right into our recommendations directly with our Best Dash Cams of 2019.


Multi-Camera Systems: How Many Channels (Angles) Do You Need?

When we mention the number of channels, we're referring to how many cameras you want in your vehicle and how many angles you want to cover. The most common choices are 1 Channel (front facing camera) and 2 Channel (front and rear facing cameras), however there have been customers that want a 4 Channel setup which covers the sides of the vehicle as well. Drivers for Rideshare programs such as Uber, and Lyft would want to go with a 2-channel camera where the rear unit is facing the interior.

The number of recording channels will depend on your budget, your needs for the dash cam, and the vehicle you plan on installing in. In some vehicles, it may be difficult to mount a rear or side camera. Some companies like Thinkware let you add a rear camera afterwards as an option, but most other 1 channel dash cams like the BlackVue DR750S-1CH do not have the port for a rear camera.

The BlackVue DR900S-2CH is a fantastic 2-channel dash cam with 4K image quality.

Best Dual-Channel Lens Dash Cams

There are many 2-channel dash cams to choose from, and here at BlackboxMyCar, we have all the top products to provide your vehicle with a full spectrum of visual protection. Check out our full collection of the Best 2-Channel Dash Cams to find your perfect match.


Parking Mode: Do You Need a Dash Cam to Record While Parked?

Parking mode is a dedicated recording mode that is designed to protect your vehicle even when the car is off. This is important for catching events like hit and runs or vandalism. True parking mode dash cams use technologies like motion detection and pre-buffered recording to enhance the parking recording capabilities. To use parking mode you will either need to hardwire the dash cam in your vehicle or power it using a dedicated battery pack like the Cellink NEO.

Some dash cam manufacturers include small internal batteries that do not supply enough power for extended parking recording and are generally unsafe to use in hotter climates. The best parking mode dash cams will also feature memory partitioning to protect hit-and-run files. Our favourite parking mode dash cams come from BlackVue and Thinkware.

Best Parking Mode Dash Cam

Parking mode has become a feature that’s heavily imitated, but often products miss the mark.

At BlackboxMyCar, we offer a collection of the Best Parking Mode Dash Cams, vetted and reviewed by trusted sources to ensure our customers receive the highest quality product.

The Thinkware F800 Pro D+ has the best parking mode feature based on the many tests

Pair a Cellink NEO Battery Pack with your dash cam to extend your parking mode by up to 45 hours!


Video Quality: Do You Need the Highest Resolution?

Nowadays, most dash cams offer pretty good video quality, even at relatively low price points. A good dash cam will have to strike a balance between video quality and file size. This is because dash cams are limited to their memory card space and very high bitrates will result in greater risk of overwriting. Higher end systems will have better sensors, lens, processors, and firmware to achieve better video quality. Some dash cams may even support higher resolutions like 1440P or 60 frames per second recording for smoother looking footage.

Cameras that feature the Sony STARVIS line of sensors like the Thinkware F800 Pro D+ or Blackvue DR750S-2CH typically offer the best low light performance.

The BlackVue DR750S-2CH is the long awaited flagship dash cam from BlackVue as it offers the much needed bump in video quality that fans have been waiting for. Video resolution, bitrates, and hardware have all been significantly improved.

With Full HD 1080p 2-channel recording at 30FPS, and the widest camera lens in this category of dash cams, the IROAD X9 packs high video quality and built-in Wi-Fi capabilities into a small sleek design.


Form Factor: Do You Need a Screen?

Dash cams come in different shapes and sizes. The two categories we’ll focus on is LCD vs. non-LCD dash cams and suction cup vs. adhesive mount dash cams. LCD dash cams offer the ability to change settings and immediately review videos on the device without the need for a computer or smartphone. Some LCD screen dash cams like the wedge shaped VIOFO A129 use a very small screen which helps to keep the size down. However, some dash cams can use large touchscreens which can be easier to use but also more visible from the outside. Many dash cams don’t actually have an LCD screen at all.

With these systems you can access the files and settings by taking out the memory card. Some dash cams, like the BlackSys CH-200, may also have a WiFi app that allows access through your smartphone.

The VIOFO A129 is the highly anticipated 2-channel dash cam offered by VIOFO. It takes advantage of the Sony Exmor R Starvis Image Sensor along with a new & improved lens to offer Full HD on both front & rear cameras at 30 frames per second.

How Do You Mount Your Dash Cam?

The other thing to consider with form factor is the mounting type. Suction cups are one way of mounting a dash cam. The benefits are that it can be removed very easily and swivelled in different directions. You may want to use a suction cup if you need to switch between vehicles for work or travel purposes. However, for the most part we recommend adhesive mount dash cams. Adhesive mounts take up less space and are less visible to the driver and people walking by. They are also sturdier and much less likely to fall off in extreme temperatures or under vibration. This is a safer mounting solution that can also result in better video quality.


