The state of dashcams
A new dashcam will be coming my way soon. I had to do a ridiculous amount of research to find one that fit the bill. I will now share this info with you to save you the trouble of looking all this up yourself.
For those of you that want a right-now answer on what I went with, it's a Viofo A119 V2 with GPS module. The lens can rotate side-to-side whereas other models don't do that, picture quality is excellent, audio recording quality is better than average, and most importantly it uses a super capacitor which is much better for surviving Texas heat.
I can't use a dashcam that doesn't superimpose the time, GPS coordinates and speed on the video it records. Sure, you could get a new dashcam for 45 bucks and it will do the job. But the only thing on-screen other than the video will be the date and time. No speed, no GPS coordinates. It does record audio however, which you can disable if you wish. I'll give it that.
The extras that are in the A119 are absolutely necessary for me.
Is the A119 the fanciest? No. It's considered midrange by most dashcam users. One which is a fancy pants model is the Vantrue N2 Pro. Dual lens for both front and rear, infrared night vision, full parking mode support, GPS, full 18-month warranty, the works. Uber drivers use this one a lot, but it can be used by anyone.
There is also the Vantrue X4 UHD, which is a 4K video quality dashcam. Crazy good video quality on that one.
I don't need all the goodies the Vantrue stuff has. The A119 covers all the bases for me.
Why do dashcams still sell so well?
New cars all have rear cameras, and many have front-facing cameras. But darned few of them actually record video in front of the car you can use. And even for those few that do, it's not exactly easy to use the video for dashcam purposes...
...and that's why dashcams still sell like crazy. It's literally your only option.
Could you use a smartphone as a dashcam? Sure. Apps exist to do that. But on the first sunny day you try this, your phone will overheat and shut down.
How come car companies don't offer a dashcam option for new cars even though the cameras exist?
It's a liability reason. If you put trust and faith that a factory-installed dashcam is supposed to work, but then in the unfortunate event of a frontal collision you find it didn't work, you would of course sue the car company for that. As so would anyone else for factory-installed dashcams that failed when they were needed most. Since the last thing car companies need are more lawsuits, they're not exactly jumping at the chance to offer a dashcam option in new cars.
A dashcam is still the best "extra insurance policy" you can buy
I won't drive without one. To date, I've never actually needed to use dashcam footage, but better to drive with a dashcam than without if I ever do need that video.
I'll admit that it's annoying to have something plugged in where you have to tuck the wire out of the way (unless you "hardwire" it at a car electronics place). But I consider that small inconvenience well worth it.
Even if you just get a cheapo $45 model, it's a wise purchase.