Best dash cams – the top car cameras for peace of mind

Find the perfect dash cam to save on car insurance and keep records of your journeys

The best dash cam for you could change the way you drive your car, offering security, peace of mind and even savings on your insurance. Finding the best one can be less of a pleasant experience. Thankfully you’re here, where we’ve removed that hassle. So now you can easily find the best dash cam for your needs.

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The key to finding your ideal dash cam is knowing what you want. There are lots of features out there across the many dash cam options but you may not need them all. By cutting back to just the essentials you can get the best dash cam for the best price. So what do you need to know?

Why do I need a dash cam?

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Image credit: Nextbase

The main reason for having a dash cam is to capture what happens around your car, be that on the road or in a parking situation. On the road you can capture any accidents so that, should you need to make an insurance claim, the company have evidence of who was at fault.

As a result, many insurance companies offer a lower rate for insurance policies if you have a dash cam installed in your vehicle. Yes, that applies to motorcycles, too, and is why you often see bike riders with cameras mounted on their helmets. This, of course, also helps should you end up in court over an incident.

The other reason you may need a dash cam is for parking. While you’re away from the car, another person may bump into it, do damage, and then leave without putting their details on your vehicle. A dash cam means you can see who that person is so you can follow-up and make sure you don’t end up losing money or making an insurance claim when you don’t need to.

The final reason you might want a dash cam is to capture what’s happening on the road and streets around your car. You just need to type ‘dash cam’ into YouTube to see all the hidden gems that have been discovered thanks to dash cams. Who knows, you may even get YouTube fame from your dash cam footage.

How much should I spend on a dash cam?

As mentioned above, this depends on your needs. If you just want a dash cam in the car so your insurer is happy to give you a premium discount, then a basic model may do the job fine. But if you want higher quality so you can capture more detail then splashing out more may be for you.

Then there are options like dual front and rear cameras, ideal for parking situations as well as accidents and those potential YouTube gems but – of course – you’ll be spending more. So you’re probably going to be spending within the £60 to £190 range.

Best dash cams 2019

1. Nextbase 522GW – best dash cam overall

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This is the best dash cam out there right now thanks to its great combination of cutting-edge features, fantastic usability thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity and ease of mounting. Plus you can talk to it.

Yup, the Nextbase 522GW has Amazon’s Alexa built-in so you can use voice commands to not only control the camera but to access wider functions like playing music, finding parking or controlling smart home devices.

The camera itself offers an impressive QHD 2,560 x 1,440 resolution at 30 frames per second which, thanks to a Sony EXMOR sensor, offers superb quality. Combined with a polarising filter you don’t even need to worry about glare. All that means easy number plate reading even at a distance and when in low light.

The Click&Go Pro mount is super simple to install quickly on nearly all car types and features a quick release mechanism, that means no need to mess with USB cables, and also means you don’t need to leave this on display to potential thieves.

The 3-inch HD touchscreen makes for easy controls and video playback while GPS and Wi-Fi allow for location data and easy sharing. Plus you even get an SOS Emergency Response signal sent out, if you want, when an accident is detected.

On top of all that this even offers Intelligent Parking Mode which records bumps or physical movement when the car is left unattended – ideal for dark streets or car parks.

You’ll have to buy your SD card as extra but that means maximum storage potential depending on what you want to spend.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Nextbase 522GW at Amazon.co.uk from £118

2. Thinkware F800 Pro – best dash cam for clear footage, day and night

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The Sony EXMOR and STARVIS sensor in this dash cam, at 2.19MP, manages to record excellent quality 1080p footage with a wide 140-degree viewing angle and intelligent exposure, focus and noise cancelling smarts. The night mode has moved on from the first gen and is now very clear too.

All that is crammed into a super sleek and slim body that lets this fit into your car decor without you even noticing it’s there – good for security too as it’s not easy to spot. Since this is stuck using 3M stickers you can plonk it hidden behind your rear-view mirror out of sight and forget about it.

