Ultimate Dash Camera Buyers Guide


Update – Nov 17st

My comparison on the G1W, A118C, Mobius, Mini 0806 and MG380G should be out at the end of the week! The article is written, video is being scripted and should be released soon.

We’ll release our in-depth comparison on the G1W-CB, A118C, Mobius, Mini 0806 and MG380G.!

Extremely popular low end cameras. I’ll be releasing the first review comparing all five of these cameras at once.






Dash Camera Basics

Skip if you are familiar with dash cameras!

What is it?

A dash camera (a.k.a. dashboard camera, blackbox recorder, DVR, digital video recorder) is a dedicated vehicle camera. It films every moment of your drive providing video evidence should anything unexpected occur (police ticket, car accident, giant flaming meteor). You can use this footage to help prove your innocence if there are no witnesses (or uncooperative ones!)

Why Purchase a Dedicated Vehicle Camera?

While there is enough information for an entire article, a dash camera is for convenience. While smartphones/camcorders could be used in place of a dash camera; you would frequently be required setup/maintain your camera.

A dashboard camera is hands-free and makes it far more likely you’ll be recording due to a couple important features:

  • Automatically turns on and starts recording when the camera receives power.
  • Looping Video, the camera automatically records over the oldest file when the memory card fills up.
  • Durable – There are models designed to survive intense heat and cold. Many camcorders/phones stop operating on hot days even when there is air conditioning

Installation & Operation

Dash cameras are in use by a million plus Russian, Chinese and Taiwanese drivers and are designed for the average citizen to use and install. Installation consists of taping/suctioning your camera, plugging the adapter into your cigarette socket and inserting the memory card. There is no electrical tinkering, wiring or technical knowledge needed.


Be sure you aren’t breaking the law by recording audio and/or video when you are out on the road. While the majority of locales allow for the unrestricted use of recording devices in public there may be restrictions depending on your location. This form of legal advice is outside the scope of this article.

If you need a place to start examine Telephone Recording Laws giving guidelines when all parties are required to be informed that a conversation is being recorded (all-party notification) as opposed to one-party notification (just you).

Camera Features – What You Need To Know

Quality Control & Failure Rate

Everyone wants reliability and value. Dash cameras under $150 are almost all made in mainland China and have excellent value but suffer significantly greater failure rates due to aggressive market-driven cost reduction. The vast majority of these cameras do work well as evidence by the million+ Chinese cameras in use today but it’s something to keep in mind.

For reliability and features go with Taiwanese and Korean cameras. The most reliable of these flout their heat resistance. You can also look at proven designs where cameras have been in use for at least a year and have shown very few failures across a variety of different climates.

Video Quality

Video quality is primarily judged by the sharpness and clarity of an image. Higher quality images helps identify vital details such as license plates, driver actions, road features which may prove your case. Additionally it is more difficult for your video evidence to be thrown out in court due to tampering.

Almost all premium cameras ($150) have similarly excellent day video, it’s the night quality which differs. The best quality I find comes from cameras which have excellent components and “wide dynamic range” (WDR) and has excellent definition day or night especially scenes with widely contrasting light.

In budget cameras the night quality is generally bad except at the higher end ($100-$120) in specific cameras. You’ll get blocky video making it near impossible to read letters, in the cheapest cameras this may happen during the day.

Seamless Video

Recorded videos are split into multiple segments instead of one continuous video. In cheap cameras there can be a time gap between files and you lose whatever would have happened during that time period up to 3 seconds in the worse case scenario.

Almost all budget cameras (<$90) have a gap between files including the K6000 and DVR-047 recommended below.

Heat Resistance

The biggest killer of dash cameras aside from quality control issues is heat. Heat can cause electronics to fail/malfunction, components to crack if not properly designed. If you experience temperatures greater than 30°C/86°F conditions for any extended period of time buying a camera that has heat tolerance (or great warranty service) is essential. No Chinese made cameras are designed for hot conditions.

Warranty Support

Many recorders are purchased overseas through eBay/Aliexpress. If your camera has problems guess who’s paying shipping back to Asia? (Hint – It’s not the seller).

Two Options for Cheap(er) Warranty Support
1) Buy from a “local” dealer with warranty support. Better if they are an authorized dealer of any brands you are shopping for. At the very least I would expect phone/live chat support. Expect to pay more money for this level of service and care especially if they cover shipping as part of the sale.

2) Get a SquareTrade warranty. Squaretrade is known for their hassle-free, no nonsense warranties. You deal with a United States company who will cover shipping fees and breakdowns due to overheating and moisture. It’s cheap, when I looked it was $35, three year protection on a $250 dash camera.

Size and Obscurity

All things being equal a smaller camera is better. Avoids drawing the attention of thieves and any police/witnesses following any roadside encounters unless you want to. It’s also easier to hide your camera behind your rear view mirror keeping your interior clean and tidy. Cameras are appropriately below as being “stealthy” or “large”.

Camera Features – Nice to Have

Audible Notifications

All cameras notify you using sounds letting you know when it’s being turned on or if there are problems. Some models give a spoken status update. Many users find these audible notifications reassuring as they know they are being protected and help identify the exact nature of any problems (ex. sd card failure) or changes (ex. audio muted).



Some black box recorders include a GPS chip to record your location and speed. This information is often written directly onto the video and onto a written log file. All cameras have an option to disable the GPS completely or just the overlay. The GSE-580 has an option to disable the GPS information when a set speed is exceeded so your evidence can still be used in court.

