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Discussion Starter #1
I Would like to install a two channel dashcam on my cx3, and have been mining YouTube’s videos on comparisons and features. Here’s what I want:
Two channel
Parking mode
Something that lasts at least five years
Very unobtrusive
No visible wiring
Both blackvue and Thinkware make some good ones, but both of these are heavily dependent on smart phones. I own a brick phone and would rather have a landline, and have zero interest in any cloud features.

Cheaper models have a tiny 2” screen, but it’s very hard to access/ view this screen while on the windshield, and to take it off its mount requires to to unplug the power source, defeating the whole Purpose of taking it off to review or program.

Are there models that can utilize the 7” screen in the cx3?
Can I use my tablet in lieu of a smart phone to program the cam?

The Thinkware looks like a decent choice in spite of its heavy dependence on smartphones, however most reviews find this model very “ chatty”, particularly when starting up the vehicle. While in parking mode the cam will record any “ impact” on your vehicle which also includes you entering the vehicle or opening the hatch to put items in. You can turn off this feature, but then you won’t know if there has been any impact or damage to your vehicle, again defeating the whole purpose of this feature.

As with my tablet and my car, any microphone on a dashcam will be turned off and the mike port covered up with tape.

Suggestions?
 

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This one is a mixed bag of usability vs practicality. I almost wish someone would make this a sticky so people are more aware of dash cams real nature.

Your main enemy is data corruption regardless of what camera of features you have/want. Once data corruption occurs the camera is useless.

A few key topics on dash cams which are of utmost importance to take into consideration:
-Battery.
So there are basically 2 kinds of dash cams at the end of the day. Capacitor and battery powered dash cams. Avoid anything with a battery. The reason I say this is because the shut down procedure to finalize recording after acc power is off is highly reliant on the battery to provide an extra 5 seconds of power. The problem begins approx 3 seasons in. Hot summer temps and cold winter temps degrade the battery tremendously. The other degrading factor is always charging even on full charge so while the camera is running its constantly being topped off. From a $30 cam to a $800 cam you will end up with a unit that cant keep power on for more than 1.5 seconds after acc power is cut off. Its not a matter of IF it will happen but when. Once it starts doing this the shut down procedure to finalize the writing of the file will corrupt the sd card and you will basically lose all dash cam functionality at this point. Any future recordings wont stick since card is corrupt and needs reformatting (and also replacing) and the same thing will happen if you turn the key acc off the next time. This is the EndOfLife of a dash cam with a battery. It should be thrown away and replaced with something preferably without a battery i.e. get a capacitor one. Capacitor based cameras are programmed (hopefully programmed correctly) to handle file write finalization within a split second of the power going off to the camera using residual current in the capacitor. The capacitor should last longer than any battery camera for sure and isnt really a difference in price.



-Resolution
This part is dependant on what you want, video quality vs long term security of dash cam recording. 4k dash cams exist but are a gimmick imo. If unless you are recording footage for a youtube channel and frequently pull video clips from the sd card, you will never have a practical use for 4k recording. It uses more power and generates more heat and is more susceptible to data corruption on shut off. The lower res = the less heat generated/less space taken up per clip/less chance of corruption. Think of CCTV or security cameras in use. They record bare minimum resolution so there is long term longevity in the hard drive, less space used/more range of clips available etc. The same concept applies here, 1080p is usable resolution for higher grade sd cards. Sure "4k-ready" sd cards exists but those are meant for action cams like go-pros not always on when driving dash cams susceptible to extreme temp changes and heavy write/overwrite cycles.(more on this in sd card section) Long story short higher res = more wear on the sd card and camera unit which increases the possibility of data corruption. You could also go to 720p for just overall basic footage without needing higher res details but thats up to the user.
*****Its worth mentioning that 4k recording for long periods of time has caused problems in some sd cards. If youve ever transfered a file to usb and back on a computer before youve seen how the write speed changes. The speeds shown on cards are based in ideal scenarios so in actual applications, dash cams will be trying to dump recording files that are not in sync of what is written and then you get a dreaded "sd card is corrupt" message. This is the only time the camera tells you something bad happened in my experience.



-Brands
This one is a controversial topic which plauges almost all electronics in this day and age of online shopping. 99% of products are from a factory in china/hongkong and get random labels attached to them by a reseller and then get posted on amazon/whatever online site gets used. If you see something that has a 'brand name' for like $300 and then a knock off for $30 its about a 300% chance it is the same product regardless. The only reason the brand name might offer a warranty is because you already overpaid and they toss a few freebies for sake of warranty claims. Still you dont ever want to be in a position where you have to even consider warranty of a dash camera because you wont know when the camera is dead/data corrupt. For example: Throughout the years I had vantrue/blackview and a couple other brands which cost $300+ and had to start doing monthly checks when some units had data corruption (due to battery issue ironically) but the unit would give no indiciation that files were not being written to the card. All info on the screen was operating normal but when the card was pulled the last data I actually had was from 4 months ago. If I had gotten into an accident at that time the camera wouldve been useless. Any warranty replacements would surely experience the same problem eventually so PRICE does not equal QUALITY in this case nor does brand naming. (Ill post what Ive been using based on my experience on the bottom)


