Dash Cams: Getting The Best For Your Money

Posted: January 21, 2019

Not long ago, it was rare to see a dash cam on a personal vehicle. Instead, these devices were mostly used by law enforcement officials, or on commercial vehicles. That’s no longer true. The average person is now realizing that owning a dash cam can be very useful to them in a variety of situations. This includes:

  • Proving liability for insurance claims
  • Documenting law enforcement interactions
  • Recording reckless or irrational drivers
  • Capturing funny or amazing footage

There are a number of dash cams on the market, with a variety of features. We’ve taken a look at a few of them for your benefit, and created these dash cam reviews.

Car Dashboard Camera Reviews

Are you interested in a camera that has a specific feature? If so, start here.

Best Dash Cam With Night Vision

Having night vision capabilities isn’t unique. Many cameras do. Still, if this feature is very important to you, then you’ll want to invest in dash cam that does night vision right. For this category, we suggest the:

Falcon Zero F170HD With GPS

This suction mount camera has a sleek, small profile, and can double as a point and shoot camera. It has an F/2 six glass lens, 170 degree field of vision, and stellar night vision capabilities. It’s GPS enabled, and will tag your footage with your location. Even better, it will mark footage with your speed as well. Combined, these are the features you want if something happens while you’re driving at night. Here are some other details:

  • Size: Again, this is a small camera at 4 x 1 x 2. It’s also a lightweight 8 ounces (0.3 kg). It’s suction mounts directly onto your windshield, and remains quite unobtrusive.
  • Motion Detection: If you switch on motion detector mode, this camera will record any movements that happen in its field of view. However, it requires a source of power to do this. Without the ignition turned on, the camera will run off of an installed battery.
  • Recording Capability: With this model, your camera will switch on automatically and start recording. The telltale red dot will let you know that you are recording. If you continue filming as you drive, the screen does go into sleep mode. However, a green light will let you know that you are still capturing footage.
  • Parking Monitor: Ever walk out to your car to discover somebody ran into it and drove off? That’s frustrating. The parking monitor will switch on in case of an impact and record a short video, increasing your chance of identifying the culprit.
  • Memory Lock Gravity Sensing: This is another useful accident feature. When the device senses there has been an impact, it will lock the file at the time of recording. This way there’s no danger of recording over it. This feature comes with four sensitivity levels. If you drive over rough terrain, you may need to adjust this in case it’s too sensitive.

Best Dash Cam Under $100

If you’d like to keep your costs under $100, there are several decent cameras available to you. Here’s our top pick:

Z-Edge Z3

The Z-Edge Z3 is a solid camera that can be easily found for less than 100 dollars on eBay, Amazon and other sites. It features 2K image quality, 2560 X 1080p recording, 145-degree field of vision, zoom, and 30 frames per second filming. The camera begins filming when your car starts, and it has a g-sensor that auto records when it senses a vibration.

Best Dash Cam Under 50

A camera under 50 dollars is going to be pretty bare bones. That doesn’t mean it won’t be perfectly effective for your purposes. You can always test the waters with a low budget camera, and then upgrade to something else later. For our money, we like the:

isYoung Mirror Dash Cam

The isYoung is a rear view mirror cam that features both a front and rear camera. It has a 140 degree field of view, loop recording, and a G-sensor for impact based recording. Here are some other features you’ll get for your money:

  • Temperature resistant glass
  • 4.3 Inch HD Screen
  • Lock and Save G Sensor
  • Automatic and Manual Recording
  • Backup Camera Capability
  • USB Connection
  • 4.3” Lens
  • Shockproof Function
  • Microphone

Best Budget Dash Cam 2019

If you aren’t locked into a specific price, but still want to keep things inexpensive, check out the:

Old Shark 1080P

The Shark is a budget priced dash cam that comes with a windshield suction mount, or rear view mirror hook. It’s easy to use, and has several features including:

