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Need a dash cam for some extra peace of mind? We bought 12 of the best dash cams and took them on the road for more than 500 miles of driving. After reviewing the footage, installing and uninstalling each model in various cars, and tinkering with every available setting and feature, we've found the best camera for every purpose. Maybe you want evidence to ensure a minor driving incident doesn't turn into an extended legal battle, or you're a rideshare driver needing to record inside and outside of your car. Or perhaps you simply want to capture your sunset cruises — we'll help you find the perfect dashboard companion.
Most users don't require a rear-facing camera for their dash cam and will find the AUKEY DR02 to be an excellent pick for their needs. The high-definition front-facing camera on this model boasts a wide 170˚ viewing field, all at a fairly good cost. The wide-angle provides an all-encompassing view and will record useful footage in case of an accident — or make sure you capture that once-in-a-lifetime event on your drive. One of the biggest draws of the DR02 is its compact size, the longest side being just 2.2 inches. You can place it on the edge of your dashboard and stow the wire away, and you'll hardly notice it's there. If you want to maintain a sleek look across your windshield's silhouette with minimal obstructions, but also want the useful features a dash cam has to offer, we think you'll like this model.
Unfortunately, a few minor things bother us about the design of this model. Since there is no WiFi included, you have to remove the SD card from the camera and plug it into a computer to download and save recordings. While this process is not the most streamlined, it's more than likely that you won't need to pull footage off of the device daily anyway. However, one aspect that might be a no-go for some is the adhesive mount that sticks to the windshield. The mount helps keep the silhouette thin, but not everyone will want a semi-fixed mount adhered to their vehicle window. Overall, these setbacks are minor and we feel the AUKEY DR02 is a great choice for most dash cam users.
The Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual is one of the best cameras you will find on the market today. It includes just about every option you could look for in a dash cam. The front-facing camera can record in crystal-clear 2.5k resolution with a wide (but not distorted) 170˚ field of view. The secondary cabin-facing camera records in 1080p HD with a 140˚ field of view. If you are a rideshare driver, the secondary camera on the N2 Pro can be an essential tool if you need photo or video proof of rough and rowdy guests, experience any unwanted damage in your vehicle, or can be a way to help you feel safe. The camera also has a microphone to capture any verbal interactions. On top of this great video quality and nearly 310˚ of coverage, the N2 Pro's rear-facing camera has infrared sensors that enable it to capture usable images even in complete darkness.
A definite downside to the N2 is its price. It is almost twice the price of some other single-camera models that can also produce impressively clear footage. That extra cost is only really worth it if you need the second cab-facing camera. The unit itself is also a bit on the bulky side, but we honestly prefer having one larger unit over other dual-camera models with separate units connected by a mess of wires. Finally, this model lacks wireless video sharing, so you must plug in the camera (or the micro SD card) to a computer to download its video. These things aside, this is the best camera we've found for rideshare drivers or anyone that wants a cab-facing camera with high-quality video capture.
If you're looking for the peace of mind offered by a dash cam at a bargain price, look no further than the Roav A1. While this model didn't score highly across all our metrics, it still measures up in a few. The slim profile leaves your view unobstructed and the intuitive interface makes using this device a cinch. Not to mention the built-in WiFi offers quick clip sharing and saving.
The video quality on this affordable model was noticeably subpar compared to other cameras in our review — this was the biggest downside of the unit. However, while the video of the A1 is a bit grainy when compared to that of our other awards winners, it is certainly good enough to catch a good view of the action or capture a license place if you happen to get into an accident.
With its dual, or tandem, cameras, the Garmin Tandem offers visibility outside and inside your vehicle. Both cameras offer a whopping 180° field of view, with little to no distortion. This level of visibility on a cab-facing camera is a rare feature that ensures you'll catch everything you may need. The camera's quality is no joke either. The exterior cam offers 1440p vision during the day and 720p in the dark, and the interior camera offers 720p vision across the board. The voice commands and app make this dash cam easy to use and the slim body leaves your driving view unobstructed, which is something that most bulky dual-cammed devices do not offer.
