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For a great all-around balance of features and performance at a reasonable price, the THiEYE Safeel Zero+ is a fantastic option. For those looking for a more complete package, with a huge suite of extras and features (and who don't mind spending a bit more), the AUKEY 1080P Dual Dash Cam is a very worthwhile splurge.
How We Tested
Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate dash cams based on design, video quality, setup, functionality, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases, recording video from both moving and stationary vehicles, and appraise additional features like embedded data and software packages. Our testers also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.
About Our Trusted Experts
Taylor Clemons is a tech reviewer and journalist with several years of experience writing for top outlets as well as her own website. She previously worked with MTD Products, assembling and repairing robotic, riding, and push lawnmowers.
Danny Chadwick has been writing about tech since back in 2008, and has produced hundreds of features, articles, and reviews on a massive range of subjects. He specializes in dash cameras, and reviewed the Apeman C450 A for our list.
Can you get in trouble for having a dashcam?
Generally not, in the United States, using a dashcam to record video on public roads is legal in almost all cases and you can record video as long as you are not infringing on another's privacy. Just be aware that recordings of audio fall under a slightly different jurisdiction, and generally require the consent of all parties involved. Just to be on the safe side, we recommend switching off the mic if anyone you don't know might get caught on camera.
What are dashcams good for?
While capturing candid footage on the road can be entertaining, dashcams are typically used to aid insurance resolution and can serve as a de-facto witness for all the parties involved in a fender-bender. In more extreme cases, they can be used to capture license plate information during a hit and run scenario.(Video) BEST DASH CAMS: 7 Dash Cams (2022 Buying Guide)
The Ultimate Dash Cam Buying Guide
Let's face it: Roads and highways can be dangerous at times (there are millions of car accidents every year). And while we might think we’re safe and responsible drivers, that doesn’t account for the other careless and reckless individuals who could cause an accident—or other unforeseen situations, like unnecessary traffic stops or even things like insurance fraud. For all these reasons and more, it can be helpful to have a dash cam as your second pair of eyes on the road.
So, what exactly does a dash cam actually do? Essentially, a dash cam is a way to constantly record your driving whenever you’re driving. With a recording of what’s going on around you, you can prove fault in case of an accident, monitor your teenager learning to drive, and more. Not only that, but dash cams are getting increasingly affordable and easy to use, so they’re not limited to tech-heads and early adopters.
Unsure if you need one or do want some more intel before you make a decision? Before buying one, there are a number of things to consider. Because a dash cam is essentially a camera, the main things you’ll want to keep in mind are related to camera and video quality. In addition to that, there are a lot of features that might be helpful to you. These include things such as GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity, for smarter recording, increased storage, for the ability to record more footage, and a built-in display, to name a few.
Because it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to buying a dash cam, we’ve put together this handy guide. Here’s everything you need to know about buying a new dash cam for your car.
When buying a dashcam, there are several features to keep in mind. Read on for the breakdown.
Camera Quality and Resolution
Dash cams can come with a range of bells and whistles, but perhaps the most important thing to consider is the overall quality of the actual camera. Cameras of a higher quality will boast a clearer picture—which can be very helpful if you need to see different details after an accident or other incidents.
The first metric you’ll likely notice when it comes to buying a camera of any kind is the camera’s resolution. Normally, the resolution of the camera will be expressed by the number of vertical pixels in an image. If a camera is 1080p, then there are 1080 pixels vertically. A 1440p camera has 1440 pixels vertically. And a 2160p camera has 2160 pixels vertically.
Generally speaking, more pixels is always better. When a camera is capable of capturing more pixels, it means the resulting image will be clearer—which can be pretty important. We recommend buying a camera with at least a 1080p resolution—though if you can afford a camera with a higher resolution (i.e. 4K), then that’s the way to go.
