Best dash cams 2023: Reviews and buying advice | PCWorld

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While you drive, there’s a lot happening, so a second pair of eyes can help you stay safe. A dash cam provides this extra vigilance and helps give you peace of mind while out on the road. The best dash cams monitor in high-res video what’s happening while you’re behind the wheel, with timestamps and GPS coordinates. They can even record while your car is parked, helping you keep tabs on your car while you’re away. 7 Inch Apple Car Play

Best dash cams 2023: Reviews and buying advice | PCWorld

When choosing the best dash cam for your needs you should first consider if you want a front, front/interior, or front/rear model. Additionally, you’ll want to decide on how wide a viewing angle you’ll need. Then there are special features to take into account, such as voice control or parking assist. Since there are a number of reasons to use a dash cam, we understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of the best dash cams of all types with various features and prices below.

For even more information on what to look for when buying a dash cam, scroll to our buyer’s guide under our best picks. And after you’ve bought a dash cam, save yourself some time and frustration by reading our guide on how to install a dash cam.

Updated 09/16/2023: Check out our latest review of the Garmin Dash Cam Live. If you can stomach the hefty price tag and ongoing LTE expenses, then the Garmin Dash Cam live is one of the best premium options available today.

Our review of the Cobra SC 400D left us smitten. It’s pricey, yes, but it delivers the goods with stunning images—4K for the front, 1080p in the rear—day or night. In addition to that it has all the trappings of a premium product: a sturdy magnetic mount with integrated GPS, a crisp 3-inch touchscreen display, and Alexa support for finding businesses and the like when you are on the road. It can also be expanded with an optional 120-degree FOV cam for the interior.

Prior to our review of the Cobra SC 400D above, the 622GW front/rear system was our hands-down favorite. And, really, it shares virtually all the same attributes as its rival—nice design and build quality, excellent day and night captures, drive mapping, a wonderful 3-inch display, emergency response to accidents, Alexa support, and the ability to add a third camera for interior views. Like the 400D, it carries a premium price tag. But in the end, you can’t go wrong with either model.

Another of the 4K-front/1080p-rear camera setups, the Viofo A129 Pro Duo was the first to win us over to the benefits of 4K. It’s been matched in those abilities by newer models, but the A129 comes at a competitive price that can’t be ignored. Plus it offers integrated GPS and a pleasant user experience.

If you really want to save money, this Walmart-exclusive Nextbase 222X front-and-rear camera duo offers great value. The 1080p/720p video is a compromise, but video quality is still good, it has a nice magnetic mount, a clear 2.5-inch screen, and a battery-supported parking mode.

Prior to our review of the Miofive 4K, we would have tapped the Car and Driver Eye2 Pro as the best front-only dash cam with 4K, a fine product in its own right. But the Miofive costs $100 less, and offers integrated GPS as well as great video captures, 64GB of internal storage, a compact design, friendly voice notifications, and a super straightforward setup. So not only is this our favorite front dash cam with 4K, it’s our favorite front cam overall.

This small but mighty front dash cam has it all: great 1440p video with a 140-degree field of view, integrated GPS and driving assistance, good phone connectivity, an easy and convenient magnetic mounting system, and the backing of Garmin’s good name.

For minimalist types, iOttie’s Aivo View consists of just a small camera that magnetically attached to a semi-permanent mount. It uses your phone as the interface and viewer. It can capture at up to 1600p/30 frames per second, or as low as 720p to save space on your inserted SD card. It also offers integrated GPS. The Aivo View does require that you set up an iOttie account.

If that doesn’t sit well with you, the Garmin Dash Cam Mini 2 is another excellent choice for stealth operation, measuring just 1.23 x 2.1 x 1.5 inches—small enough to remain hidden behind your sun visor. It doesn’t have GPS, however.

Garmin’s front/interior camera is easy to install, features a compact body that helps it avoid detection, and has an excellent magnetic mount—all useful features that make up for the average 1440p/720p video capture quality. The Tandem doesn’t have a display; it nicely uses Bluetooth (as opposed to Wi-Fi) to connect to your phone, where Garmin’s easy-to-use app lets you configure settings—although the defaults are spot-on.

Dash cams are all about capturing the action, and few do it better than the front/interior Cobra SC 201. The exterior night video, especially, is unsurpassed in its ability to show details in dark surroundings and it offers a laundry list of features including GPS and cloud uploads. The company even includes a 16GB SD card. It’s well worth the money for what you get—just don’t try to use the cloud functionality with an older phone OS.

