Best Dash Cams: Highway Star

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Top 8 Best Dash Cams

best dash cams highway star

They’ve created more car-related YouTube footage than Doug DeMuro and are responsible for finally bringing justice to that jerk who hit your parked car. Dash cams are one example of how high-quality recording technology can be placed in the hands – and on the windshields – of anyone with a few dollars in their pocket.

We’ll leave unmentioned the uncomfortable reality that most people are being filmed wherever they go these days and the relative lack of privacy once one leaves their home. Cameras crop up on traffic signals, cop cars, tow trucks – and that’s just a sampling of vehicle-related locations without getting into security cams and the like.

Some people call dash cams intrusive. Some call them cheap insurance. We’ve assembled eight of them here for your perusal.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: Vantrue N4 4K Dash Cam with 24 Hour Parking Mode

In keeping with the TTAC spirit of recommending items we have actually tried instead of simply fawning over sponsored products, an older version of this dash cam currently resides on the dashboard of your author's Challenger R/T. That unit works brilliantly; this one builds upon its good juju by adding 4K clarity and a new parking mode.

This kit actually has three cameras, offering a 155° front camera, 165° inside camera, and 160° rear camera. Note that there is audio capability here, so be aware of current laws in your state about recording in that medium. It increases exposure in dark situations for nighttime usage. With a motion detection parking mode, the dashcam will be on standby and wake up to record once the front or inside camera detects movement. Collision detection can sense an impact while the cam is off, turning itself on to start recording.

Pros

  • Excellent quality, clear video, easy to use

Cons

  • Getting pricey compared to budget models

Bottom Line

  • Highly recommended

In keeping with the TTAC spirit of recommending items we have actually tried instead of simply fawning over sponsored products, an older version of this dash cam currently resides on the dashboard of your author's Challenger R/T. That unit works brilliantly; this one builds upon its good juju by adding 4K clarity and a new parking mode.

This kit actually has three cameras, offering a 155° front camera, 165° inside camera, and 160° rear camera. Note that there is audio capability here, so be aware of current laws in your state about recording in that medium. It increases exposure in dark situations for nighttime usage. With a motion detection parking mode, the dashcam will be on standby and wake up to record once the front or inside camera detects movement. Collision detection can sense an impact while the cam is off, turning itself on to start recording.

2. Nextbase 422GW 2.5" HD Dash Cam

Record your journey on the road - and unfortunate interactions with ne'er-do-wells - with this 1440p/30fps HD dash cam. View footage and share it with the gendarmes using free MyNextbase cloud storage. Nextbase cameras are equipped with night vision tech to record at all hours of the day.

A tiny 2.5-inch viewer provides touchscreen functionality which can be handy on the road. The 422GW is a sleek unit with compact proportions that should easily tuck away and out of sight behind your rearview mirror.

Pros

  • Touch screen operation, compact size

Cons

  • Reports of flaky Alexa integration

Bottom Line

  • Another good offering from a major name

Record your journey on the road - and unfortunate interactions with ne'er-do-wells - with this 1440p/30fps HD dash cam. View footage and share it with the gendarmes using free MyNextbase cloud storage. Nextbase cameras are equipped with night vision tech to record at all hours of the day.

A tiny 2.5-inch viewer provides touchscreen functionality which can be handy on the road. The 422GW is a sleek unit with compact proportions that should easily tuck away and out of sight behind your rearview mirror.

3. Garmin Dash Cam Mini

Turns out that long-time makers of windshield mounted GPS units are also pretty good at making windshield mounted dash cams. Who'da thunk? Garmin promotes this Mini as sized roughly the size of a car key, though they're speaking of the width and not the length of a car key for mid-'90s hoopty. Think the overall size of a bulky keyfob for a modern car (a stretch for most of you, I know) and you're on the right track.

Pros

  • Great size, well-known electronics maker

Cons

  • Needs to pair with a smartphone

Bottom Line

  • Well priced at under $100

Turns out that long-time makers of windshield mounted GPS units are also pretty good at making windshield mounted dash cams. Who'da thunk? Garmin promotes this Mini as sized roughly the size of a car key, though they're speaking of the width and not the length of a car key for mid-'90s hoopty. Think the overall size of a bulky keyfob for a modern car (a stretch for most of you, I know) and you're on the right track.

