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Dashboard cameras are often known as 'dash cams', car cameras or DVR's. Their sizes may vary as do their prices which can start as low as £20 up to a few hundred pounds. With dashboard cameras becoming more and more popular the question arises are they really worth buying when phone apps could offer you the same functionality for free? Phone apps such as 'CarCamApp' and 'Save Drives - Car Dashboard' are even available to get the same job done. However, if you download one of these apps to try out remember they will only start recording as you start moving.

Benefits of quality dashboard cameras

Motorists are inclined to buy dashboard cameras to provide evidence in the event of a collision. With these devices fitted, you can provide excellent evidence should another motorist attempt to claim on you for an accident that wasn't your fault. The quality of the image is paramount, if a device does not show the registration plates, then you could be in for a nasty surprise. Insurance companies require detailed proof not speckled images, all things considered, it is quality evidence that will prove your innocence.

When people install dashboard cameras, motorists have been known to improve their driving performance. Furthermore, some insurance companies offer 15 per cent savings on premiums. With such a device installed, you would be protected from fraudulent claims on the rising criminal scheme 'crash for cash'. In the UK, it is estimated that around £350 million is being paid out for false allegations.

Resolving the best dashboard cameras

Cheap dashboard cameras will not be capable of recording in high resolution. Cheaper dashboard cameras will record at VGA 640x480 pixels compared to higher priced models displaying Full HD 1920x1080 pixels. Today, newer high-priced mobile phones such as the iPhone displays HD 1136x640 resolutions and is branded as a Retina with 326 pixels per inch.

When using dashboard cameras, it is best to use a high pixelated device. Such devices are capable of recording top quality videos which in turn will produce finer details. Another obvious important feature to look out for is loop recording, this automatically overwrites old unwanted, or unsaved videos when your device's memory is full.

Some other self-explanatory characteristics are infrared night vision, rear-view mirror, date and time setting, auto on/off and GPS. Additionally, the more complex features are the G-sensor which is basically a motion detector. There is also parking mode which automatically records if your car is damaged or bumped while you are absent from the vehicle.

Dashboard cameras apps

The tried and tested Witness Driving app is an excellent piece of kit and for 69p, it is a real bargain. Its interface is superb and is compatible with Apple and Android devices. It is simple to use by mounting your phone onto the dashboard, at the switch of a button it begins recording.

The Witness Driving app is capable of embedding date, time, speed, GPS mapping location, G-forces and offers video looping. Accidents are saved automatically and other information can be saved manually, if preferred video clips can be password protected. Furthermore, incidents can be automatically emailed to alert you. Your personal insurance details can be stored and step by step guidance of how to swap accident details are at hand.

Since everyone's car drives differently, the Witness Driving app's suspension sensitivity can be altered. Moreover, clips can be viewed in slow motion or in zoom and exporting videos to save space or send evidence to a solicitor is simply done via email.

The whole process is very easy to set up, and the running is pretty smooth. The app is legal in the UK, but it's not legal to video people on personal property. Check your country's laws before downloading this app.

The only potential drawback is not being able to leave your phone on your dashboard when you go shopping etc. The Witness Driving app can only really be used when someone is in the car, otherwise you could risk a break-in and theft of your phone. Furthermore, at present, you cannot make calls or use your sat nav while the Witness app is in use.

Are you aware of any good phone apps, or other good advice when recording your journeys? Have you got a story where these cameras have worked for you?