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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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. Check out our very own handy guide on some of the best dash cams available right now.
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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.
Tested Dash Cams
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.
This American multinational technology company was established in 1989 by Min Kao and Gary Burrell. It is headquartered in Olathe, Kansas. The company makes products for the marine, aviation, automotive, fitness, and outdoor industries. If you’re thinking of getting a new dash cam for your vehicle, we recommend the Garmin GPS-enabled dash cam with voice control.
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 it in 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 2020
- 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.