As with most types of products, Dash Cameras run the full gamut of price and quality. This is great, as it means that virtually anyone can get in on the action. If one can afford a vehicle, they can most likely also afford to protect it with a dash camera. However, there’s a strong case to be made for choosing a premium model from one of the foremost premium dash cam brands, such as Thinkware, Garmin, or Nextbase rather than going with a basic or entry level model.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a basic camera—and many do offer a smattering of premium level features, premium dash cams typically offer a vast selection of high-end features to help protect you and your vehicle. These include super high video resolutions, built-in GPS, wide angle views, night vision, two-way recording with both forward facing and interior facing views, onboard storage, loop recording, superior build quality, and more. Read on for full details!
Enhanced video quality
One of the best reasons to choose a premium dash camera over a more basic model is the inevitable high quality video resolution it will have. This is not to say that entry level models have poor resolution (most have at least 1080p Full HD), but when it comes to choosing a premium car camera, you’re probably at least looking at 2K video resolution quality, and some of the very top models offer 4K quality.
While 2K video resolution (also called Quad High Definition, or QHD) comes in at 1440p (as in its vertical resolution has 1440 progressive scan lines), 4K video (which is commonly referred to as Ultra High Definition) has a whopping 2160p. In other words, you get a stunning level of detail with cameras of these resolutions.
If all of that seems a little bit technical, you might want to read an article I wrote recently called Understanding Smart Home camera resolutions: 1080p vs 2K vs 4K. While that article discusses camera resolutions in the context of smart home security cameras, the principles of video resolution remain the same no matter what the camera is being used for. For this reason, I suggest taking a look at that article even if you’re already familiar with these high levels of resolution, whether just as a refresher or to get a better understanding of the resolutions I’m discussing here.
In any case, a camera with 4K resolution has 4 times the pixels of a Full HD camera, which could certainly come in handy when trying to collect the licence plate number from a vehicle in a hit-and-run accident. That level of visual detail could make the difference between getting—or not getting, sweet justice.
GPS time stamp logging
If you have a dash camera with built-in GPS, you’ll have a perfect time and location stamp for any and all incidents that may take place with your vehicle. This could be extremely important if an incident occurs. For example, imagine how useful perfect time and location details might be in a court of law or when going up against an insurance company over a claim they don’t wish to pay. In such an event, a premium dash camera could pay for itself several times over in just a single use.
Even more important—imagine how useful GPS could be in the event of an accident involving occupants with serious injuries ….
Emergency SOS Response
Some of the very best high-end cameras, such as those from Nextbase, have a special feature called Emergency SOS Response. Basically how this works is that if there is an accident with your vehicle, your dash cam can alert local emergency services such as police, fire department, and ambulance, and inform them of your exact location (thanks to the aforementioned GPS feature).
This alert can also be set up to provide first responders with vital information about the vehicle’s driver and passengers, such as their blood type and other medical data and history. Such information may be crucial to aiding paramedics in providing quick and efficient treatment of your injuries.
Advanced parking modes
Premium dash cameras are premium for a reason, and that reason is that they have many, many excellent features. For instance, if you’ve ever wondered if your vehicle is safe when you’re not around to watch over it, premium dash cameras will do that for you via an advanced parking mode. This special mode protects your car by recording footage any time it detects an impact, or possibly even just movement. Many such cameras even have buffered recording, which records a few seconds before and a few more seconds after the incident that triggered the recording. This way you’ll get a more complete picture of whatever it was that took place—particularly if you typically employ street parking of your vehicle.
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ADAS, and more
Other features you may find in many premium models include built-in voltage monitors (to help prevent significant battery drainage), Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity capabilities (including 5GHz Wi-Fi rather than just 2.4), cloud connectivity for storage of your video clips, remote live view of whatever your dash cam is seeing, and two-way voice communication. This last feature would certainly be useful if someone were breaking into your car when you’re not around to stop them. You could literally confront them verbally via the dash cam’s microphone and hopefully scare them off.
As for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, these allow your dash cam to connect to the Internet and/or communicate with your smart phone (wirelessly) to perform a variety of special functions. These include things like the ability to send photos and video clips to your smart phone, as well as instant notifications if an incident or accident occurs. It would certainly be nice to receive an instant notification if your car were hit by another driver while parked on the street at night.
Additionally, you may enjoy the benefit of features such as time lapse, a wide angle (as much as a 150 degrees) field of view, and an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) that comes with many premium dash cams. With ADAS, your camera can inform you of things like when you drift out of your lane or when a red light camera is coming up. This could potentially help you to avoid a speeding ticket—or worse still, a violent collision. While some entry level dash cameras may have a few such advanced features, these are the kinds of things that come standard with most any premium dash cam.
Reliability in a variety of conditions
Premium dash cameras are also highly reliable. One reason for this is the quality of materials used in their construction; another is inherent in some of their best features. For instance, some premium dash cams offer thermal protection. The interior of your car can get mighty hot in the summer—and even more-so if you travel in hot climate locations such as driving through a desert. During such trips, thermal protection can help to protect your camera and its contents. This is even more true when you’re parked for a long stretch of time in direct sunlight.
Other ways in which premium dash cams are reliable include the inclusion of anti file-corruption features, which can keep your recorded footage safe and sound under a variety of conditions and circumstances, and the built-in GPS we’ve already discussed, which is reliable in providing you with time and location data.
Dash cameras can even be instruments of fun. For instance, you can easily share captured footage from a road trip with family and friends, create a cool time lapse video, or even use some of your dash cam clips to create a fun travel vlog for YouTube. But does the dash cam you’ve been eyeing come with an included Micro SD card? If not, perhaps you should consider a model that does include one. After all, buying one separately is at the very least an extra step that you need not otherwise take. It’s also an additional expense above and beyond the price of the camera.
Finally, you also need to consider the reality that not every premium dash cam model will have every advanced feature imaginable. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to carefully examine the full features and specs of any model you’re considering and choose the one that most closely matches your specific needs. If you can’t get every possible feature at the budget you’re working within, look for a model that has all of the features you consider “must haves” and go from there. And when you’re ready to choose a Dash Camera for your vehicle, stop by Best Buy Canada to study what’s available and what you can get at each price point, whether premium or otherwise.