Best Dash Cams: Record Events and See What's Around Your Car With These Top Picks
The best dash cams for any vehicle on the road
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PUBLISHED ON May 6, 2019
Everyday driving presents a lot of potential hazards. From avoidable obstacles to unavoidable accidents, it is helpful to have an extra pair of eyes on the road, especially when you need a record of certain driving events. This is where a good forward-facing dash cam comes in handy. Whether you need it to help you look for potential hazards or record events when the unavoidable does happen, the right dash cam can be invaluable. Read on to see our handy guide on some of the best dash cams available right now.
- Best OverallRexing V1 Car Dash CamSummarySummaryThe best all-around dash cam that can capture nearly any detail at any angle in front of a vehicle. Comes with full HD recording capabilities.ProsProsExcellent video quality. Comes with a good, strong adhesive mount that makes it very versatile in placement. The lens angle is largely adjustable.ConsConsLacks a quality nighttime recording mode. Images appear grainy and blurry in low-light conditions.
- Best ValueApeman Dash CamSummarySummaryA value dashcam that offers some of the advanced features and capabilities of more expensive models. Super-wide recording angle and a built-in G-sensor are just two examples of the higher-end features you get with a value price.ProsProsThe sharp image that appears on the large screen as it records. Color reproduction is good on both the camera and screen ends of the device.ConsConsThe dash cam body has a flimsy feel to the touch. The materials are mainly plastic and flex when mounting for the first time.
- Honorable MentionYi Full HD Dash CamSummarySummaryA good middle ground dash cam option that balances good recording quality with higher-end safety features normally reserved for the most expensive dash cams.ProsProsEasy and quick installation process. Surprisingly small and discreet. Safety features are useful while driving in everyday conditions.ConsConsDifficult to get mounted securely using the included 3M sticky mount. The mobile app is a bit awkward to learn to use right out of the gate.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Dash Cam
- Record accidents. It should go without saying, but it's difficult, if not impossible, to remember key details when an accident happens. This is where a dash cam can be most helpful when the unexpected happens. Should you have to go to court or provide a record of the events, a dash cam clearly lays out what occurred, including who may be at fault, without any question of accuracy.
- Get help watching for hazards. Many dash cams have extra features to alert you when it detects a potential hazard. For example, some cams have features to detect if a car in front of you slows or stops unexpectedly, or if you are getting too close to it. Some also have blind spot monitoring systems, parking mode, lane departure warnings, voice control, forward collision detection, a rear-facing camera, and other high-end safety features that many modern cars have at upper trim levels.
- Get more functionality. A dash cam doesn't just record video in a lot of cases. Many cameras, especially integrated models, come with other handy features like GPS navigation, Wi-Fi connectivity, or backup monitoring capabilities. If you have an older car and want to get more use out of it, a multifunctional dash cam can be a great investment.
Types of Dash Cams
A basic dash camera is pretty much nothing more than a lens, hard drive, and possibly an LCD screen. This type of dash cam tends to be smaller and more affordable than other options. They are easy to mount virtually anywhere in a car and come with only basic recording capabilities, meaning they are easier to learn and use from the start.
Integrated Dash Cams
If you want more from a dash camera, this is a good type to check out. Often built into a GPS navigation device or a backup camera display, this type of dash cam plays well with helpful features. Much like individual cameras, they often mount to a window, dashboard, or rearview mirror.
Multi-Lens Dash Cam
More advanced dash cams tend to cover more recording angles. To do this, they use extra built-in cameras to capture multiple angles at the same time. The most common is the front/rear dash cam that can record either the rear window, interior of the vehicle, or rear bumper with a separate camera.
Top Brands of Dash Cams
Taking a modern approach to electronic design, Aukey is a brand that focuses on hardware development more than other competitors. It creates a wide range of electrics, with a good track record on dash cameras. Check out its Full HD Dash Cam for a good all-around recorder.
Yi is a well-known Chinese electronics company that specializes in making a wide variety of helpful recording devices. The company does a lot to make its products smart, using sophisticated features and AI to enhance the final results. Its Full Screen Recorder is one such dashcam that has a few extra bells and whistles hidden in the case.
Dash Cam Pricing
- $100 and under: Despite conventional wisdom, it's possible to find a decent dash cam under $100 if you are willing to live without a few extra perks. Dash cams in the range are basic recorders, often with a decent lens and recording quality.
- $100-$200: Spend a bit more, and you will find plenty of high-quality dash cams with extra features like G-sensors and nighttime recording. This is a good range to start with if you are looking to upgrade an existing cam or want the best option right out of the gate.
- $200 and above: This is the luxury range of dash cams. Here, you will find models with advanced safety features and higher-quality recording capabilities like 4K recording resolutions.
Arguably, the most important feature on a dash cam is the camera itself. The lens and sensor combination will largely determine the viewing angle and recording quality of the device. It's important to find a high-quality lens free of blemishes and defects so you can get a clear image. Wide-angle lenses are more preferable for quality video since they capture more of what is in front of them.
Although most dash cams can record continuously, they are limited by the amount of space they have to save files. This is why most cameras only save a video when directed or when the G-sensor detects a crash. To save more video, you will need a dash cam with more memory. Memory cards like MicroSD cards are perfect for holding long recordings at a typical 1080p video resolution.