- Features / 'parking features'
This is the biggest advertising bait for dash cams. I will keep this short, DO NOT BUY DASH CAMS FOR PARKING FEATURES or for any other feature outside of recording when the car is being used. Let me explain, The parking feature aka the camera turns on when someone 'hits' your car when its parked is a gimmick that is almost unusable and the cost does not outweigh the benefits. This relies on a number of things to occur, 1 is an accelerometer or gyro (I cant remember which for the life of me right now) but once the car 'moves' and the camera detects a shift it turns on to record. Keyword 'turns on'. Some cameras have a 5second or higher turn on procedure which by then someone might be gone. This also relies on a battery to supply it power when the car is off unless its hardwired to an always on wire which is gonna drain and kill your actual cars battery. As you can imagine the dash cam having a battery issue is painfully obvious here and heavily reliant for this to 'work'. Many people who have bought cameras for this have expressed anger and frustration that it does not work as intended and it is something you have to experience yourself and regret buying to fully understand.

-Features pt.2 SMARTPHONE / cloud support
I needed a separate spot for this. As someone who works in software development and cyber security/sys admin positions this is a major area of concern. Ill keep the terms simple to avoid technical jargon here.
1)the camera needs to work more on top of recording to keep a connection to your phone either through bluetooth or wifi hotspot to give 'cloud storage' (which you most likely have to pay a subscription for because cloud storage isnt free)
2)You are allowing a device which will require a proprietary closed source application to access your phone and also login credentials to whatever account you chose to use. AKA You dont know what data is being collected from you when using random applications.
3)Its probably going to cost you money for cloud storage for sure
4)Smartphone battery is gonna be drained.
5)Data will be used
6)You are probably risking getting 'hacked' by using their software as it will almost always have alwayson background processes that monitor what you are doing and you have absolutely no proof they are not doing something sketchy with access to your device.


-GPS
This one is up to you. It can add a speed label on the footage incase you get pulled over and are accused of speeding when you were not but also keep in mind that it is in-discriminatory and if you are speeding it will show that on the video footage. My experience with one has been that its more hassle than its worth. The gps modules are generic (just like mentioned in the brands category) and are compatible with almost every single cam that supports it. They are also faulty and sometimes have slow update times or incorrectly display speed which can be counter productive. In the end its more parts/ more power needed to run it/ and more heat generated during recording.



-Sd Card
Note: Some cams have limits on the maximum storage supported on sd cards. If its not at least 128gb avoid the cam.

Quite possibly the 2nd most important purchase for dash cams. The name of the game here is to not run into data corruption. You want something that can handle the dash cams write load (higher resolution = more load/more data to write per second) but also something that surpasses it. This is why I always recommend people to buy credible brand sd cards (samsung seems most compatible, sandisk has had issues with some brands in the past) and also buy something that is more than capable to handle recording. This DOES NOT mean to buy cards labeled for especially dash cams. Those are gimmicky and have yet to show evidence it makes a difference in longevity vs recording speed vs the price difference. For example Sandisk has "high endurance video monitoring dash cam ready" sd cards with a low capacity and even lower write speeds. In my opinion this is bs and should not be bothered with. Samsung has a UHS speed class 3 micro sd card which is perfect for dash cams and the storage capacity is just enough to be compatible with most if not all. This is for 4k footage recording so its more than enough for 1080p recording. I have ran these cards for over 3 years with no problems in hot/cold temps using a capacitor based dash cam.
Link to the card if curious:


-Dual channel/dual view cameras (I presume dual channel means dual camera such as one unit front with the rear tapped into it so one camera records the footage of 2)
This one is something I am skeptical about. If you have been reading this so far you know that the more a camera has to work to write footage the higher chance of data corruption happening eventually. The same concept applies here, You are using a camera to record 1080p (presumably) but double that write load for front and back cameras. This is still relatively new grounds and the only reason I am skeptical is because noone is actually developing these cameras themselves. They come from the same chinese factory with a different casing/design but internals are almost identical across many brands. Much like the chinese android headunit market, noone is actually developing the software to work with the hardware themselves to ensure no issues occur. Its just low cost low overhead products being sold online. It will for sure have a lower life span than a single unit dash camera. I would personally use 2 individual dash cameras which have their own workload rather than overload one with the footage of 2. The same downsides happen here as if you are recording 4k on a single cam previously mentioned above.



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Now to answer your questions:
No cams can utilize the cx-3 unit as it is.
Online cams are not worth the risk tbh.
If using the camera offline (which is about 95% of all dash cams) leave the mic on so you can read license plates outloud in case of hit and run or so you can document something verbally on the spot incase of a legal issue/accident. (I read a lady's plate who was behind me swerving while on the phone and she rear ended me and drove off without ever getting footage of her but had everything verbally recorded)
If you get something get a capacitor based one and avoid the battery.

