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Compare the best dash cams of 2021

How a dashboard camera can change the way you drive.

Dash cams have quickly gone from a rare add-on to an easy and common way of recording your drives. And a number of dash cam users insist that the device has actually changed the way they drive for the better.

Compare the most popular dash cams of 2021

NameAvg. price
Memory capacityScreen (in)Viewing angleMaximum resolutionMicro SD includedPurchase
TaoTronics TT-CD06
TaoTronics TT-CD06
Xiaomi Yi Smart
Xiaomi Yi Smart
Garmin 55
Garmin 55
Z-Edge Z3
Garmin 55
BlackVue DR750S-1CH
BlackVue DR750S-1CH
$270.0016GBNo screen139º1080pYes
BlackVue DR490L-2CH
BlackVue DR490L-2CH
Garmin 65W
Garmin 65W
Thinkware F800PRO
Thinkware F800PRO
$380.00128GBNo screen140º1080pYes
Data obtained March 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

What are people using dash cams for?

There are lots of reasons why so many people are jumping on board the dash cam trend, like to:

  • Protect themselves from car insurance scams. Scammers don’t like being caught on video.
  • Record evidence for car insurance claims. If it’s your word against theirs, video evidence is very compelling.
  • Successfully contest tickets. Video doesn’t make mistakes, but sometimes traffic police do.
  • Automatically record drive information. This can include GPS location, just in case you ever need to prove your vehicle’s location at a given time.
  • De-escalate heated situations. Video cameras provide indisputable evidence and can therefore help to quell road rage.
  • Catch once-in-a-lifetime events. You never know what’ll happen right before your eyes. The wealth of exciting dash cam videos on the internet is a testament to this.

The top 5 benefits of dash cams

These are just a few of the ways you might benefit from adding a dashboard cam to your vehicle:

  • Catch scammers in the act. A common car insurance scam is for a pedestrian to jump in front of a slow-moving car, fall over and start talking about lawsuits and serious injuries. Other popular scams can be as simple as someone backing into you in traffic and accusing you of rear-ending them or parking a damaged car near yours and saying that you caused the damage. Dash cams are a near sure-fire way of protecting yourself.
  • Prove your innocence in a court of law. People have successfully used dashboard camera videos to demonstrate their innocence in the face of police inquiries.
  • Save money on car insurance. Some insurers may offer reduced premiums if you have a dash cam. A dash cam could also help to protect you from insurance rate hikes by properly establishing fault in the event of an accident.
  • Become better educated. Real videos taken on the roads make for compelling driver education material. Dash cams can be used to show, not tell, the dos and don’ts of driving, as well as the consequences of bad driving.
  • Use it to do better business. Many businesses are having their delivery drivers use dash cams and are outfitting all their business vehicles with video recording. These devices are also a cost-effective way to record driving data like speed, GPS location and time on the road, and they can be extremely useful for legal liability purposes.

How to use a dash cam for insurance purposes

While dash cams don’t replace car insurance, they can help you get the best value from your policy. If you have a car insurance policy with a good breadth of coverage as well as a dash cam, you can:

  • Prove your innocence in the event of an accident. If it’s not clear who is guilty, you may have no choice but to file a claim with your insurance company and possibly suffer raised premiums, even if you did nothing wrong. A dash cam could get you off the hook if the video shows that the wreck wasn’t your fault.
  • Reduce your premiums in the long run. A no-claims history is one of the biggest car insurance discounts available, but it takes years to build and can be wiped out by a single accident. To make matters worse, being involved in accidents can flag you as a high-risk driver and further raise your premiums. Getting a dash cam means you could prove your innocence in an accident, keeping your premiums low and your discounts high for a longer period of time.
  • Prove you’re meeting insurance requirements. Some policies may require that you only drive in certain areas, park your car in a particular place or avoid specific areas. Many also require that you take certain steps in the event of an accident and may reserve the right to refuse a claim if you have not done so. Dashboard video can show that you acted appropriately, while timestamping and GPS data shows where and when an event took place.

How to pick a good dash cam

Choose a dash cam that you can depend on. Good models can cost more, but the extra expense is sometimes necessary to get important features. It’s also worth remembering that dash cams are at their best when used with car insurance, so consider looking over your insurance policy terms and picking a dash cam that can help you meet claim requirements. Look for:

  • Automatic recording. The dash cam should turn on and start recording automatically when you start the car. If a dash cam can’t do at least this, it’s probably skimping on other important features.
  • Dashboard mounting. A suction cup attachment is good if you plan on moving the dash cam to a different car, while adhesive fasteners offer a more secure and permanent fixture.
  • Parking mode. Some dash cam models can be hooked up to the car’s internal battery so that they keep running even while the car is parked.
  • Removable memory card and data storage. Depending on storage space and video quality, your camera can only store a certain number of hours at a time. A removable memory card allows you to swap in more storage space if needed and easily transfer video from your camera to your computer.
  • Looped recording. Looped video recording can ensure that the dash cam can still record new footage when its memory is full. This simply means that it overwrites the oldest footage with the newest as needed.
  • Impact detection. An important and increasingly common feature, impact detection ensures that the camera automatically stores important video and doesn’t overwrite it. If your car is bumped, moved or hit, the device will detect it and make sure that video of the event is available.
  • Battery life and power supply. Typical dash cams usually come with about an hour of internal battery life. Some will come with a cable to hook up to your car’s 12V socket, while others can be hardwired into the car’s battery.
  • Built-in display. An inbuilt display screen lets you more accurately align the camera so you know exactly what it’s recording.

Bottom line

Dash cams can come in handy for a number of reasons, especially for car insurance purposes. There are lots of different models in various price ranges, so compare your top options before deciding which one could be right for you.

How did we choose these products?

We chose our list of the best dashboard cameras based on factors such as resolution, screen size, memory capacity and price. We also factored in our own online research and what customers had to say about each product.

Frequently asked questions

How much do dash cams cost?

Cheap ones can cost as little as $30 or $40, while top-of-the-line models can cost over $600.

Is it legal to film with a dash cam, and are there any privacy issues I should know about?

Yes, it is perfectly legal to film in public spaces, such as on the road, with a dash cam. However, if you drive onto someone’s private property, they have the right to ask you to turn it off. There may be privacy issues when uploading videos to public spaces such as YouTube, if the film reveals the identity of someone without their approval.

Can I install a dash cam myself?

Yes. Dash cams are meant to be DIY jobs and generally come with very straightforward attachments and installation manuals. Even if you’re not very technically inclined, you should have no problem setting it up.

In what format do dash cams record?

Typically dash cams will record in .AVI, .MOV or .MP4 format. These are generally compatible with most video players.

Images: Shutterstock

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