The Best Dash Cam

The Best Dash Cam

Our pick

Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam

Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam

The best dash cam

This camera’s 1440p resolution produces the sharpest video we’ve seen. The 522GW is also very easy to use, and it’s one of the few cameras that can summon emergency aid after a crash.

Buying Options

$260 from Best Buy

The Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam produces a super-sharp 1440p (or Quad HD) video image that in our tests allowed us to clearly see details that were indecipherable with most other dash cams. Using the 522GW’s bright, responsive touchscreen to navigate menus and adjust settings is much easier than fiddling with the buttons of other models. With its powered magnetic mount, the unit is easy to snap on and off, without having to mess with a cord. The Nextbase phone app outshines competitors’, and in addition to GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, the 522GW gives you a polarizing filter to minimize annoying reflections. The camera can integrate with Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, and a new Emergency SOS feature automatically summons emergency aid after a crash. The 522GW can also pair with three different rear cams, giving you more versatility. Yes, it’s more expensive than many competing models, but it provides the best dash-cam experience of any model we’ve tested.

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Runner-up

Nextbase 422GW Dash Cam

Nextbase 422GW Dash Cam

A smaller version of our top pick

The 422GW is similar to the 522GW in video quality but is a little smaller and usually less expensive. It doesn’t come with a polarizing filter (but you can add one).

Buying Options

$230 from Amazon
$230 from Best Buy

If you can’t get the 522GW, or just want a slightly smaller model, we recommend the Nextbase 422GW. It gives you the same excellent video image and most of the same features, but it’s more compact, with a smaller touchscreen display (2.5 versus 3 inches). It also usually costs less, and it lacks only the polarizing filter (although you can add an an optional one).

Also great

Papago GoSafe S810

Papago GoSafe S810

Best affordable dual-cam model

In addition to a front camera, the S810 has a rear camera that records incidents behind your vehicle, but the image quality isn’t as good as with our single-cam picks.

Buying Options

$170 from Amazon

If you want to record incidents behind your vehicle as well as in front of it, we recommend that you use a dual-cam model, which includes a second camera that’s mounted to the rear window. The best overall package would be to add Nextbase’s optional rear camera to either the 522GW or the 422GW, but those combos can get pricey. For about half the price, or less, you can get the Papago GoSafe S810. Its front camera is surprisingly sharp for a 1080p model, and the video image has good color and contrast, as well as a decent dynamic range at night. As with most dual-cam models, the rear camera’s image quality isn’t as good as that of the front camera—it’s less sharp, with duller colors and more contrast.

Also great

Vantrue N2 Pro

Vantrue N2 Pro

Best for recording a car interior

The N2 Pro’s two cameras record the road ahead as well as the interior of the car. The passenger camera has better nighttime clarity than similar models we’ve tested.

Buying Options

$200 from Amazon

If you want to record the interior of your car as you drive, we recommend the Vantrue N2 Pro, which has a camera that records the view in front of the car and another one that faces the interior, a handy setup for ride-for-hire drivers who want to document their passengers. The front camera—recording in 1080p resolution—provides good overall image quality, although it’s not as sharp as that of our single-cam picks. And the rear-facing camera lets you see all passengers, even in total darkness.

Also great

Garmin Dash Cam Mini

Garmin Dash Cam Mini

If you want a dash cam that people won’t notice

Garmin’s Mini is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested, but its lack of a display means you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view video and adjust settings.

Buying Options

$85* from Amazon
$100 from Best Buy

*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.

If you prefer a dash cam that people likely won’t notice, we recommend the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, which is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested. About the size of a key fob, the Mini virtually disappears on the windshield. Still, it provides surprisingly good video quality for a 1080p model, and it’s easy to pop on and off of its adhesive mount. Because the Mini has only two physical buttons and no display, though, you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view video, to adjust settings, and even just to aim the camera properly.

Also great

Vantrue T2

Vantrue T2

Best for extreme temperatures

The T2 uses a capacitor instead of a lithium battery to provide the widest operating-temperature range of any affordable model we’ve tested. But the T2 is not as sharp or easy to use as the best competitors.

Buying Options

$150 from Amazon

We’ve had no heat-related problems with a couple of Nextbase models we used during several sizzling summer months in Southern California and New York. But if you want extra insurance for hot and cold conditions, we recommend the Vantrue T2. Instead of a lithium battery (used in most dash cams), the T2 uses a capacitor power supply, which holds up better in extreme temperatures. This gives the T2 the widest operating-temperature range (-4 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit) of any affordable model we’ve tested. (The Blackvue DR900S-1CH 4K provides the same temperature range, as well as better video quality, but it costs about twice as much.) The T2 also has a more sophisticated parking-mode system than most models, for recording incidents that happen when the car is parked. But this model’s 1080p video isn’t as sharp as that of the Nextbase 522GW or the 422GW, and the T2 isn’t as easy to use.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam

Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam

The best dash cam

This camera’s 1440p resolution produces the sharpest video we’ve seen. The 522GW is also very easy to use, and it’s one of the few cameras that can summon emergency aid after a crash.

Buying Options

$260 from Best Buy

Runner-up

Nextbase 422GW Dash Cam

Nextbase 422GW Dash Cam

A smaller version of our top pick

The 422GW is similar to the 522GW in video quality but is a little smaller and usually less expensive. It doesn’t come with a polarizing filter (but you can add one).

Buying Options

$230 from Amazon
$230 from Best Buy

Also great

Papago GoSafe S810

Papago GoSafe S810

Best affordable dual-cam model

In addition to a front camera, the S810 has a rear camera that records incidents behind your vehicle, but the image quality isn’t as good as with our single-cam picks.

Buying Options

$170 from Amazon

Also great

Vantrue N2 Pro

Vantrue N2 Pro

Best for recording a car interior

The N2 Pro’s two cameras record the road ahead as well as the interior of the car. The passenger camera has better nighttime clarity than similar models we’ve tested.

Buying Options

$200 from Amazon

Also great

Garmin Dash Cam Mini

Garmin Dash Cam Mini

If you want a dash cam that people won’t notice

Garmin’s Mini is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested, but its lack of a display means you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view video and adjust settings.

Buying Options

$85* from Amazon
$100 from Best Buy

*At the time of publishing, the price was $90.

Also great

Vantrue T2

Vantrue T2

Best for extreme temperatures

The T2 uses a capacitor instead of a lithium battery to provide the widest operating-temperature range of any affordable model we’ve tested. But the T2 is not as sharp or easy to use as the best competitors.

Buying Options

$150 from Amazon

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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