If you are wondering what I have Ive been using aukey 1080p dash cams. The square one and this 'stealth' (lol) one. They have a dual view one but thats not worth it to be for reasons mentioned above. This aukey one linked below has a side slot for the sd card so it can be removed without dismantling the camera. That is one of the best benefits of it imo. This with the samsung sd card linked above have worked effortless for me for 3 yrs+. My family members unit I set up has been going on 5 years on a capacitor based camera with the same samsung card and 1080p recording.



My source for all this is too many frustrating years dealing with random brands dash cams which failed me within 6 months and alot of trial and error. Once I switched to capacitor based ones I almost had no issue. I just happened to choose the aukey brand since they usually have more reliable chinese units but thats just speculation and solely from my experience. Good luck~
 

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Also worth mentioning dont ever rely on a dash cam to capture license plate information. Read it outloud because you wont know how clear the picture recording of the plate is until its too late. Moving objects are harder to record than still objects. Its important to do research and see videos on actual scenarios. Youll probably see plates of the car in front you if youre going slow or at a light but someone fast zooming across the highway etc is a completely different animal. These things are useful if you know their actual capabilities but do not make the mistake of putting blind faith in them. Also do a check every other month to make sure the card is recording footage as it should. You never want to be caught in a situation where you are relying on the camera to have footage but have had a corrupted file the whole time without any footage recorded.
 

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I bought the entry level Thinkware single channel F50 (since replaced by F70) model that uses a capacitor 3 years ago. Am very happy with its reliability. Never had to reformat the Thinkware branded SD card during that time. I can live with it telling me it's switched on whenever starting up. Same with the optional GPS purchased at the same time. Only problem I've found is the window mount bracket is prone to move slightly when removing the cam or removing the SD card from the cam itself. Cam doesn't have a screen so any changes to cam setting need to be carried out by plugging the SD card into a PC running the Thinkware viewer software (might be Windows and MacOS only).

I don't need parking mode but if I did I'd purchase a separate external battery power bank such as the Cellink-B. This is rather expensive but will run a single channel cam for 30 hours (dual channel for 16 hours) after 1 hr charging time. Can be more if wired in rather than using the cigar lighter socket. It works by charging a high quality lithium-ion battery when your car is running. When your car is turned off, the charged battery is then used to provide continuous 12V power to your dash camera without the need to drain any power from your car's battery. This process is very effective in minimising the risk of battery discharge, low voltage warnings and flat batteries.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies, this information is going to make a decision a lot harder...

The two models I was looking at are both capacitor powered, and come from local dealers. Any warranty issues go through the dealer. I avoid Amazon like the plague and only use eBay for non-mechanical/electronic items.

Talking with a retired police colleague, he told me dash cams are only admissible in court if they have a time stamp, and since about half of any incidents happen from the rear, a rear camera should be used as well if you’re going through the bother of putting in a front camera.

In regards to parking mode, both models I considered have are “buffered”. If I understand correctly, both cameras record constantly on parking mode, but if an impact occurs, 10 seconds before the impact and 10 seconds after the impact will be recorded, the rest of the footage is over recorded.

The clarity or resolution is not all that important to me, but then again the only really important factor is getting a license #, Make, model, colour, etc., should be easy enough with any kind of resolution.

Looking over about a dozen models I basically have two choices when it comes to programming: Built in mini-screen, or using a smartphone. Neither are appealing to me and the one I do choose will be programmed from my tablet.

Sound is still an issue for me. I find the idea of any microphone near me “ creepy”, emphatically refrain from ANY voice commands from any device, and reluctantly use a “ dumb” phone ( no wifi, no apps, no camera, no nothing..

I’ll keep you posted on my choice
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Having gone through more yt videos, and “ forced” to sit in the passenger seat this morning, I’ve made some observations:

A)The parking mode isn’t all that wonderful for me, since I park in a garage most of the time.

B) routing the cable from the windshield /headliner down the passenger A pillar, under the dash, and under the crevice where the console meets the dash is pretty simple. All that would be visible is the “ cigarette lighter” plug, but really no cable mess—or as the Germans would say”Kablesalat”— literally “ cable salad”. Running the cable from the rear hatch boor to the headliner then down to the floor, and then in the door sills up to the driver’s A pillar to the headliner and then to the cam is pretty easy too. Since I have a moonroof, fishing a cable under the headliner might be a challenge I’m not up for.

If I were to do this, I wouldn’t need to hardwire the dashcam—something I won’t do myself, and I wouldn’t drain the battery if parked for several days.

I’m probably overthinking this, but it is fun. Tommorow I check out prices on my “chosen” units, check out warranties, and bring my tablet with me to see if these units are indeed capable of programming the dashcam. I will be visiting two dealers, both specialize in audio equipment installs and dashcam installs
 
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