We often take our time behind the wheel for granted, assuming that we’ll arrive at our destination scratch free. But while you might be sticking to the road rules, chances are not everyone is doing the same. Whether you see someone doing something they shouldn’t, or you’ve had an accident and need to provide evidence to your insurer, dash cams have become a popular accessory for motorists.
When it comes to finding the best dam cash however, you’ll have plenty of options to install to your ride, which means it can quickly become a bigger decision than anticipated. Read on to find out just what is available for Aussie motorists, as well as what to look out for to find the best fit for you.
What is a dash cam?
A dash cam, otherwise known as a dashcam, dashboard camera, driving recorder or event data recorder (EDR), is essentially an onboard camera that records the view through the front or rear windscreen. The main appeal of installing a dash cam is that you’ll have evidence in the event of an accident, as well as giving you additional security and peace of mind when you leave your car parked.
A dash cam works similar to any other recording device such as a regular camera or GoPro, in that the recorded image is (traditionally) saved to a memory card, which can be transferred onto your computer at a later time. While the memory card size and capacity might vary from brand to brand, the majority of dash cams record in five-minute slots, meaning that if you travel for 20 minutes, your camera will have four files of five-minute recordings. This makes it easier for you to find what you’re looking for if you’ve had an accident, as well as makes it easier for the camera to delete old, unused footage. Newer models also utilise Wi-Fi and cloud storage, meaning you can have the footage straight away, and don’t have to worry about looking for a memory card!
Types of dash cams
While a dash cam may be a worthwhile investment, deciding on which one to install can prove a tough decision. But the one you choose might prove the difference between a legal battle and a quick claim. Below are a few of the more common types of dash cams available in Australia:
- Single Channel – otherwise known as ‘front recording’ models, these generally face and record one direction, and are traditionally used to face out the front windshield.
- Dual Channel – faces and records out both the front and rear of the car.
- In-car – these offer an internal view of your car, facing the rear of the car so you get a view of the driver and passengers.
Dash Cams Available to Buy in Australia
Australians have no shortage of options when it comes to picking up a dash cam. Here are some of the more common brands you can expect to find in both your local electronics store and online.
Established in 2007, Blackvue, operating under the Pittasoft brand, offers a number of dash cam models for Aussie motorists to choose from. These include cloud and Wi-Fi based models, along with plenty of accessories such as battery packs to ensure that your camera is ready when you need it. If you’re after something quite serious, Blackvue may be the brand for you, with the majority of models offering dual channel capabilities, as well as infrared cameras and waterproof casing, with some of the highest-end models capable of 4K imaging.
Available through online and electronic retailers, Blackvue dash cams are some of the most expensive on the market, with some costing over $1,000. But when it comes to additional security and safety, the price tag may be worth it. Specific models include:
- Full Wi-Fi dash cam (DR590W-1CH) 16GB – $250RRP
- Dual Full HD dash cam (DR590-2CH) 16GB – $320RRP
- 4K UHD Cloud dash cam (DR900S-1CH) 16GB – $565 RRP
Splitting its range into ‘Premium’ and ‘Everyday Driving’, Dod products are available through online retailers as well as electronics stores, which are outlined on the Dod website. The Everyday Driving range includes models such as the IS420W, which features 1080p recording, Wide-Dynamic lens and parking surveillance mode for when you’ve parked for the night.
Whereas the Premium models, such as the RC500S, have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect to your phone to control and download footage. With a range of accessories also available, including cords and mounts, Dod’s dash cams are priced between $100 and $400, making it a suitable option regardless of your budget. Specific models include:
- 7” LCD Screen Full HD dash cam (IS420W) – $199RRP
- Wi-Fi 1080p Premium dash cam (RC500S-1CH) – $239RRP
- Dual channel Premium 1080p dash cam (RC500S-2CH) – $579RRP
Known for producing a number of modern electronics, including smartwatches and GPS units, Garmin has also tapped into the dash cam market. It may not offer a large range of options, however, if you’re interested in a compact model that doesn’t shy away from quality, it may be well worth investigating. Garmin models cost between $150 and $400, depending on the retailer.
While its range may be small, you have the option to customise your dash cam, choosing the resolution, field of view, colour and whether or not your unit has a built-in display. This allows you to choose exactly what you want, or need. Most models are also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible, with some even voice-activated, allowing you to keep both hands on the wheel. Specific models include:
- Garmin dash cam 55 plus voice control (010-01750-11) – $249RRP
- Garmin 66W 1440p dash cam (010-02231-15) – $349RRP
Offering between 720p and 1440p video quality, Kapture’s range of dash cams includes both single and dual channel models, allowing you to keep an eye out from every angle. The top of the line models, such as the KPT-942, include additional features like a GPS logger and Lane Departure Warning, giving drivers additional safety measures when traveling.
Sold primarily through JB Hi-Fi in Australia, a Kapture dash cam can be picked up for around $50, with the most expensive model setting you back over $400. Specific models include:
- KPT-150 HD Recorder – $49RRP
- KPT-700 Full HD dash cam – $149RRP
- KPT-942 Quad HD dash cam – $299RRP
Another GPS brand that has ventured into the world of dash cams, Navman offers a number of single and dual channel MiVue models, as well as the Stealth range for those after something more discreet. The MiVue range includes features such as 2K HD recording, a 3-Axis G-Shock sensor to provide better details of the collision, with some models even featuring a tyre pressure display to help you keep an eye on when you need to pump your tyres up.
The Stealth model includes additional features such as lane departure, driver fatigue alerts, as well as a built-in Super Capacitor to withstand the harsh Aussie summer when you decide to park your car in the sun. It even features EZYSHARE functionality, allowing you to store and upload footage straight to social media.
