Looking for a dashcam with HD recording, GPS, and a parking mode that doesn't drain your car battery? Z-EDGE Z3D Dual Cam Dashcam should be top of your list, and at under $150 for two cameras, can suit a range of dashcam uses.
Want to keep your motor insurance costs down? A dashcam is a great idea, but they can do more than save you money. With a dashcam, your car’s safety and security are always monitored. You can review your driving and check the details of incidents.
While many dashcams only provide forward-facing recordings, the Z-Edge Z3D Dual Dashcam has something more: a rear camera. But what value does this add to your dashcam experience?
Unboxing the Z3D Dual Lens Car Camera
As with any dashcam kit, you’ll find all the cables you need in the box, along with the two cameras.
Specifically, the contents are the front-facing dashcam featuring a 2.7-inch screen, a plastic tool, two USB cables, a shorter USB cable, a GPS windscreen mount, adhesive cable clips, the rear-facing camera, and a cable for connecting the two cameras. There’s also a dual USB adaptor, warranty card, and user guide.
The user guide will prove useful if you’ve never installed a dashcam before, but it’s worth reading even if you have. Most dashcam kits don’t come with a separate rear camera. Instead, they usually incorporate the rear-facing cam with the main dashcam unit. The result of this is that the car occupants receive more attention than the vehicles behind.
While this might be useful in some scenarios (like making a carpool karaoke video), having a better appreciation of the road behind can improve your driving.
Dual Dashcam or “Dual Lens Car Camera”?
Most dashcams work in a pretty simple way. The camera is powered via the 12V dual USB accessory socket (“cigarette lighter”) and mounted in the windscreen or dashboard. Note that there is no option to wire the camera directly to the car battery.
Instead, the dashcam has a G-Sensor and adequate battery to detect and record while the car is unattended. This could be you returning to the car and unlocking, or someone trying to break in and steal your vehicle.
The footage, or stop-motion images, are then stored on an SD card for review later. For most, the standard forward-facing single-camera dashcam is adequate. Some units have an additional rear-facing camera but remain concerned largely with action at the front of the car.
The Z-EDGE Z3D device differs in that it has these two separate cameras, both capable of recording at Full HD resolution. This affords clear recording of events around the vehicle, from the activity on the road to potential car crime when parked.
Z3D System Specs
Dashcams are increasingly finding new ways to entice customers. The system spec of the Z3D Dual Cam Dashcam is one of the most impressive we’ve seen.
With dual cameras comes dual 1080p recording, giving you the Full HD experience when driving. Just as important is the frame rate—30FPS is available, ensuring clear capture. Meanwhile, if you opt for just the front camera, the Z3D dashcam records in WQHD 2560x1440p (also at 30FPS).
The two cameras boast a 150-degree wide viewing angle. Recorded footage should capture four lanes of traffic ahead and behind, with reduced blindspots.
Night vision can be a problem for some dashcams. To deal with this, Z-EDGE has employed WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) technology to compensate for light and dark areas and balance exposure. The six-layer glass lens and imaging processor are designed to aid in the capture of clear footage and recording of details such as license plates.
Footage and stills are saved to the microSD card. The Z3D dashcam supports up to 128GB, providing up to 720 minutes of recording time. Loop mode ensures that footage is prioritized, with notable events stored in their own folder and other material overwritten as space runs out.
Built into the dashcam’s windscreen mount is a GPS module. This accurately records your vehicle’s location, speed, and route, and the data can be reviewed when loaded into the Z-EDGE desktop software (for macOS and Windows).
Installing the Z3D Dashcam
How you install the Z3D is entirely up to you. The rear camera is entirely optional, letting you carry on with a standard forward-facing dashcam with WQHD. Alternatively, you might opt to add the second camera either as a parking camera. It’s also suitable for use as an interior camera, which may prove useful if you’re a private car hire.
We started off by attaching the suction cup mount alongside the rear-view mirror. This twists-and-locks into place, ensuring your dashcam is securely mounted. The GPS module is built into this (more on that later) along with a power socket and short cable to power the dashcam. A slow is provided to attach the dashcam.