The field-of-view of a camera is essentially how wide the camera can see and this can vary a lot. While some cameras only have a narrow field-of-view, others are specifically designed to have wide fields-of-view that allow for the user to see a lot more at any given moment. Of course, there are trade-offs to that. When a camera’s field of view is too wide, it can have an effect on image quality because the pixels are spread out a little more.
Unfortunately, manufacturers of dash cams aren’t the best at providing details about field-of-view. On top of that, there isn’t really a standard measurement. Some manufacturers, for example, provide a horizontal measurement, while others inflate their numbers by providing a diagonal measurement. We recommend seeing if you can find screenshots of footage from the camera before buying one, and paying particular attention to details on the side, and how detailed the image is in general. If you think the camera would be able to capture everything that you want, then it’ll probably do just fine.
Because dash cams film video—not take photos—frame rates are important to consider, too. Generally speaking, most dash cams offer a frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps). This is a standard frame rate and one that will be perfectly fine for the vast majority of users.
Some dash cams, however, step things up to 60fps. The result of this is a much smoother video capture. That’s perfect for things like sports capture, but we don’t think it’s really a necessary feature for dash cams. On top of that, footage captured at 60fps takes up twice the storage space, meaning you’ll only get half as much footage before your storage runs out and you have to either start replacing old footage or buying new storage cards.
If the dash cam you want offers 60fps capture anyway, it might be a nice bonus for some, especially if it can be toggled on and off, but we don’t recommend spending extra for this feature considering it won’t make much of a difference in most situations, and may actually do more damage than good considering the amount of storage it takes up.
One last feature to take into consideration is night vision, and it could be very helpful for some drivers—especially those who drive at night a lot. After all, your camera could essentially be rendered useless if it’s overly dark and there isn’t sufficient light for the camera to pick up—meaning that night vision could be the difference between proving innocence in an accident, or not.
Night vision essentially ensures that even in dark situations, there’s enough detail in your footage to make out what’s going on. Footage may not look as colorful as it would during the day, but that hardly matters when all you need is to see the license plate of the person that hit you.
When you get your dash cam, you’ll need to mount it to your car in some way, and there are a few ways to do that. Most dash cams can be mounted onto the dash, but some can also be mounted from the windshield. That’s helpful for those who might not want to clutter up their dash or who already have a phone mount on it.
Generally speaking, dash cams mount to the dash or windshield through a suction mount, and those suction mounts are pretty strong. Some, however, instead go for an adhesive mount that actually sticks to the dash or windshield. These can be a little trickier to deal with because they’re harder to unstick and move, and they can sometimes leave a little adhesive when you do decide to unstick the mount. Still, there is a trade-off to using an adhesive mount, and that’s the adhesive mounts generally don’t require as much space, so if you have limited space to mount your dash cam then they may be the better option.
We live in an era of smart devices, so it makes sense to have dash cams that can connect to the Internet or to your phone through something like Bluetooth.
There are a number of advantages to wireless connectivity on your dash cam. For starters, if your dash cam can connect to your phone through Bluetooth, you may be able to do things like manage footage, manage the settings for your dash cam, and more, all from your phone. Then, you don’t have to mess around with a tiny built-in screen on your dash cam, or going through badly-designed settings menus.
With Internet connectivity, there’s a host of other features that could be added to your dash cam. For example, footage captured by your dash cam could be uploaded directly to the cloud, where it can then be streamed to a phone or a computer.
Some dash cams also communicate with your phone through Wi-Fi, and doing so will yield similar results to Bluetooth connectivity. When connected through Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to download and view footage straight from your phone.
But what do we recommend? Bluetooth connectivity will be more than enough for most people who want added features and connectivity options, and if you don’t mind dealing with settings on the actual dash cam itself—and are good at managing file storage—then you may not need any extra connectivity at all.
GPS Records Location & Speed
Just like Bluetooth connectivity, GPS can add some extra features and functionality to your dash cam even though it’s probably not a feature you necessarily need.
With GPS connectivity, you’ll be able to log the speed and location of your car along with the footage, and that extra data could be helpful in figuring out a dispute.
