Best Dash Cams of 2018

Jeph Preece ·
Senior Domain Editor
Updated
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We looked at the most popular dash cams on the market to find the best dash cam for your situation. Since dash cams can range between $50 and $500, it's important that you prioritize features that meet your needs so that you don't overpay or underpay. While all dash cams provide an objective witness to an accident, our pick for the best dash cam overall is the BlackVue DR650S-2CH because the dual camera design sees more than other dash cams and the Wi-Fi feature makes for easy tracking. However, while the high-end price and advanced features mean it's ideal for professional drivers, it may be more than a casual commuter would ever need.

Editor's Note: The Papago GoSafe 260 has been discontinued by the manufacturer but they continue to sell numerous other dash cam models. We will consider reviewing them for our next round of product updates.    

Best for Professional Drivers

BlackVue DR650S-2CH

With one camera recording the front and another at the rear, the BlackVue DR650S-2CH sees more, which means it protects more. It also has advanced features such as GPS and Wi-Fi.
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Best Value

Falcon Zero F360

While not the lowest-priced dash cam, the Falcon Zero F360 is a dual-camera dash cam with high-end features without the high-end price. The adjustable cameras provide a 240-degree field of view.
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Best for Driver Awareness

Garmin Dash Cam 35

Many dash cams feature driver awareness warnings, but the Garmin Dash Cam 35 is the most comprehensive. With GPS, it alerts you to upcoming red-light and speed cameras via a database.
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Best for Professional Drivers

BlackVue DR650S-2CH

Dash cams are more important to professional drivers than to typical drivers because their livelihood is at stake. As such, our pick for the best dash cam is the BlackVue DR650S-2CH. With dual HD cameras recording in front and behind your vehicle, and motion detectors for when you're parked, it protects your livelihood better than other dash cams.
You're even protected from break-ins when your car is parked. And if you manage a fleet of vehicles, it allows you to better track and evaluate your drivers via the GPS and Wi-Fi features. The BlackVue DR650S-2CH is a high-end dash cam that comes with a high-end price. However, if you're a professional driver, you should view a camera of this caliber as a necessary investment. It comes with Wi-Fi for better tracking of videos and GPS information on your smartphone. With the GPS, it records the time, data and exact location of an accident. Since the Wi-Fi connects to your phone, it doesn't have a display, which means it doesn’t take up as much space on your windshield. That said, the rear camera's installation is complicated, and this is one of the most expensive dash cams on the market. But when you consider that it's protecting your bottom line, it's an easy investment decision.
Pros
  • Dual cameras see more
  • Built-in GPS provides more information
  • Wi-Fi integrates seamlessly with smartphones
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Motion detection requires additional installation
  • No display
$299.00Amazon
Best Value

Falcon Zero F360

Our value pick is the Falcon Zero F360. While it's not the most affordable dash cam that we reviewed, the dual-camera rear mirror design is packed full of features that are more comparable to high-end dash cams than to those that cost half as much. In other words, this dash cam can do more for less.
With two cameras recording in HD, it sees more than most other dash cams. In fact, you can adjust the cameras to give you a 240-degree view of the front of your vehicle, wider than any other dash cam we’ve seen. That said, you can also adjust the second camera to record the interior of your vehicle or the rear. In addition to the dual-camera design, it has the biggest display at 5 inches, which is almost twice as big as most dash cams. It comes with night vision and loop recording, which saves storage space by recording over unneeded footage, and you can adjust it to record in a 3-, 5- or 10-minute loop. If you're in a collision, it automatically saves the footage.
Pros
  • Dual cameras provide wide 240-degree field of view
  • Both cameras are adjustable
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Rear-view mirror installation can be awkward
  • Only 32GB of storage
  • Lacks driver awareness warnings
$169.95Amazon
Best for Driver Awareness

Garmin Dash Cam 35

While dash cams started out as an objective witness to an accident or traffic stop, they've also evolved into tools for improving driver awareness. And the Garmin Dash Cam 35 is our pick when it comes to making you a better driver.
While many dash cams come with features that alert you to things like lane drifting and driver fatigue, the Garmin Dash Cam 35 also features GPS that can alert you to known red-light and speed cameras via a database. The downside to the database is that it requires a monthly subscription to the Cyclops database, which means that this dash cam costs more in the long run. However, if you're looking for a device to make you into a safer, more aware driver, this is the best option. The Garmin 35 is excellent from a dash cam perspective as well. It records in 1080p HD and features a 3-inch display, bigger than most dash cams. The G-Sensor detects collisions and incidents, which automatically saves the footage, including pertinent GPS data such as location, direction and time of day. The Garmin 35 installs directly to your windshield and is always recording, so long as it's plugged into a power source. The dash cam records on a continuous loop to save storage space and ensure you don't miss a thing.
Pros
  • Comprehensive driver awareness features
  • Built-in GPS
  • Records in 1080p
Cons
  • Red-light and speed camera warnings require a subscription
  • No motion detection
  • Not compatible with 128GB MicroSD cards
$124.99Amazon

Why Trust Us?

