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Which Dash Cam to Buy
Until recently, you were stuck looking at Chinese no-name dash cams on Amazon and eBay, but lately, recognizable name brands have been getting in on the YouTubey action.
001 Anker Roav DashCam A1
[+] Cheap at $58; no GPS, so it won’t log your speed at the time of a crash—which is good if you don’t want to incriminate yourself.
[−] No GPS also means it can’t prove you weren’t speeding.
002 Magellan MiVue 480D
[+] Two cameras: a front-facing one that’s in the main unit and a little rear-facing one you mount to your rear window.
[−] Expensive at $300.
003 Garmin Dash Cam 65W
[+] 180-degree field is among the widest exterior views on any dash cam; tiny size makes it easy to tuck behind a rearview mirror; has voice controls.
[−] Still expensive at $250.
004 Car and Driver dash cams
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention, for the second time, our line of Car and Driver fine dash cams, available at Best Buy.
005 Waylens Secure360
[+] 360-degree field of view, available 4G connectivity, feature-rich app integration.
[-] The most expensive on our list at $300/$400.
006 Cobra Dash 2316D
[+] Front and rear cameras without breaking the bank; integrates with Cobra’s app to provide speed-trap alerts.
[-] No GPS functionality unless a phone is tethered.
This article was updated in September 2023 with new products and information.
Have you shopped for a dash cam lately? The marketplace is flooded with them, and new brand names are popping up all the time. As the market expands, the options and features they provide grow as well. Dash cams these days offer far more than just basic recording capabilities, and which one you choose will depend on how you plan to use it.
If you're thinking about buying a dash cam, the first question to ask yourself is: "What do I want from my dash cam?" Whether it's safety in the event of an accident, security to protect your investment, or perhaps you're a rideshare driver who needs evidence of each ride inside the cabin. Regardless of your needs, there's a dash cam on the market that offers the features you need when the time comes.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Dash Cam
Having a dash cam is akin to having an insurance policy: You hope you'll never need it, but you're grateful to have it when the unexpected happens. Naturally, price points vary significantly, depending on the features offered. You can grab a basic, lesser-known brand for around $50; several hundred dollars can get you a comprehensive package with all the bells and whistles.
A couple of dash-cam caveats:
Video quality and file sizes vary due to resolution, frame rate, embedded audio, and compression. Image quality, particularly during rapid exposure to bright sunlight (such as when exiting a tunnel or coming out from under an overpass), can vary.
Battery life is iffy for most models, so if your plan is to keep a watchful eye on your car while it's parked overnight, you must have a 12-volt power outlet that stays live when the car is off.
Finally, while most require a memory card to preserve footage, most new cameras don't come with a memory card included—and not all are compatible with all micro SD cards. Buyer beware.
Do You Need a Dash Cam?
A few reasons people consider dash cams as a worthwhile investment:
Job Security: If you have a career that includes spending countless hours on the road, dash-cam footage can prove invaluable in the form of evidence. If your career relies on safe driving habits, an accident on film can exonerate you from blame and maintain your job security.
Accident Documentation: In case of an accident, dash-cam footage can play a pivotal role in determining liability and responsibility. Objective footage speaks far louder than subjective experience.
Capture Events: Beyond practical use, dash cams have been known to film some extraordinary events: near misses, unusual accidents, and even comets streaking through the sky.
Vehicle Monitoring: Dash cams also act as watchdogs for your vehicle. There is an entire genre of footage out there on the internet of people capturing their mechanics mishandling their vehicles.
Personal Safety: Being approached while you are in the safety of your car can be terrifying. Having a dash cam gives an added layer of security, knowing that there will be visual evidence of any interaction with other humans, whether they be friends or foe.
It's a veritable dash-cam jungle out there, so we've gathered nine of our favorites, of various prices and features. Who knows? Maybe you'll capture a close call on the road. Or maybe you'll just save a bundle of money on repairs and insurance in the event of an accident or mishap.
One thing's for sure: If you don't have a dash cam, you won't capture anything.
With Ring cameras already dominating camera home security, their move into car cameras was not only expected but also highly anticipated, arguably the most anticipated dash cam of 2023.
Featuring a dual-facing HD camera for both inside and outside the vehicle, the camera detects motion and sends real-time alerts to your phone. It even connects to Amazon's Alexa.
As for features, the ring is unique in that you can connect, view, and interact with the drivers inside the cabin. While this feature has its benefits, there are plenty of reasons we can imagine a driver giving grief over being viewed; you've been warned! (Looking at you parents of teenagers.)
But what makes us love the Ring camera is its tech and gear-forward approach. Syncing up with phones and Alexa-enabled devices? I'd say this is the cam of the future.
The Nexar One dash cam is a must-have for tech enthusiasts who love integrating their various gadgets. With Nexar, you get live, real-time streaming that can be accessed through your phone anytime. Additionally, this device is smart enough to detect accidents and send instant notifications to your phone, allowing you to view what's happening nearby.
However, it is important to note that the real-time functionality requires a monthly subscription, so be sure to budget that into your monthly expenses!
The Gear Team tested the Wolfbox 840s as part of its backup-camera test—and they were impressed. The Wolfbox is a one-stop shop for all things car cameras. It comes with a rear camera, which you hardwire from the rear for parking purposes, but then it also records what is in front of you from the massive 12.0-inch display that doubles as a rearview mirror.
