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    Categories: Electronics

Best Dash Cameras – Buyer’s Guide

Too often a traffic accident becomes an issue of “he said, she said.” Unless there are a number of reliable witnesses around, it can be difficult to prove who was at fault when filing an insurance claim or talking with the police.

This device provides one or more angles of recording while you are driving so that should anything happen whether on the road or parked there is a reliable accounting of the events.

Best Dash Cams of 2018

That is why we have scoured the internet and put together a list of the 5 best dash cameras available today. Then, we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can know what to look for in a quality dash cam and which one is right for you.

ProductResolution (Front/Rear)WDRChannelsDisplayG‑SensorWi‑FiGPS 
Z-EDGE S3 (Editor’s Choice)1440P/1080PYesTwo2.4” LCDYesNoNo Check Price
KDLINKS DX2
1080P/720PYesTwo3” LCDYesNoNo Check Price
360 FHD1080PYesOne3” LCDYesYesNo Check Price
WheelWitness HD PRO
1296pYesOne3” LCDYesNoYes Check Price
OJOCAM Pro Original Mini1080PNoOne1.5” LCDYesYesYes Check Price

1. Z-EDGE S3 – Best Dual Dash Cam

When it comes right down to it, dash cams are only as valuable as the records they provide. In this case, the records are determined primarily based on the image quality and the number of feeds offered. That is why the best dash cam to use during an insurance claim or to help deter criminal activity is a dual dash cam, and there is not a dual dash cam on our list better than the Z-EDGE S3.

Aside from the fact that this unit will record both in front of and behind your vehicle, it will do so at exceedingly high resolutions. The front camera sports a crystal clear 1440p Ultra HD resolution, while the rear camera offers a surprising 1080p resolution. Combined, they offer one of the best pairings of camera qualities available.

Of course, that quality does not come cheaply, and this is definitely a more expensive dash cam. However, that expense also goes to cover a number of convenient automatic features. For one, this dash cam provides a solid G-Sensor that does not respond to lighter motions but is ready for any serious movement. This same proper gauging applies to the parking mode as well.

Unfortunately, this is one of the higher end models available that does not also come with a GPS or navigation system.

In fact, that system is found on the S4 which is also thirty three percent more expensive. Another surprising misstep is the fact that the S3 only provides a 2.4” LCD screen. While the screen is clear and easy to read, the small size makes using the controls a bit difficult and navigating the menu while driving a real pain.

Pros
  • The front cam records in 1440
  • The rear camera records in 1080
  • WDR offers good night image quality
Cons
  • Does not include GPS tracking
  • A fairly expensive dual dash camera
  • A 2.4” display is pretty small

2. KDLINKS DX2 – Best Dash Cam with Night Vision

While the Z-EDGE is undeniably the best dual dash cam on our list, the KDLINKS DX2 is not too shabby in its own right. This too is a dual dash cam, though it may not reach quite the same video quality heights as the Z-EDGE. While the front camera provides a solid–though unspectacular–1080p, the rear camera only records in 720p. While that is still technically HD, it will not provide the kind of clarity that one might expect from a top of the line dash cam.

And on would certainly expect the DX2 to be top of the line considering it is an exceedingly expensive model. In fact, the DX2 is comparable to the Z-EDGE S4 in price if not image quality. However, the DX2 makes its bread and butter in an area where a number of other dash cams fail to shine: at night.

The first feature to aid in this endeavor is its WDR system which applies a lightening after effect to all of the recorded footage, making it easier to see. While this will not actually increase the light reaching the sensor, it does intensify its effect. However, the DX2 also uses an incredibly narrow F-stop of 1.6. While this technically allows less light through the lens’ iris, it also makes the image it takes much sharper. These two features combined produce an superior nighttime image compared to most of the competition.

The DX2 also puts to good use the six layer glass lens that features an anti-glare polarized lens thrown in the mix. This allows the DX2 to maintain an excellent image quality even when the sun is shining directly into the camera whether during dawn or dusk. Moreover, reflective surfaces like glass or water also fail to affect the image.

