These are the most common type of dashcam and the type that will best suit most drivers. Mounting to the windshield and powered via a standard cigarette lighter plug, these cameras record video/audio of the view to the front of the car. The video is captured continuously whenever the vehicle’s ignition is on. Video files are stored on a memory card, with the newest video continuously replacing the oldest video (called loop recording). After installation, the camera requires no user input or intervention – it turns on when the ignition is on, and stops when the vehicle is shut off. In the event of an accident or other incident, the camera can be hooked up via Wifi to mobile or USB to a computer to download the video for safekeeping, or, the memory card can be removed and secured.
Most dashcams of this type available today record in full 1080 high-definition, which can allow license plates on adjacent vehicles to be read. The recording loop (the amount of time on the video record) is dependent on the size of the memory card. With a 32GB card, most dashcams can support a 4 to 7 hour recording loop (depending on the bitrate) at 1080p resolution. Even longer loops can be attained if the camera is set to record at lower resolutions (720p, 640×480, etc).
Expect to pay between $30 – $250 for a quality single-camera 1080p dashcam with all of the essential features from reputable Canada-based sellers or retailers. You can sometimes save as much as 50% by purchasing an equivalent or similar model direct from a Chinese or Taiwanese seller/manufacturer, but this is risky as your recourse in the event of problems will be much more limited. Reports of counterfeits and high-failure-rate units are also not uncommon with overseas sellers, so buyer beware!