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Best Dash Cams (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Who knows what exactly happens in an accident? Your dash cam does

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON November 15, 2021

Have you ever noticed how your story of something amazing that happened is different from your buddy's? Both of you were there, both of your eyes saw it, but their take doesn't quite line up with yours. Adrenaline was pumping, there are different perspectives, and there are details either person may have missed because of those factors.


An accident is no different, and nobody wants to admit they were in the wrong if they can't recall what took place accurately, especially when the person at fault will be faced with the hefty bill. A good way to accurately relay what happened in an accident to authorities and insurance companies is a dash cam. So long as you pick the right model and set it up properly, it can save you thousands of dollars, and that's exactly what we're here to offer some advice on.

Best Overall

Thinkware Q800PRO Car Dash Cam

Summary

This unit is a heavy hitter in terms of recording quality and the number of useful features. The 2K resolution and 140-degree lens angle offer crisp, comprehensive coverage, and the app helps it to double as a tracking device. 

Pros
  • Captures video in high-quality resolution 
  • Wide lens angle 
  • Can be managed from a matching app
  • Can serve as a vehicle tracking device
Cons
  • Relatively high price point
  • Can be difficult to operate
  • No installation or setup instructions included
Best Value

iiwey Three-Channel 1080P Dash Cam

Summary

Sometimes, you need to compromise to save money. This affordable package gives you three recording channels, making it one of the best ways to protect your ride on a budget. 

Pros
  • Three recording channels for max coverage 
  • Affordable price point
  • Swiveling base simplifies set up
Cons
  • Poor battery life 
  • 12-volt charging cable may have issues with the fit
Honorable Mention

Nexar Beam Full HD 1080p Dash Cam

Summary

Quality doesn't drive its price through the roof here. This model offers respectable performance in a package that's easy to install and get up and running in no time. 

Pros
  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy to set up and install
  • App makes video file management simple
Cons
  • Power wires are clumsy and unsightly
  • Lack of screen makes it difficult to find the right angle
Best Dash Cams (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Our Methodology

We're fortunate enough to have gotten our hands on a few dash cams for testing this time around. The Thinkware Q800PRO Car Dash Cam, Nexar Beam Full HD 1080p Dash Cam, and Garmin Dash Cam 56 were all purchased by The Drive and put to use by members of the team. Still, three isn't enough to take a comprehensive look at what's on the market. So, we stuck to our tried and true routine of researching the segment through sites and channels dedicated to the craft. Some of which, such as therideshareguy.com, are dedicated to a specific niche. Their takes provided us with some useful insight into what different consumers deem important. Of course, we also factored in our own personal preferences as we do drive cars from time to time. The result is a list of dash cams we think have something to offer to drivers of all shapes and sizes. 

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Dash Cam Reviews & Recommendations

Not everyone has a few hundred dollars to spend on a dash cam. We get that. But who's to say beggars can't be choosers? Take this dash cam bundle from iiwey for example. It sits at an affordable price for most people but offers total coverage of the vehicle with three channels to work with. You can count on this package to record the front and rear ends as well as the interior. We should point out that the main dash cam sits on a swivel, making it easy to adjust as well. That kind of protection is exactly what you need when things go wrong. On top of that, loop recording and the camera's automatically turning on when the G-sensors detect an impact means you'll always have video evidence. 


It's not a budget option if there's no compromise. As a battery-dependent model, you do need to make sure it's charged before you get moving, and a short battery life plagues this model. Not only that, but there are complaints surrounding poor fit of the included charger in a vehicle's 12-volt ports. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: T1 
  • Image Resolution: 1920X1080P 
  • Recording Channels:

Pros:

  • Three recording channels for max coverage 
  • Affordable price point
  • Swiveling base simplifies set up

Cons:

  • Poor battery life 
  • 12-volt charging cable may have fitment issues

We think this Kingslim D4 4K dash cam is a really tough option to beat if you need a high-resolution dash cam that can record the front and rear of the vehicle. Its advertised 4K (2160p@25fps) resolution paired with the wide 150-degree viewing angle puts it far beyond most in its price range. Speaking of which, this happens to be one of the more affordable options out there. Another killer set of details that work in this model's favor are the touch screen and compatible app and those factors combined make it extremely easy to set up properly and manage video recordings. 