The parking mode is a nice touch which records in time lapse for up to 48 hours so any knocks or would be thieves will be captured on camera. It’s also got driving assist features like GPS tracking, safety camera alerts and forward collision warnings plus lane departure. B

ut without a screen all this means you need your phone Wi-Fi connected to take full advantage of these features. That said, the camera will talk to you warning of cameras, beep for lane departure and so on.

The cloud features are particularly helpful with driving impact notifications sent to a phone, vehicle location should the car be stolen, plus geo fencing which notifies your phone if the car leaves a certain area you’ve chosen.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Thinkware F800 Pro at Amazon from £249

3. Garmin Dash Cam 55 – best dash cam for location tracking

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Garmin, best known for its GPS tracking devices does, of course, offer location tracking with excellent accuracy in its Dash Cam 55. There’s also Wi-Fi that works with the Garmin Virb app, built for video with lots of options.

That video is excellent, with 1440p quality from the 3.7MP sensor, which also lets you take photos should you want. This also features voice controls that allow you to quickly store video or take that photo if you spot a good moment.

Crash detection is built-in for instant video storage in the event of an accident. Should you want to dive into the video, the 2-inch screen is perfectly usable, if not a little small. What this offers, that many other dash cams don’t, is excellent driver assistance including forward-collision warnings, lane-departure and even alerts when traffic in front moves on.

Perhaps the last one can be a little bit much but you can always turn off what you don’t want.

The 106-degree angle on the camera isn’t as wide as some of the competition but the compatibility with other Garmin tech makes this a great all-round dash cam. We think it’s probably one of the best-look out there, too, if that’s important to you.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Garmin Dash Cam 55 at Amazon from £119

4. Mio Mivue C330 – best budget dash cam

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This is a great dash cam for those on a budget as it offers respectable features without the hefty price tag. As such you’re limited to 1080p video quality but, in most cases, that is plenty and it also means you get more out of your memory space.

Let’s be clear that the budget saving here means you are making a sacrifice when it comes to low light video quality and you’re also going to have to put up with a large mounting system in your car.

That said you do still get 30 frames per second, number plate detail is clear and the unit auto starts when the car powers up. You also get features like GPS tracking and even safety camera warnings if you download the database from the Mio website, which is free, plus you can add your own custom cameras if you spot ones missing from the list.

Another nice touch is the ability to watch your video back with the corresponding GPS locating where the video happened on a map as you watch. A G-sensor will detect impacts and trigger auto storing of recordings so your video is safely stored when it counts.

Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Mio Mivue C330 at Amazon from £69

5. Nextbase Duo – best dash cam for parking

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This is a pretty unique offering in that this dash cam comes with not just a front-facing camera but a rear one too – all built into that single unit. That means there’s no need to worry about the faff of installing a rear camera and running cables through the car as this has everything ready to go.

The resolution is a respectable 1080p and is complimented by little tweaks like Wide Dynamic Range means that low light and night time recording are decent for quality.

The camera stitches the front and rear video feeds together so the end result is a clear view in both direction shown on one single screen in a single video that doesn’t take up double the memory –  clever. If nothing else, you’ll find it invaluable when you’re trying to parallel park! This can be viewed on the 2.7-inch display that’s built-in or sent to a device using the microSD card, or directly via Wi-Fi and the smartphone app.

There is GPS for data like location, speed and routing recorded. Plus you get impact detection so the loop feature that auto deletes old files won’t wipe important crash footage.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Nextbase Duo at Amazon from £139

6. Yi Mini Dash Camera – best ultra-cheap dash cam

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This is an affordable dash cam that comes with a separate screen. The key here is that you can easily mount the small and frankly attractive camera using 3M stickers then use the screen to view footage or hit record easily, without leaning into the windscreen to touch the camera and potentially loosen it. The fact the camera is so discreet also helps with security as it’s barely noticeable in the car window.

The camera itself uses a 140-degree wide angle lens and offers 1080p footage at 30 frames per second which is all stored automatically thanks to collision detection using a G-sensor. The camera also automatically starts up when the car does so you don’t need to think about it at all.

