Picking up one of the best dash cams isn’t merely for capturing footage of an asteroid strike or an escaped herd of cows causing havoc on the M4 – the imagery captured by these diminutive devices can be essential in the unfortunate event of an insurance claim and can even help lower premiums.
There is an enormous amount of choice currently on the market and finding the best dash cam for your needs can seem exhausting, with myriad features and price points making the decision to splash the budget feel pointless when there are cheaper options that appear to do exactly the same thing.
But the reality is, the more you spend on a top quality dash cam, the more built-in features you receive. These include auto record and save functionality, a CCTV mode when the vehicle is parked, and even the ability to control other smart devices via Amazon Alexa skills.
We’ve sifted through a number of the best performing dash cams on the market to decide which brands really offer the best of the best, covering a number of price points and built-in features that should appease an array of budgets and requirements.
Top 10 Best Dash Cam 2020
|#||Model||Camera||View||GPS||Amazon's Rating||Price||Link to product|
|1||NEXTBASE 522GW||1440p||140º||Yes||4.2||$229||View at Amazon|
|2||GARMIN DASH CAM 66W||1440p||140º||Yes||4.2||$197||View at Amazon|
|3||KENWOOD DRV-830||1440p||144º||Yes||4.3||$217||View at Amazon|
|4||THINKWARE F800 PRO||1080p||140º||Yes||4.1||$299||View at Amazon|
|5||GARMIN DASH CAM TANDEM||1440p||180º||Yes||4.2||$299||View at Amazon|
|6||BLACKVUE DR900S-2CH||4K Ultra-HD||162º||Yes||4.1||$413||View at Amazon|
1. NEXTBASE 522GW
The Best Dash Cam in 2020
Field of view: 140°
Screen: 3-inch HD touch screen
|REASONS TO BUY||+ Outstanding image quality|
+ Alexa built-in
+ Emergency SOS
+ Compact mount
|REASONS TO AVOID||– Menu UI looks dated|
|TODAY’S BEST DEAL|
The 522GW is a massively impressive dash cam, which not only nails the basics (such as recording outstanding image quality), but also offers features never before seen in a dash cam.
It’s the first dash cam available in the UK with Alexa built-in, so you can play music, find parking, control smart home devices and make calls whenever you want, without taking your eyes off the road. We found it surprisingly useful.
There’s also impressive safety features, such as Emergency SOS, which will alert the emergency services to your location in the event of an accident. This feature is potentially lifesaving, and is one of the main reasons we rate it as the best dash cam in 2019.
That’s not all, however, the 522GW also packs an ‘Intelligent Parking Mode’ that records any bump or physical movement on the vehicle when left unattended.
It’s not just the impressive list of features that means this is the best dash cam, however, as we previously mentioned, the Nextbase 522GW is also a master when it comes to the basics. It records incredibly crisp, perfectly lit 1440p video, the Click&Go mount is a really neat solution, and its smartphone app, MyNextbase, is the most polished experience we’ve encountered
2. GARMIN DASH CAM 66W
Very easy to install, effortless to use
Field of view: 140°
Memory: MicroSD card (not included)
|REASONS TO BUY||+ Compact design|
+ Lots of extra features
|REASONS TO AVOID||– Some lens distortion|
– Voice control isn’t great
|TODAY’S BEST DEAL|
We’ve often rated the Garmin dash cam offerings for their ease of use, and new to the party is its concise line of cute, inconspicuous dash cams, which piggyback on the marque’s action camera user interface but boast plenty of features that make them a valuable assistant on the open road.
This more expensive and latest 66W unit is the one to go for in our eyes, simply because the inclusion of the massively wide 180-degree viewing angle lens makes it the master of capturing everything that’s going on ahead – although there is some distortion at the very edge of the frame. Advertisement
There are very few dash cams that don’t automatically record and save footage when a built-in G-sensor detects and accident and that’s exactly what Garmin has implemented here too.
On top of this, users can operate the 66W using voice commands, such as ‘OK, Garmin, save video’ and ‘take a picture,’ but we found this system a little clunky when out on the noisy motorway.
Footage is largely excellent and performance in low-light situations is very good but arguably its greatest appeal is the neat and tidy package. It is small, inconspicuous and doesn’t cost the earth.
3. KENWOOD DRV-830
Massive storage capabilities for full HD recordings
Kenwood might be a brand that’s most associated with sub-woofers and colorful head units favored by boy racers, but its recent line of dash cams is sleek and packed with cutting-edge technology. Oh, and they’re very good too.Advertisement
This DRV-830 unit might not be compatible with existing Kenwood head units (you’ll need the DRV-520 for that) but it sports it own 3-inch full color TFT display, making reviewing and saving clips a doddle.
The viewing angle of 144-degrees is among some of the widest on the market and the 1440p footage is perfectly good in both day and low light conditions. Granted, it can’t keep up with the Nextbase or hideously expensive BlackVue models for image quality, but it belies its sub-£100 price tag.
Advanced driver assist systems, such as lane departure and front collision warnings, are built into the system, but many will find them a tad annoying. Thankfully, they can be switched off by rummaging through the numerous settings.
Footage is automatically captured via 3-axis G-Force detection hardware and the camera will manage storage by overwriting any older files that haven’t been saved. That said, if you are the sort of person who likes to regularly save clips, this camera boasts some of the largest memory available thanks to two SDHC micro card slots, capable of a massive 256GB with the appropriate cards.
