The Best Car Dash Cams You Can Buy on Amazon
Car dashboard cameras are hugely popular and the offer is vast, but we’re here to simplify the shopping process for youby Tudor Rus, on LISTEN 13:25
Car dashboard cameras are not a novelty anymore, which is why you can literally browse through an ocean of offers of dash cams of all shapes, sizes, and levels of technology. It’s that abundance of products that can often mislead the customer and leave him scratching to top of his head while being bombarded with all sorts of offers. So to make things easier for you, we’ve done the legwork, combed through Amazon’s vast number of car dash cameras, and came up with six winners split into three price brackets: dash cameras priced under $50, between $50 and $100, and over $100. This way, you’ll be able to stay within your budget’s limits but also make the choice that brings the most value for money. With that said, let’s check out the proposals.
There’s no reason why you couldn’t use your phone on a mount to film whatever is happening in front of the car while you’re out driving. But as multi-tasking a smartphone might be, there are some things it can’t deliver with the same efficiency as a specialized gadget. So, today, we’ll talk about dashboard cameras.
A dashboard camera is also called a dashcam, car DVR, driving recorder, or event data recorder (EDR). Every dashcam out there uses a front camera with wide-angle lens (130, 140, 170 degrees or more) to continuously record videos through a car’s windshield. Some car DVRs are fitted with a second camera pointed at the interior, but these one tend to be more expensive and bulky due to the extra hardware. Moreover, some dashboard cameras ar fitted with a G-sensor and can also record data connected to the vehicle’s speed, the steering angle, as well as GPS data. Although not mandatory, some dashboard cameras can include touchscreen that make menu browsing easier. Pretty much every dashcam out there uses Class 10 or above microSDHC or microSDXC cards (usually 16 Gb or higher).
Dashcams are usually mounted using a suction cup or an adhesive mount either on the inside of the windscreen or on top of the dashboard. They are very popular in Asia and Europe, but not all countries allow them, as it is the case with Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Austria, where their use is discouraged in public as it violates data protection regulations.
Shopping for a dash camera: what to look for
Well, there are three aspects you need to take into consideration here. One of them is the dashcam’s ability to record videos in a loop. What that means is that the dashboard camera will automatically write new recordings over older videos that you no longer needs. This means you won’t have to delete them manually and that way, the available storage space is used to the fullest.
Besides the video loop feature, keep an eye out for G-sensors. Why is that? Well, these are the camera’s primarily indicators that you’ve been involved in an accident or any sort of crash as such sensors monitor and measure acceleration/deceleration forces. In addition, cameras fitted with G-sensor also come with a smart feature that locks the video recorded during such event, so it can’t be deleted or overwritten by other footage.
Decent nighttime video quality is also of great interest, especially since most of the accidents tend to happen at night. So, it goes without saying that such a feature can make a huge difference when things go awry. Now, before we delve into what dashboard camera you should pick, bear in mind that having such a device recording your car’s surroundings won’t necessarily save the day. After all, accidents do happen and it’s best to stay alert and drive safely as a precautionary measure that might very well avoid nasty incidents in the first place.
Car Dash Cams Under $50
YI Smart Dash Cam
Coming in at $49.99, the YI smart dash cam uses a technology called ADAS, or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. In short, it uses visual recognition algorithms that provide a mirror of what carmakers call lane departure warning. So in case your car isn’t fitted with this new technology that’s found as standard on almost every new car these days, you can actually kill two birds with one stone. Moreover, the camera is fitted with a G-sensor that automatically triggers the emergency recording sequence that saves the footage in the events leading to a collision, and right after the impact took place.
What’s also impressive about this low-priced dash camera is the neat 1920x1080p at 60 frames per second resolution, its ability to record high-speed scenes, and its night-vision capabilities.
