Plus, we give you the lowdown on the best in the market, from bottom-budget to top-dollar
Dashcams aren’t just for truckies, tradies in work utes, or car enthusiasts who want to protect their sweet ride – it’s really something that anyone who is on the road should consider, and it’s something that is becoming increasingly popular among the Australian driving public. And, we reckon, it’s an especially smart idea for those of us who tow trailers or caravans, or go off-road four-wheel driving – you have more to lose, and more can go wrong.
If you’re on Facebook, chances are you’ve stumbled across a dashcam video. You may even follow the Dash Cam Owners Australia page, where they post daily clips of anything interesting caught on everyday Aussie drivers’ dashcams, from spectacular crashes and near-misses, to bizarre driver behaviours and comedic cameos (shopping trolley race down a highway? Emu strutting out in front of unsuspecting traffic? It’s all on there). Forget the Kardashians, this is the definition of ‘car crash TV’.
It’s not just about being entertained though – watching other drivers’ unfortunate experiences serves as an important reminder that there are some truly irresponsible drivers out there (as if we needed reminding), and that things can change in the blink of an eye – so it pays to always be paying attention. After all, a quick reaction could save more than just your bacon.
WHY DO I NEED ONE?
You really can’t go wrong by getting a dashcam, as long as you buy one that is known to be good quality and reliable. If you’re ever in an accident, instead of it becoming a their-word-against-yours insurance battle, you will have footage to prove exactly what happened, potentially saving a lot of time and money.
Dashcams can also be a great way to capture your adventures on the road, and something to show friends and family when you get back. You can also review footage as a way of improving your 4WDing and caravanning skills. How could you have tackled that outback track differently? How could you have reverse-parked your rig into that site more efficiently, or kept your van better positioned in the lane?
HOW DO I CHOOSE ONE?
There are many factors to take into account when looking for a dashcam. You will first need to figure out your budget and determine which features are on your ‘must-have’ list.
This goes without saying. After all, what’s the point of a dashcam if you can’t properly see what’s happening in the footage? Opt for a dashcam with 1080P HD resolution or higher – go much lower than this, and night footage will be less than decent; you’ll also have trouble making out licence plate numbers – not good if someone bangs up your car and does a runner.
Other specs like camera lens and bitrate of recording will also impact video quality, so be sure to watch sample videos of any dashcam you consider.
Forget those cheap Chinese dashcams on eBay. Choose a trusted Australian brand that’s well-established in the dashcam industry and is known for making reliable, high quality dashcams. Australian-made dashcams will also be better suited to the higher temps that we experience in summertime.
Prices can vary dramatically across different brands and models; there are plenty of good ones around the $150-$200 mark, if you’re looking at a basic set-up. If you want to get into things like dual-camera set-ups and parking surveillance, be prepared to pay several hundreds of dollars.
There are heaps of handy (and not-so-handy) extra features that dashcams offer these days. Here are the most common ones:
Your camera will show the exact location and speed you were doing at the time; this can be a double-edged sword if you were going over the speed limit!
This allows your dashcam to detect when you’ve been in an accident, and save the footage that’s being recorded at the time instead of looping over it.
The camera will start recording if it detects motion or a bump while your vehicle is parked.
Do you also want a rear-mounted camera to capture what happens behind your vehicle? Dual cameras are more expensive though, and difficult to install.
This makes for easy file transfers (as opposed to taking the memory card out and putting it in your computer to watch footage).
LED Status Light or Audio Notifications
A beep, voice prompt or light at the bottom of your camera to let you know that your camera has started recording, or stopped recording.
ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems)
Some dashcams even have lane departure warnings and forward collision warning systems; some drivers may find this helpful, others may simply find these warnings annoying.
Uniden iGO CAM 40 Smart Dashcam
Using the latest tech, Uniden has developed a new range of iGO dashcams. For under $200, you can get your hands on the small yet feature-packed iGO CAM 40. With full HD 1080P resolution, two-inch LCD colour screen, GPS geotagging that records your location and speed, super-wide 140° view, as well as a clever parking mode feature, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better dashcam for such a low price.
