Best Dashcams

Dashcams are awesome to pair with a radar detector. They’ll let you record your saves so you can go back later and review how things went and even share your saves with others.

Front Dashcam Protects Driver

They’re also ideal in case of an accident. Here’s an example of a vehicle that accidentally backed into another car while stopped at a stop light. The driver ahead was initially apologetic and then later went back and told his insurance company that he was rear ended. Only the dashcam saved the rear driver from paying the deductible and having a hike to his insurance. Full story here.

Rear Dashcam Protects Driver

Some dashcams also come in two channel variants (front and rear camera) which is incredibly helpful in case something happens from behind such as how this next driver was hit from behind while stopped, pulling into a parking space. The police incorrectly wrote up the police report and the driver behind who was at fault tried to blame it on the front driver. Again it was the dashcam footage that saved the front driver and the driver in the rear was proven to be 100% at fault. Full story here.

Dashcam Records Crazy Event on Road

Even if you don’t get into an accident (knock on wood), crazy stuff happens on the road and it can be incredibly helpful to have a dashcam rolling.

Dashcam Protects Parked Car from Hit & Run

You can also use the to monitor your car when you’re parked as well in case anything happens while you’re gone. Check out this driver who backed into my car while I was parked. The camera detected the impact and recorded the whole thing while the other driver drove off.

(Note: If you want this feature, make sure you opt for a camera that can automatically switch between driving mode and parking mode, no button pressing required.)

Making Beautiful Scenic Videos

On a lighter note, if you go on road trips through beautiful places, you can share clips of your drives with your friends!

Dashcams vs. GoPros

Now dedicated dashcams are different than normal cameras or actioncams like GoPros. These are specialized cameras that are designed to be permanently installed in your car, they automatically turn on and off with your car, and they’re always there in the background when you need them.They’re more like set-it-and-forget-it cameras. Once the memory card fills up, it begins overwriting old unnecessary footage so you can record on it indefinitely. It also has G-sensors and the ability to manually mark clips so that it doesn’t automatically overwrite footage that you truly do want to save. Dashcams are specifically suited to driving and protecting drivers.

Which Dashcam is Best?

I’m curious which ones are the best so I’m regularly testing new ones. There’s no possible way I can test every single one in existence, but I like to focus on some of the best and highest rated ones out there. Dashcams are available with different features and below are some of the very best I’ve tested yet at different pricepoints.

 

Basic Inexpensive Dashcam: Black Box G1W-CB ($59)

If you simply want a dashcam to record video for you, one of the best bangs for the buck and most popular cameras you’ll find are the G1W-C series cameras. They’re consistently rated well, offer high quality 1080p video footage, have an LCD on the back to make it easier to frame the camera, change settings, or playback footage, and the price is hard to beat. If you go for cheaper cameras, video quality drops considerably, and so this is basically one of the best inexpensive cameras you’ll find that also offers good video quality. If you want an inexpensive dashcam, get this one.

There’s a couple different versions of this camera. I recommend the version with the capacitor (G1W-C) which does better in high temperatures like the inside of a car in summer and then getting the black version of the camera (G1W-CB) to make the camera more stealthy and less visible to anyone outside your vehicle.

The camera comes with the suction cup windshield mount and cigarette lighter power cable you’ll need, but it doesn’t include a memory card so you’ll need to get one of those. I’d also recommend picking up a hardwire kit to create a more clean and permanent wiring job in your vehicle.

Purchase a Black Box G1W-CB

Purchase a 32gb MicroSD Card

Purchase a Hardwire Cable

High Quality Video at an Affordable Price: TaoTronics 2K TT-CD06 ($99)

This one kind of surprised me. I hadn’t heard of TaoTronics before, but I’ve been really impressed with the video quality and overall design of the camera. It shoots at 2K (higher res than 1080p) and the button layout on the bottom makes it the easiest dashcam to operate in practice. It’s super simple to start/stop recording, enable/disable the mic, manually mark a video clip for later retrieval, or even snap a photo of anything ahead of you.

The video footage is pretty fantastic and things look nice and crispy. In fact it’s better than some other cameras at double and triple the price (granted those do have other fancy features). It’s easy to read details like license plates, particularly in the daytime and at night when your headlights or street lights are lighting things up. The camera itself is pretty compact (many are more wide), it has an LCD on the back, and while it doesn’t offer GPS or WiFi, many people just want a camera to record good quality footage in a variety of conditions and it does this well. There is a startup and shutdown chime that I wish you could disable, but once you’re in your car, it’s pretty quiet. The camera comes with a quick release mount for easy removal and remounting. The mount that I have produced a lot of annoying vibration sounds that ruins the audio in the video so the company sent me a replacement camera and the second one was much better and didn’t have the same issue. As it should, the mount is nice and solid now as well.

The camera ships with a cigarette lighter power cable that also leaves a slot open to charge your cell phone too. It also comes with the needed cable tucking tools so you can easily tuck the power cable behind your vehicle’s trim for a cleaner looking installation. Also unlike some other cameras, it ships with a 32gb card and while it’s helpful to have a larger card or multiple just in case, it’s nice to have everything you need already included.

All in all, it’s the best $100 I’ve reviewed to date.

Purchase a TaoTronics 2K TT-CD06

Purchase a 64gig MicroSD Card

Purchase a MicroUSB Hardwire Cable

Great Quality Dashcam with optional GPS: VanTrue OnDash R2 ($130-150)

If you’d like to get excellent video quality across the board, both day and night, or optionally add GPS information to your dashcam to see where you’ve been or display your speed on screen, you can step up to the VanTrue OnDash R2. It has a similar form factor to the G1W-CB with the LCD on the back, except it offers higher resolution video (2K instead of just 1080p) for better detail, and the video quality is some of the best I’ve seen from any dashcam. The mount can introduce some vibration into your final video, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought so it’s for that reason that I’ve been running this as my daily dashcam for a little while now.

