The choice of best front and rear dash cam can be bewildering. In this group test and Buyer’s Guide we will help to simplify matters and reviews six models with different features and price points. We also test two dash cam apps that can transform your smartphone into an in-car recorder.
If you’ve spent any time on roads, you won’t need convincing about the value of a dash cam for motor home.
Whether it’s hoons, suicidal wildlife, general road debris, morons, insurance fraudsters, or decent people making honest (but very serious) mistakes. There are many threats that can cause damage to your vehicle or injuries to you and others.
In many instances, you’ll end up talking to police and an insurance company and, without a top rated front and rear dash cam for rv, it will be your word versus someone else’s.
This is not a position you want to be in when you’re suffering from shock and some shyster is spinning a yarn about how it’s all your fault. But the world of budget front and rear dash cam for tesla can be confusing.
There are many models at widely varying prices from many different manufacturers and the differences in features can be miniscule or vast. Consequently, this month we’ve looked at some of the newer, most-representative cheap front and rear dash cam on the market to give you an idea of what’s most important.
However, you may find that our Buyer’s Guide (over the page) is more instructive as you won’t want to be paying a great deal for features that you won’t use or, in some cases, that you can’t use because you don’t have the required equipment.
It’s simple to set maximum capacities of video recording and lock important files so that they won’t be overwritten.
We’ve also included two of the top-rated Apple and Android App Store dash cam apps to see how they compare to the dedicated units. Not so long ago, smartphones decimated the thriving SatNav market by performing the same functions, even better and for free.
Is the same about to happen with affordable front and rear dash cams? Modern phones are essentially much-more powerful versions of the same thing, after all. We’ve included a variety of models that cost between $800 and $100 so there’s something to suit most budgets.
All of our models have a high enough definition to capture number plates of other drivers (to varying degrees) and all function in low light. They also all feature GPS location recording which simultaneously records speed.
There’s little point in buying a low-resolution unit unless you really do only want to establish which pixelated mess pulled out in front of the other, first.
We also recognize that many best front and rear dash cam owners will be very proud of their cars and won’t want some cheap device spoiling their interior lines. Consequently, we’ve included two, high-end ‘Barrel’ models which eschew a cheap plastic chassis (and screen) for sharper, svelte looks.
However, you’ll still need to think about wire management as main units come with a lot of cabling for power connection to your car’s cigarette lighter and, in many cases connection to a rear camera.
It’s enough to make us wonder, when many cars are already equipped with multiple cameras and sensors, why aren’t high quality front and rear dash cam already built-in to them in the first place!
Superb quality and dripping with features, but you’ll pay a lot to make the most of it. BlackVue’s DR900S is very much the premium product in this month’s test thanks to its 4K resolution, elaborate features, and eye-watering price tag.
The barrel-shaped camera looks very sophisticated and will subsequently suit more-swanky cars. Setup requires an elaborate process of connecting via an app and your smartphone’s Wi-Fi, but it’s relatively straightforward.
Because there’s no screen, your phone will be the primary way of accessing settings and videos although everything is still stored on an internal SD card. Primary video is easily the best on test thanks to its 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, which contributes to the very wide 168o-viewing angle.
The rear camera is Full HD but still very crisp and clear. Contrast is also very good and it handled scenes with simultaneous bright and dark areas very well. Low-light performance was excellent and audio was particularly high quality.
Blackvue is the only manufacturer to have “Desert-tested” its camera for overheating, which will please those who drive in the hotter parts of the country.
Despite the image quality, the price is exorbitant if this is all you’re looking for, but Blackvue goes above and beyond… if you’re prepared to pay even more. You can also buy additional parking kits (and batteries) which keep the camera operating when you’re away.
These can enable constant motion detection-based recording in addition to impact recording. However, the pièce de résistance is Blackvue’s cloud service, which allow the camera to be connected to a Wi-Fi Hotspot (yet another expense) and accessed over the cloud.
A free plan allows you to access 10 minutes of Live View each day, replay 100 videos per month and store 5GB of data, which is plenty for personal use. However, the plans scale to cater for fleet management and you can monitor the location of up to 29 different vehicles and connect live to any of them.
Naturally, much of this is overkill for most, casual dashcam buyers, but if your car’s your pride and joy the added security will bring high-value peace of mind.
Dashmate DSH-922 Dual Channel FHD Dash Camera
Great value and great design, but its predecessor gives us pause for thought. Dashmate’s DSH-922 is brand new – which is a good thing considering its predecessor did not have a good reputation.
It looks near-identical to the very expensive Blackvue thanks to a similar chassis and has a similar setup and mode of operation, but the lens and innards are all different.
All of the elaborate fleet management and motion-sensing features are missing, but this makes it more straightforward to operate.
We’re not great fans of not having a screen but it looks significantly less cheap than other competitors, which snazzy car owners will care about. Video quality is very good thanks to high contrast and sharp Full HD footage.
The 1300 field of view captures all of the important action and logs the GPS location. Frankly, it’s our pick of the bunch in terms of features, quality and value. However, we want more time with it to establish that the reliability issues that plagued the previous version have been eradicated before we recommend it.