Reasonably priced, a Navman dash cam will set you back from less than $100 to over $500, depending on the model and retailer you purchase through. Available online and through electronics retailers, you can find your closest store on the Navman website. Specific models include:
- MiVue740 1080p dash cam – $159RRP
- MiVue800 1080p Dual dash cam – $269RRP
- Drive Duo 2.0 Full HD dash cam – $279RRP
A well-known brand within the communications industry, Uniden offers the iGo CAM range for motorists to consider. One of the more affordable ranges available, a Uniden 30 model will set you back just under $100, with features such as 1080p resolution, parking mode and a 120 degree field of view
Those after something with a bit more to it may be interested in the 850 model, which includes night vision and motion detection, dual channel cameras, as well as an anti-shaking function for “optimal” recording. Available for purchase online or through some electronics retailers, Uniden may be worth investigating for those new to the dash cam market. Specific models include:
- iGo Cam 30 LCD dash cam – $99RRP
- iGo Cam 70R Smart dash cam – $299RRP
- iGo Cam 85R 4K dash cam – $350RRP
Other dash cam brands
While the above brands are some of the more common options that you’ll find on shelves, here are a few more brands to consider:
- Street Guardian
What to consider when buying a dash cam
While they all might appear to do the same thing, there’s a lot of variety available when it comes time to buying one. Here are some of the factors to consider before you head to the checkout.
- Video quality – While dash cams with lower video quality will generally be cheaper, having a better quality video can be the difference between capturing a clear image of the accident, and watching a lot of blurry figures. 1080p is the benchmark for the market, although quality can go up to 4K, giving you crystal clear video.
- Lens – Along with video quality, the lens that your dash cams uses will impact on the recording. Some lenses offer a wider field of view, while others also offer better low-light imaging or even night-vision.
- Size – Considering you’re placing the camera on your windshield, you don’t want a bulky unit distracting you while out on the road. While most dash cams are quite small, finding one that will fit behind your rear-view mirror will ensure you can keep your eyes on the road.
- Memory & Storage – While most dash cams store videos straight to an SD card, some models operate through Wi-Fi and cloud storage, meaning you don’t have to worry about your memory card getting full. Some units are also programmed to override old footage, so that you don’t run out of memory space.
- Price – As with any purchase, your budget plays a big part in which brand or model you walk out the store with. Some dash cams are available for under $100, while others cost more than $400. You typically get what you pay for when it comes to dash cams, so forking out a bit of extra cash for a better quality image may be well worth it down the line.
- App connectivity – Some models and brands offer compatibility to your smartphone through an app, which can allow you to download footage, run diagnostics and view settings, which may be a bit easier than fiddling with the dash cam unit itself.
- Heating protection – A hot car is almost a given in Australia, with the inside of a parked vehicle often hot enough to be mistaken as a sauna. As a result, finding a dash cam that can survive the harsh Aussie summer will save you heartbreak down the line, so be sure to look at any heat-resistant tech that brands may offer.
How to install a dash cam
You can install a dash cam by either connecting it to a 12V power supply (such as the cigarette lighter in older cars), or by hardwiring the unit into the car itself. While you’ll be able to attach most models with a bit of DIY (with instructions often coming in the box), you can also ask for your camera to be installed if you purchase from car shop retailers such as Supercheap Auto.
If you do decide to play handyman, to avoid being left with a lot of cord hanging from the camera, look to line the cord along the roof lining and behind the trim panels for a neat installation. Additional cord can usually be purchased if you need it for a neat interior.
Choosing where to install your dash cam is something you need to consider, with behind the rear view mirror generally the standard recommendation. You’ll also want to choose a spot that the windscreen wipers can reach, or you may not be able to properly view any incidents during wet weather.
Dash cam battery
You may also need to buy a dash cam battery, particularly if the dash cam you’re looking at records while your car is parked. As most dash cams are connected to the car battery, it may drain the battery, potentially leaving you stranded. As a result, a dash cam battery may be a worthwhile investment, with most brands offering charging stations or additional batteries to combat this.
Are dash cams legal?
While a lot of the legislation regarding dash cams is playing catch up to the industry, dash cams are a legal car accessory in Australia, although common sense will dictate where and how you place you dash cam. However, it’s best practice to install your dash cam in an area that won’t impair, or obscure, your vision of the road, and to make sure the cords aren’t hanging down from the unit.
If you drive for a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Ola however, you’ll have to comply with a few additional rules. Regulatory bodies and state governments require drivers of ride-booking vehicles to purchase a pre-approved camera system to allow for safety of both the driver and passengers. A list of pre-approved cameras and models are generally outlined on government websites, and may vary from state to state.
- Dash cam footage will also be admissible as evidence in a court of law, as long as the dash cam is not used to record a private activity, such as a conversation you and your passengers are having inside the vehicle.
Do I get a discount on my insurance premiums if I have a dash cam?
Currently, no insurance companies offer motorists with dash cams a discount on their premiums, but it will likely speed up your claim’s process should you meet with an accident, meaning it may save you on other areas than your premium.
Do I need a dash cam?
While you may be the type of person who washes and checks the oil every weekend, as well as keeps up to date with road rule changes, you just never know what might happen when you hop in the driver’s seat, or even leave your car in a busy car park! As a result, a dash cam may (unfortunately) be a useful purchase, as it could save you a bit of heartbreak and money down the line should you run into some trouble.
A proactive approach to any car accidents you may have, spending a few hundred dollars now on a dash cam may save you thousands of dollars in repair work, insurance premiums or legal bills in the future. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your dash cam purchase, as well as a model that will do its job, it’s best to look into all your options and take into consideration the quality of footage the camera takes. As a result, doing a bit of research into the market, as well as keeping up to date with any safety standards, will ensure that your time behind the wheel is relaxing, as well as safe.
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