Unfortunately, marketing does mislead you a tad here as some reviewers point out that it's not actually a 4K model. It’s 4K for the front camera, but only 1080 for the rear. Even if it is able to record clearly, that's a detail to be aware of. Also, it does seem that SD formatting issues are somewhat common. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: D4
  • Image Resolution:  4K
  • Recording Channels:

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Wide angle lens and high resolution
  • App compatible 

Cons:

  • May not actually be a 4K camera
  • SD formatting issues are common

There are a couple of reasons why we picked the Vantrue N2 Pro Uber as the best model for rideshare drivers to pick up. First and foremost, it's within a justifiable price range for anyone who's starting out. This model captures video in 1080P and has two recording channels to work with. Obviously, recording the front end is a primary concern, but recording inside the vehicle offers an extra level of security to drivers. It's also set to automatically begin recording whenever motion is detected and when the ignition is turned on, keeping you covered at virtually all times. 


Unfortunately, quality control is a concern, and you need to inspect it thoroughly to ensure it's not defective upon arrival. Also, a few complaints surrounding issues with video looping warrant keeping a close eye on this in the initial stages to ensure it's working correctly. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: N2 Pro
  • Image Resolution: 1080P
  • Recording Channels: 2

Pros:

  • Competitive pricing 
  • Records front and interior of vehicle
  • Automatically records when the ignition is on or motion is detected

Cons:

  • Quality control issues are common
  • Video looping issues are common

Why do we think this is a good option for truckers? View angles and the first thing you need to know is that this BlackVue offers camera coverage for the front and rear of the vehicle. That makes it good for everyone, but the 162-degree coverage for the front end and 139-degree angle for the rear classifies it as a must-have for larger vehicles. Also, the 4K resolution makes it hard to miss any details from so high up. Of course, being app-compatible is great for video management, but the ability to communicate from the app through the speaker makes it a premier choice for any professional driver.

 

Speaking of professionals, the premium pricing does make this an option that only career drivers are likely to consider. Also, the lack of display makes angling the lenses just right a tad more difficult than it could be. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: DR900X-2CH
  • Image Resolution: 4K
  • Recording Channels: 2

Pros:

  • High-resolution imagery 
  • Wide lens angles
  • Front and rear coverage
  • App compatible

Cons:

  • Premium price point
  • Lack of screens makes it hard to find proper recording angle

Trying to find the best dash cam for under $100 is easier said than done. For one, the lower the price range, the more junk you find disguised in clever marketing. Two, everyone wants something different. But instead of looking for a camera that does more than others, we looked for one that does one thing exceptionally well. Here we have the Kingslim D5, which claims to record in 4K with a 170-degree lens angle and shines well beyond anything in its price range in terms of clarity. Also, the fact that it is easy to set up with the help of the app and rear display does sweeten the pot some. 


The second Kingslim offering on our list is the second Kingslim model that's marketing of 4K resolution may be slightly misleading as it isn’t true 4K resolution, though very close. Furthermore, the app is notably clunky, according to a few too many reviewers.


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: D5
  • Image Resolution: 4K
  • Recording Channels:

Pros:

  • Affordable price point
  • High-resolution imagery and wide lens angle
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • May not be 4K
  • Compatible app is clumsy

Not placing this Thinkware U1000 dual dash cam higher on our list was difficult as many do feel it is arguably the single best dash cam on the market. The quality of manufacturing, performance, and image quality put it in a league of its own. Though, we feel crowning it the title as Best 4K dash cam still does it justice as this model can record in 4K but can switch to 2K to help give sharp readings of license plate numbers or other essential information. That paired with the 150-degree viewing angle makes it hard to pass on when superior image quality is of utmost importance. This model also features two recording angles for maximum protection and anti-file corrupting technology to ensure you're always covered. 


Unfortunately, the price is out of range for most individuals which is what put it further down the list. Listen, we’re not all Jeff Bezos. It's also worth mentioning that this is one of the more complicated dash cams to install in your vehicle and that can put a lot of folks off clicking the Buy It Now button. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: TW-U1000D32CHF
  • Image Resolution: 4K UHD 30FPS or 2K QHD 60FPS
  • Recording Channels: 2

Pros:

  • Superior image resolution 
  • Two lenses for maximum protection
  • Anti-file corruption promises coverage

Cons:

  • Premium price point
  • Difficult to install

We're wrapping up our list with what is clearly one of the most discreet solutions when it comes to dash cams. The Wolfbox 12-inch mirror dash cam is designed to replace your review mirror and act as a dash cam. In other words, you never have to worry about it serving as a distraction or ruining the vibes of a clean interior. That's not all, though. This dual-channel dash cam can also serve as a backup camera. Still not floored? What if we told you that it also has a GPS function to help you navigate and that WolfBox also throws in a free 32 GB SD card? Make no mistake—this thing does way more than you might expect it to. 


