Best Dash Cams of 2019 - Reviews of HD Dashboard Cameras
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.
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.
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.
Garmin Dash Cam 65W
Many dash cams feature driver-awareness warnings, but the Garmin Dash Cam 65 is the most comprehensive. This GPS-enabled camera has forward-collision and lane-departure warnings.
Best for Professional Drivers
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.
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.
Best for Driver Awareness
This compact dash cam alerts you when you drive too closely to the car in front of you and when you cross lanes. It also warns you when you're approaching a red light or speed-detection camera.
The Garmin Dash Cam 65W has a 180-degree field of view and 1080p video capture. If an accident occurs, the camera automatically starts recording and saves the video. You can play back the video or still images on the 2-inch LCD screen or sync the Dash Cam 65 with the VIRB mobile app, which allows you to watch the footage on a phone or tablet.
Another important safety feature on this dash cam is the voice commands. There’s no need to take your hands off the wheel to take a picture, record audio, save a video or start a "Travelapse," a fun and easy way to record a road trip and edit it down to a short clip to share on social media or with other driving enthusiasts. Simply say, “OK, Garmin,” and give the camera voice commands.
All video and audio recordings are saved to the included micro-SD card, and you can upgrade the memory capacity by adding a larger card up to 64GB. The Dash Cam 65 has an optional power cable that allows it to record video even when the car is parked. The Parking Mode monitors movement around your car when the engine is off and starts recording when it detects motion. All footage has time and location stamps to let you know when and where an event occurs, and the data includes the speed and direction of travel for moving incidents.
Even though the WickedHD G1W was released in 2014, it still performs well enough to be one of the most popular and affordable dash cams on Amazon. At $40, it may lack high-end features like GPS and Wi-Fi, but the G1W is the most affordable dash cam option.
The WickedHD G1W has a front and rear camera with a 120-degree viewing angle and 1080p resolution. The camera records in either 30 fps or 60 fps, if you lower the resolution to 720p, and has an option to record as soon as the vehicle starts moving or when it detects an impact. In addition, it has an infrared night vision option lets you capture high-quality footage at night or in low-light environments. It comes with a 16 GB SD Card and a 2.7-inch LCD display, allowing you to see instant video playback. These features and specifications aren't great, but they are excellent considering low price.
The Magellan MiVue 420 has a large, high-definition, touchscreen display that makes it easy to change settings and watch recorded videos.
The Magellan MiVue 420 attaches to an adjustable window mount that allows you to point the wide-angle lens toward a likely impact area or turn the camera to record events inside the vehicle. The MiVue 420 records video in 1296p super HD, letting you zoom in on license plates or other important areas surrounding an accident.
This dash cam has a good selection of driver-awareness features, including forward-collision and lane-departure warnings. It also has a cruise-speed alarm that sends audio and visual alerts to help you maintain safe driving speeds. The MiVue 420 doesn’t have a companion mobile app, so you have to view the footage on the large display, or on a compatible TV or computer by removing the 8GB micro-SD card. There’s a Parking Mode motion-detection feature that monitors movement around the car for up to 30 minutes after you turn off the engine.
The three-axis sensor in this camera automatically starts recording when it senses a collision and continues recording for 50 seconds after an event. The 8GB card that comes with the device records 2 to 3 hours of footage, and saves GPS locations, times and speeds. This dash cam is compatible with micro-SD cards up to 128GB.
Why Trust Us?
ShopSavvy 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.
How Much Do Dash Cams Cost?
The cheapest dash cams cost as little as $10 on Amazon. These cams clip to your rear-view mirror and are less durable. Conversely, the most expensive dash cams cost between $400 and $900. These cams feature 4K video, Wi-Fi, GPS, extensive storage and security features. However, the most popular dash cams cost between $50 and $150. These cams are built well enough to provide HD video and G-force shock sensors.
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:
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.