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The Best Dash Cams for Your Next Road Trip

JUN 15, 2020

Dash cams may not be quite the curiosities they once were, becoming more popular every day. But picking the right one to add to your car still isn’t as straightforward a process as you’d probably like it to be. For starters, they can vary considerably in price—from under $50 to over $500—and they run the gamut in terms of features and functionality, with some offering only the most basic recording capabilities while others are full-fledged smart devices in their own right. So we rounded up the best to help guide your decision.

Take a look below at quick info of the top five dash cams, then scroll down for buying advice and more in-depth reviews. Features to Consider

For most people, a dash cam on the lower or middle range of the price spectrum will be more than enough, and there’s no shortage of solid options to choose from between $100 and $250 or so. That will get you a camera that continuously records video and automatically saves it in the event of an accident, potentially giving you some much-needed evidence if there’s a dispute over who’s at fault. Most dash cams in that price range will also log quality video (usually 1080p or 1440p resolution), with decent low-light performance, so you’ll be able to see anything that occurred while you were driving at night. Many also have a small built-in screen to let you quickly review footage, and set up the camera itself. Beyond the basics, many dash cams also have built-in GPS to let you track your route and record data speed and location along with your video. Smart features like voice control and smartphone connectivity are also increasingly common. And those looking to go all out in terms of security may also want to look for a model that can be hardwired to your car (as opposed to simply plugged into a spare USB port or powered by its own battery). That will make sure your dash cam always has power even when you’re not driving, so it can automatically record video in the event your vehicle is hit or broken into while parked.

Rules of the Road

While dash cams are becoming more commonplace, there can be some legal issues with using them that vary from state to state (and country to country). Many of those regulations concern the placement and use of the dash cam rather than the device itself, but you’ll want to check any possible restrictions in your area before putting one in your car. Dash cam manufacturer Nextbase has this comprehensive guide to regulations in the U.S.

How We Selected

To select these dash cams, we relied on our own previous testing and researched expert opinions from trusted publications including Wirecutter, CNET, PC World, and others, as well as thousands of customer reviews from online retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. In the latter case, we focused on reviews where a majority of customers gave the dash cams four out of five stars or more, which we used to calculate our Consumer Score. —INTERIOR/EXTERIOR COMBO—

Vantrue N2 Pro

Consumer Score: 84% gave it four stars or higher

Resolution: 1440p (front), 1080p (rear) Field of view: 170 degrees (front), 140 degrees (rear) Extras: Parking mode, optional GPS Recording the interior of your vehicle isn’t as important as recording the exterior in the event of an accident, but it can offer some added security and peace of mind (in addition to letting you capture any impromptu karaoke sessions). When hardwired to our vehicle, a combination front-and-rear cam like the Vantrue N2 Pro will keep watch on the inside and outside of your vehicle at all times, which can be helpful in the event of a break-in. Wirecutter was especially impressed with the interior camera, which performed well even in complete darkness thanks to four infrared LEDs. One shortcoming: You’ll have to buy a separate GPS mount if you want to record location data along with your video.

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