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Shopping Guide for Best Dash Cams

In a world that is increasingly documented by smartphone cameras, dash cams offer a safe alternative for drivers looking to capture the moment. A dash cam is a video camera mounted above your car’s dashboard. It records hands-free so you’re not fumbling with your phone while behind the wheel.

Dash cams can also protect you from potential problems with other drivers. Should you end up in an accident, dash cam footage could prove you didn’t cause the collision. But with so many dash cams on the market, how do you choose the model that’s best for you?

At BestReviews, we perform deep product research, poll customers, and consult experts in order to determine which products are the very best. And because we never accept free samples from manufacturers, our reviews and top picks are honest and unbiased.

If you’re ready to buy a dash cam, consult the matrix above for our five favorite picks.

However, if you need to know more before you hit record, just read on for our full shopping guide.

The most common reason for purchasing a dash cam is to provide evidence for insurance claims. Your dash cam could help you or a nearby motorist during a hit and run incident, for example.

Types of Dash Cams

To find the right type of dash cam for your car, it helps to understand the design options. Different designs work better in different circumstances.

Types

Multiple-Lens Dash Cams

Multiple-lens cameras record in front of the car with one lens and inside the car with another. The lenses record at the same time, giving you two points of view.

Types

Rearview Mirror-Mounted Dash Cams

Some small dash cams attach to the rearview mirror. If you live in a state where windshield mounts are illegal, a rearview mirror mount is a great alternative.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

KDLINKS Full-HD Dashboard Camera

Quality

The KDLINKS X1 Full-HD Dashboard Camera offers 165-degree wide-angle video that works well for seeing vehicles on both sides of your car. This provides protection against poor drivers in other lanes of traffic who veer into your lane. However, this wide-angle setting does cause a bit of a fisheye lens curve in the final copy of the video.

Types

Windshield-Mounted Dash Cams

Most dash cams mount to a car’s windshield using a suction cup and bracket. Windshield-mounted cameras can partially block your view of the surrounding area, though.

Types

Single-Lens Dash Cams

A single-lens dash cam works like a traditional camcorder. You mount the single-lens camera to the windshield or mirror, and it records the action in front of the vehicle. If you want a single-lens dash cam, pick one with a wide viewing angle.

EXPERT TIP

To provide a full view around the car, use a multiple-lens dash cam in the front of the car and a remote camera in the back.


Staff  | BestReviews

Dash Cam Features

After you’ve selected a type of dash cam, consider the features you want. Popular features like HD video and low-light recording make the difference between crisp, clear video and fuzzy footage.

Features

Battery Options

Most dash cams will connect to a 12-volt outlet in the car. However, some dash cam models must be connected to the car battery directly. This ensures the dash cam has the power to run at all times.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

KDLINKS Full-HD Dashboard Camera

Performance

The thin camera body of the KDLINKS X1 Full-HD Dashboard Camera won’t distract you while driving. Because of its small size, the camera won’t block your view through the windshield. If you have a section of video that you want to be sure to save, just touch the camera’s emergency button. This ensures that the current section of video remains on the memory card. The camera won’t overwrite this area later. The maximum resolution for the X1 dash cam is 1080p full HD. This setting results in the sharpest video quality, allowing you to see specific details in the scene.

Features

GPS

A dash cam with a GPS chip inside marks the video with the time, date, and location of the recording. If you plan to use the video to prove innocence for a traffic ticket or an accident, you will need time and location stamps.

Features

HD Video

With dash cam video, you want a high-resolution image that will be sharp. Otherwise, your dash cam may not show the exact details you need to produce evidence after an accident. Look for a dash cam that offers 1080p full HD video-recording capabilities.

A wide-angle recording function allows the dash cam to record things that happen around the car, rather than only directly in front of the car.
Features

Motion or Impact Detection

If you want to use your dash cam as a security camera inside the car when parked, a motion or impact detector is a great feature. The video camera only starts recording when it detects motion or impact. This means you won’t have hours of uneventful video to watch when reviewing the stored footage later.