While the app and voice commands are very user-friendly, the interface on the device itself is rather minimal and less intuitive. The Tandem is also devoid of a screen. Because the device is so small, a screen would be somewhat useless anyways, but it is a feature worth noting, especially for its higher price tag. These issues will only burden the user if they do not have a smartphone or would prefer not to use the app. Overall the Tandem is a great option for anyone who needs to record inside and outside their vehicle.
The Nextbass 622GW comes equipped with a massive screen when compared to the average dash cam. This three-inch LCD touch screen is accurate and easy to see. The 622GW offers a number of safety features like parking mode, SOS services, and Alexa support, all easily navigated by a clearly labeled and intuitive menu. The video quality and reliability are great, ensuring you don't miss a beat.
Our biggest gripe with the Nextbass 622GW is its price. While there is no denying that it is a high-performing option, others in our test suite almost match its performance for a fraction of the price. If you are looking for an intuitive dash cam with a large touch screen and do not mind spending the money, the 622GW is an option you should explore further.
Why You Should Trust Us
In completing this review, we captured more than 50 hours of footage, driving more than 500 miles, day and night. We became familiar with the installation process of each camera in multiple cars and carefully noted the impact that each product setup has on peripheral vision. Once we got a feel for how to operate each of these cameras, we then offloaded all the video, using both memory cards and each camera's associated app, onto a computer. Then we compared both day and nighttime footage from each camera side-by-side, paying special attention to things like how each model captured license plate numbers and the impact that travel, speed, and light conditions have on video clarity.
This review is brought to you by a talented and thorough testing team. Steven Tata and Max Mutter have tested and reviewed more than 200 smart and video capture devices over the years. They have a very good idea of the features that can make gadgets like these integrate well into your daily life and the kinds of drawbacks that may make them more trouble than they're worth. Additionally, the two have become experts in analyzing the quality of video footage, having now reviewed more than 100 camera drones, projectors, home security cameras, and Chromebooks.
In her tenure with GearLab, Michelle Powell has designed and implemented testing for hundreds of products, including dozens of audio, video, and security-related items. She brings a detailed, methodical, and exhaustive approach to the table. Furthermore, she has spent countless weeks on the road and has a keen understanding of what is truly important in real-world applications of dash cams. Whether you simply want to document a beautiful drive or need a camera to accurately record incident information, she has you in mind. Matt Spencer is no stranger to the tech world, as he is an avid gamer. Since a young age, science and analytics have intrigued him ensuring our testing team is lush with those who pay special attention to detail. Hayley Thomas, makes up the fifth and final part of this stellar testing team. She lives in her converted Sprinter van and travels wherever her wheels will take her, exploring windy mountain roads, busy cities, and long stretches of the wide-open country. Considering her home is also her vehicle, she must take every safety precaution she can, helping to bring this review a true user perspective.
Analysis and Test Results
Most dash cams have somewhat similar levels of functionality and performance, so you'll likely end up choosing one based on a specific feature or price point. We designed our tests to identify and amplify those small differences. After spending over 100 hours driving and sorting through the resulting footage, we graded each camera on its video quality, reliability, convenience in capturing and offloading video, interface design, and how much space the units take up on a windshield.
Dash cameras differ in price mainly as a function of how many features any given model has. The AUKEY DR02 hits the sweet spot, offering all of the performance and features the vast majority of people will want or need for a relatively low price. The higher-priced Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual is the best option we've tested if you are looking for additional features, like a cabin-facing camera and infrared night vision, but it will also set you back quite a bit more. If you're looking to spend as little as possible, then the bare-bones experience of the Roav A1 will satisfy most people's needs, though its video isn't quite as crisp as that of the more expensive AUKEY DR02.
Is Your Dash Cam Legal?
Dash cams are completely legal in most areas as long as they don't obscure more than a seven-inch square of the windshield on the passenger side or more than a five-inch square on the driver's side. Some government agencies do not allow mounting anything on the windshield, in which case you'll have to get a dashboard mount to make it legal. Be sure to research your state's specific laws.
