Not everyone drives often enough to really need a dash cam, but all it takes is one minor accident for a car camera to demonstrate its value. After all, when it comes to collisions on the road, even the safest driver is at risk.
If you have a long commute time or drive commercially, you are much more likely to be involved in a collision. It’s not unreasonable for even the most casual commuters to want to avoid the complicated litigation surrounding a simple fender bender (or worse).
A consumer-level dash cam will be helpful for proving innocence in auto collisions, providing video footage and sometimes GPS data like vehicle speed and direction.
However, a dash cam does not automatically grant freedom from legal recourse, as its data won’t do you any good when you are at fault in an accident.
Aside from that scenario, there are a large number of reasons you would want a camera on your front or rear window while you are driving. You can prove innocence in an accident, record scenic memories on a roadtrip, or capture the unexpected.
By now you might have thought to yourself, why not just use a GoPro? If you have an action cam, that will work just fine. But if you don’t, you can browse our picks for the best car camera and get the same protection for a fraction of the price.
What are the best car cameras?
- KDLINKS X1 Full-HD Dashboard Camcorder | Check it out on Amazon – $169.98
- Spy Tec A119 Version 2 | Check it out on Amazon – $79.95
- Garmin Dash Cam 65W | Check it out on Amazon – $249.99
- Goluk T2 FHD Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $129.99
- ZeroEdge Wide Angle Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $36.50
- Rexing V1 | Check it out on Amazon – $99.99
- Z-Edge Z3 2K Car Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $99.99
- TaoTronics Car Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $69.99
- SENWOW GS8000L Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $30.99
- ITrue X3 Dash Cam | Check it out on Amazon – $79.95
1. KDLINKS X1 Full-HD Dashboard Camcorder – $169.98
The KDLINKS X1 offers just about anything you could ask for in a dash cam, from high quality playback, to an included SD card, to built-in GPS. As far as dash cams go, you are paying top dollar for this one, but the KDLINKS X1 is still a fantastic option.
The X1 is capable of full-HD Video 1080p at 30 fps with its super wide 165° lens. The lens is a f1.6 six-glass model with Wide Dynamic Resolution (WDR) technology to offer higher contrast at night. All this said, you can get this same resolution picture for about half the price, so it is almost a downside to not see more pixels from the X1.
But the playback is still good enough to identify a license plate from a distance, and a built-in 2.7-inch screen offers solid instant playback for emergencies. Like all the dash cams on this list, the X1 will record continuously, looping over the oldest data when the SB card becomes full.
Through the built-in G-Sensor, the device will recognize when collisions or unusual conditions occur and lock that portion of its recording from being looped over.
The camera also has a built-in GPS feature which records GPS data into video clips. If your car is stolen, you can use the included KDLINKS Player software to check the vehicle location, speed, and route.
The metrics from this GPS feature can be helpful in proving innocence in auto collisions, but be careful with this feature, as it can just as easily prove guilt.
The X1 gets its power from the 12V cigarette lighter, and only has enough battery life to prevent data loss. This is not a huge issue, as dash cams simply aren’t meant to record while the car is parked, and the most you could possibly get is about an hour and a half.
It also comes with an 8GB micro SD card, which is more than most devices come with. But considering the price of this camera and that it supports up to 32 GB, it would have been nice to see even more.
That said, 8 GB is plenty of recording time for most people, so this is a worthwhile trade-off for the high build quality and great customer service that the X1 offers.
2. Spy Tec A119 Version 2 – $79.95
The Spy Tec A119 Version 2 offers many of the same features as top competitors, and though it is a few features short of the full package, it offers an amazing value on the essentials. Be careful though, as this established model has numerous knock-off options that don’t have the same quality control. Be sure only to buy from verified links.
Despite being a lower cost unit, the A119 Version 2 offers full HD 1440p recording, with a 120° WDR picture that has an anti-shake function. As is typical for these types of dash cams, footage is looped onto a micro SD card for maximum flexibility in recording.