Connecting the dashcam to your car can be tricky. The included clips are almost certainly necessary. These are self-adhesive and should be attached to the windscreen along the path you want the cables to take. Of course, these should be nowhere within your view of the road.
Placing a dashcam on the actual dashboard is not really an option these days. However, the thing to remember is that the dashcam and cables should not impede your view.
For the safest results, cabling should be run around the edge of the windscreen, and behind the rear-view mirror. Installing this device, I let the cables hang above the dashboard until the power cable was successfully routed under the steering wheel. Only then did I use the adhesive cable clips.
Z-EDGE has helpfully included clips that are big enough to route two cables. This is useful for connecting the rear/secondary camera to the front dashcam.
Installing the Rear Cam
If you opt for the secondary cam, prepare yourself to route the cabling through the furnishings and panels of your car. Above the door, below the door, perhaps under the carpet. How successful this is will depend on the design and size of your car.
The rear cam comes with a data cable which should be long enough to connect to the primary camera. Once hooked up, it can be used to simply record events at the back of the car, or even act as a parking monitor.
It’s wise to measure out cable length first; at 26 foot long, it could prove to be far more than you need. One option is to store excess cable within the car’s upholstery or paneling. For example, the MPV used to install the Z3D Dashcam has a removable panel around the rear window. I used this to store the spare eight feet of USB data cabling.
With the rear cam routed to the main dashcam and the system powered on, you should see instant results. The secondary cam will appear by default in picture-in-picture mode.
Setting Up the Dashcam for Daily Use
Dashcam set up is straightforward, enabling you to quickly get started with it. The controls are minimal too, with a simple menu button, up and down, and an enter/OK option. These can be used for various purposes, from enabling the camera (OK) to altering the settings via the menu.
Booting the camera for the first time, you’ll be prompted to set your location and timezone. Moments later, footage from the camera will be displayed. It’s that quick!
Default settings are 1080p and 30FPS, 3-minute loop recording, G-Sensor sensitivity normal, date stamp enabled, and motion detection off. All of these can be adjusted to suit, however.
Configuration can largely be discerned from the display, although it is wise to wait until parked to do this. A red LED illuminates when the camera is recording, but all other information is on the screen, including recording and resolution settings. Loop duration is found here, too, along with GPS status, the parking monitor, and video protection. This can be enabled while driving by pressing the menu button. The event will then be protected from overwriting.
Does Your Dashcam Need GPS?
Dashcams record the road, so why is GPS needed? Well, it’s not for doubling the device up as a satnav! Rather, the GPS feature, courtesy of a module in the mounting component, logs your location. A dedicated app is available from the Z-EDGE website, providing GPS, video footage, and Google Maps integration.
Versions of the app are available for Windows and macOS, which should let you easily review your footage. Location, speed, and route are logged with GPS, with this information then clearly presented alongside the video in Google Maps.
When reviewing footage, you’ll see a map in the top-right corner displaying your location. However, if you’re in a GPS blackspot, this won’t happen until the car moves into a more receptive location.
To view the files in the app, it’s necessary to access them directly from the microSD card, or by connecting the dashcam to your computer via USB. The app uses the MAP files created by the dashcam to chart your GPS position. You can capture screenshots via the app, too, which are saved to your default image folder.
If you don’t want to use the app—perhaps you have no need for the GPS data—you can simply browse the SD card in your desktop file manager.
Does the Z3D Good Enough Make a Reliable Dashcam?
These days, anyone can afford a dashcam. Available at so many different price points, they range in quality and reliability.
To judge whether the Z3D is good enough, we can consider the following:
- Easy setup
- Stable software
- Reliable battery
- Appropriate storage media
- Easy to install in your car
- Lightweight build
- Lengthy power lead
In the case of the Z-EDGE Z3D Dual Cam Dashcam, we can consider the advantages above, with one exception. The device isn’t easy to install unless you’re planning to only use the front-facing camera.
Other than that, this is a great dashcam option.