GPS and WiFi Enabled Dash Cams: Added Data and Connectivity

The BlackVue DR900S-2CH is the highly anticipated, 4K dash cam from BlackVue.

The GPS feature that’s seen on dash cams can log the speed and location of the vehicle. We highly recommend this feature if the dash cam is being installed in a company or work vehicle. You can use this data to monitor employee driving habits, as well arguing against false claims of speeding. Just a note, the GPS feature does not allow any kind of navigation function.

WiFi is a feature that lets you use your phone as a screen to access and control your dash cam. You can typically view and download videos as well as change settings using a WiFi app. This feature is especially handy if you need to share your videos to an insurance company, police officer, or even just on social media. Use of the WiFi enabled app typically does not require any cellular data connection. Certain dash cams like the BlackVue DR900S-2CH even have a cloud function which lets you pair the unit to an internet source for additional features. These might include live streaming, location tracking, and even alert notifications if your car is involved in a hit and run!


Dash Cam Features: Additional Key Terms & Features

The features above are the primary differentiating factors between most dash cams, but they aren’t all the terms you’ll find in the store. Our guide below outlines some other features you might want to look for in your next dashboard camera. Night Vision, field of view and batteries and capacitors are all important to how your dash cam functions on a day-to-day basis. Loop recording, seamless recording and auto-start features can be great for quality of life and ease of use when operating a dash cam in your vehicle.

Auto-Start

Allows you to install, then "set it and forget it" until you need dash cam footage.

Loop Recording

Footage fills storage space, then records over old footage from the beginning.

Seamless Recording

Prevents the storage from having small gaps in the recordings.

Night Vision

Better, more clear footage if something is caught on video at night.

Battery or Capacitor

How the dash cam draws power. Battery is easier, capacitors are more reliable.

Field of View

The amount of action you catch on video. Wider FOV allows for more context.


MicroSD Cards 101

How Much Memory Do I Need?

On average, 2-channel dash cams write 16GB/hour and 1-channel dash cams write 8GB/hour.

We recommend going with the highest capacity memory card the dash cam supports. This is especially true if Parking Mode is enabled. Damage to your vehicle may not be noticed until a few days after the incident and having the largest capacity memory card will reduce the risk of the footage getting overwritten. Once the footage is overwritten, there is no way to get it back. With a larger memory card, there is a larger safety net before that footage gets overwritten.

What MicroSD Cards Do We Recommend?

OEM MicroSD Cards

Some manufacturers do offer their own OEM branded MicroSD Cards such as BlackVue and Thinkware. Although these memory cards are generally manufactured by similar memory card manufacturers, their memory controllers are designed specifically to work with their dash cams and are best for troubleshooting recording related issues with the dash cam.

Non-OEM MicroSD Cards

Different dash cam manufacturers build their firmware and processors around specific cards so a card that works well with one camera doesn't necessarily work well with a different model. Through extensive testing at BlackboxMyCar, the Sandisk Ultra A1, BlackboxMyCar, and Transcend Premium 400x MicroSD Cards have proven to be very reliable in all of the dash cams we offer.


Our Dash Cam & Accessories Reviews

At BlackboxMyCar, we value the importance of buying a high quality product that will exceed your expectations. To make sure that all of our customers are well educated on their dash cam options and have accessible reliable information, we do thorough dash cam reviews and first impressions of the products we sell. Instead of letting you rely on the product description alone, we’ll give you the information you need to make a smart purchasing decision.

First Impressions vs Dash Cam Reviews

In our first impressions, you’ll be supplied with our expert immediate reaction to the specified dash camera. Reviews come second to our first impressions, which explain our knowledge of past products, company history, and knowledge of this new dash cam. We’ll let customers know what they should expect with this new model before we take the time to review it thoroughly ourselves.

We give our best dash cam reviews after taking some time testing the model. We provide customers with an overview of the key features of the dash cam, pros, cons, and technical specifications. Also provided are in car dash cam reviews that show real life testing of the dash cam’s filming abilities. This detailed dash cam review will make you feel like you’ve already used the camera before, and know exactly what you’re purchasing.

Ready to read up on your next dash camera? Refer to our following links for both first impressions and thorough dash camera reviews. If you’re looking to learn more about these products, or have other inquiries, contact us today!


Dash Cam Reviews & First Impressions


Dash Cam Accessories

Dash Cam Battery Packs

Dash Cam Battery Packs

Hardwiring Kits