Dash cam buying guide: We run through all the best dash cams on the market right now.
Even though dash cams are relatively new to the UK they are becoming increasingly popular. There are loads to choose from, though, so it’s difficult to identify the best dash cam for your needs is. We’ve put together a list of the all the top ones in the market right now.
Car cameras have long been a favourite accessory among Russian commuters and have lead to some amusing and downright scary videos posted online. Not only do dash cams allow you peace of mind when it comes to disputes over accidents, some insurers will actually offer discounts of up to 15% on your premiums if you fit a dash cam.
As with all technology, dash cams come in a variety of forms. Some feature a single, forward-facing lens, while others include both forward and rear-facing cameras. These are the type you’ll want if you are worried about being rear-ended. Others feature multiple lenses capable of recording various angles or have a wide-angle lens that gets in almost as much as you can see with your eyes. Some dash cams also incorporate GPS technology that comes with the benefit of being able to measure your speed.
So what makes dash cams different from other mountable cameras such as GoPros? First, most dash cams ensure you don’t run out of memory by splitting recordings into small chunks. Although the camera will be recording continuously, the stored files will be broken up into 1-3 minute recordings. This allows the camera to record over the oldest file once the memory becomes full, ensuring you don’t miss any important events or fiddle around with deleting unneeded footage
Secondly, all dash cams should support at least 720p resolution as the quality of the footage needs to be as high as possible to ensure it can be used to determine blame in disputes over accidents. Grainy grey blobs that aren’t clear won’t help you win a case.
Even if you’re not looking to safeguard against nefarious drivers, dash cams are a great way to document a road trip, or capture unexpected moments and turn them into the next big YouTube sensation or just a wonderful memory to look back on.
No matter what you’re looking for we’ve got the dash cam for you. We’ve reviewed dozens and picked the very best dash cams available to buy right now. You can read full reviews of each of them if you want, but we’ve taken all the most important points of each review and put them in one list for you.
GARMIN DASH CAM 35
- Full HD camera
- 3-inch widescreen
- Built-in GPS
Garmin’s flagship dash cam really is one of the best you can buy. Although the video quality isn’t as high as other offerings from RAC, you can still record in 1080p Full HD at 30fps.
Footage is recorded direct to a MicroSD card, with a 4GB card supplied as standard, allowing you to record just over an hour of footage. If you want to increase the storage capabilities, the Dash Cam 35 supports up to a 64GB MicroSD card, which you might seriously consider buying as once the card is full, Garmin’s device will automatically begin recording over the oldest video files.
Helpfully, if the built-in G sensor detects an incident, the files associated with that incident will end up in another folder where they won’t be deleted. Plus, you can also manually mark specific files to be saved.
In terms of extra features, the Dash Cam 35 comes with collision detection and speed camera warnings, but you’ll need to pay a subscription if you want regular updates to the speed camera detection, and remember this feature is illegal to use in some countries, such as France.
With decent picture quality, a built-in GPS receiver to record your coordinates, and a 3-inch screen, the Garmin Dash Cam isn’t a feature packed as some of its rivals but it does just work, making it one of the more reliable and easiest to use offerings on the market.
RAC 05 GPS DASH CAM
- ‘Super HD’ 1,296p camera
- 2.7-inch screen
- Safety camera locations
Coming with the reassuring RAC brand, the 05 GPS features a high recording resolution plus a host of extra features, making it one of the best dash cams available.
Video is shot in 1,296p (2,304 x 1,296), but you also have the option of shooting in 2,520 x 1,080, which records a wider angle of vision – great for capturing incidents that might otherwise occur just out of frame.
All footage is recorded to MicroSD card, and the 05 GPS comes with an 8GB card thrown in. As with other dash cams, once the card is full, the device will begin recording over the oldest footage. You can manually choose to save specific files by marking them as ‘incidents’, or you can set the 05 GPS to detect rapid changes in speed and automatically save the associated footage to prevent it being erased as part of the looping process.
There’s also a host of extra features including a Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS) and Lane Diversion Warning System (LDWS), which is supposed to kick in if it spots you wandering from your lane. Further safety features include Forward Motion Detection Warning (FMDW), which is supposed to alert you when the car in front starts moving in stationary traffic.
Elsewhere you get speed camera warnings and a feature which allows you to set warnings for when your speed exceeds a certain level. There’s also the matter of the ProofCam Google GPS Player software, which, aside from being notably unstable and unreliable, currently won’t work on Macs.
Still, the RAC 05 is one of the best, most feature-packed dash cams available.
At time of review the RAC 05 GPS Dash Cam was available for £149.99/$224.985
- Full HD camera
- 2.7-inch screen
- Safety camera locations
With a 2.7-inch screen, the Snooper DVR-4HD is much smaller than a sat-nav and attaches to your windscreen using a suction cup. The power cable is also long enough to be routed around the windscreen.