4. Kingslim D4 Dual Dash Cam

Sounding for all the world like a cigarette brand from the 1980s, it's actually named as such for its credit card-like profile. However, compared to its predecessor on this list, the new D4 variant adds 4K clarity to its wide-angle front camera, while the rear makes do with 1080p resolution. Since these will be large files, the manufacturer has equipped the D4 to handle a 256 GB card - not included, of course.

This camera bins any and all buttons in favor of touchscreen operation; it's a personal preference whether that's a good or bad thing. Suffice it to say we recommend messing with the settings on any dashcam - buttons or not - only when parked. Reviews of this camera kit are very positive, with nearly 4000 customers aggregating their reviews for a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.

Pros

  • Front and rear recording, new 4K clarity

Cons

  • Just try and hide that rear cam

Bottom Line

  • Good reviews and good value

Sounding for all the world like a cigarette brand from the 1980s, it's actually named as such for its credit card-like profile. However, compared to its predecessor on this list, the new D4 variant adds 4K clarity to its wide-angle front camera, while the rear makes do with 1080p resolution. Since these will be large files, the manufacturer has equipped the D4 to handle a 256 GB card - not included, of course.

This camera bins any and all buttons in favor of touchscreen operation; it's a personal preference whether that's a good or bad thing. Suffice it to say we recommend messing with the settings on any dashcam - buttons or not - only when parked. Reviews of this camera kit are very positive, with nearly 4000 customers aggregating their reviews for a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.

5. Innosinpo DVR Car Dashboard

If it's a bargain basement dash cam you seek, examining the "what brand is that again?" section of Amazon will be required. Despite its impenetrable name, this product has a solid 4.6 out of 5-star rating from over 1600 real-world customers.

The LCD screen is decently sized at 3 inches which means, of course, the housing is a bit bulkier than others on this list. That's likely a partial result of being built to a price, rather than a spec. It does have a G sensor and the ability to record at night

Pros

  • Costs less than a good meal

Cons

  • You'll know you bought the cheapest option

Bottom Line

  • Reviews are very positive considering the price

If it's a bargain basement dash cam you seek, examining the "what brand is that again?" section of Amazon will be required. Despite its impenetrable name, this product has a solid 4.6 out of 5-star rating from over 1600 real-world customers.

The LCD screen is decently sized at 3 inches which means, of course, the housing is a bit bulkier than others on this list. That's likely a partial result of being built to a price, rather than a spec. It does have a G sensor and the ability to record at night

6. Thinkware U1000 4k Dash Cam

If you're pining for the days when you drove around with a radar detector the size of a pack of king size smokes on your dashboard, then this is the dash cam for you. Its odd profile presupposes any sort of readily accessible viewing screen but there's no doubt this thing is easy to hide from prying eyes.

It has a 150-degree field of vision and the alleged ability to record in super night vision mode, which makes us wonder if this cam endows the user with some sort of movie hero powers. There's a year's warranty and cloud storage service as well.

Pros

  • Unique and handy shape

Cons

  • Bloody expensive

Bottom Line

  • Hollywood taught us you'll pay to be skinny

If you're pining for the days when you drove around with a radar detector the size of a pack of king size smokes on your dashboard, then this is the dash cam for you. Its odd profile presupposes any sort of readily accessible viewing screen but there's no doubt this thing is easy to hide from prying eyes.

It has a 150-degree field of vision and the alleged ability to record in super night vision mode, which makes us wonder if this cam endows the user with some sort of movie hero powers. There's a year's warranty and cloud storage service as well.

7. Rexing V1 Basic Dash Cam

The makers of this particular dash cam aren't trying to fool anyone; they've put the word 'basic' right there in its name. Packing a low price and a very odd shape, this button-rich camera unit has a 2.4-inch LED screen and a 170-degree recording angle. Like others on this list, the manufacturer says the camera should wake itself up and start recording when it senses vibration or impact.

Recording is completed in 1080p high definition at 30 frames per second. This beats those ridiculous grainy security cam footages hands down. According to the bumf, a wide dynamic range permits the camera to perform well in different lighting situations by adjusting its exposure to create balanced images and footage.