All dash cams need to be placed somewhere in the vehicle in order to be used properly and securely. Dash cams have different ways of mounting to different surfaces within the car, but a basic suction cup is the most common and simple form to use. This allows you to attach the camera to the window or dashboard and start recording immediately without too much effort.
- Recording Angles: Ultimately, a dash cam is only as useful as the angles it can record. If you have a single-camera system, for example, you have to use wherein the front or back of the vehicle you want to record. Multi-camera systems, on the other hand, give you more options to record when setting it up in the first place. For the ultimate coverage, choose something with 360-degree recording capabilities to cover all of the angles.
- Visibility: Some people see a dash cam as a good deterrent to would-be thieves. Basically, if they see that they are on camera, they're less likely to steal the car or something inside. Unfortunately, dash cameras are easy to take out or destroy, meaning a near-invisible camera might be the better option.
- Other Features: To have a multifunctional dash cam, it's helpful to have other useful features built into the device. Some of these features include things like GPS navigation, backup monitoring capabilities, and more.
Best Dash Cams Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Rexing V1 Car Dash Cam
The Rexing V1 Dash Cam is one of the few discrete dash cam options that still offer 1080 recording resolution. This translate into a dash cam that is small enough to hide in spots around the interior of a vehicle while still producing a great video recording. The image quality itself is largely thanks to the built-in Sony Exmor IMX323 image sensor.
Combined with the high-resolution image processor, the actual recording lens has a 170-degree recording angle to capture nearly everything that is in front of a vehicle. Better still, the dash cam features a splittable loop recording that can capture between three, five, and 10-minute segments. Working in tandem with the loop recording is a G-sensor that kicks on when a collision is detected.
There is a lot to like with this discreet dash cam, especially when it comes to basic installation and use. The camera comes with an adhesive mount that will quickly attach or detach to many surfaces inside of a vehicle. Image quality is superb with the 1080p sensor and the ability to support SD cards up to 128 GB.
Unfortunately, while the daytime recording capabilities of the camera are great, the same can't be said for nighttime use. It isn't much the dash cam can do to get the same level, but many competitor models do a better job at teasing out details in low-light conditions. With this one, on the other hand, the image often appears grainy at best.
Best Value: Apeman Dash Cam
The Apeman Dash Cam somehow crams a lot of features into a small price tag. Normally, most dash cams make you pay, literally and figuratively, for higher-end features like night vision recording and automatic accident detection. Things with this one, however, are a bit different.
For the price, you get a lot in terms of image quality with this dash cam. The image is extremely sharp, and the large screen makes it easier to make out details in the recording right from the device. We found installation to be fairly straightforward, especially with the included instructions. Best of all, this one is truly install-and-forget, meaning you don't have to worry too much about it after you've mounted it.
Unfortunately, you get what you pay for with this dash cam. In terms of build quality, there is some room for improvement. Most of the issue is the choice of materials since this one likes its plastics over more traditional metal construction. The plastic casing can cause some problems in heat, so be sure to take it out of the car when not in use in the summertime.
Honorable Mention: Yi Full HD Dash Cam
The Yi Full HD Dash Cam fully displays what the company touts as advanced AI-driven features designed to keep drivers safe. As one of the only dash cams to offer advanced safety features under $100, this dash cam is one to consider if you need some extra assistance in driving safely.
It's easy to think that the company's push on AI-driven safety features is just marketing fluff, but the basic drive assist really does help in everyday driving conditions. The safety features include things like lane departure detection to warn you if the vehicle drifts outside of its traveling lane.
On the awkward side of things, mounting the Yi Dash Cam is easier said than done. The main reason for this is the 3M sticky mount that can be tricky to secure in hot or wet conditions. A suction mount would have been a better option, but the camera can stay on if you get the mount on just right.
- Suction cups have a habit of falling off in hot and cold temperatures. To keep the dash cam mounted, put it on the dashboard so gravity will work with the camera.
- Make sure you place the camera somewhere within a clear view of the front or rear of the vehicle. Nothing should obstruct the view for the best results.
- Some dash cams have settings to switch to accommodate the camera's positioning. If you place the camera on the left, right, or center of the car, be sure to adjust these settings accordingly.
Q. Can a dash cam prevent an accident from happening?
A. In general, most basic dash cameras can't prevent an accident. The camera needs advanced safety features to warn you of potential hazards before they become a problem.
Q. How is a dash cam powered?
A. Most dash cams have a built-in battery for power. Some also can be recharged using the 12-volt outlet within the car itself.
Q. Do I need 4K recording capabilities?
A. Not necessarily. Higher recording resolutions are good if you need to make out details in a recording, like a license plate. For everyday recording and use, however, a basic HD recording resolution is more than enough.
Q. Does a dash cam record all the time?
A. Technically, no. The camera is usually on and recording any time you are driving. However, the unit doesn't save the entire recording. Instead, it saves just a few minutes of video into the temporary memory. When it detects a crash or you tell it to save the video, it will then move the file into the long-term memory storage.
Our top pick is the Rexing V1 Car Dash Cam. Get a sleek dash cam that can capture good detail and a wide view angle.
Save some money with the Apeman Dash Cam if you want a more budget-friendly option.