The whole unit mimics the size of a typical rearview and is retrofitted onto your existing mirror. This means it doesn't take up any more windshield space than needed. This one is Gear Team "Tested and Trusted"!
Garmin Mini 2
One of the smallest, most discreet cams you can buy, from one of automotive tech's most trusted names. Despite the tiny size, it records a 140-degree field of view in 1080p high-def resolution.
It has a host of high-tech features like hands-free voice command, Wi-Fi, Live View monitoring, and two power options via USB-B or USB-A. Best of all, it's about the size of a key fob.
Car and Driver Road Patrol
Now here's a name we can trust. Our proprietary Road Patrol dash cam, manufactured by Summit Electronics, features both front and rear cameras so it's ideal for rideshare drivers. The 1080p Sony image sensor is top-notch, with a 150-degree field of view—even the interior camera captures 110 degrees—and the three-inch OLED touchscreen makes it a breeze to use.
The Drivesmart alert system lets you know if your car veers from its lane or gets too close to another vehicle, and other features like a parking mode, collision detection, and built-in GPS help make it one of our favorite dash cams.
You could spend hundreds of dollars on a dash cam, or you can spend tens. This one falls near the middle, which means it's full of features but won't cost the equivalent of a car payment. Its ultra HD camera can capture images up to 2160p resolution, and the built-in Wi-Fi and GPS can track your route on the free Rove app or on Google Maps.
It has a 150-degree wide-angle lens with an f1.8 aperture, plus parking mode, motion detection, g-sensor, loop cycle recording, emergency lock, time-lapse, and slow-motion capabilities. The Sony STARVIS sensor ensures night-vision video in clear detail.
We've used Nextbase dash cams (not this model; keep scrolling), and have had great experiences with them. A compact design, magnetic mount, and a 2-inch LED screen make this affordable model one of the brand's most popular.
It has a g-force sensor and parking mode, but does not feature GPS or Wi-Fi. The video playback and review is compatible with either Mac or PC, and you can hook up an optional rearview cam for 360-degree coverage.
With a 170-degree viewing angle recording 2160p HD video and a supercapacitor designed to handle temperatures from minus-20 to 166 degrees Fahrenheit, the wedge-shaped Rexing V1 is one of the best values in dash cams.
It includes GPS functionality via Google Maps, plus a parking monitor, loop recording, g-sensor, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
While an inexpensive dash cam will suffice for some, spending a bit more will get you a high-tech, dependable device. The N4 offers simultaneous 360-degree vehicle coverage inside and out and has all the high-end features like GPS, parking mode, time-lapse, etc. It's not perfect, though.
It doesn't support Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, so corded playback/review is your only option. Plus, in an annoying bit of salesmanship, typical 256GB micro SD cards aren't compatible. You must use Vantrue's proprietary one, and you have to purchase that separately or spend more for a bundle.
We've used the Nextbase 622, and can attest to its awesomeness. Easy to hook up, easy to use, and the coverage and clarity are among the best we've seen in any dash cam.
It has features many others don't, including image stabilization to make out license plates and street signs, 5 GHz Wi-Fi for clearer signals and fast download speeds, super-slow-mo playback, and revolutionary What3words global positioning technology to pinpoint your exact location within meters in the event of an accident.
How do dash cams work?
A dash cam lets you record the road as you drive. Dash cams can capture footage of incidents, accidents, or unexpected situations such as a reckless driver or traffic stop. They can come in extremely handy when proving fault of an accident to the police or insurance companies.
Dash cams are designed to record high-quality video at any speed, day or night, no matter if your vehicle is parked or in motion. Many sync with in-cabin and rear-facing cameras.
Many dash cams sync with mobile apps that unlock other functions such as GPS, red-light alerts, and driver assist features and can send notifications to your phone.
How long does a dash cam record for?
It varies. The recording quality, the size of the SD card capacity, and other factors can all affect how long a dash cam can record. With a high-quality 1080p recording, you can expect approximately:
8GB Micro SD Card–Just under an hour
16GB Micro SD Card–1 hour, 50 minutes
32GB Micro SD Card–About 3.5 hours
However, even with such time limitations on the SD card, a good dash cam won't just stop recording once the memory card is full. Most have continuous-loop recording, so when they run out of storage they simply record over the oldest video files.
Most modern dash cams offer cloud video management, allowing you to easily transfer your saved videos to online storage. This frees up space on your camera's SD card and makes it simple to edit and share footage as needed.
Are dash cams legal?
They are in the United States, but you should check your state and local laws and restrictions on their use and mounting specs. In some cases, the police can confiscate a dash cam after an accident.
In many states, it's illegal to mount a dash cam directly to the windshield because it can obstruct your view. If your device records audio or you use an in-cabin dash cam, you may be legally required to inform your passengers that they are being recorded.
How much do dash cams cost?
As with anything (especially electronic gadgets) the more you spend on a dash cam, the more you get.
Inexpensive off-brand varieties can be had for as little as $50, while features such as GPS, mobile app actuation, and cloud storage capabilities increase the price from there. A quality midrange option should cost around $100. Bundles that include rear dash cams, cabin cameras, SD cards, and more can cost upward of $500.
Are dash cams worth it?
The decision to invest in a dashcam depends on various factors, including your driving habits, purposes, and motivations. Dash cams prove valuable for particular professions, such as truck drivers, delivery drivers, and rideshare drivers who drive for a living.
Why Trust Us
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