Sure, many new cars have backup cameras and various sensors to detect nearby obstacles. But you can’t access the footage they record after the fact. Thus, they pale in general usability compared to a dedicated dash camera.
These windscreen-mounted cameras record everything continually, so you always have proof of any incident. And they can help lower insurance premiums and resolve claims since you have video evidence to prove who’s at fault. They’re also an excellent way to deter thieves that would otherwise steal your belongings. Thus, they’re a great means to add an extra layer of protection and peace of mind behind the wheel.
Thankfully, there are many excellent dash cams around today with high-quality camera setups that are apt to make YouTube-ready videos. And several even provide complete coverage of your vehicle, be it on the road or parked overnight. Plus, you can now find extra safety features beyond capturing video alone, like emergency response systems and driver-assists. And you don’t always need professional hardwiring installation to outfit your car with such capabilities.
But, picking the right dash cam isn’t as straightforward as it should be. The landscape for these kinds of devices is quite broad. And not every model is created equal. With that, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best dash cams on the present market. And we’ve also included a brief guide on the relevant factors to consider when looking at dash cams.
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10 – Viofo A139
Viofo’s A139 offers complete protection of your vehicle inside and out at a reasonable price.
This dash cam records 1440p videos at 30 FPS with a 140º FOV. It also features GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity. But, crucially, this kit includes dual wide-angle 1080p cameras, one ready for a rear windshield and the other for the interior cabin. Thus users get full vehicle coverage at all proper angles and genuine peace of mind. The front camera also boasts a larger than average F/1.6 aperture, improving its low light performance, and it rotates 300º for added versatility. Other bonuses include Night Vision, parked car monitoring, a built-in microphone, and an optional polarising filter.
Overall, Viofo’s A139 is an excellent camera system ideal for those looking for full coverage of their vehicle. Or rideshare drivers who want added insurance protection.
9 – Thinkware U1000
Installation Type: hardwiring and adhesive
Thinkware’s U1000 enters the premium dash cam segment as their newest flagship model.
This dash cam records 4K videos at 30 FPS with a 150º FOV. And it also features GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity. This kit includes a rearview camera that records 1440p videos with a 150º FOV for full coverage of your vehicle. The U1000 also offers Thinkware Cloud 2.0 integration, letting you get remote notifications of incidents, the current GPS location, add geofences, or monitor activity in real-time. But, crucially, it offers outstanding parked car monitoring functionality. If you combine its Energy Saving Mode with the optional Radar Module you get four days of recording, making it a great option for long-term parking. Other bonuses include Safety Camera Alert, forward collision, lane departure warning, Night Vision, and a one-year warranty.
Overall, Thinkware’s U1000 is an excellent option for those wanting a high-end premium dash cam with better than average parking functionality.
8 – Kenwood A601W
Installation Type: Hardwiring, Quick-release or adhesive
Kenwood’s A601W is a solid all-rounder.
This dash cam records 4K videos at 30 FPS with a 130º FOV. It also features a 3-inch touchscreen, GPS, and Wi-Fi connectivity. This kit includes the R200 rearview camera, which records 1440p videos with a 161° FOV for full coverage of your vehicle. Kenwood’s also equipped the device with WDR capabilities and a bright F/1.8 aperture lens, both improving its clarity across contrasting lighting situations. They’ve also added a removable polarizing filter to reduce incoming glare and windshield reflections. Other bonuses include parked car monitoring, a built-in microphone, and a one-year warranty.
Overall, Kenwood’s A601W provides a well-rounded and versatile feature set. And it’s a good option if you don’t need extra Emergency SOS functionality.
7 – Garmin Dash Cam 56
Installation type: adhesive or hardwiring
Garmin’s Dash Cam 56 is a modest update but improves their popular Dash Cam 55.