Navman MIVUE840 Dual Camera
Part SatNav and part dashcam, it’s good value but not for everyone. The Navman is unique in this test as it’s
fundamentally a SatNav system (with a 2.7-inch screen) that has an integrated best dash cam.
The SatNav itself operates impressively when up and running, but finding and entering new locations is an absolute chore when you’re used to Google Maps. Nonetheless, as a best front and rear dash cam under 100 it’s very good in its own right.
The primary-camera’s 1600p footage with 1500 field of view offers good contrast and is relatively sharp and works well in low light. The rear camera is Full HD and also offers decent quality.
There are also ‘advanced’ driver assist features that could be impressive. These include forward collision warnings and laneleaving detection, although the former functions much more accurately than the latter.
If it detects an impact-related incident while you’re away from your car it can upload to your phone over Wi-Fi when you return.
However, with SatNav declining in popularity thanks to the superior performance smartphones, this large device will only suit a niche crowd.
Laser Navig8r NAVC-617GPS
Mediocre image quality and lack of features are countered by the low price. Laser makes many Navig8rs and this one represents its lower-mid-range. It has a Full HD video resolution but you wouldn’t think that to look at it.
While you can see what’s going on perfectly well, the grainy picture and mediocre contrast mean that distinguishing number plates and faces isn’t always simple.
Furthermore, the 1200 field of view is rather narrow and it misses much of what’s happening to the sides. However, a dash cam under 100 dollar it’s cheap and offers reasonable value.
Thanks to its suction mount, it’s also a device that can be quickly extricated from one vehicle and put in another (so long as you haven’t gone to major lengths with cable management).
A battery inside will monitor for bumps when you’re away. A separate GPS unit is connected via another wire to the main dash cam under 50 dollars.
Ultimately, while it can’t rival its competitors for quality and features, it’s still relatively cheap and cheerful and will provide usable footage in most, front-facing incidents.
Uniden iGo Cam 60
Looks unsophisticated but despite some constrast issues, performs its core functions well. Uniden is a company with a wide variety of mid-range dashcams.
The iGO CAM 60 has a sticker mounting (that houses a GPS) meaning it can’t be easily moved. It might not look very sophisticated but the footage it records is generally good (in flat light) with a high 2,560 x 1,080 reolution and 1500 field of view.
However, picture quality can struggle when contrast is high, with highlights blowing out and detail getting lost in shadows. Nonetheless, speed, time and location information is well superimposed onto the footage.
There are plenty of driver assist monitors which work well to varying degrees. These include speed, red-light, speed camera and lane-departure warnings. However, turning them all on will drive you nuts and likely distract you from the road.
A small battery is included which will keep the camera in hibernation mode when not being used – ready to activate should it register a bump while parked. At $200 it’s not cheap but it’s a solid all-round performer that performs its core functions well.
Uniden iGO CAM 85R
A great all-rounder with some nifty features and a reasonable price tag. The iGo Cam 85R is Uniden’s latest
and greatest dashcam. While its (sticker-mounted) operation feels similar to its 60-monikered sibling, it adds 4K video, a 1600 field of view, a rear camera and additional enhancements to the mix.
One of them is called Wide Dynamic Range and it succeeds in fixing the contrast issues that blighted the 60. However, this only stretches to the front camera: the Full HD rear camera can still blow-out and lose detail in highlights and shadows when the lighting isn’t flat.
It can send footage to a smartphone via Wi-Fi but can also output directly to a screen via an HDMI port (which is potentially very useful for some).
We liked the fact that the rear camera cable has the ability to be wired into the car and used as a reversing camera – although you’re advised to let a professional install this. At $340, while not perfect, it performs very well and represents very good value.
Drive Recorder Android App
Its a smart dash cam android app. Easy to use, great features and quality. But setting it up every journey can be a chore. Drive Recorder is the top-rated free dashcam app on Google’s Android Play Store with a 4.5 average star rating and almost 14K reviews.
It’s simple to get working and you can be recording within seconds of downloading the app. It records date, time, speed, GPS and – if you have Google Maps open – will save a screenshot of the route recorded in each clip.
You can set the camera to record with the screen off or watch it as you drive. We found twisting our windscreen mount sideways (for a landscape view) was best as it allowed Google Maps navigation to appear in the bottom right corner.
Other phone functions remained operational. You can choose the size of files and the amount of memory dedicated to storage or use a microSD card. Image quality depends on your phone.
It’s very useful but setting it up every journey is still a mild chore and we like knowing that trips are being recorded when we’re not the ones driving.
Smart Dash Cam iOS App
A great free app but it’s limited in terms of resolution. Smart Dash Cam is the top-rated (4.7 Stars) free iPhone App. Like its Android counterpart, it’s super simple to get up and running and offers smoe nifty features.
One of them is the ability to add a small navigation map in the corner of the phone’s screen or even superimpose a translucent overlay on top of the video footage being recorded.