Of course, GPS connectivity isn’t only helpful for your own dash cam—it’s also helpful if you’re buying a dash cam for a company or work vehicle that might be driven by others. With a built-in GPS, you’ll be able to track the car and monitor driver habits, which is helpful in dealing with employees internally, and if they get into an accident of some kind.
While GPS isn’t necessarily that important for most users, it might be helpful for others. If you like the idea of being able to track your car or log location and speed data, then look for a dash cam with GPS.
Video footage can take up a lot of storage, and as such choosing a dash cam with enough storage can be important. Thankfully, there are a few options when it comes to storage.
For starters, some dash cams will have a little storage built right into them, meaning that you won’t have to worry about managing external storage if you don’t want to. Storage in dash cams usually starts at around 4GB, though you may want more than that if you want to be able to store more than a few days of footage.
Most dash cams, however, will instead offer a MicroSD card slot, where you can insert a MicroSD card for storing your footage. Some dash cams will come with a MicroSD card, though others may not, and you’ll have to buy one separately. When doing so, you’ll want to check the amounts of storage that your dash cam supports. We recommend getting a MicroSD card with at least 64GB of storage to ensure that you can record enough footage.
Sometimes, you don’t realize you need recorded footage until after the fact, and since some dash cams record over old footage on a loop, when you realize you need it, it may be too late. Thankfully, however, many dash cams have protections against writing over footage that you may end up needing.
The most common protection against writing over footage is the G-Sensor, a sensor that can detect a sudden change in motion, and tell the dash cam to save footage of that incident. For many dash cams, once that footage is saved, it’s then locked and won’t be overwritten, which is helpful in case you need to access the footage later on.
Of course, don’t rely completely on the G-Sensor. If you’re in a really bad accident that does damage to the memory card inside the dash cam, you may be out of luck, but doing such damage to the memory card would be a rare occurrence.
While the most important thing to capture is video, some might want to capture audio as well. This can be helpful in recording conversations during traffic stops, audio happening around the car, and so on. Not all dash cams have audio recording, but it's an available feature if you want it. Generally speaking, audio recording doesn’t add too much extra to the cost of a dash cam, which is good news.
Not all dash cams have one camera, some of them have two. While most people probably only need to record what’s happening outside the car, some people — like Uber and Lyft drivers, for example — may want to also record what’s going on inside the car too. To that end, some dash cams have one camera sensor pointing out the windshield, and one pointing into the car.
There are a few disadvantages to this, though for some it could be worth it. For starters, double the footage means one minute of recording will take up double the storage space. If you do get a dash cam with driver monitoring, we recommend getting an SD card more storage than you think you’ll need.
The other disadvantage to driver monitoring is cost. Adding an extra camera sensor to the device definitely adds to the overall cost of the dash cam, especially if you’re going for relatively high-quality camera sensors in the first place.
While some dash cams connect to your phone to provide monitoring and control over the camera’s settings, others might have a built-in display. Through this display, you’ll be able to do things like review footage, tweak controls, and more.
Generally speaking, larger displays will make it easier to see details in footage and scroll through menus, but don’t expect to get a smartphone-quality display on your dash cam. Dash cam displays normally fall between two and three inches, so if you want one with a larger display, look for something around the three-inch mark. Displays on these devices are normally LCD displays and are built to be bright enough to see during the day, which is helpful for those that might need to change a setting.
A high-resolution display might be nice, but dash cams normally limit quality — so if you plan on doing a lot of video playback, it may be worth finding a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connected camera that you can use in conjunction with your smartphone.
Most dash cams are built to run on your car’s power, so they'll be on when you turn your car on, and they’ll turn off when your car gets turned off. Some dash cams, however, have a built-in battery, meaning that you don’t necessarily have to keep your car on to use the dash cam.