The over-writing of your oldest recordings will not affect portions of data marked by the G-sensor as related to a sudden deceleration or impact. You can also manually trigger a locked recording, which is useful to do a walk-around after a crash among other things.
TheA119 Version 2 comeswith a 64 GB micro SD card out of the box, not that you’d need one so large unless you were a commercial driver. Footage can easily be replayed using included playback software, or the built-in HDMI port.
And while the Spy Tec is short on the different GPS features available, it offers solid motion detection, putting performance where it counts: clear and helpful playback. Playback is easy to get in a moment’s notice thanks to the onboard 2.7-inch LCD screen.
Though the unit has a somewhat bulkier design, it can still hide from your field of view behind a rear view mirror.
While some people prefer the battery-powered GW1 version, I prefer the capacitor model for its better performance under stress. They also perform better in high heat, which makes them a more reliable option in many climates.
A downside to this is that the A119 Version 2 needs a direct power supply (for example,your car’s USB port or cigarette lighter) to work, and can only store enough power to auto-save the video if power is lost. This also means the cam wouldn’t catch a hit and run if your car was off, but this is simply not something that these sort of cameras are used for.
3. Garmin Dash Cam 65W – $249.99
From renowned GPS brand Garmin comes the Dash Cam 65W, a compact and reliable dash cam that has great potential for use on longer routes. The included 4 GB micro SD card can be swapped for an SD card of up to 64 GB, and if that isn’t enough, you can record in different formats to trade picture quality for additional recording time.
If you use the included 4 GB card, the VGA format will get you 4.8 hours of looped recording time, as compared to about 48 minutes in 1080p. Ultimately, you’ll want to record in 1080p by default, but if you are involved in an accident partway through a long roadtrip, it can be smart to switch to VGA to preserve what’s left of your memory.
The camera films in 180° wide angle perspective, allowing it to capture everything that would appear in your field of view. 1080p is useful for its clear day and night shots, which offer enough clarity to read license plate numbers in most conditions. The unit also includes an integrated microphone which can be useful for capturing information given during an incident.
There is also three exposure settings, and a snapshot feature to capture the information of unsafe drivers or just a memorable vista on the road. Yet another useful feature is the unit’s built-in battery, which makes it easy to capture supplementary video like walk-arounds after an accident.
THis model also sports forward collision warning to alert you to tailgating tendencies, plus warnings for nearby red light and speed cameras.
The included Mac/PC software helps review both G-force data and GPS coordinates, allowing you to review your speed and destination at any point in the recording. If you need instant playback, you can replay recordings on the easy to access 2.3-inch LCD system.
The Garmin’s swiveling suction mount attaches well to window, and the unit itself is compact and not at all distracting. Unfortunately, the camera is set to record from the window exclusively, and will display the video upside down if you try to use any sort of dashboard mount.
Ultimately, the Garmin 65W offers a powerful set of features that rivals anything made by other brands. But the price is what you might expect from a higher end camera. If you think you will find use in the Dash Cam 35’s unique array of features, then this dash cam is a great pick.
4. Goluk T2 FHD Dash Cam – $129.99
The Goluk T2 is a compact and powerful dashboard camera that wirelessly connects to your smartphone to playback video or adjust settings. Rather than use a tiny LCD screen for playback, you can easily view records from your phone remotely.
For some, an embedded screen is a must-have, but if you’d prefer to use your phone anyway, the Goluk T2 is small enough to easily disappear behind your rear view mirror. Unfortunately a bright blue LED does hurt some of its stealthiness, but it is still one of the smallest dash cams out there.
Another big plus of the Goluk T2 is its fantastic recording quality. This camera records in 1920×1080 resolution with a wide 152° viewing angle. It offers HDR recording, infrared filtering, a microphone to capture audio, and a solid night vision feature.
The camera records in a continuous loop, organizing data by three minute segments. These segments can be automatically recorded by a G-sensor which can be set to different sensitivity modes through the Goluk app.
