Dash cams are becoming an essential addition to any car. Some insurers will even provide a discount if you have one fitted, and they can be invaluable to protect you against false accident claims or to prove who is in the wrong during a collision. They can also be great fun if you just want a visual record of a particularly scenic trip.
Some dash cams can even lay dormant when your car is parked up, springing to life when they sense motion or an impact, so that they can capture the details. This can be very useful if someone knocks into or vandalizes your vehicle.
A top-end dash cam isn’t just about recording video, either. Many models have a GPS receiver built in, so they can capture your location alongside the footage, which is useful for more persuasive evidence. But a GPS can also give a premium dash cam additional capabilities like speed camera location warnings, or speed limit notifications.
Quite a few dash cams can also perform functions that you normally see only in recent high-end cars, such as notifying you if you stray from your lane on a highway, warning you when you’re driving too close to the car in front, and letting you know when the car in front starts moving in stationary traffic. Premium bundles may also include a rear-facing camera alongside the main front-facing one.
There’s a lot more to choose between dash cams than just the video resolution and quality they record. Here are seven of the best dash cam options currently available for various budgets.
1. Nextbase 422GW
Combines great 2.5K video with a robust build and clever magnetic mount system
Resolution: 2.5K 2,560 x 1,440 maximum resolution | Screen: 2.5in LCD display | GPS: Yes | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents | Wireless: WiFi
The Nextbase 422GW combines great 2.5K video with a robust build and clever magnetic mount system, then throws in Amazon Alexa control ability as a bonus extra. This is a very solid dash cam. The Alexa functionality, whilst clever, may not be something you use regularly, although it could be useful to be able to control music streaming from your phone to your car without having to pull your phone out of your pocket.
What really makes this dash cam a recommended choice is its excellent physical design and superb video quality. A dash cam has to get the main function right first before adding extra features, and the Nextbase 422GW does just this.
- Read the review: Nextbase 422GW
2. Vantrue N2 Pro
Integrates front and rear-facing cameras into one unit, so you can capture the road ahead and what’s going on inside the car simultaneously
Resolution: 2.5K 2,560 x 1,440 maximum resolution | Screen: 1.5in LCD display | GPS: optional extra | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents, rear-facing infrared camera | Wireless: No
The Vantrue N2 Pro integrates front and rear-facing cameras into one unit, so you can capture the road ahead and what’s going on inside the car simultaneously. It may be a little pricey, but the rear-facing camera is a valuable bonus if you want to capture the interior of your car alongside the road ahead.
However, you do have to drop the resolution of the main camera to Full HD from 2.5K to enable this, which results in a notable reduction in image quality. So whilst this is a neat dual-camera solution, if you merely want the best dash cam video quality there are better-value options without the extra camera.
- Read the review: Vantrue N2 Pro
3. Apeman C860
Bundles a rear dash camera along with excellent front camera, though not the most feature-packed
Screen: 2.7n touch LCD display | GPS: No | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents | Wireless: No
The Apeman C860 bundles a rear dash camera along with excellent front camera. It may not be packed with features, but with its $100 price, the Apeman C860 is a bargain. The absence of GPS will be a particular disappointment for some. But the main camera image quality is excellent for the money, which is the primary reason you buy a dash cam in the first place.
The rear camera footage is quite a bit behind, however. It’s still good for Full HD, but not in the same league as the video from the main dash cam. If you just want a great-quality dash cam with a rear camera thrown in, the Apeman C860 is well worth considering.
- Read the review: Apeman C860
4. AUKEY DRS2
It may only offer Full HD, but there’s a second Full HD rear-facing camera built-in
Resolution: Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 maximum resolution front and rear | GPS: optional extra | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents | Wireless: No
The AUKEY DRS2 only offers Full HD resolution, but there’s a second Full HD rear-facing camera, which can be removed. This can be mounted facing out of your car’s rear window and all the fixings you need for this are included. The AUKEY DRS2 isn’t quite the bargain that Apeman’s C860 is, but you can at least add a GPS if you want to. The double function of the rear-facing camera also means you have flexibility about how you use it – either for inside your car or behind.
The image quality merely “does the job” rather than being a revelation. But if you’re after a bargain dash cam with an internal camera that can also be used as a rear camera, the AUKEY DRS2 is definitely worth a look.
- Read the full review: AUKEY DRS2
5. Boscam R1
Hooks over your existing mirror for easy fitting, while you also get a rear-view camera that is actually a reversing camera
Resolution: Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 maximum resolution front and rear | Screen: 2in LCD display | GPS: optional extra | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents | Wireless: No
The Boscam R1 hooks over your existing mirror to provide a much wider view, with the dash cam built in. You also get a separate rear-view camera that is actually a reversing camera. The Boscam R1 is an interesting proposition if you want to add a reversing camera alongside a dash cam to help you with parking. Considering the $110 price, you get a lot for your money.
The reversing camera does take some rather involved installation but works reasonably well. The huge integrated mirror will be an improvement for most cars, too. The one downside is that the video image quality from the front camera is merely mediocre.
- Read the review: Boscam R1
6. Garmin Dash Cam 66W
Incorporates a comprehensive range of useful safety features, and has reliable voice control as well
Resolution: 2.5K 2,560 x 1,440 maximum resolution | Screen: 2in touch LCD display | GPS: built-in | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents; forward collision and lane departure warnings; safety camera locations | Wireless: Yes
The Garmin Dash Cam 66W incorporates a comprehensive range of useful safety features for drivers, and has voice control as well, alongside 2.5K video recording. The comprehensive safety features include built-in GPS provides location tracking and safety camera notifications, plus you get collision detection and lane departure. The Travelapse feature provides recreational value along with the surveillance function, and the voice control is very functional too.
All of this is rolled into a tiny, discrete form that will sit unobtrusively behind your rear-view mirror. But, unfortunately, the image quality is below what we would expect for a premium dash cam from a premium brand.
- Read the review: Garmin Dash Cam 66W
7. Thinkware Q800 Pro
It may not have a LCD screen, but it still includes every dash cam safety feature you could consider
Resolution: 2.5K 2,560 x 1,440 maximum resolution | GPS: built in | Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents | Wireless: WiFi
The Thinkware Q800 Pro may not have a LCD screen, but it still includes every dash cam safety feature you could consider, plus a few you might not even have thought about before. It’s packed with features. There isn’t a safety function missing, and the bundle is generous too.
Although the advanced “cloud-based” features such as GEO-Fencing are very clever, having them tied to your phone makes them less useful than they could be, because you’re unlikely to leave your phone in your car. Add in mobile data, as some satnavs have, and this would have been a real bonus. But the main downside is that image quality isn’t as good as we would expect in a dash cam this expensive. The lack of detail lets the Thinkware Q800 Pro down.
- Read the full review: Thinkware Q800 Pro