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The dash cams to get if you want peace of mind while on the road

Dash cams are great for recording evidence of accidents and vehicle break-ins. If you're looking for the best dash cam, our expert pick is the Vantrue N2 Pro for its 1440p resolution recording, infrared night vision, motion detection, and dual view recording.
taylor-clemons
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on

A dash cam can be a valuable tool for both new and experienced drivers. By recording the road in front of your vehicle, a dash cam can provide important information for authorities and insurance companies in the event of an accident or collision.

Some models also record the interior of the car to monitor distractions and driving habits, making them great for parents of teen drivers or caretakers of elderly family members. Others include a second camera unit for mounting on the back of your vehicle to give you almost 360 degrees of recording. Many dash cams also use night vision to record at night and motion detection to automatically record movement and activity while your car is parked. 

While most dash cams you'll find on the market record in 1080p, it is possible to find models that record in 1440p or even 4K for ultra-clean footage. To help you find the best dash cam for your vehicle, I've put together a list of the five best you can buy right now. I've broken down their features and price points to help you decide which is the best fit for both your needs and your budget.

Resolution: 1440p | Night vision: Yes | Motion detection: Yes | Storage: Up to 256GB microSD card | Power source: 12V adapter, hardwire kit | GPS: Optional | Viewing angle: 170 degrees front, 140 degrees interior | Viewing location: Front, interior

The Vantrue N2 Pro is an excellent dash cam for new drivers as well as drivers looking to upgrade their current dash cam setup. It features both a front- and interior-facing camera, so you can record both the road and passengers as you drive. The front camera captures video in 1440p resolution at 30 frames per second, while the interior camera records in 1080p at 60 frames per second; you also can change the front camera to 1080p/60fps for smoother playback at faster driving speeds. 

For power, you can either use the included 12V adapter or purchase a hardwire kit to connect the camera to your car's battery for an almost unlimited runtime. The front camera uses infrared night vision to capture clearer images in the dark and even has a 24-hour parking mode, which uses motion detection to only capture footage when something is happening. 

It supports microSD cards up to 256GB for storing videos, and the camera records in loops, so you never have to worry about offloading old videos; the camera will automatically overwrite old videos when the card is full. The built-in G sensor automatically detects when a crash or other accident happens and stores relevant video for later viewing. There's also an optional GPS unit you can buy for accurate location tracking to help emergency services get to you faster in the event of an accident.

Pros:

  • Great resolution
  • Dual camera views
  • Supports high-capacity microSD cards

Cons:

  • GPS and hardwire kits not included
  • Not 4K

Resolution: 1080p | Night vision: No | Motion detection: Yes | Storage: 32GB | Power source: 12V adapter | GPS: No | Viewing angle: 135 degrees | Viewing location: Front

If you're looking for a dependable dash cam that won't break the bank, the Nexar Beam is an excellent option. This dash cam retails for less than $150, while still giving you awesome features like motion detection recording. The front-facing camera captures video in 1080p for cleaner images, and the included 32GB microSD card can hold up to four hours of footage; you also get unlimited, free, cloud backup storage for your driving videos so you can have them on-hand for insurance purposes if needed. And don't worry about needing to offload video on a regular basis; the Nexar Beam automatically loops and overwrites old video when the card is full. 

With the companion smartphone app, you can set up automatic updates for the camera so it's always ready to go. You also can use the app to create detailed collision reports, complete with G force, speed, and location information as well as related videos. If you forget where you parked your car, or if it gets stolen, the app provides detailed location info so you can get your car back safely. It even sends out SOS messages to emergency contacts in the event of a crash so that you can get help faster. And the best part? There's no monthly subscription fee. The cost of the dash cam covers your lifetime usage of the app and its features.

Pros:

  • No subscription
  • SOS messages after crash
  • Affordable
  • Good resolution

Cons:

  • No interior or rear camera
  • No night vision

Resolution: 1080p | Night vision: No | Motion detection: Yes | Storage: Up to 512GB | Power source: 12V adapter | GPS: No | Viewing angle: 140 degrees | Viewing location: Front

If you're a rideshare or commercial truck driver, you need a dash cam that can store dozens of hours of video, since you may not have reliable or frequent access to a computer to offload footage. The Garmin Mini 2 supports microSD cards up to 512GB, which allows your dash cam to store almost 31 hours of 1080p video. That capacity makes it great for road trips, long-haul trucking, and full-time rideshare drivers. The camera is incredibly compact as well, measuring just 2x1x1 inches, so it won't obstruct your view while you're driving. 

The Garmin Mini 2 uses built-in voice controls for hands-free use, so you can start and stop recording while driving without needing to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. You also can remotely access the dash cam with your smartphone for live video streaming, allowing you to check on your vehicle while it's parked. And with the parking mode, the camera uses motion detection to automatically start recording when it senses movement. 

Pros:

  • Supports up to 512GB microSD card
  • Compact design
  • Voice controls
  • Live video feed

Cons:

  • No night vision
  • No interior camera
  • No on-board viewing screen

Resolution: Up to 4K front, 1080p interior and rear  | Night vision: Yes | Motion detection: Yes | Storage: Up to 256GB | Power source: 12V adapter | GPS: No | Viewing angle: 155 degrees front, 165 degrees interior, 160 degrees rear | Viewing location: Front, interior, rear

With three different cameras, the Vantrue N4 allows you to get almost 360 degrees of video coverage for your car while you drive. The main camera allows you to record the road in front of your vehicle as well as the interior, while the second camera can be mounted at the back of your car to record behind you. When used by itself, the front-facing camera can record up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second for clean, smooth playback. And when used with the other two cameras, it still records in 1440p while the interior and rear cameras record in 1080p.

