Car Tech 101: Dashcams explained: CNET On Cars
CNET On Cars: Car Tech 101: Dashcams explained4:14 /
Brian Cooley explains the ins and outs of dashcams and why you would want a camera watching the road with you.
[MUSIC] It's a wild world out there. [MUSIC] Having a recording of it can be handy. To show who's really at fault in a crash. Provide evidence of a crime that you weren't involved in but saw. Or if it's that **** who hits your car in the parking lot, just drove off. Dash cams have a host of unique features for capturing all that easily, and better than just a standard digital camera or clipping your smart phone up here. They are constant recording, that means they're always running, and merely overwriting the oldest clip once they fill up the card. But you can put a huge card in there. [UNKNOWN] Dual lenses are common. Not always, but common. They all have at least one lens that looks out through the windshield. But some cameras also have one that looks back in the cabin at you. Think of like the cameras you see in taxi cabs commonly. Others have a remote second camera that can be put in the back, to look at the person who's about to rear end you. GPS data is typically recorded by these cameras to both know where the car was. When an impact happens, let's say, but also to monitor its speed. Could be handy when you have one of these mounted up to your kid. They typically have impact sensors. That's used to save a clip and lock it so it doesn't get deleted if it was recorded during an impact. Because it assumes you want that one. If you park in a sketchy place where your car is getting banged into all the time and it's making you nuts. Look for a camera that has motion detection. It will basically sleep until it sees something moving and then roll video on shenanigans. I think it's pretty affordable. Let's face it, most of us don't want to dedicate something to just this one purpose that cost a ton of money. So, these are definitely available in the $100 to $150 range. They can go higher, but not all of them. Now just buying a dash cam isn't the entire answer. You need to know how to use it. So here's some tips. First of all, know where you can mount it. Wouldn't it be ironic to try and be Johnny Law Abider by having one. One of these and then break the law by putting it basically where I have it. Most states require you stick it over in one of the far, low corners of your windshield, not here in the middle, where everyone tends to put it. Be ready for a lousy, frustrating interface. When I got our cameras in for testing, I finally found out where all those people who used to engineer television interfaces in the 90s went. To get a job. Power cords. Just about every dash cam out there requires a constant source of power from a nearby 12 volt outlet, which isn't that nearby cause it's in the windshield. So you're gonna have to deal with addressing this, putting it away somewhere so it's not hanging here. These do not have long life batteries, that's not in their design. And finally, know about eavesdropping laws. Recording video is one thing, recording people's audio is actually a much touchier area. 12 US states are what are called 2-party States. You can't record a conversation unless everybody involved has given permission. That's something to be aware of. Most of these cameras have the ability to turn off their microphone for that reason. And in many countries like Spain, Austria, Switzerland, even recording video of the public road without people;'s permission is banned. Now you might ask, what kind of insurance discount do I get for doing this? Well, in the US, as far as we can tell, none. There is one insurer in the UK who's offering a supposed 10% discount for having a dashcam, but you're kind of ahead of the curve with one of. Also, note that these are not primary fatality or injury reduction devices, they're secondary litigation devices, so these don't keep you from getting hurt. As a result the insurance companies aren't that enthralled by them yet. Now, it's beyond our scope or expertise to advise you on the law of obtaining this video. Can the police take it? Can the other guy's attorneys take it? Is it totally your property? That's something to check out in your area before you start to use one of these, cuz, once you get into a wreck, someone's gonna see you have one. And then it's gonna be a ball in play. And finally, realize that if you don't want to go this route, you can get some really good dash cam apps for your Smart Phone. It requires tying up your phone for that use of course,. And you have to follow all those other rules I mentioned, but it's an easy or free way to at least try out this behavior. [MUSIC]