This dash cam records 1440p videos at 60 FPS with a wider 140º FOV to capture more surroundings. It also features a 2-inch LCD, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. But with this model, Garmin’s added Clarity HDR, improving the camera’s detail in low light scenes. It also offers voice control, letting you save videos or photos, start and stop recordings, or even initiate a travel-lapse video. Other bonuses include lane departure warning, forward collision, Safety Camera Alert, and optional parked car monitoring.
Overall, Garmin’s Dash Cam 56, while modest compared to the already excellent 55 model, is a solid option nonetheless. And it brings all of the core functionally needed with an ultra-compact size.
6 – Thinkware Q800 Pro
Installation type: hardwiring or adhesive
Thinkware’s Q800 Pro brings unrivaled discretion and a clever design that takes away the eyesore of most dash cams.
This dash cam records 1440p videos at 30 FPS with a 140º FOV. It also features GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity. But, crucially, the Q800 Pro brings a sleek modern design that’ll look factory installed in most vehicles. Merely tuck the camera behind the rearview mirror, and have permanent peace of mind. And any by standards or potential thieves would rarely notice its presence. They also include an optional rear camera with this kit, which records 1080p video for additional coverage. Plus, Thinkware includes their cloud connectivity, giving you geofencing, impact notifications, and remote GPS monitoring. Other bonuses include Night Vision, Safety Camera Alert, lane departure warning, forward collision, parked car monitoring, and a one-year warranty.
Overall, Thinkware’s Q800 Pro is an excellent option if you want a discreet dash cam that’s low profile and perfect for full-time use. But one that offers a generous selection of functions all the while.
5 – Apeman C450
Installation type: quick-release
Apeman’s C450 is an excellent budget option with unrivaled value for money without overlooking the basics in the process.
This dash cam records 1080p full HD videos at 30 FPS with a 170º FOV. It also features a 3-inch touchscreen, a feature typically exclusive to pricer models. And it also boasts a large f/1.8 aperture lens along with WDR and HDR, both improving its low light capabilities. Yet, the C450 also offers crash detection, and it immediately encrypts the video, preventing overwriting the data to guarantee you have the necessary proof for an incident. Other bonuses include parked car monitoring.
Overall, Apeman’s C450 manages to provide a solid feature set despite its affordability. And it’s an excellent option for budget-conscious users wanting something functional that doesn’t skimp out on the core necessities.
4 – Nextbase 522GW
Installation type: quick-release or hardwiring
The 522GW by Nextbase is their previous flagship but a strong alternative for the price.
This dash cam records 1440p videos at 30 FPS with a 140º FOV. It also offers a 3-inch HD IPS touchscreen, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. The 522GW was the first dash cam with Alexa integration, letting you play music, start a call, and control various aspects without taking your eyes off the road. And it’s an excellent means to acquire this capability if your car doesn’t already have Android Auto. It also obtains Emergency SOS, letting it automatically alert emergency services in the event of an accident. And this is an enormously helpful feature that is potentially lifesaving. Other bonuses include parked car monitoring, a built-in polarising filter, Night Vision, and rear camera compatibility.
Overall, the 522GW by Nextbase is quite impressive, considering its price point. And it’s a solid alternative for those not wanting the higher-end capabilities of their flagship 622GW but wanting better value.
3 – Vantrue N2 Pro
Installation Type: hardwiring
Vantrue’s N2 Pro lets you capture both the road ahead and the cabin too.
This dash cam records 1440p videos at 30 FPS with a 170º FOV. It also features a 1.5-inch LCD and optional GPS. The N2 Pro incorporates front and rear-facing cameras into a single unit, letting you capture the road ahead and the cabin simultaneously. But, doing so will record at full HD resolution. Even so, this makes it an excellent option for professional drivers wanting extra insurance coverage. And it’ll do so with 310º of enormous coverage to boot. The device also divides the footage into separate files, reducing the time needed to find a particular clip. Plus, it has a built-in microphone to record cabin sounds and conversations. Other bonuses include parked car monitoring, collision detection, and Night Vision.
Overall, Vantrue’s N2 Pro is the ideal option for professional drivers wanting extra insurance protection both on the road and inside the car.
