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Buy the best 2019 dashcam by knowing their most important features

I bet that the YouTube algorithm has sent you more than once a rat hole of amazing dashcam videos, anyway, dash cams are still something of a rarity.

But that can change: my mailbox is increasingly sinking with emails from drivers asking what dashcams are doing, which are the best dashcams, and why automakers aren't installing them in new cars. So here's a look at the best dashcam choices at every level of price and features to help you buy one that is worthy of the risks of using one.

I have tested several of the five models below, and many more, so I can penetrate the noise to get you what matters most at every function level and price level of the dash camera. All of these are readily available from Amazon or Best Buy at prices ranging from $ 45 to $ 500. And although I haven't used every model on the market (an impossibility given the flow of often no-name dashcams out there) these are great examples of each layer in the dashboard camera market.

Read more: How do you choose the right dashcam?

By the way, if you are an old hand on dashcams or want to jump to the edge, check out our overview of the dash cam smart features .

Note that CNET can receive a commission when you purchase from one of the links on our site.

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This strangely named autodashcam contains all the basics and is our choice for the best dashcam option under $ 50. It records 1080p video and audio in a continuous loop recording on a 32 GB microSD card that you provide. The camera's super wide-angle lens automatically detects and saves collision images. It uses the same technology for motion detection sensors when the vehicle is parked to detect if someone is reversing or tampering with your vehicle, and also records that event.

The 3-inch LCD screen on the back is used for focusing the camera angle, viewing dashcam recordings and navigating through the fairly simple menus with buttons along the edge. This wide angle camera can easily be mounted on your windshield with its suction cup. Do not expect an HD video quality interface for this price, but you will hardly use the menus after the initial installation.

Read more: Best functions of new smart dashcams


Here's something you haven't seen until recently: a dashcam with a name brand. The design is also more pleasant and sticks like an OEM part into the top of the windshield instead of hanging on an ugly holder.

It does all the basics plus a few tricks: it has a strange frame of 27.5 fps that is tuned to ensure that it never misses the status of an LED traffic light that has a pronounced on / off flicker that other cameras may record as no signal at all. Built-in GPS tagging ensures that your clips have embedded time and GPS location.

If you are a Kenwood person, check out the DRV-N520 ($ 200), a dashcam that only works when connected to a Kenwood double DIN aftermarket head unit.

Read more: The best home security camera & # 39; s of 2019


Like the Pioneer, this Kenwood dashcam comes from an important brand in automotive electronics. The 1080p full HD DRV-A301W doesn't fit as well into a car windshield as the Pioneer, but it does have a larger 2.7-inch LCD rear panel, Wi-Fi network connection for image transfer, internal super capacitors instead of batteries, and a smart magnetic release that makes it easier to hide or transport.

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4K becomes the new standard for the video camera & # 39; s around us and this dashcam reflects that. The Vantrue X4 has night vision and a real 4K sensor for full 4K recording up to 30 fps. Video quality can make a big difference when you watch video later and try to distinguish a face or license plate. On the other hand, it makes for larger file sizes, so you probably want a 256 GB memory card and this camera seems to be picky about which brand of micro SD card: avoid popular SanDisk cards, Vantrue advises.

The X4 uses an exotic battery technology in the form of an internal super capacitor instead of the built-in lithium ion battery. Vantrue says that an internal power source becomes more sustainable, especially in the baking heat to which your car dashboard is exposed.


This camera has no screen, but instead uses your smartphone as an interface via the app and Wi-Fi. You can add a wired reversing camera if desired, but instead of covering the inside of your vehicle, it looks out the rear window. forward collision alerts, as well as alerts about upcoming traffic cams thanks to the cloud-connected database.

The linked model below contains a 32 GB SD card in the package.

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The Thinkware M1 motorsport camera combines 1080p Full HD cameras on the front and back that simultaneously record with a unique external push button control panel. The design of the cameras is intended to make a good dashcam for motorcycles and ATVs, so it is totally different than dash cams designed for the car. The electronic image stabilization of the M1 is essential for capturing usable video quality in such robust applications, just like the internal super capacitor rather than a more temperature-sensitive lithium ion battery.

Tips for dashboard camera & # 39; s

Whatever dashboard camera you get, most or all of these tips are good to keep in mind:

  • large SD card. Some cameras come with generous storage, but do not get the largest memory card that the camera supports. More camera storage means that you will be less likely to notice that a video clip that you really need from a week ago has been overwritten.
  • Tighten the cable. Nothing looks worse than an annoying power cable that hangs on your dashboard camera and they all use one. The Vantrue camera offers a hard-wiring set and the owl has a smooth holder and a tool to hide the cable. But any dashcam power cable can be "dressed", just take the time to do it.
  • Think of audio. Some states have two-party consent laws that can put you in trouble recording the voices of casual carpoolers, Uber or Lyft customers, or even fraudulent friends and family who didn't know you were eavesdropping on them.
  • Know that dash cams cut both ways. A visible dashboard camera tells the man with whom you had an accident that you have a shot. They can tell their insurance company and their lawyers may want a copy of what you have recorded. That can go bad if you are wrong, but do not destroy the evidence.

Originally published earlier this year. Updated with current prices.

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