YI says the wide-angle lens (165 degrees) is perfect for capturing three full lanes and also reduces blind spots. The camera also offers a 2.7-inch TFT LCD display complemented by large buttons, which should come in handy when tweaking settings or browsing the menus. A built-in 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi module lets you connect the camera to your smartphone via the dedicated app, allowing you to watch real-time footage or previous recordings.
|Resolution||2304x1296 30 fps, 1920x1080 30/60 fps, 1280x 720 30 fps|
|Wide angle||165 degrees|
Priced at $44.99, the APEMAN C450 dashboard camera is another excellent value-for-money proposition if you’re not looking to splash the cash on such a gimmick for the time being. The C450 from APEMAN offers 170-degree wide-angle lens, 1080p HD resolution, and a built-in G-sensor that detects an abnormal shake or the forces generated by an impact and automatically prevents that respective video bit from being overwritten, even if loop recording is selected. Besides the said Seamless Loop Recording features, the APEMAN C450 dashboard camera also offers the likes of Motion Detection and Parking Monitor.
Data storage is made on a Class 10 microSD 32Gb card, but you’ll have to buy that separately.
Moreover, although the camera is fitted with its own battery, that will kick in only for emergency file backing up tasks. This means you’ll have to keep the camera connected to a power source throughout its whole use. APEMAN also mentions that it takes just three minutes to setup the C450 and its compact shape means you can conveniently hide it behind the rearview mirror. Mounting is done via a standard suction mount and 3M adhesive.
|Video resolution||1080p HD|
|Installation||suction mount + 3M adhesive|
|Wide angle||170 degrees|
|Storage||32 Gb, micro SD card|
Winner: APEMAN Dash Cam
Separating these two wasn’t easy, but ultimately the APEMAN camera’s 170-degree wide-angle made the difference. The YI doesn’t land too far, though, as it offers a wide angle of 165 degrees, but it is also a tad more expensive than the APEMAN dashboard camera, which also has a larger LCD screen (3 inches instead of 2.7 inches). The both offer good night vision capabilities as well as high resolution video shooting, so in the end, it was the finer details explained above that made the difference between these two dashboard cameras.
Car Dash Cams Between $50 and $100
Rexing V1 Car Dash Cam
Rexing’s V1 dashboard camera is priced at $99.99. For that kind of money, it offers a 2.4-inch LCD screen, 1080p HD 30 frames per second resolution thanks to a Sony Exmor IMX323 image sensor, and a gimmick called Wide Dynamic Range, which essentially allows the camera to render high-quality images in all sorts of lighting scenarios by adjusting the level of exposure. Loop recording is also among the features - this allows the oldest recording to be overwritten by new ones as soon as the storage limit has been reached.
In any case, the Rexing V1 dash cam supports microSD cards with up to 256 Gb worth of space.
Besides the usual features, the V1 also employs a G-sensor that locks the video in case of a collision, thus protecting the footage, and a parking monitor that provides 24-hour protection. What the system does, in this case, is automatically switch the camera to Parking Surveillance Mode when it detects vibration near the car, so the recording starts right away. Optionally, the V1 camera can be fitted with a Google Maps-based GPS feature, but that comes extra and must be purchased separately.
|Sensor||Sony Exmor IMX323|
|Resolution||1080p full-HD @ 30 fps|
|Wide angle||170 degrees|
|Storage||microSD cards up to 256 Gb|
AUKEY DR02 Dash Cam
AUKEY is asking $89.99 for its dashboard camera which it describes as “low-profile and stealth” simply because it can be mounted behind the rearview mirror. The camera uses two double-sided 3M pads which allow you to securely position it on the windshield and is powered from the standard 12/24 V car socket through a USB port car charger which stretches to 4 meters in length.
The AUKEY DR02 also uses Sony’s IMX323 sensor, can render 1080p HD images, and uses wide-angle lens es that offer 170 degrees worth of visibility.