We compared the footage from each of the cameras we tested to determine which models rose to the top. Every camera provided visible footage, though some offered a bit more clarity and quality. An area where video quality differs is in low-light situations. We analyzed all of the videos from both a practical perspective (e.g., the ability to read license plates) and a recreational perspective (e.g., sharing scenery on social media). We conducted all of these tests in various daytime lighting conditions and at night to cover the full range of potential driving scenarios.
The best performer in our video testing was the Vantrue N2 Pro Uber Dual. Its 2.5K resolution produces very crisp footage, and the wide 170° field of view covers a lot of area without making the video look distorted. In daylight footage, we had no problem with reading license plate numbers, even in swift-moving traffic. This model is also one of the only cameras on the market with infrared sensors (on the cab-facing camera only), resulting in usable images even in the complete dark. However, it is worth noting that the video quality is slightly lower on the cab-facing cam, and it has a narrower field of view than the front-facing camera. Occasionally at night, we had a bit of trouble making out license plates on moving cars, which was the only reason this model missed out on a perfect score.
A handful of other models fell just behind the Vantrue N2 Pro in our video quality tests. All of these cameras produce a clear, crisp video with reasonable color accuracy. However, there are some differences worth noting between them. The Rexing V1 video quality seems sharper than most of the other 1080p models we tested, and the 170° field of view covers a wide viewing area. We did have some difficulty reading license plates at night when cars were moving fast or when there were odd lighting conditions. The AUKEY DR02 is similarly crisp, also sports a 170° field of view, and in night conditions, it offers a clearer look at license plates. During the day, however, it is more prone to blurring license plates than the Rexing.
The Tandem comes in at a whopping 180°. We were pleasantly surprised with the lack of distortion we experienced on such a wide-angle. The cab-facing camera on the Tandem is of lower quality at 720p, and the external-facing one drops down to the same resolution in the dark, but overall we were very impressed with the Tandem's image quality.
The Garmin 57 offers 1440 pixel resolution and a 180-degree field of view, but the lens flare at night makes reading license plates extremely difficult. The Nextbase 622GW has a similar issue but performs a little better at night than the Garmin 57. Both work okay during the day with vibrant colors and a mostly clear image.
The Roav A1 offers about average video quality, which is what most would probably expect from a lower-priced and compact camera. Despite the 1080p resolution, the video quality is a bit grainy. It is clear enough to identify license plates for the most part but isn't ideal for documenting a scenic drive. Speaking of license plates; in most conditions, we were able to read them easily, but the image was more likely to be washed out in bright light and near stoplights at night.
The worst video quality of any camera we tested came from the APEMAN C450A. All of its footage looks somewhat blocky and grainy, and there is an overly warm hue added to it. This camera is more prone to washing things out in bright light, especially when approaching a traffic light at night.
All dash cams capture video using a technique called loop recording, where many video clips of a specified length get saved to a memory card (in this case, a micro SD card). When the memory card fills up, the oldest clips get deleted to make way for the new ones. If a dash cam's G-sensor senses an incident (like a car accident), it will protect the current clip from being deleted until you physically delete it, ensuring the most important footage is not lost. All dash cams in our review come with a feature that automatically starts recording when the car is started, and evidence that its G-sensor is effective. Beyond that, we assessed the loop recording options offered by each camera. Shorter loop recording clips, say one minute, prevent the memory card from filling up with clips from every time you brake hard, but it also increases the likelihood that an event could occur towards the very end of a clip, with most of the action occurring in the next, unprotected clip. Longer clips take up much more space but are protected against this possibility. Finally, we assessed footage management in this metric, giving higher scores to models that have built-in WiFi networks that allow you to beam clips directly to your phone instead of removing a memory card and plugging it into a computer.
Earning high marks in this metric is the Nextbase 622GW. It is leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors with various safety features made possible by built-in WiFi and GPS. Although the WiFi is not particularly unique, the 622GW offers emergency SOS response, intelligent parking mode, and built-in voice control.