What’s not there is GPS but then for the price you probably wouldn’t expect it to be. But you do get Wi-Fi so the video can be shared easily to a phone using the Yi Dash App. You can also get the video right off the removable microSD storage card, ideal for extra storage should you want to use multiple cards.

Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Buy now: Yi Mini Dash Camera at Amazon from £59

7. BlackVue DR750S-2CH Dash Cam – best dash cam for taxi drivers and couriers

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This is a seriously high-end dash cam designed and built with professional drivers in mind. From taxi drivers and couriers to truck haulers, this is for you. This system uses dual cameras for a front and rear coverage and has lots of features.

All that’s great but you will need to have this hard-wired into the car to take full advantage of everything. Or you can use an OBD II port converter for easier plug-in use.

The front camera is a Sony STARVIS sensor that offers a decent 139-degree viewing angle and 1080p quality for both front and rear and excellent night vision. This also records at 60 frames per second, something most dash cams don’t offer. You get incident detection and the resultant auto storage of that footage.

This will also detect movement when parked and the proximity sensor, which can be turned on or off, will auto record if needed and will record in time lapse mode for 27 hours on a 16GB microSD. You can even get a tamper-proof case should that suit your needs.

But you don’t need to worry about fiddling with a screen as this uses a cloud database so you can view it using the BlackVue App on a phone, or via a laptop, tablet or anything else that gets you online – from anywhere. Keep that smartphone handy though as if you want to change settings you’ll need it since this unit has no screen and limited buttons.

GPS and Wi-Fi come as standard for speed and location data as well as direct phone connections if you’re not going via the cloud. The scheduled auto reboot is a nice touch to keep the camera fresh and avoid recording errors without you having to do anything.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy now: BlackVue DR750S-2CH Dash Cam at Amazon from £327

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How to buy the best dash cam for you

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Image credit: Nextbase

The camera itself is a good place to start when it comes to dash cams with quality varying across models. If you want the very best quality picture, which you can even zoom into later, then a higher resolution model will suit. But then you have to bear in mind that it should take up more memory meaning you’ll need greater storage space.

Since memory cards are very affordable these days this shouldn’t be too much of an issue – presuming the model you want uses memory cards, of course. But there are plenty more factors to consider.

Some key features you may want to look out for include:

● Wi-Fi – this allows you to quickly and easily upload your video to your phone for instant viewing and sharing, simply.
● Screen – a screen on the device not only lets you easily angle the camera but also allows for quick menu access and instant playback of recordings.
● GPS – this can help by verifying where an accident occurred, useful in court.
● Crash sensors – built-in shock detection means auto saving of video so it’s not over-written and means you don’t have to do that manually.
● Dual cameras – for front and rear coverage this is ideal and perfect if you’re crashed into from behind.
● Viewing angle – this varies meaning some cameras will capture more of the periphery than others.
● Auto recording – this means the camera will start recording when the car is started and stop when it’s turned off, effortlessly.
● Dual-port power – some adapters plug into the 12V lighter port but still have a slot so you can charge your phone too.
● Night vision – if you do a lot of driving after dark this is essential to pick up important details.

What other key questions do I need to ask?

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Image credit: Nextbase

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There are a few points to take into account when buying but one is especially important as it could leave you at home, having bought your unit, and stuck. This is the installation requirement.

Some dash cams need to be hard wired into the car for power and some insurers will insist on this while others can simply be plugged into the 12V lighter power adapter. Of course the latter can mean unsightly cables hanging about, too, so take that into consideration.

You also need to make sure your insurers’ requirements are clear. The policy may stipulate a certain feature, like night vision, is on the dash cam. So be sure you’re meeting the needs of the insurer before you buy or you may be wasting your money and – potentially – invalidating your insurance.

Looks are a factor – but not just for aesthetics. You’ll need to be sure the camera isn’t too big or awkward to sit well in your particular vehicle. That means it should be mounted and still offer a clear line of sight onto the road, for safety. Also, by being more hidden, it’s less likely to be stolen if left in the car indefinitely.

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