Sharp turns, or sudden stops will activate the Emergency Recording mode, thus helping you capture unexpected driving incidents. Besides this mode, the DR02 also offers a Time Lapse feature, Motion Detection, and Continuous Recording. On the storage front, you can use a Class 10+ MicroSD card of up to 128 Gb. Size-wise, the DR02 measures 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches by 1.2 inches.
|Resolution||1080p full HD / 30 fps|
|Sensor||Sony Exmor IMX332, 2.19 MP CMOS|
|Wide angle||170 degrees|
|Screen size||1.5 in|
|Storage||128 Gb, micro SD card|
|Size||2.2 in x 2.2 in x 1.2 in|
|Recording modes||continuous, motion detection, timelapse, emergency recording|
Winner: Rexing V1
The Rexing V1 dashboard camera is the winner in the $50 to $100 price bracket thanks to its well-rounded character. The camera can shoot full-HD quality videos and it even comes with a parking monitor. Both cameras use 170-degree wide-angle lens but we also liked the V1’s sleek design and generous screen, as well as its ability to receive microSD memory cards with up to 256 Gb storage space.
Car Dash Cams Over $100
Garmin 56 Dash Cam
Garmin has made a name for itself by delivering high-quality products that range from fitness gear to GPS trackers, but you can also get a dashboard camera from the brand. Dubbed 56 and priced at $199, this dash cam offers a wide angle of 140 degrees and can automatically record or save footage of traffic incidents.
In case you’re wondering where did Garmin pull the high price tag from, here’s the thing: the camera is, in fact, a bundle that also offers a Beach Camera universal screen cleaner that works on LED TVs, a Vivitar point-and-shoot case, and a Sandisk Ultra MicroSD 64 Gb memory card.
As for what the Garmin 56 can do, well, it allows you to control and playback footage from one up to four cameras directly on your smartphone (this one quirk comes in handy for car fleet managers), then there’s the voice control feature which lets you save a video or a picture, driver alerts (forward collision, lane departure, and attention), as well as the red light cameras and speed cameras location alerts.
|Wide angle||140 degrees|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440 60 fps|
|Display format||320 x 240|
|Size||2.2 in x 1.6 in x 0.8 in|
Vantrue N2 Pro Dash Cam
Closing the list is the Vantrue N2 Pro dash camera, priced at $199.99. Now, first and foremost, this is a dual-camera device that uses the same good old Sony IMX323 sensor for the front camera and the OV4689 for the inside-facing camera. Moreover, the two cameras can simultaneously capture images from the outside (170-degree wide angle) and from the inside (140-degree wide angle). The processing power comes from the Novatek NT96660 CPU.
Resolution-wise, we’re looking at 2560x1440p at 30 frames per second for the front camera and 1920x1080p at 30 frames per second for the inside-facing camera.
Four infrared LED lights work together with the Sony sensor to deliver night vision capabilities. Moreover, the camera is activated automatically when the ignition is turned on, and it can also record audio bits thanks to its built-in microphone. MicroSD cards with a storage capacity of up to 256 Gb are supported. Vantrue says it offers full 18-month warranty for the N2 Pro dashcam. Mounting the camera on the windshield is done via a suction cup mount. The car charger stretches to 10 feet, while the mini USB cable that comes with the camera is 3 feet long.
|Sensor||OV4689 front, Sony IMX323 rear|
|Wide angle||170 degrees front, 140 degrees rear|
|LCD||1.5 in, TFT|
|Resolution||2560 x 1440 30 fps, 2304 x 1296 30 fps, 1920 x 1080 60 fps, 1920 x 1080 30 fps|
Winner: Vantrue N2 Pro
Another difficult decision to make. Both the Vantrue N2 Pro and the Garmin 56 are very apt dashboard cameras, but the big prize goes to the former as it allows you to record both what’s happening outside and inside the car with impressive quality. Hat tip for Garmin, though, for managing to insert so many features into a tiny dashboard camera, but it in the end, Vantrue’s N2 Pro came out on top thanks to a plethora of features and, of course, the extra 140-degree wide-angle camera that records the car’s interior and the ability to record audio topped by the 18-month warranty the manufacturer is offering.