For most, this is an unnecessary feature, but for some, it may be important. Some, for example, might want a dash cam that they can use to record after they’ve parked their car in a public lot.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of dash cams have a battery only designed to last a few minutes at most. An alternative for some, however, is to instead use a sports camera like a GoPro as a dash cam. GoPros have batteries that are designed to last a lot longer, however, you’ll be limited to manually setting them to record and stop recording, and they don’t have features like a G-Sensor.
Dash cams are designed to record when you’re driving, and as such getting a dash cam that automatically starts recording when you’re driving can be useful. With auto-start, when you turn on your car and the camera turns on, it’ll automatically start recording. Then, when the car turns off, it’ll save the footage and turn off itself.
For those who are good at remembering to start and stop recording, this is simply a matter of convenience, but for those who might easily forget to start or stop recording, it could be a matter of capturing an accident, or not capturing it.
Loop recording ensures that even when your storage card runs out of space, the dash cam will still continue capturing footage. How does it do this? Essentially by recording over old footage. So, once the storage card fills up, older footage will be replaced with new footage, and you’ll lose that old footage. What this means is that you’ll either want to get ahold of footage from an accident as soon as possible or buy a really big memory card that can hold lots of footage before it starts deleting.
It’s really a handy feature and means you shouldn’t have to worry about managing your dash cams storage yourself, which could get annoying.
Dash cams come in a few general styles. Read on to learn more about them.
Basic Dash Cams
Basic dash cameras are just that: video cameras with built-in or removable storage media that record whenever you’re driving. Power-wise, they tend to be hard-wired into your car’s electrical system. However, certain models are designed to plug into acigarette lighter/12V socket and others have a lithium-ion battery built into them.
If your needs are fairly straightforward—or if you're on a tight budget—a basic dash cam will get the job done. You'll be able to find a good-quality option for less than $100.
Feature-Rich Dash Cams
There are also dash cams that come with more advanced feature sets like Bluetooth connectivity, auto-start, and GPS tracking. These types of dash cams tend to be priced in the $150 to $350 range.
Dual-Camera Interior/Exterior Dash Cams
Certain dash cameras actually include two cameras: one facing outward from the windshield and the other facing the inside of your car. Typically, these images are composited into a single video. These cameras are useful for people who want a more comprehensive view of their vehicle or are looking for extra security; they're also great for parents looking for a way to supervise their newteen drivers.
There are no shortage of dash cam manufacturers. Here are a few we think you should put on your radar as you're shopping.
When you think of Garmin, your first thought is probably its GPS tracking technology–but the company makes dash cams, too. Known for being well-designed and reliable, Garmin's dash cams have options for voice control, extra wide-angle views, and—of course—GPS tracking.
Long a leading name in the dash cam world, Nextbase offers a variety of models at different price ranges. Its most advanced offerings have features like Alexa Auto integration, emergency SOS, auto-sync, and intelligent parking mode.
Founded in 2016, Owlcam makes the first-ever security camera designed specifically for vehicles. Its dash cam has the ability to record video footage of accidents or break-ins and send them directly to your phone in real time. If you're especially interested in security features, this would be a good option to consider, though it's pricier than other options at $350.
Z-Edge offers a full suite of attractive, easy-to-use dash cams that are best known for their excellent ultra-HD 2K image quality. And they're affordable, too—the company's best-selling Z-Edge Z3 can be found for under $100.
Simply put, there's more to keep top-of-mind when buying a new dash cam than you probably originally thought, but hopefully, now that you understand all the different options, buying one will be a little easier.
If you’re more confused than ever, we have a few pointers. For those simply looking for a decent dash cam to capture what’s going on around them, we recommend a 1,080p dash cam with Wi-Fi connectivity, auto-start, and loop recording. You probably won’t need features beyond that—like driver monitoring—unless you’re also worried about what’s going on inside your car. But no matter what you’re looking for from a dash cam, you shouldn't have a hard time finding one that works for you and your needs. Check out some of our top picks below.
- Viofo A119 v3 – Best-value single-lens dash cam. ...
