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Best Dashcam Reviews

Dashcams are a must-have while driving because they offer so much protection. I feel pretty naked without one, even more unprotected than without a radar detector. For that reason, I’ve spent a lot of time testing out the very best dashcams on the market. What is the best dashcam and why do you need one?

Testing the Best Dash cameras

Why Do You Need A Dash Camera?

Dashcams provide several important benefits:

  • Proving you weren’t at fault in an accident
  • Protecting you from false accusations
  • Capturing important video in a hit and run while parked
  • Recording in case someone keys your car
  • Capturing beautiful scenery and memorable events on the road
  • Recording your radar detector saves

Your dashcam serves as a silent witness, always recording just in case one day you need the video.

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What Makes Dash Cameras Unique?

Dashcams are different than action cameras like GoPros. I love GoPros and use them for many of my normal YouTube videos, but specialized dashcams do a few key things that GoPros can’t. For these reasons, dashcams are preferred as permanent set-it-and-forget-it cameras. Here’s how they work:

  • Automatically powers on and starts recording when you start your car
  • Automatically stops recording and powers off when you park
  • Optional ability to record while your car is parked and shut off before draining your car battery
  • When your memory card gets full, it overwrites old footage so you can record continuously
  • Detect any events such as accidents and protects that clip from being overwritten
  • Can notify you if anything happened to your car while parked
  • Records everything ahead and can also record behind with the optional rear camera
  • Advanced ones automatically upload important footage to the cloud and remotely monitor your car from your phone like a security camera

Best Dash Camera of 2020?

There’s literally thousands of different dashcams at difference price points, with different features, and different levels of video quality. Which one should you get?

Testing Multiple Dashcams

Testing Multiple Dashcams

Here’s my top picks including both basic and inexpensive dashcams as well as higher end and more feature-packed dashcams.


Best Budget Front only Dashcam: Viofo A119 v3 ($119)

Viofo A119 v3 dashcam

The best dashcam you’ll find in the ~$100 price range is the Viofo A119 v3. It offers outstanding video quality for its price point, recording at just over Quad HD (2x the resolution of 1080p at 2560×1600) using a new 5MP Sony Starvis sensor. In fact it has some of the best video quality you’ll find at this price point. It also adds some features only previously seen on higher end dashcams.

Pros

  • Great video quality
  • Records at Quad HD+
  • Great low light sensitivity
  • LCD display on the rear
  • Buffered parking mode recording
  • Capacitor for extreme temperatures
  • Compact and stealthy form-factor
  • Supports up to 256gb cards

Cons

  • No WiFi
  • No rear camera
  • No cloud support
  • No low power parked recording option
  • No interior recording
  • No parked event notifications

Daytime video quality is great and it does a very nice job capturing license plates. Low light sensitivity has been increased significantly compared to previous models and so now it also does a great job of recording even in difficult dark situations.

The A119’s wedge-shaped design means it sits flush against your windshield. The lens tilts up and down to ensure you can point it forward. The 2″ LCD on the back makes it easy to change settings, view recorded footage, and aim the dashcam’s lens. Video quality is very good with the A119 v3. If anything interesting happens on the road, a quick tap of the red emergency record button on the back (bottom, center) will mark this clip and protect it from being overwritten once your card fills up.

If you get it with the optional GPS mount ($10, recommended), the dashcam can log your speed and location and display that on screen. It also helps the camera automatically sync the time and date with GPS satellites. The GPS mount also adds an additional power connector more conveniently at the top of your dashcam’s mount, instead of just the one built into the side of your dashcam, giving you a more streamlined install. With the power cable plugged into the mount, it’ easier to mount and unmount your camera.

The new 3rd generation version of the A119 adds buffered parked recording capabilities, something only previously seen on higher end dashcams. When you wire in the optional new hardwire cable ($15) into the GPS module, the dashcam can also record while you’re parked, using your car’s battery for power. It can use motion detection to capture when something happens, plus it can specifically record impacts to capture a hit-and-run. The A119 v3 adds buffered impact detection so it can record continuously, capturing everything before, during, and after the impact. (Previous versions would only record and save the video after the impact so you’d miss the event itself. This new 3rd gen model with buffered recording will save the video 15 sec before and 30 sec after the impact, ensuring you capture the entire event.)

The A119 v3 has completely new internals compared to the various A119 v2 models. This essentially takes all the best features from the A119 v2, A119S, and A119 Pro, packs them all into one camera, adds even more functionality, and gives us one of the best budget dashcams available on the market. It’s the dashcam that I run in my wife’s car. Here’s my complete review of the A119 v3:

Purchase the Viofo A119 v3

Purchase an inexpensive MicroSD Card: 64gb, 128gb, 256gb

Purchase the Viofo hardwire cable


Best 4K Front / Back Dashcam: Viofo A129 Pro ($199 Front) or ($249 Front & Back)

Viofo A129 Pro Duo

If you’re looking for a 2 channel system to record both the front and rear of your vehicle, my go-to recommendation is the Viofo A129 Pro Duo. Think of it as an updated version of the A119 v3, but it records in 4K up front for even better detail, upgrades the exterior case design, adds WiFi to copy video clips directly to your phone, and most importantly, offers a second 1080p dashcam to record behind you.

Affordable Pick: If you’d like to save some cash on a 2-channel system, spring for the regular Viofo A129 Duo instead that records in 1080p in both directions. Quality is still good in most situations, but I am a big fan of the noticeable bump in video quality with the 4K A129 Pro Duo which is why I prefer it.