Pros
  • Refreshingly easy to setup and install
  • The camera’s filter effectively remove glare
  • WDR, a F 1.6, and six layer lens combine for superior night vision
Cons
  • The rear camera only records 720
  • Suction mounting is less secure than adhesive
  • An expensive dual dash camera

3. 360 J511 FHD – Best Dash Cam With Wi-Fi

The 360 is a surprisingly capable dash cam that comes in at a fairly reasonable price. In fact, this unit comes with a hardware combination that is almost unheard of in a mid-tier dash cam. For instance, the Ambarella A12 processor is one of the best processors used for dash cams period. This is important because it ensures that the cam can process the video feed without issue.

Some of the biggest problems that other dash cams occasionally have is blank spots in the recording or skipping. That is often in a large part due to the physical constraints of the dash cam’s processor. Unfortunately, the 360’s sensor cannot claim the same kind of stature.

However, the AR2380 CMOS sensor is not terrible, but it certainly is not the best. This translates to image quality, and even recording in 1080p will not necessarily help the images if the sensor simply cannot record the light. Ultimately, this will translate to the images distorting when the subject is further away quicker and especially at night when there is less light to strike the sensor in general.

On the plus side, this is one of the easiest dash cams to control. While the 3” LCD screen is a good size, it is the fact that this dash cam quickly and easily pairs with both Bluetooth and Wifi to connect your smart devices that makes it easy to control. You can watch a live feed of the cam’s recording as well as adjust setting right from the comfort of your smartphone without ever having to mess with the LCD screen.

Pros
  • Can connect to smart devices through Wifi
  • Uses a best in class Ambarella A12 processor
  • Is a fairly inexpensive dash cam
Cons
  • On loop-recording, only records one minute loops
  • The bluetooth is much spottier than the Wifi
  • The AR2380 CMOS sensor is only okay

4. WheelWitness HD PRO – Best Dash Cam With GPS

One of the features that is a bit hit or miss regardless the dash cam tier is GPS. You can find this feature on a number of mid-tier products, though the quality will often be spotty. Conversely, you can purchase a number of exceptionally high-quality dash cams which record in amazing HD resolution that somehow do not have this feature included.

Thankfully, the WheelWitness offers a GPS tracking while also providing an excellent video resolution. While this model does not come with a second channel, the camera itself records in 1296p Super HD. Moreover, this dash cam can record in both 4:3 and 16:9 ratios of Super HD.

However, it is the GPS system that truly steals the show. This system will not only track your vehicle’s position, but it will also track your speed and time during the trip. This means that if your vehicle is ever stolen, you can use the WheelWitness to help track down the vehicle and prove to insurance that it was stolen in the first place.

Unfortunately, the outside of this product does not provide the same quality as the software. For one, this dash cam feels a tad cheap. Specifically, the casing and the buttons are a lower grade plastic that does not provide the substantial feel one often prefers in their electronics. Moreover, this model artificially inflates its viewing angle which can create a fisheye effect at the edges of the recording.

Pros
  • Can record in 1296p Super HD
  • Provides one of the more robust GPS tracking
  • Comes with driver assist features
Cons
  • Plastic feels cheap and fragile
  • Simultaneous use of multiple auto features causes looping issues
  • Artificial 170 degree view angle creates fisheye effect

5. OJOCAM Pro Original Mini – Best Smallest Dash Cam

OJOCAM is a fairly unique product on our list in that it is not made from a large company or well-known manufacturer. In fact, all of the firmware is done in-house. This can be both a blessing and a curse, because it means that quite often the dash cam may or may not have blind spots when it comes to interacting with newer hardware or software.

On the other hand, this also means that the company is incredibly responsive when it comes to dealing with these kinds of issues. In fact, if you are able to provide some basic, specific information about your problem, the company is known to send personalized firmware updates for your problem in particular within a week’s time. Unfortunately, none of this is made any easier with an A2S60 processor that is fairly non-standard in the first place.

However, the OJOCAM is incredibly small. Unfortunately, its size cuts both ways. On the positive end, this makes installing the dash cam a breeze. The cam is often small enough to fit on the front side of your vehicle’s rear view mirror so it does not obstruct your view at all. However, this also means that the LCD screen is a paltry 1 ½”–which is one of the smallest on the market.

