Top 8 Best Dash Cams
By | Last updated: July 16, 2021
Titikul_B/Shutterstock.com

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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 ‘90s sedan shopping habits 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.]

21 Comments on “Best Dash Cams: Highway Star...”


  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Why are factory installed dashcams uncommon?

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    For the longest time, I avoided dash cams as another unnecessary bit of kit. However, after the drivers in my area exhibited greater levels of idiocy than normal, I broke down and bought one. I’ve not caught anything truly egregious, but it’s cheap insurance in case anything does happen.

    • 0 avatar
      redgolf

      tankinbeans – I’ve had one for years however I also haven’t used it in years and your comment on “the drivers in my area exhibited greater levels of idiocy than normal,” and am now looking for an upgrade! ;-( Drivers are getting worse!

  • avatar
    Moparmann

    With the lack of basic driver skills being taught, and increasing levels of driver idiocy, AND the propensity for fault being assigned or denied erroneously, a dash cam is becoming a necessity….just like the internet, LOL!! :-)

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I got a cheap one on special with a form factor like #7, just try out the concept. It works ok, but sometimes the memory card doesn’t overwrite like it should and you have to reformat it a few times. I was lucky to get a very clean installation. There is an open older style USB port in the Sync module used for diagnostics, and it provides enough power. It’s above the glove box, and I happened to have some suitable and long enough cables in my box-o-obsolete cables to join together. Ran it up the A-pillar, across the headliner and down. Nice & neat & discreet, power comes on with ignition, nothing to worry about.

  • avatar
    John R

    Which ever one you’re are thinking about getting, GET IT.

    I was in a hit-&-run earlier this year and with a partial plate, a description of the truck that sideswiped me it wasn’t enough for state police to do anything but say, “Well…that’s why we have insurance, right? ¯_(ツ)_/¯”

    Got mine the very next week.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I’m personally a fan of the ‘cheese wedge’ form factor, since it discreetly stays out of the way, often next to or behind the mirror (just don’t block any sensors). I started with a <$50 one several years ago and was happy enough that I recently upgraded to the same brand's (Viofo) dual cam model.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      You can get inexpensive mounts for regular style dash cams that let you attach them to the rear of the mirror. They should all come with such mounts, rather than those awful suction cups.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Matthew, thanks for putting this one up. I’m not crazy about a lot of these “Top…” whatever posts, but I’m interested in dash cams, and have been thinking about buying them for awhile. I’m most interested in a dual camera system, or being able to incorporate the existing backup camera into one (that would be ideal, if one existed).

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I’m waiting for Vava to come out with their Voom model.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    I’m waiting for the Zoom cam so I can drive and have virtual meetings at the same time! hahahaha!

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I am waiting for a dashcam radar detector combo, and be one and done. There are very few on the market so far, so I’ll give it another year…

  • avatar
    thegamper

    About 3 years ago now, I was involved in a road rage incident. Driver on highway would not let me pass. I tried to pass on right, they sped up, several times. Finally large enough gap in traffic and they could not stop me from getting in front of them. Driver followed me for a few miles. Posted up right next to me and proceeded to try and run me off the road, probably thinking I would flinch and move over to let them back in front of me. I did not….. causing a collision. Nobody stopped who might have witnessed the shenanigans. I take some credit for not being an adult sooner in the interaction and admittedly, could have avoided the collision.

    In any event, the driver, who was a woman, lied to the responding police officer. we both got tickets because of the conflicting stories. Despite pleading a good case as all the circumstantial evidence pointed to me as the truthful party (e.g. she indicated I rear ended her but all the damage to my car was on the passenger side). I got my ticket thrown out in court with a few pictures and the BS police report. Had I had a dash cam, I think she may have been arrested for assault and or lying to the police. Have driven with dash cam ever since and probably always will.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Matt, thanks for updating this! I’m seriously considering some Vantrue kits, but I’d probably be buying them for *four* vehicles.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Not trying to point fingers at who is the worse, but just got back from Ft Lauderdale and Miami. No accident, but these folks have total disregard when it comes to lane changes or running lights. And Alligator Alley has morphed into an Autobahn.
    Was never more happy when returning the rental at FLL airport. In future visits, I’m make it a practice of bringing both my Sunpass and a dash cam.

  • avatar
    Ban-One

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      ffighter69

      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.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    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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