Of course, seeing as this replaces the existing rearview, installation is slightly more complicated than usual. That paired with the not-so-user-friendly setup and lack of MPH readings makes it a no-go for some consumers. 


Product Specs:

  • Part Number: G840
  • Image Resolution: 1296P
  • Recording Channels: 2

Pros:

  • Discreet appearance
  • Can function as a backup camera
  • Free SD card

Cons:

  • Inherently difficult install
  • Difficult to set up

Our Verdict on Dash Cams

We stand behind the Thinkware Q800PRO Car Dash Cam as our top pick. It's a solid performer, and the price is right for most consumers. Though there's no arguing that the iiwey Three-Channel 1080P Dash Cam is a good route to take if saving money while still getting a decent range of functions is on the agenda. Don't agree with us? Tell us about it. Be sure to reach out and fill us in on what you think the best dash cams are! 

What to Consider When Buying A Dash Cam

Still here, huh? All right, we'll stick around too. It should go without saying that you shouldn't just take our word for it. You should get as many takes and input from as many sources as possible to help you make an informed decision. That's why we're going to give you some tips on what to look for in a dash cam. 

Types of Dash Cams

Standalone Units

Most dashcam offerings on the market are standalone units. This configuration is by far the most convenient to set up, and it is generally the most affordable option. As the name suggests, these are dash cams that work independently of the vehicle's existing operating systems, and you generally need to run only a few wires to be operational, if any at all. 

These generally feature the lens, a mini SD memory card port, and possibly an LCD display, depending on the model you select. Also, depending on the model you select, size can vary quite a bit. Therefore, you want to be diligent in selection to ensure you pick a dash cam that fits discreetly in your vehicle and functions as you need it to. 

Multi-Lens Dash Cams 

More lenses mean better documentation of an incident. While a forward-facing dash cam is usually enough for most people, being able to record from the rear can make all the difference in the world if another driver strikes your rear bumper. That's why many dash cams will have the ability to place lenses on the front and rear of the vehicle. 

There are also multi-lens dash cams that record the cabin, which can help prove that you weren't distracted while driving at the time of an incident and can also be an excellent security measure for rideshare drivers. The only potential drawback is that adding more lenses will inherently drive up the selling price. 

Integrated Dash Cams 

Integrated dash cams are far less common than standalone units, but they do exist and may be worth considering. These units are integrated into the vehicle's existing operating systems, such as the touch screen navigation system, allowing them to offer the cleanest fit and finish. Generally speaking, all you may notice is a small lens and housing that fixes to the windshield. 

As you might expect, installation isn't exactly as simple and easy as a standalone unit. More often than not, you will need to take the dash apart and carefully wire everything up. That also means moving it from vehicle to vehicle may be out of the question as doing so can be more trouble than it's worth. 

Dash Cam Key Features

Solid Lens and Sensor Combo 

The lens is one of the most important details of any dash cam you should read into. It determines what your viewing angle is as well as the recording quality. The wider the view angle and the higher the resolution, the better it will perform. Obviously, these factors also play a big role in the price you pay, and it's worth saying that you don't need state-of-the-art technology to get a good review of an incident. Still, you don't want to go too cheap as lower performance does obscure the facts. 

Sensors and lenses also go hand in hand, as the sensors used essentially tell the dash cam when to make necessary adjustments to increase clarity.

Ample Memory 

Most dash cams work with a micro SD card, which means you pick how much storage you have. Still, there is only so much room to work with, and the way a dash cam saves video files is essential to getting the right footage. 

Virtually any dash cam is set to record continuously as you're driving. Saving all of that footage would burn through SD cards and make it a pain to pinpoint any incident it records along the way. That's why you want to make sure you select a dash cam that automatically loops recordings. It also helps to pick a model that automatically begins recording when the G-sensors detect an impact when you’re away from the vehicle.