Pros
  • One of the least expensive dash cams
  • Incredibly small profile in unobtrusive
  • One of the easier dash cams to hardwire
Cons
  • The 1 ½” LCD screen is small
  • Only features a 135 degree viewing angle
  • The Ambarella A2S60 processor is sketchy

Best Dash Cams – Buyer’s Guide

This is easily the top consideration of any dash cam arrangement. Whether you are trying to protect yourself from a criminal or provide a reliable witness for an insurance claim, neither are benefited from dash cam footage that is too blurry to make out details.

Video Quality

However, some factors are more important than others when determining the video quality. Moreover, some that might seem a bit secondary can turn around and be more vital because of the setting.

Resolution – Out of all the factors, whether related to video quality or otherwise, resolution is the most important. Not only does this quality determine how clearly you can see the video’s detail, it is also one of the qualities that comes in a wide range of values–from excellent to substandard.

Ideally, you will look for a dash cam with a video resolution no lower than 1080p. However, some dash cams offer video resolution in the 1296p range, known as Super HD, while others provide an even better resolution in the 1440p, or Ultra HD, range.

Still, there are many dash cams that barely record in HD at all and many that simply do not–something that is even more likely if the dash dam has two or more channels. If you are using a dual dash cam arrangement, remember that the rear end is where a large number of accidents occur and a standard definition camera may not be able to clearly identify the license plate in the event of an accident–especially if moving at high speeds.

Field of View

Some of the other video quality aspects may seem more important than this one, but when you consider that traffic accidents often occur at the sides of the vehicle, the field of view become far more relevant than even night vision.

This again becomes more of an issue when you use a dual channel dash cam arrangement, because the rear camera is generally not designed to be as good as the front camera. However, there are a few benchmarks you can look for to identify the quality of your dash cams.

For the front camera, dash cams will generally top out at 170 degree view angle, though anything that provides a 150 degree view angle or better is acceptable. For the rear camera a 120 degree view angle is fairly standard–regardless the front angle–with anything below 100 degrees being a bit suspect.

Night Vision (WDR/Infrared)

While we suggested that the field of view might be more important that night vision, that was largely because the field of view applies whether it is day or night. However, this is not to suggest that night vision is a secondary consideration or lower.

In fact, field of view and night vision can be seen as 2A and 2B factors. Aside from the obvious fact that a dash cam that cannot record quality images at night ceases to truly serve its function, the quality of driving–and incidence of traffic accidents–also increases as the sun goes down.

In an effort to increase night vision of dash cams, manufacturers generally rely on two different means: WDR and infrared. However, these two features are a bit restrictive in how they function especially infrared which will not penetrate a windshield and provide night vision outside of the vehicle unless mounted outside of the vehicle.

WDR, or Wide Dynamic Range, is a way to make the lenses so that the images themselves appear lighter. However, this is an important distinction, because the lenses do not actually pick up more details as much as they allow the details otherwise picked up to be represented in a lighter quality.

FPS

Frames per second, or FPS, is fairly important for a dash cam, but it is also one of the few video quality aspects that does not dip below a poor quality threshold–even for less expensive dash cams. This aspect of image quality will determine how well the dash cam can take a still image and how well quickly moving objects are captured on recording.

While exceedingly rare, the ideal FPS is 60. This means that each second of recording is composed of 60 individual images. This increases that speed with which the dash cam can snap a still image and provides far more images to ensure a car hurtling at 50 mph or faster will still show up clearly on the recording.

However, 30fps is more common–though thankfully, few dash cams record lower than this fps. If they do, you should likely invest a bit more for a better dash cam as the images will only be useful while parked.

Channels

This refers to how many different cameras your dash unit actually uses. Some of the most professional arrangements can accommodate as many as four different channels–often used to record out front and back, the back interior, and the driver from the passenger’s side. However, most consumer units offer a maximum of two channels.

Though, for evidentiary purposes, two cameras is often enough: one to film in front of the vehicle and one behind. However, be careful that your rear camera can record in a high quality video image or it may simply add an unjustified cost to the unit.

Memory

This feature is fairly important, but it is also dependent on your ability to purchase peripherals. If you do not mind buying numerous memory cards, then the maximum size does not matter all that much. However, if you do not have the ability to purchase a handful of memory cards, it is better to get a dash cam that can use 64 GB microSD card or better.