  • Accident Detection: The built in gravity sensor will detect a collision and lock the file protecting the footage at the time of the crash.
  • Ease of Use: Easy windshield mount and power cable connection. Camera auto starts when engine does. Plug and play.
  • Clear Picture: 1080P camera, full glass f1.5 aperture sensor, 170 degree field of vision.
  • Stable Chipset: Smooth video recording and shock absorption

Best Discreet Dash Cams

Sometimes, you may want to keep your dashboard recording on the down low. Some people want to keep their recording secret. Others simply want a camera that blends into the interior of their car for aesthetic purposes. For this we like:

Black Box B40-C Capacitor GPS Stealth Dash Cam

This dash cam features a covert design that is small, and mounts high so that it is largely out of the field of view. It’s not invisible, but it certainly doesn’t stick out. Here are some of its features:

  • Heat Resistant: Will stay mounted and operational in all weather
  • Lower Power Consumption And Smooth Image Processing
  • High Definition Video Compression
  • 170 Degree Field of Vision
  • Auto-Start
  • G-Sensor Enabled on Impact, Fast Acceleration, Sharp Turns, Etc.
  • Adhesive Mount And Bracket: Allows Variable Mounting Positions

Maybe you’re a brand person. In that case, take a look at a few of the dash cam brands we’ve featured below.

Vava Dash Cam Review

The Vava dash cam has a unique circular design, and a 360 degree rotation. This means it can be turned to film from any vantage point. There’s also enough battery power for it to operate in parking mode for as many as 72 hours. The Vava is wi-fi capable, and has both Android and iOS apps available. The phone also has a blue tooth enabled button that you can click to capture snapshots. Here are some of its design features:

  • Subtle Design
  • Magnetic Attachment on a Suction Mount
  • Micro USB And AUX Adapter
  • Continuous Recording
  • G Sensor Adjustable Through The App
  • 60 Frames Per Second 1080p DP
  • Night Time Video

Aukey Dash Cam Review

This is a compact dashboard that is a subtle presence in your car. It shoots 1080P video, is lightweight, and measures just 2.28×2.24×1.25. Like most dash cams it records until the SD card is full then begins overwriting that existing data. Check out its other features:

  • 170 Degree Field of Vision
  • Sony CMOS Sensor
  • 1080P Video 360 Frames per Second
  • Impact Detection
  • Motion Detection
  • Time Lapse Mode
  • Internal Microphone
  • 2 Inch LCD That Can be Switched Off
  • GPS Input
  • Multiple Mounting Options

Rexing Dash Cam Review

The Rexing is another discreet camera. It takes decent video, and makes a very good utilitarian camera. You can add GPS to the basic V1 model for an extra charge, or get the V1LG that has GPS fully integrated. Here are some other features we found:

  • 2.4 Inch Display
  • Large Buttons
  • Micro SD Slot (Card Not Included)
  • GPS Port
  • Flush Windshield Mount

Yi Dash Cam Review

YI offers a variety of HD dash cams. The YI smart dash is one of their most popular. It’s solid, middle of the road cam with several features worth noting:

  • G Sensor
  • Loop Recording
  • Dash Cam App For Apple And Android
  • Wi-Fi Capability
  • Advanced Driver Assistance With Warning System
  • 1080P And 60 Frames Per Second
  • 165 Degree Field of Vision

Advice for buyers and frequently asked questions

If you buy a dash cam, you’re looking at an investment ranging anywhere from around 40 dollars for a low end piece of equipment to hundreds of dollars. There’s also the time and cost of installation to consider. Before you jump in and make a decision, here are a few things to consider.

Understanding How Dash Cams Operate

How do dash cams work? In the simplest terms, they are simply video cameras that record incidents that happen on your drive, from a front-facing perspective. Essentially, when people view dash cam footage, they see what you saw as you were driving.

