We’ve all had it happen while out walking, cycling or driving. Somebody does something foolish and it results in an accident or a near miss, a giant meteor comes streaking through the sky or we catch a rare glimpse of a hoverbike-riding robot. Something memorable always happens when your phone is cached safely in your pocket. This typically leaves you shaking your fist at the missed opportunity.
Victim of road rage? An accident? Ever had your car dinged while parked in a public lot? These are all great reasons to invest in a dash cam. And with prices for decent units at well under a hundred bucks, the cost of admission is easy for just about any budget. While the technology may not appeal to everyone, the payoff in the unfortunate event of an accident might just make it a must-have. So if you’re in the market for a dash cam or you’re just plain curious what they’re for, here’s what you need to know.
WHAT IS IT?
A “dash cam” is exactly what its name promises it to be: a camera that’s mounted in or around your car’s dashboard. The cams are easily attached using a suction cup mount, direct dash friction mounts (those sticky rubber pads) and even built right into a not-too-conspicuous replacement rear mirror for your ride. Powered by batteries, hardwired into your vehicle’s 12-volt system or via cigarette lighter, the dash cam faithfully records all it sees as you go about your daily business.
The cameras come in every conceivable configuration, from a single lens to multiple lenses allowing for simultaneous front and rear recording. While 1080p-capable cams are now becoming standard fare, VGA versions exist and can be had for pocket change. Of course, while dash cams are seen most often in cars, these cameras aren’t just reserved for the auto industry. It’s become commonplace to see a cam perched on the heads of two-wheeled vehicle riders, too. Purpose-built cameras are slowly beginning to occupy the space that was once reserved for pricey sports/action gear. Both cyclists and motorcyclists have long complained about how dangerous car drivers are and are now taking advantage of the chance to prove it.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The camera’s footage can be used for all kinds of fun and positive stuff: from sharing videos of hilarious vanity plates, to shots of beautiful cars and scenery. Pedestrian shenanigans you happen to roll past can transform a mundane commute into a Facebook highlight reel. We’ve seen great time-lapse coverage of long drives, animals doing cute stuff, weather footage during storms — the possibilities for entertainment are endless.
Source: Engadget, Sean Cooper, 9/8/2014, http://www.engadget.com/2014/09/08/dash-cams-explainer/