Format – Second to the maximum amount of storage afforded is the video file format the dash cam records in. Different file formats will produce either a more compressed image–which allows more recording, though often at the expense of image quality–or a sharper image. It will also determine what type of playback software is required to view the image.

For example, AVI files are designed for use with Windows Media Player while Mov files are quicktime designed for apple software. Moreover, the codec of these files–generally either a MPEG2 or H.264–will impact both the image quality and file size.

Loop Recording – Regardless of the file format, video codecs, or size of the memory card, the ability for a dash cam to loop its recording should not be overlooked. Loop recording basically allows the dash cam to record over old footage removing the need to constantly swap out memory cards. If the dash cam cannot loop record, it will simply stop recording when the memory card is full.

Auto-Features

Various dash cams offer a number of automatic features designed to make using the cam easier. The primary benefit of these features is that they do not require the user to specify when the camera should start recording in a variety of different, relevant situations.

G-Sensor. This feature is arguably the most important automatic feature a dash cam can have. Basically, whenever the dash cam is subjected to a force that jolts it, the camera will mark the footage before and after the shock as vital. This will prevent the dash cam from recording over this footage if it makes use of loop recording.

Parking Mode. This feature is similar to the G-sensor, except it applies to your vehicle at rest. Basically, if you vehicle is subjected to jolting shock or triggers a motion detection, the dash cam will automatically start to record.

This feature can be a bit trickier than G-sensor depending on the sensitivity. If your dash cam allows you to manually adjust the sensitivity of this feature, then you can find the sweet spot for your vehicle. If not, you may very well end up with hours of cats walking across your car in the recordings.

Automatic Start/Stop. This seems like a bit of an obvious, but it also requires a good bit more effort. Basically, whenever you turn your vehicle’s ignition on the camera will start recording. When you turn the vehicle off, it will stop.

To get this feature to work, many dash cams require the unit to be hardwired to your vehicle. This will take significantly more time to install not to mention the possibility of having to hire a professional. Though, this is not the only potential feature to require such.

Connectivity

Most dash cams only connect either through a USB connection or by removing the memory card. Moreover, most USB connected dash cams require a computer to download the video feed from if they include that feature.

WiFi – A more convenient method of connecting externally is through Wifi. This allows the dash cam to sync with a smart device from which it can be controlled. Moreover, the video stream can also often be downloaded from the dash cam via Wifi and onto an external device.

Smart Devices – Wifi is not the only means some dash cams have of connecting to your smart device. Some are able to make use of a USB port, though that is generally used for computers. The other method, though the least common or reliable, is Bluetooth. Unfortunately, bluetooth is more prone to interference and is not always reliable.

Output – The final form of connectivity involves direct feeds. This is where the dash cam includes a port that can connect to another display device directly. However, this display device will rarely be able to control the dash cam itself. Instead, various TV screens built into your vehicle can accept either an AV or HDMI input and display what the camera is recording in real time.

GPS

For those of you who purchase a dash cam as a means of deterring crime, this feature becomes even more important. Quite often, the GPS will track the entire route, the speed of the vehicle at different points, and a number of other values.

This information can also be useful for filing an insurance claim. You can prove where you were as well as how fast you were going. The better GPS systems will include time and date syncing which can further support an insurance claim.

Conclusion

The best dash cam will be the one that provides the best features at the right cost. If you are comfortable splurging a bit, then either KDLINKS or the Z-EDGE are right up your alley.

If you are looking for the best package around, the Z-EDGE records in amazing Ultra HD while still recording in 1080p for the rear camera. The KDLINKS may not provide the absolutely best resolution, but it more than makes up for it with amazing nighttime video quality.

Of course, not everyone feels the need to have two cameras and are looking for other qualities instead. For those of you who want your devices to easily connect with your smartphone, the 360 allows you to control everything from your handheld device.

Derek Chase: Derek Chase is a 28-year-old car enthusiast. Currently working at a major startup company. Experienced in electronics and security systems. Tears down, repair, and rebuild power systems, exhaust systems, suspension, sound systems etc. of own cars. Read More.