Pros

  • Covers the basics, very affordable

Cons

  • Looks like a goiter

Bottom Line

  • What's that weird thing on your dashboard?

The makers of this particular dash cam aren't trying to fool anyone; they've put the word 'basic' right there in its name. Packing a low price and a very odd shape, this button-rich camera unit has a 2.4-inch LED screen and a 170-degree recording angle. Like others on this list, the manufacturer says the camera should wake itself up and start recording when it senses vibration or impact.

Recording is completed in 1080p high definition at 30 frames per second. This beats those ridiculous grainy security cam footages hands down. According to the bumf, a wide dynamic range permits the camera to perform well in different lighting situations by adjusting its exposure to create balanced images and footage.

8. Autowoel 4K Dash Cam

Like a couple of others on this list, the cam you see here uses a smartphone app to support - but not replace - its built-in viewing screen. The app can control some features through WiFi and also permits viewing of your driving route via the cam's app. It is also suggested users can share their journey but there are plenty of other apps for that which are more common across different platforms.

In a fit of simply being different, this dashcam isn't technically a 'dash' cam at all. The advertiser suggests mounting it to your rearview mirror via an included kit that apparently relies on some form of rubber bands. Despite your author thinking that's a recipe for unstable video, feedback from customers seems to be positive. Just make sure the thing isn't in your line of sight.

Pros

  • Front and rear cams, plays well with smartphones

Cons

  • Not very many ratings from real-world customers

Bottom Line

  • Make sure your phone's charged

Like a couple of others on this list, the cam you see here uses a smartphone app to support - but not replace - its built-in viewing screen. The app can control some features through WiFi and also permits viewing of your driving route via the cam's app. It is also suggested users can share their journey but there are plenty of other apps for that which are more common across different platforms.

In a fit of simply being different, this dashcam isn't technically a 'dash' cam at all. The advertiser suggests mounting it to your rearview mirror via an included kit that apparently relies on some form of rubber bands. Despite your author thinking that's a recipe for unstable video, feedback from customers seems to be positive. Just make sure the thing isn't in your line of sight.

Dash Cam FAQ:

How do I hardwire a dashcam?

Some makers of this product have a couple of options for hardwiring, particularly when it comes to juicing itself from your car's electrical system. Many cameras have a 12V plug included, a staple of power supply that goes back decades. There are plenty of other options on the market, including batteries, your car's OBD port, and a plug-n-play into certain rearview mirrors that use power for features such as auto-dimming.

Where should I mount my dashcam?

Out of your line of sight, ideally. Your author prefers to place a dash cam on the windshield behind his car's rearview mirror, giving it a clear view ahead but staying out of sight. Other slap it right on the dashboard, hence the colloquial name of these things. Be sure to neatly tuck away the camera's wires by running them along the windshield edges or securing them in a tidy route across the dashboard to whatever power supply you are utilizing.

Changes:

Replaced Vantrue T3 with Vantrue N4 at #1

Replaced Kingslim D2 with Kingslim D4 at #4

Replaced Aukey 1080p Cam with Rexing V1 at #7

Replaced Vava Dual Cam with Autowoel 4K at #8

Added FAQ

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our [s]‘90s sedan shopping habits[/s] operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Titikul_B/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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  • Ban-One Ban-One on Jul 18, 2021

    zero mention in this article of how long one should expect these dash cams to last. i have had success by never leaving my current dash cam in the car when parked outside in exposed sunlight, but that is far from convenient. i can't imagine the inconvenience if i had dual cams.

    • Ffighter69 Ffighter69 on Oct 23, 2021

      You are correct about being exposed to hot sunny days. I had an awesome dash cam that doubled as a sport camera like a GoPro. It actually was superior to a GoPro in abilities. It shut up a couple of screaming accusatory drivers who had caused accidents, one in volving me, when I showed them the video of what actually happened. Alas it got cooked by the sun since it already runs hot while operating. Now I use a ThinkWare which is comparable to Number 1 on this list.

  • C. Alan C. Alan on Jul 20, 2021

    Any one found one that easy to put up and install on the fly? I work on a military base, and can’t have the camera running on base.

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