The camera doesn’t have GPS built-in so you’ll need to pick up an optional GPS suction cup mount ($22) if you want that functionality. It also doesn’t include a memory card so I’ll link you to one of those as well. As usual it comes with a cigarette lighter power cable for easy installation or you can use an optional hardwire cable for that clean and slick install.

Purchase a Vantrue OnDash R2

Purchase a GPS Suction Cup Mount

Purchase a 64gig MicroSD Card

Purchase a Hardwire Cable

 

Budget Front & Rear dashcam for driving (not parking): Papago GoSafe 760 ($250)

If you’d like to have your dashcam record both ahead of you and behind (a good idea) while you’re driving for more complete protection, a good budget friendly option is the Papago GoSafe 760.

It offers reasonably good video quality in full HD 1080p for both cameras without breaking the bank. This camera doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the $400 cameras including WiFi or integrated GPS, but those are features that most people won’t need day to day.

The biggest difference I’ve found between this camera and more expensive ones is that those cameras can automatically switch into parking mode when you park and back into driving mode when you resume driving while this one requires you to switch modes manually.. something that you have to do every time you get in and out of the car and is easy to forget. Personally I feel dashcams should be something that almost hide in the background and don’t require constant user intervention. So for that reason, if you want a camera purely for recording while you’re driving, this is a great way to save a few bucks over some of the more expensive dual channel cameras out there.

Purchase a Papago GoSafe 760

Purchase an External GPS antenna

Purchase a 128gb MicroSD Card (32gb included)

 

Front and Rear dashcams for driving and parking: Blackvue DR750S-2CH & Power Magic Pro ($389)

This is the fully loaded do-it-all camera that I run in my car full-time. It’s a two channel dashcam meaning you have both a front and a rear camera for complete coverage on both sides of your car. It records in 1080p both front and rear for great quality in both directions. It has a nice stealthy black design, both cameras record onto one memory card for convenience, there’s GPS built-in so you can optionally record your speed and where you drive, and unlike most cameras, it can seamlessly transition between driving and parking mode so that it’s always keeping an eye out for you. In short, it offers you complete protection at all times and that’s why I love it.

The parking mode can record continuously and can also mark events when it senses motion and/or an impact to your vehicle, unlike most dashcams that just do a basic timelapse or motion detection. Plus, the next time you get into your car, a voice will come on and say “An impact was detected in parking mode.” You can then pull out your phone, watch the event through the app over wifi, and save that video for later. This is hugely helpful to let you know when something happened and helps make for a well-rounded camera. When parked you’re running off of your car’s battery so you’ll want an accessory like the Power Magic Pro which will monitor your car battery and will let your camera record only until your battery voltage is at a high enough level. If it starts dropping too far to the point where you’d have issues starting your car next time, it will go ahead and shut off your camera.

It also has some cloud support like if you’re parked near a wifi hotspot at work or at home, it can send a notification to your phone in real time when it detects an impact, you can view the footage in realtime through your phone, you can access saved recordings remotely, and so on. I find this to be a little gimmicky in practice once the novelty wears off, but it is reassuring to be able to remotely see what’s going on in your car if you like.

The video quality of the camera is pretty excellent, a big step up from the DR650S-2CH I used to run, particularly at night. I’ve seen other cameras with better all out video quality, but this camera’s main appeal is that it offers the complete package of front and rear protection, automatic transitioning between driving and parking modes, all with a nice stealthy black design and that’s why I run it in my car.

Purchase a Blackvue DR750S-2CH

Finally, if you don’t want to depend on your car’s battery and put it through the extra load of constantly draining it to some extent while parked, you can also take a look at a dedicated external battery for your dashcam. I use the Blackvue B-112 and keep it tucked away and hidden. It provides hours and hours of parked recording time and unlike some other battery packs, it can also recharge itself while you drive (full recharge from dead takes just 1 hour) while still powering your dashcams at the same time.

Purchase a Blackvue B-112

 

Ultimate Video Quality: VicoVation Opia2 ($249)

Finally, if you’re looking for the absolute best video quality available, take a look at the high end VicoVation Opia2. It records at 1440p at 19 Mb/s which means it offers a higher resolution, higher bitrate, and more detail than other cameras. This translates into better quality video and makes it easier to see important details such as license plates at a distance. For example, at one car length away, the Blackvue DR750S loses the ability to resolve license plates while the Opia2 still lets you see them. This means you’ll have a better shot at recording important details when needed.

The camera is single channel only (front only), GPS is an external optional extra, it has an LCD on the back for configuring and positioning the camera, and it comes with a suction cup or doublestick tape mount. The camera is slightly rotatable on the mount, but not enough to point it sideways and look out the window. It’s just for angling the camera forwards. It has automatic driving/parking mode switching so it can protect you in both situations and the parking mode features include motion detection and timelapse functionality, but not impact detection.

The highlight of this camera is the high level of detail and quality. It also has an HDR feature built in (at all times, can’t be disabled) which helps you better make out details in both the shadows and the highlights, and it’s a noticeable difference compared to cameras that don’t have this feature. However, it does produce slightly weird effects in the transitions between bright and dark areas which you’ll notice if you’re looking at the video in detail, but if you’re wanting to record the most information possible, it’s an effective tool. You can also now disable all the text on screen to get a clean video for sharing if you like. 🙂

Purchase the VicoVation Opia2