Dash cam - which is the best?

Daz

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Do all dash cams need to be hard wired?
 

kitkat

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Depends on what you want out of your dashcam.

On the most simple side of things, If you want a simple dashcam you can put up and stow away on a cigarette-style 12v socket you can do that.

On the other side of the spectrum, If you want some 2 or 3 channel system with recording while you're parked for 12H+ you're going to need a hard-wired system with a separate battery.

There's plenty of in between as well and a ton of camera selection out there. Focus on the features you want first.
 
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GetawayDriving

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Do all dash cams need to be hard wired?

They don't, but you'll want to consider your use case and what 12V sources you have. Not sure if Emira's 12V port is constant power or turns off with ignition. If turns off with ignition, a dash cam will be limited to driving (no parking security) unless an external battery is installed, which, probably means you're hardwiring anyway because the battery needs a source to charge from.

Blackvue cameras are widely seen as the best, and I liked mine however I also owned an Owlcam that was fantastic. That is, until that company was bought out, and they really fumbled the transition with bricked cameras and LTE outages. Looks like they maybe sorted those issues out though, and I'm considering picking up another. Owlcam has the best feature set (LTE, live app viewing, event push notifications to your phone, voice-controlled capture, parking mode, shock sensors, etc) for the price and the app experience was really excellent while the blackvues are... rough. The owl is kind of an all-in-one do-it-all while the blackvues need extra modules for LTE, cabin-facing cam and battery power. Owl hooks to the car's OBDII port. Not sure of Owl's LTE coverage is available in the UK, might be USA only.

Owlcam also used to give away $1000 per day to the best clip that was uploaded to their website. Looks like the new owners did away with that.

 
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Daz

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Just been looking at Blackvue and they seem to do everything. I’ve never owned a dash cam before but I like the idea of both fore and aft cameras, recording while I’m away from the vehicle and wireless service
 

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Just been looking at Blackvue and they seem to do everything. I’ve never owned a dash cam before but I like the idea of both fore and aft cameras, recording while I’m away from the vehicle and wireless service

Yeah sounds like you want all the bells and whistles. You're looking at $1600-$2000 installed by a professional -- $1300 if you do it yourself.

Edit: Noticed you're in the UK, no clue what labor costs are there.
 
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Yeah sounds like you want all the bells and whistles. You're looking at $1600-$2000 installed by a professional -- $1300 if you do it yourself.

Edit: Noticed you're in the UK, no clue what labor costs are there.
Thanks for the advice, think I would pay an expert to install as I would probably cause the Emira to burst into flames 🔥
 

TXEMIRA

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Guessing the trickle charger becomes more important if the dash cam “stays on” or “active”, yes?
 

GetawayDriving

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Guessing the trickle charger becomes more important if the dash cam “stays on” or “active”, yes?

Most good cams will have a voltage monitor, and shut down when they sense your battery is below a certain threshold. You can extend this by installing an external battery dedicated to the dashcam, that will protect your car battery and give days of video coverage. It should all still shut off before your battery dies, but a trickle charger will keep the camera rolling.
 

GetawayDriving

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Yeah sounds like you want all the bells and whistles. You're looking at $1600-$2000 installed by a professional -- $1300 if you do it yourself.

Edit: Noticed you're in the UK, no clue what labor costs are there.

This is also why the owlcam is interesting, it’s most of these features for $269 + $20/month for data. The worst part is it's a bit in-your-face when installed.

My Miata got borderline cyberpunk with screens.

1654534301760.png
 
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kitkat

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Thanks for the advice, think I would pay an expert to install as I would probably cause the Emira to burst into flames 🔥

It's not too hard but it does require a tiny bit of knowledge. Heres what you'd really be paying for in labor:

- Mounting cameras -- very easy sticking them to the glass via sticky pads.
- Mounting the external battery near a fusebox or finding a place to mount the external battery and running a wire to it and ground.
- Finding a dedicated or shared fuse that is switched on when the ignition is that has the overhead for about 7 amps.
- Running and hiding USB wire behind headliner and interior trim pieces, 1 USB wire will run from the front camera to the rear camera, 1 USB wire will run from the front camera to the output harness of your external battery (likely in/around the trunk area).

I run a VIOFO A129 Pro dual channel with a thinkware iVolt external battery. Probably took me about 2 hours to install and cost me ~ $600 total for all parts and supplies.
 

kitkat

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This is also why the owlcam is interesting, it’s most of these features for $269 + $20/month for data.
Owlcam is seems like a fine system for what it is, but it's a 1440p front camera with interior only, and connects via and OBD2 with a voltage cutoff. The $1300 I mentioned is on their top line 4K cameras with an external battery. Those external batteries cost more than the owlcam alone.