You can also choose speed limits for different areas to add to the screen. A small banner ad sticks to the bottom of the screen and can be a little intrusive with its frequent updating but it’s otherwise free.
Video can be uploaded to the cloud in just a few taps (whether that’s Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, or YouTube). It’s simple to set maximum capacities of video recording and lock important files so that they won’t be overwritten.
Our only issue is that footage is only 720p, but the iPhone’s camera at least makes this good quality. Nonetheless, you’ll struggle to view some number plates.
Dashcam buyer’s Guide
All dashcams are not created equal and so you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the features you’re expecting and not paying through the nose for those you don’t need. Here are some of the main things to watch out for…
SD card storage
Virtually all dashcams use microSD cards for storage but few actually come with one in the box. While this may smack of stinginess, there’s the issue that the dashcam maker doesn’t want to take responsibility for a core component that is manufactured by another company. Note that there are also many different choices of microSD card on the market with some offering certified ruggedisation, which could be important in a bad smash. Spending big on high capacities is unnecessary for everyone: most people will only need the footage from the last incident recorded so it won’t matter if the camera simply starts erasing older files once storage is full. However, some users – especially commercial drivers – may need high capacities if they need to keep a record of footage to refer back to.
Most people will only need the footage from the last incident recorded so it won’t matter if the camera simply starts erasing older files once storage is full.
Resolution and field of view
Nothing affects a dashcam more than its resolution. Too low and you won’t be able to see number plates or faces and the only use will be to identify fault in major incidents. There are still models which don’t offer widescreen views either. While this is technically an artificial limitation, cameras which don’t use widescreen views tend to omit peripheral detail and only capture what’s directly in front of you. Dashcams with 4K resolutions are becoming increasingly common but not all are created even. The best models make full use of the resolution (which is 4x Full HD) by including wide fields of view that approach a full, 180o view of what’s happening ahead and to the sides.
Contrast and low-light performance
Few people only drive during the daytime and even if you do, incidents can still occur in dark tunnels and carparks. Consequently, be sure your best front and rear dash cam can make things out in the dark. However, it’s also important to check out the contrast performance of a dash cam for trucker: in flat light most cameras operate well, but in bright countries like Australia, there are often highlights and dark shadows in the same scene. These can fox lesser digital cameras, which can’t always expose correctly for all areas of an image. If possible, check YouTube for footage from your potential purchase before buying.
Sound recording and privacy
Even the most careful drivers don’t always want sound to be recorded – especially if they’re having private conversations with passengers. In all the dash cams we’ve seen you can turn audio recording off, but it’s usually on by default. Of course, if you’re wanting to contribute to various dash cam owners highlight reels, it’s worth keeping the sound on and spouting some good Aussie vernacular to help your clip go viral.
No screen no problem?
Barrel-shaped dashcams look cool but you have to trust that they’re recording. Even their manufacturers point out that errors happen – especially when complex, round-the clock monitoring is occurring. We suspect that few people will regularly connect to screenless models with their phones despite there being many almost-horror stories of people finding that footage stopped recording months beforehand. While this is still a potential issue on dashcams with screens, you’re more likely to get a visual warning if something goes wrong.
Sucker or sticker
If you want to remove your dashcam from time to time – whether it’s to swap cars, or take it traveling – it’s worth opting for a model with a suction cup mount. While it’s not impossible to remove a ‘permanent’ sticker, once it’s come off it will usually need replacing.
All dashcams turn on automatically with a car, but only some have varying degrees of battery power, which will allow for impact or motion monitoring when it’s off. While you can wire dashcams into a car’s power, you won’t want it to stop your car starting. Some models come with separate, chargeable batteries that can be used to power 24-hour monitoring.
While we’re not convinced GPS is totally necessary to identify the location of an incident. It can be useful if you’re on an unmarked road at night. More importantly, though, is that it adds your speed to recorded footage. Which can be as self-damning as it is useful should the law get involved.
Rear cameras and wire management
Many dashcams now come with rear cameras. While these are often lower resolution they’re still very useful considering how many incidents come from behind. Just note that most don’t operate independently. They need to be connected with wire to the main, front-mounted dashcam. It’s common for there to be many metres of cabling for this. So plan how to wrap it around your windscreen and through the car. In some cases you can wedge it under paneling, but often you’ll need tape or cable-tidy stickers.
Some dashcams come with driver aids such as brake-light detection plus lane-drift, school-zone and speed limit warnings. Just note that the former live-processing warnings are very poor when compared to expensive, integrated car safety systems.
Do you need a dashcam when you have a phone?
We found it simple to place a phone in a windscreen holder and start recording using an app. However, idly filling and re-filling flash memory can reduce its lifespan and performance over time. This is a particular concern for Apple devices which are prone to getting filled up with junk. Whereas Android phones often have microSD card slots to shoulder the burden. The apps also make phones get very warm which won’t be good for battery longevity. Ultimately, we preferred knowing that the dedicated dashcam would just start-up and work regardless of who was driving the car. If we were in a rush, even the mild chore of starting up and recording seemed too much to bother with and you just know that the one time you don’t do it is the one time you’ll wish you had.