Features

Low-Light Recording

Some dash cams create poor video recordings at night, which is undesirable. You need a dash cam that can film quality video even when it’s dark outside.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

REXING Full-HD 1920 x 1080 Wide Angle Dashboard Camera

Design

The REXING V1 Car Dash Cam mounts directly to the windshield, making installation easy. Because the camera only fits into the mount one way, you’ll always have it lined up correctly. The REXING V1 records in 1080p full HD, providing the best video quality. The entire scene around your vehicle is clear, including small details, when watching the video later.

Do I Need a Dash Cam?

Because dash cams can record audio inside the vehicle and video inside and outside, they have numerous uses. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might want to document your drive.

Considerations

Accident Evidence

In an accident, a dash cam provides evidence as to what exactly happened. Without video evidence, police and insurance companies must rely on eyewitness statements. Such testimony may not be completely accurate or reliable. Dash cam footage can help you prove an accident wasn’t your fault, despite what the other driver says.

When you’re recording someone in a private location, like the inside of a car, you need his or her permission. Recording video outside the car on a public road is protected by the First Amendment.

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BestReviews
Considerations

Disputing Tickets

If you receive a ticket for a driving violation, especially by an automatic traffic camera, you can dispute the ticket with dash cam video. The video from your dash cam may contain evidence that you weren’t speeding, for example.

Considerations

Fun

A dash cam doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Perhaps you’ll use your dash cam to create a time-lapse video of a road trip to share on social media. We all see funny things while we’re driving, and the dash cam records everything.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

REXING Full-HD 1920 x 1080 Wide Angle Dashboard Camera

Technology

The REXING V1 dash cam includes quality extra features. You’ll find automatic recording, a date and time stamp, and loop recording. Support for a 128-GB SD memory card means memory capacity to handle the in-car recording needs of most people. However, the V1 dash cam kit doesn’t include a memory card; you’ll have to supply your own.

Considerations

Young Drivers

New teenage drivers may need to prove themselves before getting more freedom with a car. A dash cam shows a parent how carefully a teenager drives. And simply having a dash cam in the car will encourage a teen to drive more cautiously, even if a parent never looks at it.

Considerations

Vandalism Protection

Mount a dash cam with a 360-degree viewing angle in your vehicle to protect against vandalism. Should someone damage your vehicle, your dash cam footage could help identify the vandal.

CAUTION

Some states have laws against mounting anything on the dashboard of a vehicle. Know your local laws before selecting a dash cam style.

Tips

  • When seeking a dash cam to protect against vandalism, look for a camera that turns on when it senses motion near the vehicle.

  • Dash cams that connect to a car’s battery require professional installation to work correctly. This will cost another $100 to $125.

  • If you do a lot of driving at night, make sure the dash cam you select shoots good-quality video in low-light conditions.

  • Before purchasing a memory card to use with your dash cam, know which size you need. Some dash cams use SD-sized cards, while others use smaller memory cards.

Understand that dash cams typically record video on a loop. Once the memory card is full, the dash cam begins overwriting the oldest video until it reaches the newest video.

FAQ

Q. What should I do if I witness someone else’s accident while my dash cam is recording?

A. Law enforcement would appreciate having a copy of your dash cam footage to help with the investigation. This will ensure the driver who was not at fault is cleared of the accident.

Q. Will I get in trouble with the police if I use a dash cam?

A. You may legally record video of public roadways using your dash cam. However, it’s smart to alert a law enforcement officer who stops your vehicle that you have a dash cam running. Additionally, some states have laws regarding how a dash cam can be attached to your car. In some states, you cannot drive with a dash cam mounted to the windshield, for example.

Q. What’s the best way to power my dash cam?

A. The easiest and cheapest way to power a dash cam is with an adapter plugged into a car’s 12-volt outlet. Some dash cams allow you to connect to a USB port. However, these power sources don’t work when the car is turned off. Dash cam models that connect directly to the car battery through a wire run at all times.

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