Most of the devices in our test suite offer Event Detection G Sensor, but not all of them work as well as the Garmin 57. The 57 is triggered by a hard break, ensuring every potential accident is caught on video.
Vantrue N2 Pro. It offers loop recording clip settings of 1, 3, and 5 minutes. This is more than most cameras provide, but it does lack the 10-minute option that some offer. The unique cab-facing camera also captures audio, which is great for rideshare drivers, as you can record any verbal interactions that might occur with one of your passengers. You will need to disclose that your passenger is being recorded in most states.
Another top performer is the Roav A1, which offers the most adjustability in loop recording settings of any camera we tested, with 1, 3, 5, and 10-minute clip options. It also sports built-in WiFi for smooth video transfer to your phone.
The Rove R2-4K earns its spot as a top performer in our video capture category because of the built-in WiFi, 3-minute clips, and constant video saving. Unlike most of the other models in our test suit, the Rove does not require a verbal command, clicking of any buttons, or a hard stop or crash that triggers a G-force sensor to save footage. It is saving everything that happens in three-minute clips all the time. Once the storage is full, it simply deletes the oldest clip to make room for the newest one. This gives it a huge leg up in recording liability.
The Vantrue N1 Pro and Vantrue 4 are two more options worth mentioning. Both have WiFi, auto-on, and Event Detection G Sensor, but V1 has a leg up in its ability to offer reliability via its long battery life, ensuring you never miss a beat, even on cross-country road trips. They both have one, three, and five-minute clip lengths but the Vantrue 4 comes equipped with an interior camera, while the N1 does not.
The Garmin Tandem is another model with built-in WiFi, which makes it easy to offload footage. The fixed, one-minute loop recording clip length can go both ways. This relatively short amount of time is fine if you're looking to be economical with the space on your memory card, but some people may want a slightly longer clip. That being said, if the Tandem senses an accident it will save the clip in which the impact was detected, as well as the minute before and the minute after. This ensures that you will more than likely catch the entire accident on camera. The Tandem also offers audio recording in the cab, which is great for rideshare drivers.
The AUKEY DR02 lets you select the length of recording clips with options of 3, 5, and 10 minutes. However, to get its footage off of the camera, you will have to plug in its memory card to a computer since it lacks any built-in WiFi. Both the APEMAN C450A and the Rexing V1 share the same clip length options and lack of WiFi as the AUKEY DR02.
Many of the dash cams in our lineup have a small LCD screen that lets you see what the camera is seeing and displays settings menus and some controls to navigate those menus. This interface allows you to position the camera correctly, select specific video capture settings, and review and manage the camera's footage. In our testing, we used the LCD screen to position and reposition the cameras in multiple cars, and extensively used each control panel to change settings and manage footage. For those that do not have an on-camera view screen, we simply used the associated smartphone app. We were able to get a very good feel for the annoyances and benefits inherent in each camera's interface after choosing every setting possible and sorting through over a hundred hours of video.
The Nextbase 622GW stands out from the crowd with its three-inch LCD touch screen. The large screen makes the image easier to see and the menu easier to navigate. The touch screen is accurate and responsive, the buttons are labeled distinctly, and the menu is very intuitive. The visual quality is also crisp and clear. Updating the software and sharing imagery is made easy with built-in WiFi.
Adjusting settings and managing footage right from the camera of the Roav A1 was the easiest and most painless, which is why it is our top scorer in this category. We found it to be the most user-friendly model tested, thanks to a large three-inch screen, an intuitive set of well-labeled controls, and easily navigable menus. We also like the interfaces of the AUKEY DR02, which fell just behind the top scorer. It has somewhat large buttons, and the menus are easy to navigate, but at 1.5 inches, its screen is on the smaller side.