Street Guardian SG9665XS V2 32GB
Street Guardian is a favourite among dashcam owners. This compact dashcam is small and discreet, and offers full HD 1080P along with date-stamped video, motion detection and gapless recording. Installation is super simple, too. Normally retailing for $219, Dashcam Owners Australia offers the price of $179 for the 32GB dashcam, otherwise you can pay a little more for the 64GB version.
Price $179 (32GB) or $219 (62GB)
Garmin Dashcam 45
Offering high-quality 1080P HD video, this little dashcam has all the essential features: GPS for time and location data, a G-sensor that saves footage on impact, built-in WiFi so you can sync footage to your phone, and an 8GB MicroSD card.
The Garmin 45 goes above and beyond the usual low-budget dashcam features though – it’ll even give you forward collision and lane departure warnings, and a clever feature called Travelapse, which lets you share your adventures by condensing hours of driving into minutes of highlights.
The Guardtrak GT65EX is a GPS-enabled ‘set and forget’ HD 1080P dashcam that offers extreme temperature resistance thanks to its super-capacitator and metal lens holder-base. Using the most up-to-date tech, including a Novatek 966455 processor and Sony IMX322 CMOS sensor, all on-road shenanigans will be captured in crystal-clear image, even at night. The GT65EX is compact and stealthy and comes with a clip-on CPL (polarising filter), microSD card, USB/OTG Android Card Reader, all covered under a one-year warranty.
This sleek and simple dashcam is backed by a two-year warranty, and will record your adventures on the road in full 1080P HD at 30 frames per second. With built-in G-sensor and motion detection, your BlackVue can switch between ‘normal’, ‘parking’ and ‘event’ modes. You can rest easy knowing that if something happens while your car is parked, your dashcam will save the footage. Plus, there’s an optional GPS receiver if you want your location and speed stamped on your footage. You can choose from a 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB memory card.
Price $249 (16GB)
Uniden iGO Cam 70R
Offering ultra-wide 150° view in 2.7K resolution (that’s 1524P) and a full HD rear/reverse camera, the Uniden iGO 70R gives you plenty of bang for your buck. The two-channel recording means that events both behind and in front of your car will be recorded, but it doesn’t end there. The 70R is packed with features, including WiFi function, speedometer display, speed and red light camera warnings, lane departure warning and forward collision warning. The parking mode feature means if someone bumps your car in the shopping centre carpark, the in-built sensor wakes the camera up and starts recording long enough to capture the culprit.
VicoVation OPIA 2
The OPIA 2 is VicoVation’s highest-performing dashcam; equipped with Ambarella A12 processor and four-megapixel image sensors, you can be assured of sharp, rich and detailed footage in 2K ultra-HD 1440P. The OPIA 2 promises excellent night and high-speed recording with slow-motion playback. There are also some brand-new features, including an upgraded smart parking surveillance featuring timelapse, a G-sensor that automatically locks files upon impact, and optional GPS mouse and battery Discharge Prevention Device.
DOD LS500W-2CH Dual Channel
The DOD LS500W is one of the first dual-channel dashcams to offer 1080P full HD video for both the front and rear cameras. This is a great one to consider if you want your dashcam to record in crisp, sharp image, not just in the daylight, but also in low light and at night – and it will, thanks to the ISO sensitivity of up to ISO12800. As for features, the DOD has a built-in 10Hz GPS processor to capture speed and location with accuracy.
There’s also a handy Traffic Camera Warning System, which will alert you when you approach a known traffic camera. The best type of warning!
IROAD Dashcam X9
The IROAD is packed with some seriously good features that live up to its price tag. With front and rear full HD recording ability, this dashcam will capture what unfolds on the road ahead of you, and behind you. You’ll be impressed by the visibility in night footage, thanks to the Sony Sarvis image sensor, which records the brightest and the cleanest video even in low-light environments. As well as many other features, there’s an IROAD app you can download that makes it super easy for you to review live footage and download or delete recordings from your phone.
FOR MORE INFO
You can shop a wide range of dashcams at the Dash Cam Owners Australia store page (make sure you check their Facebook page for special offers).