All three cameras are equipped with night vision for recording in the dark and motion detectors to capture video when they sense movement while the car is parked. The built-in G sensor automatically detects when you've been in an accident or when something hits your parked car, saving relevant recordings for evidence. 

The Vantrue N4 supports microSD cards up to 256GB, allowing you to record up to 15 hours of video in 1440p; and the camera automatically overwrites the oldest file on the card for loop recording, so you don't have to worry about clearing out the microSD card. An optional GPS unit is available to buy, which lets the camera record routes and location information. That can be helpful for parents of new teen drivers as well as for anyone who needs to keep an eye on elderly family members, while still allowing them to have freedom. 

Pros:

  • Almost 360 degrees of recording
  • Up to 4K resolution
  • Night vision and motion detection

Cons:

  • GPS unit costs extra
  • Not compatible with macOS computers
  • Not compatible with SanDisk microSD cards

Resolution: 4K | Night vision: Yes | Motion detection: Yes | Storage: Up to 256GB | Power source: 12V adapter | GPS: Yes | Viewing angle: 140 degrees | Viewing location: Front 

Being able to give emergency services a precise location in the event of an accident or crash can make all the difference. The Nextbase 622GW is designed to help you not only record your driving but pinpoint your location. It features integration with What3Words, an app that permanently assigns three random words to every 3-meter square of their maps. These words then translate into real-world locations, allowing you to let emergency responders know exactly where you are, even if you don't have a street address. 

The front-facing camera features a polarizing filter to help reduce glare and washout from bright sunlight, and it is capable of recording video in up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, though you also can record in 1400p at up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps for smoother playback for high-speed-driving videos. You can use the slo-mo function to analyze footage frame by frame, while the built-in image stabilizer reduces picture sway for clearer frames. 

With the camera's night vision and motion detection, you can record at night and even when your car is parked. The dash cam connects to your smartphone via WiFi or Bluetooth to automatically sync your video recordings for storage. The built-in Alexa functionality gives you hands-free control and the ability to hear the news, weather, and your favorite music without taking your eyes off the road. 

Pros:

  • What3Words integration
  • Alexa built-in
  • 4K

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No rear camera included

What is the best dash cam?

My pick for the best dash cam is the Vantrue N2 Pro. Not only does it record what's on the road in front of you, it also has a second lens for recording the interior of the car; which is helpful if your car is ever broken into or stolen, and parents of new drivers can assess their levels of distractions and dangerous driving habits. 

It even has infrared night vision and motion detection to capture images in the dark and conserve battery life. It records in 1440p resolution at 30 frames per second for clean, crisp images, or you can switch to 1080p for a higher framerate while you're driving.

Dash cam

Price

Resolution

Storage

Vantrue N2 Pro

$170

1440p

Up to 256GB 

Nexar Beam

$130

1080p

Up to 256GB

Garmin Mini 2

$164

1080p

Up to 512GB

Vantrue N4

$260

4K

Up to 256GB

Nextbase 622GW

$400

4K

Up to 256GB

Which is the right dash cam for you?

That depends on what you want to record and for how long. There are a ton of dash cams on the market that record the road in front of your car, which is great for providing evidence in case of crashes and accidents. Others also can record the interior of your car, which is perfect for parents of teen drivers who want to keep tabs on their distractions and dangerous behaviors. Some dash cams come with a second camera that you can mount in the rear window of your car to record vehicles and the road behind you. 

If you want to keep your car monitored while it's parked or while driving at night, you'll want to opt for a model with motion detection recording and night vision for clearer images in dim light and to conserve battery while idle. You'll also want to choose a dash cam with a high storage capacity so you can properly store several days or weeks worth of video.

Some dash cams also require professional installation, since they connect to your car's battery, computer, and electrical systems to function. While these can be quite expensive, on top of installation costs, they're a good option if you don't plan on switching vehicles or don't want to mess with recharging batteries.

Choose this dash cam

If you need…

Vantrue N2 Pro

An affordable and well-rounded dash cam for front and interior recording

Nexar Beam

A very affordable dash cam with cloud storage

Garmin Mini 2

A name-brand dash cam with high-capacity storage

Vantrue N4

A dash cam kit for recording multiple viewpoints

Nextbase 622GW

A high-end dash cam with voice controls and GPS tracking

How did we choose these dash cams?

I did my best to choose affordable dash cams to suit more modest budgets. I also chose cameras with at least 1080p resolution recording for cleaner video and still images. My list also includes dash cams that support at least up to 256GB of storage for loop recording or recording several day's worth of driving footage.

Do dash cameras work when the car is off?

Absolutely! Whether it uses your car's battery or its own rechargeable one, your dash cam will be able to record as long as it has access to a reliable source of power. Though I do recommend using a dash cam with motion detection recording if you're planning to hook it up to your car battery so it doesn't deplete overnight.

How long do dash cameras keep footage?

That mostly depends on how much storage space you have. A 32GB SD card can store about four hours of 1080p footage before it needs to be overwritten, whereas a 512GB SD card can store up to 24 hours of 1080p video. And if your dash cam is capable of cloud storage, you can have almost unlimited video storage, since it will upload data to the cloud server to make room for local recording. However, as you go up in resolution, your storage gets you less footage; a 32GB card will only hold about 30 minutes of 4K video, and a 512GB one will hold close to four hours.

How big should my dash cam SD card be?

If you only plan to use your dash cam while you're driving, a smaller SD card will be just fine. A 32GB SD card can hold up to four hours of 1080p video, giving you plenty of storage space for typical commutes or long road trips. But if you want to be able to record video overnight, you may want to invest in a 128 or 256GB SD card to make sure you have enough space.

Are there alternative dash cams worth considering?

There are plenty of options on the market if you're looking to buy your first dash cam or upgrade your current setup. Here's a short list of alternatives that I think are great:

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