The Garmin 57 is not too far behind. All Garmin devices offer voice commands, which help with user-friendliness and making your driving experience safer. The 57 has a small two-inch screen equipped with decent menus. The prompt before operating is mildly annoying but clears itself after a moment. This device offers safety alerts, but the lane alignment is not always accurate, triggering false alarms while driving. Luckily you can turn this setting off rather easily, which we highly recommend because these alerts can be very distracting. The Tandem and Mini also offer these features, but the tiny screen of the mini and the lack of a screen on the Tandem make things a little less user-friendly for the lower-performing Garmins.
We like but don't love the interface of the Vantrue N2 Pro, N1, and N4. They provide relatively intuitive menus and reliable controls for navigating those menus. The cameras have more features than almost any other model on the market, which is wonderful, but the teensy 1.5-inch screen on the N2 and N1 is our biggest gripe. Navigating all the settings related to those snazzy features on such a small screen had us squinting while sifting through menus. The N4 is way bigger, at 2.5 inches, making it much easier to see.
We also feel somewhat neutral overall about the interface on the APEMAN C450A. We love the large 3-inch screen, but the menus and controls take a bit more getting used to than those of the higher-scoring models. For some more advanced settings, we had to consult the manual to find what we were looking for, something that we didn't have to do with any of the above models.
Our least favorite interface belongs to the Rexing V1. The relatively large 2.4-inch screen is useful, but the benefits end there. We found both of its controls and menus to be so unreliable and circuitous that we had to consult the manual, and it took several attempts to complete any task.
The worst thing one of these cameras can do is encroach on your peripheral vision and create a visual annoyance or, worse, an impediment. These cameras all have different style mounts and may be affixed in different areas of the windshield (for example, some go in the corner while others hide behind the rearview mirror). Thus we evaluated each model's visual footprint subjectively, driving with each on our windshield for dozens of hours in varying conditions and noting how often we noticed the camera in our vision and how distracting it was when that happened.
Of all the cameras we tested, the AUKEY DR02 and Garmin Mini offer the least visually obtrusive profiles. The DR02 adhesive mount is tiny, and the back of the camera measures just 2 x 3 inches. We hardly noticed this camera when it was tucked in the corner of the windshield or to the right side of the rearview mirror. The Mini is even a bit smaller, but the mount is slightly larger.
Presenting slightly larger profiles but still very compact are the Rexing V1 and Tandem. They still manage to mostly hide from view when driving. All three use adhesives mounts that cut down on overall bulkiness when compared to suction mounts, although in many applications, the suction mount is better suited. Rexing V1 is somewhat larger, with its face measuring 5 x 3.4 inches, but its angular shape allows it to hide away quite well.
Outside of the top models, all of the cameras we tested have large enough visual footprints to be easily noticed while driving but aren't so large as to be a constant annoyance. Bottom line, if you're the kind of person that plasters your sunglasses right up to your face because you can't stand seeing the frames in your peripheral vision, you should probably get one of the aforementioned models.
In terms of the visual footprint, we found the Roav A1, the APEMAN C450A, and the Vantrue N1 to be about even. All three are undoubtedly noticeable when installed but present little enough surface area that you shouldn't have a problem ignoring the small spot they occupy in your peripheral vision.
Due to its dual cameras and an array of infrared sensors, the Vantrue N2 Pro sports a pretty hefty visual footprint. Measuring 3.8 x 1.5 inches and utilizing a large suction mount that only adds to its visual weight, this camera will likely be noticeable in your peripheral vision. That said, it is still much smaller than the five-inch square that most government agencies consider the legal maximum, and if placed right below the rearview mirror, it doesn't present too much of a visual annoyance.
Though we certainly wouldn't call dash cams a necessity for all drivers, they can provide some peace of mind for people who often drive on crowded, more accident-prone streets, or for those who offer rideshare services and would like some form of security or accountability for what is happening in their vehicle. We've found that while almost any dash cam can get the job done, specific models offer much better user experiences and video quality than others, and some might have single or dual cameras. We hope that our testing results have helped you find the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.
Max Mutter, Michelle Powell, Steven Tata, and Hayley Thomas
After researching more than 50 jump starters, we selected...
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.