I’ve been obsessed about dash cameras ever since I was involved in an accident where I was not at fault, but the police officer blamed me because the other driver lied and she was a woman and I was just a dirty construction electrician. Fortunately for me, my insurance policy provided me with accident forgiveness, but that was my one and only get out of high insurance rates for free card. I knew if I had a dash cam, I would have been able to prove the officer’s prejudice.
My original dash camera was a great camera, but it had an Achilles’s heel: It had a lithium ion battery. A dash cam needs its own small power source so it can finish writing the video files and close them off properly before shutting down, because a modern dash cam is essentially a computer. The problem with batteries is they are affected by extreme heat and cold. My battery stopped working properly after about a year, likely due to the extreme temperature swings. I later found out that lithium ion batteries can explode if they get hot enough!
Another problem I’ve found with dash cams offered at local retail outlets is that they record video in some proprietary video format, so I had to install some questionable software on my computer just to view the video files. The obvious problem with that is twofold: One, you better hope the company that makes the crappy software you need keeps it up to date, and two, you can’t just plug the card into your phone to play the video.
After careful consideration, I came up with a top 10 list. I’ve determined that the perfect dash cam must:
- Be powered by a capacitor instead of a battery, as capacitors are unaffected by extreme temperatures.
- Produce non-proprietary video files that can be played on anything without the need for any special software.
- Be discrete and not obstruct my view (ie; behind the rear view mirror).
- Mount directly to the windshield with super sticky tape. No suction cup mounts, as these tend to create vibrations that distort the image, and can come undone at the worst possible moment.
- Accept MicroSD cards, because these fit in my phone.
- Offer a sufficiently wide angle of view.
- Work adequately at night.
- Provide enough detail to resolve license plate numbers on the cloudiest of days.
- Provide decent cable management options.
- Cost around $100.
I’ve found the perfect dash cam. As of this writing, this has had 294 Amazon reviews, and is nearly 5 stars. It’s the Auto-Vox A118-C B40C stealth dashboard camera:
This is the ultimate dash cam; I cannot imagine a more perfect design. It checks off every one of my needs, and then some. This thing disappears from my field of vision behind my rear view mirror, and the cable management is exceptional. I can’t believe the quality and attention to detail that went into this design for this price.
The horizontal angle of the lens can be adjusted with the knob at the side, and it clips onto a plate that’s taped to the windshield with super-sticky tape. From the outside, it’s very discreet, and hard to tell that it’s actually there unless you look for it very closely.
For nighttime performance, it does the job adequately. While I’m not able to resolve license plates (unless I’m really close), it’ll still be the eye witness I would need to absolve myself.
But yes, when someone does something extremely stupid, even on a cloudy day, their license plate number comes through loud and clear.
This is it. This is the ultimate dash cam. It even came in a very nice box that made me think I was un-boxing an iPhone! Very straightforward installation, even came with little stickies to help with cable routing. For this price, and even at higher prices, there really isn’t anything better.