I live in a neighborhood where I have to park my car on the street. No covered parking or garage option for me. Besides the occasional bird poop gracing the car, I don’t worry too much about its safety. That’s until the other day, my neighbor knocked on our door clearly distraught. We found out her car tires were slashed and was wondering if we had any footage we could review to help her identify the perpetrator. We didn’t and she left to file a police report.
- Dual Cam 1080p at 60FPS for high resolution and smoothness
- Lowlight: F-Stop 1.8 for maximum visibility at night.
- Night Vision: Great image quality with infrared lights
I thought to myself, well I do have a dash cam but it doesn’t record unless my car is on driving. That got me thinking that most people only use dash cams when they are driving. Nowadays, people are increasing spending large amounts of time in the car. Most of it is commuting, but others have their careers in the transportation industry. But for me, I’m only in the car for about 2 hours a day. What about the other 22 hours of the day? Nothing watches my car during those times. And yes, you are more likely to get in an accident when driving, but those other hours should still be monitored.
I started researching and found out that you could hard wire your dash cam into the car battery to allow your dash cam to be “on watch” 24×7. I then did the research to find the best motion activated dash cam. Any movement crossing my dash cam will automatically start recording and alert me on my phone. All of the alerts I’ve gotten have been people walking their dogs, so nothing too exciting but has given me the peace of mind that if anything ever happens I’ll be notified.
I saw the woman again a few weeks later and asked if there was any update on who slashed her tires. Turns out it was her ex-boyfriend. He came in the middle of the night, slashed her tires and made threats towards her.
Hardwire relating to dash cams is the process of wiring your dash cam into the car fuse box so it doesn’t have to rely on your 12V which is only active when the car is powered on. Hardwiring is essential for motion activated footage as you won’t have a key in the ignition all the time. It is a little bit complicated, but it is well worth it. The first step is to locate your fusebox and find out what fuse to utilize. You are looking for constant power and all of this can be found in your owner’s manual.
Next, you need to find a place for the ground cable (typically black). This ensures safety. Finally, you will need to plug in the fuse from the hardwire kit into your car fuse box. Now, there is a little bit more to each step, like hiding the wires and you may need a crimp tool, but those are the high level instructions.
Motion Detection and G-Sensor
The most important feature is listed first. You need to look at dash cams that have the words motion detection or motion activated in its description. Motion activated means your dash cam will be monitoring its surroundings and immediately start recording if it senses motion in the image. Most people know what motion detection is, but I want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of all similar sounding features that aren’t motion detection.
Parking Mode and G-Sensor go hand in hand and although they are used to monitor the car, they aren’t motion activated. These features are triggered to start automatically recording when the car experiences a strong vibration to the car. This typically happens when a car is in an accident, but could be if someone is vandalizing your car. Both of these are security features, but utilizing motion activation is for car owners who are extremely cautious, monitoring the area even though there may be no crime. Parking Mode or G-Sensor are for those where a crime has already been committed and is recording the act! I’m also known to be proactive, so that’s why I need to have best motion activated dash cam.
There are different levels of connectivity you can have with your dash cam. It really depends on the level of engagement you want with it. If you are like me and want to know every time the camera detects motion you need to have a dash cam that connects to the internet. This presents additional obstacles as you will need to have a mobile hot spot available for the dash cam.
If you are like most other people, simply recording the footage and having the ability to watch it back later is more than enough. Especially for those who park in areas where there may be foot traffic, but is typically safe, you can review your footage at your convenience if you suspect something suspicious happened. Or if you were in my situation, I had a good chance at identifying my neighbor’s perpetrator the next morning.
Being able to review your footage needs to be easy and accessible and sometimes it isn’t. I love dash cams that have the ability to connect to your phone via WiFi. This gives your phone instant access to the saved clips from the motion activated footage. You can jump into the car, connect your phone and view footage within a few minutes. You can even download it or send it to your email to review on a bigger screen. Otherwise, if your dash cam has a screen, you can review it on the screen for a quick glance on what triggered the motion detection feature. The last solution is to take out the microSD card from its slot and watch the footage on your computer.
Most crimes occur at night and if you are using your dash cam as your car’s security camera, it should have superb low light capabilities. There are a couple of factors when looking at the motion activated dash cams. One is F-Stop. The lower the number the better and refers to how much light can be taken in by the dash cam. If it can take in more light, it can process images clearer and give you a good understanding what’s happening outside of your car.
Sometimes, dash cams have an IR night vision feature. This uses an infrared camera to pick up hard to see objects. You’ve probably have seen infrared footage before, where everyone looks monochromatic. IR night vision isn’t mandatory, but can help in certain scenarios.
Vantrue N2 Pro
The Vantrue N2 Pro is the best all around dash cam that will serve a multitude of uses. This is a perfect dash cam if you drive Uber or Lyft as it has an inwards facing IR camera. This setup has tons of features and is backed with great customer service. This setup includes Motion Detection, Parking Mode with G-Sensor. It also records at 1080p at 60fps which means buttery smooth footage, perfect for reading license plates. The night vision capabilities for this dash cam are exceptional. With a F-Stop of 1.8, it captures low light footage in amazing fashion. The only draw back for this setup is that it does not have WiFi. You are relegated to rewatching footage on the screen or you have to transfer over via microSD card.
- Superb IR Night Vision
- Excellent customer service
- 1080p at 60fps ensuring smooth footage
- Inwards facing camera for safety
- Does not include WiFi
Peztio Dash Cam
Next is the Peztio Dash Cam and let me tell you we are really surprised with this dash cam. It features a lot of the same features as the Vantrue. It has a single front facing camera filming at 1080p with a wide angle lens for more area covered. This is perfect if you have a larger vehicle where a normal dash cam doesn’t cover the full width of your windshield. It has all the security features such as Parking Mode, Motion Detection and G-Sensor. What we like about it, is it comes with WiFi so you can review footage on your phone with ease. On top of that, we love its tiny form factor for a discrete setup. All of this for a competitive low price.
If you are looking for a budget camera with a small form factors and a bunch of features, then Peztio is your match
- F-Stop 1.8 for low light conditions
- Included WiFi
- Small form factor
- Hard to read license plates at night
- Small screen
- Angle not adjustable
This set up is for those who want a full setup included in the price. The Thinkware Q800Pro comes with all accessories including a hardwiring kit to get you up and running. The Thinkware is on the more expensive side, but it features a front and rear facing camera. It features a QuadHD 2k resolution and superior night vision capabilities. It has all the standard features we talked about, good low light quality, WiFi and of course motion and impact detection.
The feature that separates the Thinkware with others is that you can monitor your car remotely. You can view their location via GPS and monitor if there’s been a disturbance. Please note in order for this feature to work, your dash cam must be connected to a WiFi source.
- Front and Rear Facing Camera
- WiFi and Remote Viewing Enabled
- Great night vision