2 – Thinkware F800 Pro
Installation Type: adhesive or hardwiring
Thinkware’s F800 Pro brings a near-invisible design with impressive video quality to compliment.
This dash cam records 1080p full HD video at 30 FPS with a 140º FOV. And it also features Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity. But, crucially, the F800 Pro is one of the few dash cams with a low profile, factory-like fit that secretly hides behind the rearview mirror. Thus, it’s well suited for continued use without having to remove the camera unnecessarily. This kit also includes a rearview camera, which also records in 1080p, for complete coverage of your vehicle. Yet, it’ll do so with an ultra-low energy consumption by recording a timelapse at 2FPS, so it’s unlikely ever to drain the car’s battery. Thinkware also includes a Cloud service, which gives you notifications where you last parked or if it leaves a geofenced area or an impact occurs. Other bonuses include parked car monitoring, Night Vision, Safety Camera Alert, lane departure, and forward-collision warning.
Overall, Thinkware’s F800 Pro is a solid option for those wanting a discreet dash cam and it builds nicely on the F800 platform.
1 – Nextbase 622GW
Installation Type: hardwiring, quick-release, or suction cup
The Nextbase 622GW refines their best release, the 522GW, with better functionality and improved quality. And it stands as the best all-rounder for the price.
This dash cam records 4K videos at 30 FPS with a 140º FOV. It also features a 3-inch IPS touchscreen, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. But, crucially, it features an optional integrated rear camera with 1080p resolution. And both record with digital stabilization, too, a first to the dashcam market, to smooth bumps and shakes while driving. It also offers Super Slow-Motion video, which records at 120 FPS in full HD, ensuring you never miss a critical moment. Plus, it houses an innovative Emergency SOS feature, letting it detect accidents and call emergency services when necessary. But it’ll do so with incredible precision, given its excellent What3Words geocoding system. Other bonuses include Axela integration, a built-in polarising filter, parked car monitoring, Night Vision, and a speed indicator.
Overall, the Nextbase 622GW offers a full complement of features that ticks many boxes left vacant from the competition. And given its feature set, it’s unlikely it won’t meet most users’ needs.
What to look for in dash cams
You want a dash cam with at least 1080p resolution. Anything lower will create blotchy-looking videos that won’t have enough detail to reproduce elements like license plates. So avoid models below 1080p. And instead, opt for those with 1080p 30 FPS video or 1440p QHD resolution. You can also find several models boasting 4K UHD these days. And it can be the difference-maker in reading fine details like license plates of passing vehicles, street signs, or faces. And while the added clarity helps, it’s not a necessity for most users.
But, you will want a camera with a wide field of view (FOV), somewhere around 110º or higher. This will ensure you can see more of the surroundings. Anything below 110º is only marginally useful.
Built-in GPS lets the camera embed the GPS coordinates and speed into the recording, so there’s also an account of the location. GPS also enables you to track your vehicle’s route remotely if the device offers a cloud service. There you can create geofences of restricted areas and track your vehicle’s location on the map in real-time.
A built-in screen gives you the option to review the footage immediately. It’s not a necessity, but it does help. Otherwise, you’ll have to connect to the camera via a smartphone app to review the images or videos. Generally, those without screens are best for everyday driving, while those with screens are best for occasional recordings.
You can find dash cams that connect via hardwiring, USB, battery, or through the cigarette outlet (AUX 12-volt power). The connection type that works best will depend on whether you want the camera to monitor your car when it’s parked. In such cases, you’ll want to opt for a hardwired model and have it professionally installed. Otherwise, any USB and AUX 12-volt power is best.
You’ll also want to consider how the dash cam is mounted. Most use suction cup quick-release mounts. But, you can find ones with more permanent adhesives, too.
You can find models with extra features like voice control, Alexa integration, Night Vision, G-Force recording, Safety Camera Alert, and driver assists like lane departure and collision avoidance. You can also find cameras with cloud integration, giving you the option to view the footage remotely. These are all bonuses, but they could be deciding points between the two models.