Top Ten Reviews has covered dash cams since 2015, but we've covered a wide range of car tech for over a decade. I've been testing and reviewing car tech such as Bluetooth car kits, car audio, backup cameras, radar detectors and more since 2013. I've devoted hundreds of hours to research, testing and data analysis to find the best products to improve your ride.

In these years, I've developed a keen sense of how to get the most out of your ride, whether you're jamming to your favorite music or making a business call on your commute. I'm a regular road tripper who spends a lot of time behind the wheel.

Whenever I review car tech like dash cams, I emphasize technology designed to make you into a better, more aware driver. Too often, new technology becomes a distraction that leads to unsafe driving. Mobile phones, for example, have had a dramatically negative impact on the safety of our roads.  

What We Tested

Despite being introduced in police cruisers during the 1980s, dash cams are relatively new to the consumer market. As they've gotten smaller and more affordable, however, they've emerged as a popular tool for protecting drivers. As such, our approach has been to cover the most popular dash cams at all price ranges rather than compare the ten best dash cams. As the industry grows, we expect to provide more extensive reviews with comparable testing combined with more thorough evaluations.

For this review, we looked primarily at the specifications that separate the high-end dash cams from the cheap ones. We considered the resolution, screen size, storage and recording features. We also looked at advanced features such as GPS and Wi-Fi. On a positive note, all of the dash cams we reviewed record in HD. However, where the image quality may distinguish itself is in the night vision or low-light conditions.

In addition to evaluating the specifications to determine our picks, we also looked at user reviews to find the most popular and highly rated products on the market. While user reviews are not always the most reliable source (people are more likely to share a bad experience, and many high-praise reviews are planted by marketing firms), we can find useful patterns in user reviews that can help determine quality in comparable products.

How to Choose a Dash Cam

Since there is such a huge price disparity between the most expensive dash cams and the cheapest dash cams, it's important to know what features you want and need before you purchase.

Below are some of the features that you should consider:

Image Quality
Most dash cams record in HD at 1080p – or, at the very least, in 720p. However, the higher the resolution, the more detail the image captures. This can be the difference between being able to read the license plate of a car or not. But since most dash cams, even the cheapest ones, record in HD, it should not be your main determining factor.

Field of View
The field of view is the horizontal scope of the camera. The bigger the field of view, the better protected you are. With this in mind, most cams are rated at 120 degrees, but some high-end cams reach as wide as 140 degrees. The Falcon Zero F360 features two 120-degree cameras that can be adjusted to cover 240 degrees.

Night Vision & Low-light Conditions
Collisions can happen any time of the day, which is why dash cams need to see well at night or in low-light conditions. This can come in the form of a night-vision feature, but most have a low-light feature, which maximizes exposure via a dynamic aperture.

Loop Recording
Video files take up a lot storage space. Even a dash cam that can support 128GB will fill up with HD video files in just a few days if it records continuously while you're driving. So, similar to closed-circuit security cameras, dash cams record in a loop: They record for a predetermined amount of time and if nothing has happened, they record over the existing footage. Film clips are are only permanently stored if you adjust the settings or the camera detects a collision.

Automatic & Manual Recording
If you want to record scenic drives, then you don't want to loop-record or set the dash cam for impact detection. As such, it's important to make sure the dash cam has an automatic/manual recording setting that sets it to record everything and save to the storage.

Impact Detection
Most midrange and high-end dash cams have G-sensors that detect when the vehicle has been in an accident. The impact detection tells the camera to record pertinent information in addition to the footage.

Driver Awareness Warnings
Any feature that makes you into a safer, more aware driver is worth looking at. You already share the road with enough unsafe drivers. Improving your awareness is the best protection. With this in mind, manufacturers have made driver awareness features common in dash cams. That said, these features can vary; some only include front collision warnings and driver fatigue warnings, while others include warnings for speed and lane drifting. If the cam has GPS, it may also be able to alert you to red-light cameras and speed cameras.

Motion Detection
With this feature, the dash cam turns on and records footage when it detects motion. Usually, this just means that it picks up what's in front of your vehicle. But if you get a dual-camera device, you can protect the perimeter of your vehicle from break-ins, which is why it's a great feature for truck drivers and delivery drivers. However, sometimes this requires additional installation to add an external power source or wire the power into the battery system.

GPS
Typically only found in dash cams over $150, GPS provides a lot more than an eyewitness. GPS records the time, date, location, speed and direction. All of this is valuable information when determining fault in a collision. Without GPS, a dash cam might record the time and date, but that may or may not be enough to prevail in court.

Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is a feature you'll only find in high-end dash cams. With Wi-Fi, the cam integrates with your smartphone to transfer video in real time. This makes for easier recording and easier access to recorded video. It also means that the cam likely doesn't have a display, which means it takes up less space on your windshield or dashboard.

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