4. THINKWARE F800 PRO
Almost invisible design, video quality good, and night mode very impressive
The Thinkware F800 is probably the dash cam that we’ve used for the longest amount of time – mainly because it’s so low profile you just forget about it (which is kind of what you want with these devices).
The F800 is fixed to your car windscreen with sticky 3M tape, and, as there’s no screen, you can essentially hide it behind the rear view mirror. We think that’s the best place for them.
The F800 comes with GPS tracking, lifetime safety camera and speed alerts, as well as Safety Warnings such as forward collision and lane departure awareness. Although, while these are marginally useful on dash cameras with screens, they are zero use without a screen.
The HD video quality is good, and the night mode (now on its second generation) is very impressive (it’s surprisingly sharp and there’s next to no noise). There’s built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your smartphone, although, we did experience some connection issues, and it looks very dated.
Time Lapse Mode which records your parked car for 48-hours. That’s great if you’re worried about the vehicle being vandalised while left at night.
That final feature requires the camera to be hardwired into the car. We think that’s what you’d want to do with the Thinkware. It’s not too difficult and also the neatest looking option, freeing up the 12V port.
The most interesting capability bundled in with the F800 Pro is Thinkware’s new Cloud service. This includes the ability to get notified when your car leaves a geofenced area, or when an impact occurs to your vehicle. You can also use it to locate your vehicle when parked.
These are potentially very useful features, but we found it very difficult to get them working, and from reading other online reviews, we’re not the only ones.
5. Garmin Dash Cam Tandem
Compact design, excellent picture quality
Field of view: 180°
Memory: MicroSD card provided
|REASONS TO BUY||+ Compact design|
+ Dual lens
|REASONS TO AVOID||– Low quality night vision|
– Garmin app isn’t the best
|TODAY’S BEST DEAL|
Garmin’s first dual lens dash cam allows you to view what’s going on both inside and outside the car while you are driving, which is handy for taxi drivers and others wanting to keep an eye on their passengers.
Extremely compact in design, the Dash Cam Tandem features a clip-in magnetic mount and can be easily installed below the rear-view mirror and removed when not in use.
Two lengths of USB cable are provided (the longer one enables you to run the cable around the car cabin neatly) as is a cigarette lighter USB socket with two ports for charging your phone at the same time. However, if you want to use the dash cam for incident recording – such as if your car gets bumped in the car park while you are shopping – you will need to get it professionally installed so it’s constantly recording.Advertisement
Key for control of the camera is the Garmin Drive app (Android and iOS) where you can review video and audio footage from your drives without having to take the MicroSD card out of the camera. Picture quality is generally excellent especially from the front camera. And while the rear camera struggles a bit in very low light, you can still make out passengers reasonably clearly in black and white. There’s also a picture-in-picture option so you can view both rear- and front-facing camera footage simultaneously.
Rather usefully, footage is displayed with a time stamp, the speed of the vehicle and its location. Voice control is also provided, which enables hands-free control with instructions such as ‘OK Garmin, take a picture’ or ‘OK Garmin, save video’. Safety cam alert updates will also be added to the app soon.
The only slight problem we experienced was that the app wasn’t as intuitive as we would’ve liked and didn’t automatically connect to the Wi-Fi connection when reviewing footage from our drives. Aside from that, this is a pricey but excellent option for those who want to keep an eye on their car, inside and out.
6. BlackVue DR900S-2CH
Top notch video quality, but it costs a packet
|SPECIFICATIONS||Camera: 4K Ultra-HD|
Field of view: 162°
Memory: MicroSD card included
|REASONS TO BUY||+ Superb image quality|
+ Beautifully designed unit
|REASONS TO AVOID||– It’s really expensive|
– Irritating to install
|TODAY’S BEST DEAL|
Those doing high mileage on a regular basis, braving all conditions and types of roads, will likely want to part with a little extra for their dash cam. We’re not suggesting the camera needs to boast lots of fancy gizmos and superfluous tech, but spending a bit more means image quality is improved.Advertisement
This is very handy in the case of an accident, especially in a hit-and-run scenario, where reading a number plate from a distance and making out any distinguishing features can be the difference between catching a perpetrator and ending up with a hefty insurance claim.
Sitting very much at the premium end of the dash cam spectrum, this package from BlackVue includes front- and rear-facing cameras, both of which capture the action in HD quality.
Its circa-£500 price tag might feel incredibly steep for a dash cam, but this is the only camera to feature an 8MP CMOS sensor up front and a high-performance Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor in the rear camera. As a result, the footage is undeniably the best on the market, day and night.
The 162-degree field of view feels absolutely perfect for the task in hand and rids the resulting footage of that awkward fisheye look that some wider-angle cameras suffer from.
Paranoid owners can also make use of BlackVue’s advanced intelligent park mode, which essentially carries on recording when the vehicle is powered down. This is possible thanks to the Power Magic Pro, which is wired in to the vehicle’s battery and ensures the dash cam doesn’t deplete reserves when recording overnight.
You can expect all of the obvious features, too, including built-in GPS, incident detection and the ability to send clips to BlackVue’s bespoke smartphone app via the on-board Wi-Fi.
Alternatively, users can make the most of BlackVue’s over-the-cloud storage offering or remotely check in on a parked vehicle (via the app) and view real-time footage from the camera.