Owlcam via OBD2 parking mode might be safe for an hour or two safely but it will add extra discharge cycles to your 12V battery. Not sure if there's a way to get both cameras to sync and work in parking mode simultaneously with Owlcam either.
 

GetawayDriving

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Owlcam is seems like a fine system for what it is, but it's a 1440p front camera with interior only, and connects via and OBD2 with a voltage cutoff. The $1300 I mentioned is on their top line 4K cameras with an external battery. Those external batteries cost more than the owlcam alone.

Owlcam via OBD2 parking mode might be safe for an hour or two safely but it will add extra discharge cycles to your 12V battery. Not sure if there's a way to get both cameras to sync and work in parking mode simultaneously with Owlcam either.

All good points.

Sync you mean if you bought 2 cams front and rear? I would imagine the app would sort it with software but I haven't tried it.

The true magic of the owl cam and the reason I came away so positive about it was the app experience. It was much easier to use than other cams I've tried. The OG company marketed this as a software-first camera, meaning they were app makers with a camera rather than a camera company cobbling together an app. It felt that way using it, too. But for sure, this is not a camera as technically proficient as the high end stuff.
 

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I have this weird thing with dashcams.

I refuse to ever install one because the curse of the dashcam is, when you install it, something will happen. But prior to installing one, nothing ever happens. Which is good. :ROFLMAO:
 

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With the majority of new cars coming with front (ADAS) and rear (Reversing) cameras, a screen and a SIM card /connection already, I don't see why more than a tiny number of manufacturers offer an OEM dashcam option using the existing vehicle hardware....
 

GetawayDriving

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With the majority of new cars coming with front (ADAS) and rear (Reversing) cameras, a screen and a SIM card /connection already, I don't see why more than a tiny number of manufacturers offer an OEM dashcam option using the existing vehicle hardware....

Probably because the rest is software, and automakers are terrible at software.

This is half the fun of Tesla. When I first got my Model 3, there was no dash cam. Then they added one by doing exactly what you suggest, using the ADAS camera already on-board but you needed to format a hard drive a particular way with a properly named folder and plug it into the USB port. Then they added multiple cameras (front and sides) saving as additional files in the folder. Then they added the rear camera, then the ability for the car to format the hard drive automatically. Then they added the ability to view files right in the car, then the ability to see alerts when the system was tripped. Then they marked the "events" that triggered the alarm on the video timeline, so you could skip right to them. Then they changed the hardware to add a usb connection in the software-lockable glove box, with some additional on-board capacity for file storage. Then they added dash cams to "track mode" to record your hot laps on the track, along with various other data. Then the ability to remote into the cameras for a live view any time using the mobile app. All of this was an iterative 2-3 year journey (full of users complaining "well why doesn't it do this?!") and now it's this fully featured and unmatched capability unique in the industry and I miss the hell out of it.
 

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Probably because the rest is software, and automakers are terrible at software.

This is half the fun of Tesla. When I first got my Model 3, there was no dash cam. Then they added one by doing exactly what you suggest, using the ADAS camera already on-board but you needed to format a hard drive a particular way with a properly named folder and plug it into the USB port. Then they added multiple cameras (front and sides) saving as additional files in the folder. Then they added the rear camera, then the ability for the car to format the hard drive automatically. Then they added the ability to view files right in the car, then the ability to see alerts when the system was tripped. Then they marked the "events" that triggered the alarm on the video timeline, so you could skip right to them. Then they changed the hardware to add a usb connection in the software-lockable glove box, with some additional on-board capacity for file storage. Then they added dash cams to "track mode" to record your hot laps on the track, along with various other data. Then the ability to remote into the cameras for a live view any time using the mobile app. All of this was an iterative 2-3 year journey (full of users complaining "well why doesn't it do this?!") and now it's this fully featured and unmatched capability unique in the industry and I miss the hell out of it.
https://www.topgear.com/car-news/future-tech/new-apple-carplay-here-save-us-carmakers-own-software :)
 

GetawayDriving

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Cautiously optimistic. CarPlay was terrible for a good long while. It was basically a list farm, and didn’t trust the user to make deep interactions. The functionality was so limited that I was still picking up my phone. It’s a little better now, but Apple still leans toward babysitter.

Meanwhile my Tesla would let you run a karaoke machine while driving. I always appreciated the depth of functionality and the trust Tesla puts in its users not to be stupid.

Let’s hope CarPlay gets more advanced. I don’t expect it to be managing dashcam footage until 2035, and we’ll all say “apple calls it revolutionary but Tesla has been doing it since 2019!”
 

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