Footage is recorded to a MicroSD card and the DVR-4HD comes with a 16GB module included. Set-up is straightforward and recording is started simply by sliding the switch on the bottom of the unit. The device will record in 1080p with a 17Mbits/sec data rate, although there is also a 720p option. In 1080p mode, the 16GB storage card will store around two hours of footage.
Once the card is full, the device will begin recording over the oldest files unless specific footage has been marked as an ‘event’, in which case it will be saved indefinitely. Overall, image quality is good in both bright daylight and night-time, although in low light you’ll need to be fairly close to another vehicle to make out details such as the licence plate number.
Other features include an accelerometer to detect collisions or emergency stops, a GPS receiver to record your position alongside the video, and speed camera warnings. There’s also a lane departure warning system, forward collision warning, and the ability to set alerts for when you exceed a certain speed.
What’s more, the DVR-4HD works with smartphones via Wi-Fi. You can turn on all the safety features using the dedicated app which works on both iOS and Android devices. You can even view your recorded files on your phone, although the best view comes from using the desktop application. Unfortunately, the desktop software is somewhat hit and miss, and we encountered problems with maps loading during our tests.
Although the Snooper DVR-4HD is more expensive than other options, and doesn’t have the best desktop software, it does come with a range of extra features and does its main job well.
At time of review the Snooper DVR-4HD was available for £149.99/$224.985
- ‘Super HD’ 1,296p camera
- 4.3-inch screen
- Safety camera locations
A dashboard camera with a twist, the RAC 03 is actually a massive rear-view mirror which straps over your existing one. Not only will the RAC 03 record the road ahead, but you get an enhanced rear-view at the same time.
Much like the RAC 05, the 03 will record footage in 2,340 x 1,296 resolution, with a 2,520 x 1,080 setting which doesn’t actually widen the view, just narrows the window vertically whilst increasing the horizontal resolution. There’s a microSD slot available for video storage, and the device comes with a 8GB card. At the top video resolution and quality settings, this will be enough for a little over 50 minutes of footage.
After plugging the 03 into a power source, a 4.3-inch screen appears in the middle of the mirror. The screen then disappears if you don’t configure any settings or touch any buttons. The RAC 03 also comes with a built-in GPS, so your location information is recorded alongside the video, as well as safety camera warnings, collision detection, and the ability to set alerts for when you exceed a certain speed.
The 03 comes with new Dash Cam software rather than relying on Google’s software, as with the RAC 05. It’s quite a bit more feature rich, and not unstable like the latter.
With decent footage quality and plenty of extra features, the RAC 03 is a novel and very functional dashboard camera.
At time of review the RAC 03 was available for £169.99/$254.985
- Wireless in-car monitoring system
- 640 x 480 resolution
- 2.4GHz video sending
Those looking for an easy way of keeping an eye on their children in the back seat need look no further. The babyCam isn’t a traditional dash cam in that it’s designed to allow you to see someone sitting in the rear of your vehicle via the screen on your Sat Nav.
Powered by either two AA batteries or a mini-USB cable, the babyCam attaches to the metal rods of an extending head rest. In order to use the device, you’ll also need a Garmin satnav, and you can check the Garmin website for a list of compatible devices. Once you’ve paired the camera with your Sat Nav it’s simply a case of tapping the camera icon that appears on your satnav to bring up a view from the babyCam.
With a 640 x 480 resolution and 30fps, the babyCam won’t be recording the clearest picture you’ve ever seen, but it’s more than good enough for checking up on your kids to make sure everything is ok. The camera also manages to perform well in varying light conditions, and features a Night Mode too, so you don’t need to worry about not being able to use it after dark.
Garmin’s device does what it sets out to do and integrates well with compatible satnavs. At £130, it’s not the most affordable offering, but if you’re the owner of a Garmin satnav and looking for an easy way to check up on your kids in the back seat, this is a great option.
At time of review the Garmin babyCam was available for £169.99/$254.985
- Parking mode with permanent installation
- 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- G-sensor to detect accidents
While the Thinkware might not have the high resolution of some other models it does have a high quality sensor and that means it’s one of the better sat navs for recording in low light conditions, thanks also to some clever software trickery.
The X550 also comes with built-in GPS that’s highly accurate and also comes with speed camera alerts – a nice addition although illegal in some countries like France.
Mounting the dash cam can be a little tricky as it can be directly connected to your car’s electrical system. You can get a third party to install if for you for £59.99 and you might want to as this brings one of Thinkware’s better features to the fore. Connecting it like this lets you take advantage of the Parking Mode option which means the X550 “wakes up” and starts recording when it feels a shock or movement.
You can also use two cams that work together for better coverage and the 2.7-inch screen is perfectly serviceable and it’s easy to use once installed.
It might not have the sharpest image quality but the X550 is a well-rounded dashcam.At time of review the Thinkware X550 was available for £169.99/$254.985