If you’re on the hunt for a new dash cam, Black Friday is the perfect time to pick one up. It’s a sale event like no other, where retailers are slashing prices on a huge range of products – and not just for a single day, with the sales now going on for so long that ‘Black November’ is perhaps be more appropriate.
Black Friday camera deals offer savings on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, plus lenses, tripods and other accessories. Webcams are also included in sales, along with camera drones and, of course, dash cams. With sales increasing, we’ve put together this guide to finding the right one for you.
If you’re unfamiliar with them, dash cams attach to your car’s windshield and continuously record footage of the road ahead. Then, if a collision is detected by their g-sensor (or if you press a button when you spot an incident), the most recent footage is saved securely to a microSD card. These recordings could help show what happened to cause the collision and who is to blame.
More advanced dash cams also record footage when parked. Some can be hardwired to the car for constant power from the battery, instead of plugging into the 12V cigarette lighter socket, and others even have driver assistance systems like speed cameras and warnings. forward collision.
Dash cams are, for the most part, simple devices. But there are plenty of different models to choose from, with varying resolutions, features, and designs. Luckily, we know a thing or two about dash cams, having tested dozens over the years for our guide to the best dash cams. Below you’ll find everything you need to know how to buy the right dash cam for you, and an overview of the models to look for in the Black Friday 2022 sales.
Why buy a dash cam?
For starters, the recorded footage could prove your innocence in the event of an accident. Without the pictures, you may have to claim with your own insurance company instead of that of the other driver involved. But if the footage proves your innocence, your no-claims discount should remain intact. Many auto insurance companies also offer discounts if you use a dash cam.
On top of that, some dash cams can be hardwired to your car, giving them permanent power and keeping them alive when the car is parked. In this state, they come to life as soon as a collision is detected, potentially recording keyframes of the consequences of parking or attempting to steal.
(Image credit: Vantrue)
Some dash cams also have driver assistance systems. These include alerts for nearby speed cameras and red light cameras, as well as warnings when you accidentally stray from your lane and notifications when the vehicle in front has started.
Many dash cams also include a second camera to monitor your car’s interior, while others can be connected to a rear-facing camera attached to the rear windshield to capture footage of accidents behind your vehicle.
How to choose the best dash cam for you
Video quality is by far the most important consideration when buying a dash cam. Ideally, you want a camera that records in at least 1080p resolution, also known as Full HD. Some also record at slightly higher 1440p, and more expensive models shoot at 4K, or Ultra HD, for clarity.
It is also important to include
HDR, which helps retain detail in difficult lighting conditions, and a wide lens. Ideally the lens should be at least 140 degrees, while some dash cams have a 180 degree lens to record footage that extends across the front of your car and slightly to the sides as well.
Driving assistance systems won’t be for everyone. In our experience they don’t work as well as those fitted to most new cars and can get quite annoying. But if you really want them, expect to pay a bit more for your dash cam, and for it to be larger than other, simpler models.
(Image credit: Nextbase)
Battery life is generally not a consideration for dash cams, as the vast majority are powered by a cable connected to the car’s USB port or 12V cigarette lighter socket. Some models have short battery life, so you don’t have to plug them in on short trips. But we’re only talking 20-30 minutes here, so it’s best to tune in every time.
Some dash cams use a supercapacitor, which retains a few seconds of charge when the camera’s power is turned off. This means the camera can record for a few seconds longer and safely save the most recent footage before shutting down – an action that could be crucial if the camera’s power is cut due to a collision.
Most dash cams have the ability to record
audiobut we imagine the majority of drivers would choose to disable this option in the interests of passenger privacy. voice command is also a feature that some dash cams have, but in our experience is rarely used. Garmin dash cams have this, and while it’s useful for manually recording footage (when there’s no collision for the camera to detect), we don’t consider it a must-have. Wiring or not wiring?
Most drivers will be happy to plug their dash cam into a USB port or 12V outlet, with the cable dangling from the windshield mounted dash cam. Others might opt for a semi-permanent installation by running the cable under the trim of their car’s interior. Most dash cams come with a plastic tool to push the cable through the gaps between the interior panels, especially between the windshield and the A-pillar.
(Image credit: Nextbase)
The third option is to hardwire the camera. This is where a special cable (often sold separately) is used to connect the dash cam to the car’s fuse box, giving it a permanent source of power from the vehicle’s battery. Wiring can be tricky for a hobbyist, and dash cam manufacturers recommend that you hire a professional to do the wiring process for you.
Once wired in, the camera’s parking mode (if it has one) can be activated, where it stays active when parked, drawing just enough power from the car’s battery to keep its sensors on. collision active, ready to capture images the moment something happens. Some dash cams can also be triggered by motion while in parking mode, increasing the chances of recording useful footage of an incident.
The best dash cams to look out for during Black Friday
We’re starting to see some early dash cam discounts in Black Friday sales – here are the models to watch for in the coming days.
1. Garmin Mini 2 Dash Cam
(Image credit: Garmin)
A dash cam the size of a car keychain; it’s the big (or small) sale of this amazingly compact dash cam from Garmin. Now in its second generation, the Mini measures just 5cm high and 3cm wide, but records at Full HD 1080p resolution with HDR at 30 frames per second. It has a 140-degree lens, attaches to the windshield with a small ball joint attached to a coin-sized magnet, and records to microSD cards up to 512GB.
The Mini 2 has a retail price of $129 / £120, but it’s recently fallen below – and we’re hoping it might even fall below its all-time high price of $109 / £89 during Black Friday sales of this year.
2. Vantrue E1 Mini
(Image credit: Vantrue)
Another compact dash cam, the Vantrue E1 Mini is a small cuboid camera that records at a higher (albeit unusual) resolution of 1944p, or the more familiar 1440p with HDR enabled.
This camera has a fairly wide 160 degree lens, a Sony CMOS image sensor for good low light performance and the windshield mount has a built in GPS antenna, to add speed and location data to your video recordings. There’s also Wi-Fi for transferring footage to your smartphone, and Vantrue’s computer app is one of the best, displaying a map and even three axes of motion next to each recording.
(Image credit: Nextbase)
Although spoofed by the more advanced 622GW, the 522GW is still a great dash cam that we expect to see on sale during this year’s Black Friday sale. It has features like Alexa voice control, a 3-inch touchscreen, and a built-in polarizing filter on its 140-degree lens. Behind that, you’ll find an image sensor capable of shooting smoother 1440p at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps video. HDR is also part of the package, helping to improve shadow detail.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also included, as is GPS, a parking mode that starts recording as soon as a parking bump is detected, and an emergency response system that can call for help. when an accident is detected.
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