The free Goluk app is available on either Android or iOS, and allows you to both modify recording settings and view recordings stored on the dash cam. The app also offers some more unique features like sharing pictures on social media, or monitoring your car while it is parked.
Using your Goluk T2 when the car is powered off requires you to install and connect a voltage regulator cable, but if you are looking for a dash cam that can keep your parked car safe, this is one of few devices that can actually do it.
The app isn’t the only way to interact with this device, though, as the T2 also comes with a wireless adhesive button called the Magickey, which will save a 12 second video snapshot and still image.
The T2 does not come with a micro SD card, but supports cards up to 64 GB. This doesn’t help justify the cam’s price tag, yet it still proves its value by providing a healthy selection of safety features and being an overall well-built camera.
5. ZeroEdge Wide Angle Dash Cam – $36.50
The ZeroEdge dash cam is an affordable and functional option for monitoring your driving, and it includes a 16 GB SD card to offer the maximum bang for your buck. All the same, this camera records in 1080p quality (or lower if you wish to save space on your card), and captures 135° of low light-compensated footage wherever it is angled. It offers playback on a 2.4-inch screen, and is otherwise a small and manageable addition to your dashboard or window.
The video will either record when the G-sensor senses vibrations from a bump or collision, or when you manually set it to do so. Otherwise, it uses a standard looping arrangement that automatically overwrites old footage that won’t be needed.
The camera also has a snapshot feature and a time lapse mode, which can be used to watch your car while its parked, or to simply record a road trip.
This unit does not have a GPS, but this feature is not necessary for everyone, and will only be useful in certain situations. It does, however, have a small internal battery, which affords you about 15 extra minutes of recording time if you lose power in your car battery.
One nice feature that anyone will appreciate is the hands-off mode that has the camera automatically start at ignition, taking the setup out of your daily routine. For most other features, the controls are slightly trickier on this device than others, but with just 4 buttons, should be easy enough figure out after a while.
6. Rexing V1 – $99.99
The Rexing V1 is a compact and adjustable dash cam that uses a secure adhesive mount to keep a lower profile than other dash cams. Despite being a more compact unit, it fits a 2.4-inch LCD screen onto its design.
The screen allows for easy playback, plus easy navigation of the user-friendly menus. The V1 does not come with an SD card, but does support loop recording and G-sensor auto accident-detection.
In terms of video performance, the V1 offers full HD 1080p recording at 30 fps, plus a wide 170° field of view. It delivers decent night performance thanks to WDR recording, but it’s far from the best in this category.
For an extra $30, you can upgrade to the V1P with rear camera, which ensures coverage from behind should you be rear-ended by another driver.
The Rexing V1 does come with an in-car charging cable to keep it powered. The battery is very low capacity and will only power the device for about a minute in the case of an emergency shut-off. If you plan on using this dash cam regularly, it would be best to hard wire it to the vehicle using a hard wire kit.
Either way, the V1 is an excellent choice for a casual dash cam. It has a wide enough HD camera to cover the whole road (front and rear), plus its small and simple design can be easily integrated into your driving routine.
7. Z-Edge Z3 2K Car Dash Cam – $99.99
If image quality is number one for you, the Z-Edge Z3 is a go-to pick. This dash cam is the best choice on the market for a dash cam that achieves glorious 2K (2560 X 1080) video.
The Z3’s excellent CMOS image sensor ensures you never miss a license plate number. It can also be used to take beautiful roadtrip footage across its decent 145° field of view. Its WDR recording provides serviceable night vision, but some clarity is lost in the exposure shift.
Typically, if you want to record in 2K quality, you will need a lot of extra storage space. The Z3 remedies that by shipping with a 32 GB Kingston SD card, providing ample space to store key videos while the rest of the video time overwrites in a loop.
Unfortunately, the Z3’s audio is not the same amazing quality as its picture. At all. Engine sounds and cabin music will easily drown out voices. There is also a high-pitched noise that blankets your recordings. It’s better to be just left off on this device, though you may miss another driver admitting fault or another important detail.