- Vantrue M2 – Best rear-view mirror dash cam. ...
- Viofo A129 Pro Duo – Best-value 4K dash cam. ...
- Nextbase 622GW – Best 4K Dash Cam. ...
- iOttie Aivo View – Fit & Forget. ...
- Thinkware F200 – Best screen-less dash cam. ...
- Nextbase 112 – Best budget dash cam.
In terms of footage quality, the Nextbase 622GW is still the benchmark for dash cams. It has the clearest images in all conditions, even compared with rivals we've tried costing twice as much.What is the best value dash cam? ›
- 1: Thinkware F70. Best value from a big-name dash cam brand. ...
- 2: Z-Edge Z3 Pro. Best budget dash cam for a high-resolution front and rear view. ...
- 3: Nextbase 222. ...
- 4: Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2. ...
- 5: Z-Edge R1 Wi-Fi Dash Cam. ...
- 6: Kingslim D1. ...
- 7: Galphi M2 three channel dash cam. ...
- 7: Viofo A119 V3.
While cams that record in 1080p will do the trick in most situations, 4k cams simply pick up more detail. In the case of an accident, having better quality footage can mean the difference between a clear-cut victory and a drawn-out battle. For instance, think about license plates.Is there a dashcam without wires? ›
Wireless Dashcam: Huge Falsehood
Getting a dash cam without wires is possible with the capacitor. The only use of these kinds of dash cams is to save a video instantly while you turn off your car and your dashcam loses the power from the car. It is only used for a very short time.
This can make a rear-end accident less likely, keeping you safer on the road. The presence of any dash cam – front or rear – may also help discourage bad behavior from other drivers who don't want to be caught on video.Where should a dash cam be placed in a car? ›
You need to be careful where you install the camera. You want to ensure that you aren't obstructing your view while driving. It is always best to install your camera in the center of the windshield, and behind the rearview mirror.Do dash cameras work when the car is off? ›
Yes, the dash cam can record until its battery runs out, which will vary depending on how long your vehicle continues to deliver power after being turned off and degree to which battery was charged.Do Dashcams get stolen? ›
Answered by Georgia Petrie. We don't have any figures for dash cam theft. However, on a purely anecdotal note, we've tested around 35 dash cameras over the last few years, and I (nor the 5 other members of the team) have ever had one stolen despite leaving them in the car overnight.Is BlackVue a good dash cam? ›
Best overall dash cam
According to Stefano Loria of AutoCraft NYC, BlackVue is “the best dash-cam company on the market” both from a customer perspective and a professional one.
1. Vantrue N2 Pro. Not only one of the best dash cams with parking mode on the market today, but a dual-lens camera, the Vantrue N2 Pro has motion-triggered parking mode action that captures images of anything happening around your vehicle at a distance of 33 feet away in front.Are Dashcams worth it? ›
Perhaps the biggest benefit of having a dashboard camera is that it gives you, the driver, proof of what occurred if there is an accident on the road. Most dashcams record video, but some can record audio as well. The typical dashcam will record a piece of video and keep it in cloud storage for a set period.Is it worth getting front and rear dash cam? ›
This can make a rear-end accident less likely, keeping you safer on the road. The presence of any dash cam – front or rear – may also help discourage bad behavior from other drivers who don't want to be caught on video.Does having a dash cam lower insurance? ›
Is there a dashcam car insurance discount? Insurance companies generally don't offer discounts for dashcams, but they can help you avoid an increase in your insurance rate by providing evidence that you weren't at fault in an accident.Do dash cameras work when the car is off? ›
Yes, the dash cam can record until its battery runs out, which will vary depending on how long your vehicle continues to deliver power after being turned off and degree to which battery was charged.What should I look for in a 2021 dash cam? ›
You'll find that the best dash cams often include night vision technology, parking mode, loop recording, 4K dash cam video recording, driver coaching with AI video, blind-spot viewing, GPS tracking, lane-departure warning and storing the video footage to a microSD card.