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Dash Cams vs Action Cams (GoPro)

The table below can give you a better idea of all the differences between the dash cams and action cams and why you shouldn’t use action cams as dash cams. In terms of features, there are a lot of differences between the two.

Dash vs Action Dash Cam Action Cam
Pricing Low-cost cameras Quite expensive
Power (on/off) Automatic – Switches on as soon as the car is in turned on Must turn on manually
Power Supply Unlimited battery life since it is connected to the car’s battery Two to three hours depending on the video mode and settings
Loop Cycle Recording Yes, loops recording when memory card is full No loop recording
Motion Sensor (parking mode) Yes - dash cams turn on and record automatically when parked upon sensing movement Sometimes included as an extra feature
Risk of Theft Low High since it is an expensive device
G-sensor Impact Detection Yes; can detect sudden impacts and hit-and-run incidents, and isolate and store the video No, can’t detect sudden impacts or isolate footage
Setup One-time; designed to stay in the car at all times On and off, especially if used for other activities
GPS Tracking Yes, helps to determine the location and time of an incident No
Video Quality Medium Medium to high depending on your chosen model
Wi-Fi Yes No
Size Small Small to medium depending on the model
Screen Yes Sometimes
Car Mount Included since it is designed for cars No, you’ll have to spend extra for that
Dual Cam (360 Option) Yes - films outside and inside your vehicle simultaneously No
Extreme Temp Resistance Yes - thanks to temperature-tolerant capacitors No - powering up the action cam can be difficult in the cold.
Smart Alerts Yes - helps prevents accidents No
Memory High by default Low to high
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Difference Between Dash Cams and Action Cams (GoPro)

A dash cam is essentially a small video camera that can be mounted within your vehicle to your truck or car’s windshield or dashboard. As you drive, the dash cam continuously records the video not only of what is happening inside the car, but what’s happening outside as well.

Despite being low-cost cameras, dash cams have numerous features that many other cameras miss out on such as impact detection and auto-looping capabilities.

Since the purpose of a dash cam is just to make a video, any camera can be used for this purpose. For instance, you can use an action camera like the GoPro; however, it isn’t ideal. Here’s why.

A dash cam also called a dashboard camera, is designed to record as well as loop footage while you drive. Thus, they are ideal for recording potential accidents so that in case of any allegations against you, you can prove that you are innocent in court.

Meanwhile, action cameras are designed such that they can be mounted on anything. However, they are mostly head-mounted. While they can record actions of all sorts, they are most suitable for recreational activities and sports.

As mentioned earlier, an action cam is not ideal for use as a dash cam for several reasons.

1. Turns on automatically

While it might sound obvious, when you use an action cam to record whatever is happening within or outside your vehicle, you will always have to remember to switch it on. This can be quite a burden as you might not always remember to switch the camera on. Plus, it is quite prone to human error. For instance, if you get into an accident only to find out later that you forgot to switch on the camera, then you’ll be in big trouble.

2. Automatic recording

Just like you have to switch on the action camera manually, you also have to press the record button before you start with your ride every time. So in case you forget to hit the record button, you’ll have absolutely no footage of that particular drive.

3. Parking mode and motion sensor

A lot of things can happen to your vehicle even when you are not driving it. For instance, a lurker late at night might get too close to your car, or someone might let a shopping cart crash into your car while you are waiting for someone in the parking of a grocery store.

With a dash cam, you can easily monitor your vehicle as well as its surroundings continuously even if the car is switched off because of the parking mode. As long as the dash cam receives a constant source of power, it will be able to monitor its surroundings.

Moreover, features like motion detection and G-sensor allow the camera to start recording an event whenever there is some kind of motion or impact. After it is recorded, the event will be saved to your memory card and you’ll be notified.

Since action cams don’t have this feature, you can only get footage of the video you record yourself.


Why Should I Use a Dash Cam?

However, it is important to remember that there are four primary features that really make a dash cam ideal for use in a vehicle. They are:

1. Automatic power-up: Since dash cams are either powered by the cigarette outlet in the vehicle or they are hardwired, they switch on automatically as soon as the car switches on

2. Automatic recording: As soon as they switch on, they start to record automatically, and since they are equipped with loop recording, they record continuously.

3. Parking mode: Even if the car is parked, a dash cam starts to record the video when it senses movement.

4. Dual cam: Since dash cams have dual cameras, they can record both external and internal scenarios at the same time. Of course, action cams also have some impressive features; however, these features aren’t really relevant to the needs of the driver or even the passenger.