The Z3’s larger battery allows it to be set to “watchdog mode” when parked, automatically recording if your vehicle is jostled hard enough to trip the G-Sensor. Videos can be played back and settings can be adjusted through a 3-inch screen built right in.
The included suction mount screws onto the mount, which makes for way more trouble than you want when trying to stow your camera. It doesn’t help keep a low profile when mounted either.
If you can compromise with the subpar mounting method and audio recording, you will get an incredible value out of this Z-Edge dash cam. Both its high quality video and plethora of uses make it a strong contender.
8. TaoTronics Car Dash Cam – $69.99
The TaoTronics Car Dash Cam is a mid-tier camera that forgoes a stealth form factor for a price tag that is half of some competitors. More importantly, the TaoTronics cam’s resolution is the same 1080p 30 fps that you get with most cams, even the $170 KDLINKS X1.
Its video quality is fantastic during the daytime, and acceptable at night. A 2.7-inch LCD screen provides easy access to playback and settings. Controls are large and simple, and many of the dash cam’s most important features are automated.
The camera can be hard wired to start when your car does, its G-Sensor will automatically save footage pertaining to an impact, and its memory looping function will automatically clear out your oldest video segments to make room for new video.
The TaoTronics cam ups the ante further by including a 32 GB SD card (which is also the max size supported for video storage). This equates to about 4 hours of recording time before the camera starts looping over old video.
But as is a common downside for cheaper cameras, this dash cam is reasonably large and does stick out some behind your rear-view mirror. It also relies on a fairly chunky suction cup mount.
It would be nice to have an included kit to help with legitimate cable management. However, considering the price tag of this full HD camera, and the fact that it comes with a 32 GB SD card, the TaoTronics Dash Cam is still an excellent value.
9. SENWOW GS8000L Dash Cam – $30.99
Rounding out the serious low-end of the price spectrum, the SENWOW GS8000L Dash Cam provides an incredible value for someone just looking for a simple dash cam for a short weekly commute.
The GS8000L’s 1080p 30 fps image quality may match that of higher-end dash cams on paper, but indeed there is a notable grainy quality to the image compared to better models. This is not of particular importance unless you plan to save roadtrip footage or a scenic drive.
The night vision, however, is pretty much useless. In low-light settings, the picture becomes blurry and noisy without any WDR mode to lean on. This is a big issue, but if you mostly only drive during daylight hours, you will be covered by the camera’s 150° wide angle lens, which covers about three lanes of highway.
This view can be further boosted using a zoom setting, accessible on a built-in 2.7-inch LCD screen with fairly straightforward controls. The GS8000L includes an 8 GB SD card, which uses a video looping mode as well as G-Sensor video locking to expertly manage its memory.
One last downside of the lower price tag is reduced performance in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Again, whether or not this matters comes down to where you use it, so if your needs are simple, the GS8000L will be a standout choice.
10. ITrue X3 Dash Cam – $79.95
The ITrue X3 Dash Cam is a small and stylish dash cam that combines some high quality components beneath a faux leather faceplate that resembles a DSLR camera.
This relatively compact dash cam has a 2.7-inch screen on the back, where you can instantly replay video recorded with a max quality of 1080p 30 fps. This high resolution recording is complemented with an impressive 170° wide angle view and a WDR setting for night use.
Both video and audio come out clear and accurate on the X3, and a G-Sensor will ensure video occurring immediately before and after an impact is saved to memory rather than looped over. The X3 comes with an 8 GB micro SD card, which is always nice.
It has a solid internal battery, compared to the “emergency batteries” that come with most dash cams. It can stay on for about 10 minutes, which is enough to play back key video footage outside of your car. This is nice when you don’t have a computer handy for playback.
As with many cameras, GPS is available through an additional GPS Logger which connects easily to the camera. The X3 is a well-rounded dash cam that gets its most important aspects right.