Feasible Size and Proper Mounting 

It doesn't matter how state-of-the-art or affordable a dash cam is if it won't fit nicely in your vehicle. In fact, you really need to be careful to select a model that doesn't obstruct your view as that can pose legal issues in your jurisdiction. You want to make sure whatever you pick is small enough not to serve as a distraction or that you can hide behind the rearview mirror. 

We will take the time to say that you also want to read into how well a dash cam sticks to whatever surface you intend to mount it on. Generally speaking, it is better to mount it on the dash, and we will explain why in a minute, but you always want to make sure it's not known for coming loose from any surface as you're driving.

Dash Cam Benefits 

Verify Accident Claims 

The primary benefit of any dash cam is the ability to accurately record an accident. It cuts right past all of the he-said/she-said mumbo jumbo and gives definitive facts on what took place. At the end of the day, the investment of a couple of hundred dollars and time to set one up can save you thousands in the long run. 

It's also a good way to keep drivers with malicious intent from taking advantage of you. There are people who will purposely cut other drivers off, especially truck drivers, to brake-check them in an attempt to scam their way into a small fortune. A dash cam can be the ultimate line of defense from preventing them from getting their way and you from losing your job. 

Automated Mayday 

Simply recording an incident doesn't mean you're getting all of the help you need. In a worst-case scenario, an accident can leave you trapped in a vehicle at the mercy of other drivers to call for aid. To make matters worse, accidents may not always happen in areas where the road is packed with other drivers, and there's no guarantee a good samaritan will find you in time. 

Some dash cams come with the ability to automatically send a mayday signal for help when a collision is detected. Nobody likes to think about dark scenarios like this, but picking the right dash cam can potentially save your life. 

Save Special Memories 

The road isn't a place where only bad things happen. While you should respect the chance that something bad can happen, you can't let that keep you from taking in the many beautiful views and locations it can take you to. A dash cam can be set to record those special moments you encounter along the roadways. 

We admit the quality isn't always the best, and some views just can't really be done justice with any recording device. Still, the ability to record in timelapse is a great way to share your experiences with others who you may want to visit those places down the line. Also, who’s gonna believe you when you say you just saw Bigfoot? No one, not without proof.

Dash Cam Pricing 

While it's not impossible, finding a good dash cam for $100 or less can be easier said than done. There are a lot of cheaply-made pieces of equipment in this range that warrant extra homework to nail down a true contender. That said, moving to the $100-$200 price range starts to bring in more reputable offerings and is where most people find exactly what they're looking for. Rarely do you need to spend more than $200. However, if you're a professional driver of any kind, the extra functions, superior quality, and state-of-the-art features found in this price range usually justify spending a little bit more. 

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and dash cams. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Dash Not Glass. Suction cups can have trouble sticking when things heat up. Heat and weight may yank it free from the windshield while you drive. Mounting it to the dash puts the force of gravity in your favor. 
  • Front and Rear. Don't just mount a dash cam on the front end—accidents happen out back, too. Setting up a dash cam on both ends is the best way to protect yourself. 
  • Mount Within Legal Limits. Dash cams aren't illegal, but some areas have restrictions on where you can mount a dash cam, so you should know what the local guidelines are.
  • Verify Your Settings. Like any camera, dash cams have a number of settings to enhance clarity. Take the time to make sure the settings are dialed in to match the position of your unit to ensure a good view and image quality. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q. Can a dash cam prevent an accident from happening?

A: No, a dash cam cannot prevent an accident. It's just in place to provide an accurate record of what took place during an accident, and that can save you thousands of dollars after a collision. 

Q. How is a dash cam powered?

A: The power source depends on the model you use. Some are hardwired to the vehicle, others tap into 12-volt ports, there are even those that run on battery power. Each type has a unique list of pros and cons and which is best ultimately comes down to user preference. 

Q. Does a dash cam record all the time?

A: Dash cam cameras typically begin recording once you turn your vehicle on with some room for exception for battery-powered models. There may be manual settings you can use as needed, but this feature usually works well for most motorists. 

Q. Are dash cams legal?

A: Yes, dash cams are legal. There are no laws restricting their use throughout the US. There are, however, laws that restrict you from mounting the dash cam in certain places, and you need to familiarize yourself with the guidelines in your local area.

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