Most dash cams have the same basic uninspired design, with very little innovation in the market. Fortunately, the 70mai X200 Dash Cam Omni has come around to fix that. Looking like something out of Wall-E, the pill-shaped camera uses a clever covering to hide a motorized 1080p, 60fps camera, that can rotate 360 degrees. It’s not just about the aesthetics with this dash cam either; the camera actually captures colorful and detailed video and images, day or night. It’s also easy to set up, has an app to control the camera, and comes with integrated GPS. It might be a bit off the beaten path compared to the standard dash cam, but the unique design and effective capture quality make the 70mai X200 much more than just a novelty.

We’ll step you through what to think about when you’re shopping for a dash cam, from video capabilities, recording options, power connections, and more. 

Something most people don’t consider before they buy is that dash cams connect to a power source in your car via a physical cable. That cable can sometimes be tucked out of the way, but more likely than not you’ll have loose cable hanging somewhere. You can sometimes fix this with a longer or shorter cable (or a professional installation). Keep that in mind as you consider your power options:

Few people are as well situated geographically as I am to test dash cams. Within two blocks there are major four- and six-lane thoroughfares, numerous bike lanes, joggers, dog walkers, oblivious ear-budded pedestrians, and a major bus nexus serving both public and private coaches. The opportunities for near-accidents are endless.

For every dash cam, I mount it in my car, judging the ease and convenience of doing so. Tip: Many dash cams rely on adhesive for mounting to your windshield. Hot conditions can make it next to impossible to remove the film that protects the adhesive. Remove the film in a cool environment, or place it in the fridge for a minute or two before installing it.

I put each dash cam through several days’ and nights’ worth of driving, recording video and judging the image quality. All the dash cams I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years take good daytime video. However, night video is often plagued by murky shadows and headlight flare. That said, quality is improving rapidly with the introduction of new sensors. Take a close look at the night shots in each review. 

I try all the features: Buttons, display controls, apps. Aside from rear-view support and GPS, the most salient differences between the products are the interface controls and extra features, such as the lane departure and collision warnings that you get with some models. I try them…and I turn them off. In practice, they usually tell me I’m changing lanes, in heavy traffic, or have just been cut off. I know that. Additionally, the collision warnings generally come too late to do anything but distract you at exactly the wrong time. 

Note that the one thing I can’t relate to you is the longevity of any dash cam, as my testing occurs over a relatively short amount of time. Please check user reviews on various sites and pay attention to the warranty.

The use of dash cams in consumer vehicles is a relatively recent trend, and people have been driving just fine without them for a long time. However, while it might not be necessary, there are legitimate benefits to using a dash cam in your car. 

Many people who purchase and install dash cams use them as a type of insurance policy for their actions and those of others on the road. Dash cams can protect you from other drivers in a number of ways. They can help you prove your innocence in the event of an accident. They may also act as a deterrent against aggressive drivers. And some dash cams come with features that have motion-sensor parking modes that can record any possible hit-and-runs or thefts while you are away from your car.

In the end, it’s ultimately up to you as to whether you believe the possible benefits of buying and using a dash cam are worth the investment.

Yes, in all U.S. states, dash cams are legal. However, it’s best to check with your particular state’s traffic laws to determine what type of dash cam you should use. For example, not all states allow a dash cam to be mounted to a windshield—it’s best to do a little research before you buy.

Probably not. And by that, we mean almost certainly not. A standard dash cam with front and rear coverage, motion detection, and Wi-Fi all operating while your car is parked will only consume about 0.25 to 0.45 amps per hour. A typical small or midsize car battery is rated at 45 amp hours. This means that while your car is turned off it will take a few days for your car battery to get low from powering your dash cam.

Another feature that’s becoming more common in dash cams is a low-voltage cutoff as a safeguard against dead batteries. This feature automatically shuts-down your dash cam if it senses that the power drops below a certain threshold. So you can rest assured knowing that your dash cam won’t kill your car battery.

Dash cams use removable SD or microSD cards to store recorded data. Unlike your phone or mobile device, which stops you from adding more pictures or videos when the memory is full, a dash cam instead just uses an overwrite function to record over old data. Therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about your dash cam shutting off because the memory card is full. 

That being said, if you want to ensure that you aren’t overwriting valuable old data, you’ll want to get an adequate-sized memory card, and consider the resolution at which the camera captures the video. 4K recordings take up a lot more space than 1080p recordings.

Best dash cams 2023: Reviews and buying advice | PCWorld

4k Dash Camera We believe that the sweet spot for a memory card is somewhere around 128GB. Even if you are recording in 4K, this will allow you to record continuously for around five hours, or around 20 hours if you record at 1080p. Thankfully though, memory cards are relatively cheap and you won’t need to break the bank if you opt for even more storage capacity.