2018 Guide to Top Vehicle Dashboard Cameras

September 19, 2018 •

Dashcam

Image via Garmin

Nothing compares with crisp, clear video for proving what did, or did not, happen. That’s why many people are investing in dashboard cameras, or “dashcams.” Here we’ll explain what a dashcam does and what to look for. We’ll introduce you to some of the best products on the market and suggest some alternatives.

Dashcam Basics

dashcam is a camera that looks through the windshield. Usually powered from the cigarette lighter socket, it records onto a microSD card whenever the engine is started. When the memory is full it goes back the beginning and overwrites the oldest recording.

If something happens that you want to capture, you just press a button or say a command to save that footage. Then you can upload it to YouTube, your insurance company, or anywhere else.

Top Dash Camera Features

  • Size – Smaller is more discrete and occupies less space on your windshield.
  • Camera Resolution – Most have 1080 rows of pixels. Some go higher which leads to clearer pictures.
  • Camera Speed – Quoted in frames per second (fps). Higher means less blur and sharper pictures, but needs more memory.
  • Parking Mode – If the dashcam senses an impact while you’re parked it retains the relevant section of video. (This usually needs a different power supply.)

More sophisticated dashcams have two cameras or channels. One looks forward but the other can either watch behind or audio record what goes on inside the vehicle.

Top Dash Cameras

Although known for navigation, Garmin also offers three dashcams: the 45, 55 and 65. A compact rectangular shape, these will mount on the windshield behind the mirror. The 45 has 1080 video and costs $149. The $199 55 has 1440 video, runs at 30 fps and has a “Travelapse” function for recording road trips. The 65 provides a 180° field of view, letting you capture cross traffic. It costs $249.

BlackVue is another well-regarded name. Their dashcams range from basic up to sophisticated cloud-based systems. What all have in common is a cool, cylindrical design that hides away neatly and looks nothing like a dashcam. Basic models come in one or two-channel formats with 1080 video and 60fps. Prices start at $136. An available battery pack supports parking mode recording.

Dash Camera Alternatives

Technically speaking, GoPro’s are action cameras, but with the right mount you can use them as dashcams. They are larger and need turning on each time you want to record. Models range from the $199 Hero to the $700 Fusion. Smartphone apps can turn your phone camera into a dashcam. With a good quality cellphone mount this will let you video your journey hands-free with a device you already own.