Front Only: If you want the 4K and WiFi capabilities and don’t need the rear camera, go for the single channel front-only Viofo A129 Pro for $50 less.

Pros

  • 4K recording ahead
  • 1080p recording behind
  • Excellent video quality
  • Good low light sensitivity
  • LCD screen on front camera
  • WiFi for easier file transfer
  • Buffered parked recording
  • Compact wedge-shaped design
  • Updated case design over A119
  • Optional GPS integrated into mount
  • Portable with optional suction cup
  • Supports up to 256gb cards
  • Front only version for $50 less
  • Cheaper 1080p A129 Duo available

Cons

  • No cloud support
  • Front-rear cable is thick
  • No low power parked recording option
  • No interior recording
  • No parked event notifications

Buy the Viofo A129 Pro (front only): $199

Buy the Viofo A129 Pro Duo (front and back): $249

Buy the Viofo A129 Duo (1080p): $159

Buy an inexpensive MicroSD Card: 64gb, 128gb, 256gb

Purchase the Viofo hardwire cable


Best Premium 4K Dashcam: Thinkware U1000 ($399 Front) or ($499 Front & Back)

Thinkware U1000 dashcam

If you’re looking for the best premium 4K dashcam, I’d recommend the Thinkware U1000. It records in 4K ahead, offers integrated GPS and WiFi, adds cloud support for remote notifications to your phone, and the rear camera records at 2K instead of 1080p for even higher quality recording in both directions.

Pros

  • 4K Front Recording
  • 2K Rear Recording
  • Cloud integration
  • Redlight cam & speedcamera alerts
  • Integrated GPS
  • WiFi
  • Buffered parked recording
  • Optional radar module available
  • Low power / long term parking mode

Cons

  • Cloud is best for driving, not parking
  • Chatty voice notifications

You can think of the U1000 as a more upscale version of the A129 Pro. It skips the LCD on the front camera, but it adds cloud functionality to send event notifications to your phone (ie. accident detected, here’s where your car is, etc.), the rear cam records in even higher resolution, and the parking functionality is more capable.

Thinkware dashcams feature an energy saving parking mode to give you long term parked recording. Pair it with the Cellink Neo battery pack and when you switch from regular to energy saving mode, you jump from ~1 day of buffered parked recording to ~6 days of non-buffered parked recording. Pair it with the optional radar module as well, and now you can get ~6 days of buffered parked recording. This is the best way to get long term parking recording that captures both before and after any impacts in case of any hit and runs. (Note: The radar module will track larger objects like vehicles, but not smaller objects like people.)

Anyway, if you’d like a 4K dashcam with excellent video quality, enhanced parking mode functionality like available long term parked recording, plus some bonuses like cloud notifications and redlight camera alerts, pick up the Thinkware U1000.

Purchase the Thinkware U1000 (front only)

Purchase the Thinkware U1000 (front and rear)

Purchase the Radar Module

Purchase the Cellink Neo battery pack

Purchase an inexpensive MicroSD Card: 64gb, 128gb, 256gb


Best 4K Cloud Dashcam: Blackvue DR900S-1CH ($369 Front) or DR900S-2CH ($479 Front & Back)

Best Dashcam: Blackvue DR900S-2CH

Finally, let’s look at the Blackvue DR900S-2CH. This is the dashcam that I’ve personally run for several years. It was the first real 4K dashcam on the market. The newer options from Thinkware and Viofo offer even better video quality now, but the Blackvue offers some additional features and improvements over the competition.

Pros

  • 4K Front Recording
  • 1080p Rear Recording
  • Best cloud functionality
  • Buffered parked recording
  • Integrated GPS
  • WiFi
  • Best parked impact voice notifications
  • Thinner cables are easier to route
  • IR model for interior recording

Cons

  • Video quality lower than competition
  • Reduced high heat tolerance
  • No low power parked recording option
  • Reduced low light sensitivity
  • Rear cam must be purchased initially
  • Cable connectors are more fragile

I like the DR900S-2CH as a driving and parking security camera. Yes other cameras can record driving and parked too, but the DR900S does a few key things better.

When connected to a known WiFi hotspot (built into your car or nearby at home or work), the DR900S can send notifications through the cloud. Blackvue has the best cloud notifications to send alerts to your phone in case of an event. Plus you can remotely stream both previously recorded and live video footage to your phone, like a security camera, this way you always know what’s going on with your car, day or night.

In case someone hits your car while parked, the dashcam will tell you when you get back inside. Thinkware can do this too, but it tells you a bunch of unnecessary things too. Disable those voice notifications and you lose the impact detected voice alerts too.

Video quality is a little worse than the A129 Pro and U1000, despite them all recording in 4K, plus the high heat tolerance isn’t as good for hot parts of the country, but if you’d like a 4K dashcam with the best cloud support and voice notifications, the Blackvue DR900S is the way to go.

It’s available as both the front only DR900S-1CH or the front and rear DR900S-2CH. As a bonus, if you want interior recording, you can get the DR900S-2CH IR which swaps the standard rear cam for an infrared-capable interior camera.

Purchase the Blackvue DR900S-1CH

Purchase the Blackvue DR900S-2CH

Purchase the Blackvue DR900S-2CH IR

Purchase the Blackvue B-124X dedicated battery pack

Buy an inexpensive MicroSD Card: 64gb, 128gb, 256gb

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