One suggestion that you will inevitably receive is that you should simply invest in a dashboard mount for your phone, then use that to record things as you drive. The problem is that phones simply aren’t made to accurately record video at high rates of speed. In addition to this, the average phone is going to lose a significant amount of battery power if it’s in constant filming mode. Unless you’ve got a special setup to keep it charged, you could run out of power.

Dash cams are a unique piece of equipment that are designed to capture detailed information from a moving position. This includes license plate data, bumper stickers, car insignia, etc. You simply plug the camera in, and install it into its mount.

When it comes to installation, you have two options. You can install your own equipment, or have a professional do the job. Your choice will depend upon how comfortable you are with modifying your vehicle, and the complexity of the job. Some installations simply involve plugging the phone into your cigarette outlet, and clipping in a mount. With others, you’re looking at some disassembly of the dash and hard-wiring the camera.

As the dash cam records video, it stores it on an SD card. This can be ejected, and used in any device where you want to display the recorded footage. If the SD card becomes full, most built in cameras will simply overwrite the existing data with new footage.

So, if you have footage that you want to save for any reason, it’s imperative that you eject that SD card and save it. As you can imagine, it’s always good to have a couple of spare cards available.

Determining Whether You Need a Dash Cam

Truth be told, you could have a dash cam, and never once record anything remarkable. Of course, the same could be said for a home security system. You don’t need it, until you really need it. If you don’t have it when you need, you’re going to regret it.

Your dash cam has the potential to:

  • Protect you from liability in a car accident.
  • Remove any doubt in how confrontations or communications unfold
  • Record any crime in your view
  • Capture funny or shocking moments
  • Record stock video footage

Dash cams also have the exceptional power of keeping people honest, and on their best behavior.

Dash Cam Must Haves

As with most other things, when you buy a dash cam, you can go for the most bare bones product, or invest in plenty of cool features. Take a look at this list, then decide which items are on your must-have list.

  • Night Vision Capabilities: This is such an important feature, that many people don’t consider it to be optional at all. Most driving accidents do happen during the day. The problem is that the ones that happen at night tend to be more contentious. They are more likely to involve alcohol, and witnesses may not be able to see things as clearly in the dark. With night vision, your footage will be clear as day.
  • Resolution: If you plan to record footage for public consumption, then you’ll need the best resolution you can afford simply for the production values. Even if that isn’t your goal, you should still consider resolution when you make your purchase. Keep in mind that the better resolution you have, the clearer video of license plates, people, signs, etc. will be. Keep in mind that unlike smartphone footage, you could be relatively far away from your subject.
  • Warranty: Most dash cam warranties are fairly limited in what they cover. Still, they can be worthwhile if certain components of your camera fail. Consider it if you’re buying a camera you cannot easily replace out-of-pocket.
  • Wiring: A cam that simply plugs into your lighter or a USB port is going to be your least expensive option. It will also be your least reliable choice. A camera that is hardwired will be much more reliable. You won’t have to worry about running out of juice.

Dash Cam FAQ

How Important is GPS Function?

GPS tracking provides important information to bolster what your camera records. It documents precisely where you are when you record footage. Imagine you happen to capture something of interest on a stretch of road with no visible landmarks or mile markers. GPS is the one thing that can back up your claims in terms of location.

Can Someone Use my Dash Cam Footage Against Me?

If somebody is able to obtain your dash cam footage, they could potentially use it as evidence against you. Whether they would be able to do that is a matter of law. If you dash cam becomes a matter of interest in a legal investigation of any sort, you should definitely contact an attorney.

Is my Dash Cam Recording Inside my Car?

Most dash cams do not film the inside of your car. The exception is that certain ‘reversal’ models are mounted like dash cams, but they film the driver or passengers. These are popular with vloggers, or film directors.

What About my Insurance Premiums?

That depends. Some insurance providers will offer you a discount if you have a dash cam. Also, since they can be used to determine who is at fault, they can help you avoid insurance increases. Of course, this assumes that the footage proves you are not at fault. Another insurance related benefit is that it can make claims settlement go much faster.