While GPS information has not been used in court to overturn a speeding ticket it has numerous other uses:
-Lend out your vehicle? Now you can see how it’s been used (possibly abused)
-Teenagers that drive? Keep track of where they go and if the rules you set are being followed
-Fleet Management – Avoid the overly expensive real time fleet tracking systems and use a dash camera instead.

Commercial Grade


Commercial users are demanding on their hardware. When dash cameras are added to vehicles they can often be swapped in and out, exposed to various environments, you need a camera that can handle the rough and tumble. For now there is only one camera that is water, dust and drop resistant and it’s the DOD GSE-580. The other potential candidate is the Vicovation TF2, it’s not water or dust resistant but it’s been shown to be very durable and reliable especially under heat.

Battery / Low Power Drain


Recording while parked is useful to capture any hit and run damage but it does require either a built-in battery or a connection to the car’s battery. If the camera is drawing power form the car’s battery and you record for an extended period of time, purchasing a camera with a low power drain is essential to avoid both depleting the battery and shortening the battery’s lifespan.

The other alternative is to purchase a camera with a built in battery (or an external battery) – only DOD cameras have a battery from the cameras listed in this guide. An additional benefit is your camera can be used as a portable recording device.

LCD Screen


LCD screens are great for simplicity, you don’t need a phone or computer to view videos or change settings. Recorded videos can also be shown roadside to police/witnesses although it’s often best to wait for legal counsel if you are directly involved

Infrared Lights

Infrared light (IR) is invisible to the human eye but is commonly used by CCD cameras to illuminate dark areas at night. While causing only glare while driving with headlights on, IR dash cameras are useful as a cheap security camera at night. These dash cameras have been successfully used by companies to protect assets without needing an extensive and difficult to install security system.

Dedicated Mute Button

All dash cameras have a built in microphone, very useful to record conversations and any road noises both inside and out. There is almost always a mute feature but if only available through a menu it’s inconvenient to use when you suddenly want to keep anything off the record.

A dedicated mute button is a very useful feature when you want to easily switch between the protection of audio recordings and keeping sensitive information off the recording.

Large Storage Capacity

Most cameras record a maximum of 32GB (4 Hours) of 1080p video, two cameras support the SDXC format which can hold 128GB (16 Hours) of video. If you park your car for a long period of time you can come back knowing you’ve recorded anything that might have happened. Professional drivers can rest assured they have enough footage over the day to address any reported claims of improper driving.

Driver Assistance Systems


Driver assistance systems help motorists with staying safe. There are two of these systems found in dash cameras – lane drift and speed warnings. Lane drift warns the driver when you slowly move too close to a neighbouring lane. Speed warnings use GPS positional data to warn the driver when they exceed a set speed.

Lane drift warnings may increase accidents (unless it’s integrated with brakes) – not too big a deal. The speed warning is interesting especially if your insurance goes up for each ticket. Could be effective for drivers who pay attention more to the road than their speedometer. Found only in DOD cameras (TG300 & LS430)


WiFi in cameras allows you to wirelessly transfer and view videos using a compatible device. For many this turns your smartphone (Android, iPhone, etc) into a convenient video playback device.

The range is weak outside 10-15 feet the signal dies out. If you are looking to use this as a remote IP camera it won’t do the job.

Mount Types – Suction vs Tape

Two ways to attach your camera to your window/dashboard, either suction or tape. Tape mounts are very small but lack reusability. Suction mounts are the opposite. If you want to share your camera and don’t want to purchase another mount than a suction mount is ideal, works well in all weather conditions.

Pivoting Mount

A pivoting mount allows you to rotate the camera 360° horizontally (left to right) as well as vertically up and down. The advantages is that it allows you to focus on any events happen on the sides (police, accident) with ease. In comparison cameras like the iTronics ITB-100HD and Blackvue DR500GW-HD only allow vertical movement.

Emergency Lock Button

A dedicated button to protect your files from being overwritten in case anything should happen. Great feature for anyone who wants to document any dangerous drivers and doesn’t have the time to transfer videos everyday. Great for commercial operators who may be accused of dangerous driving if they are seen swerving due to another driver to help prove their case.

Budget Cameras – Everything Under $150

These are the high value, reduced reliability cameras from China. There are many counterfeits and I would recommend buying using the links below. The vendors below have been vetted by many buyers and provide customer service and support.

K6000 The “Budget Box”


• Good Day Video • Poor Night Video • Best Camera Under $80


If there was one camera I would pick under $80 and I didn’t care about the size it would be this camera. You get 1080P video at 25FPS and frankly the quality is amazing compared to common choices in this price range.

The firmware is the version found in the more expensive F500 & F900 cameras. You get control over all aspects including loop recording and motion detection. The camera is also equipped with a 600mAH battery for parking and portable recording and LED lights.

K6000 Unboxing - Dash Cam Car Video Camera FULL HD 30fps G-Sensor
Footage from Dashboard Car Camera K6000

DVR-047 & DVR-207

“The Slim Runner Up”

$38 // $68
Two compact, folding camera models. Both use the same body with different electronics. I would NOT RECOMMEND either camera unless you need a slim camera or a cheap security camera (See the section on Infrared Lights for more details) as the value is not there.

I covered these two cameras and three others in a roundup review (look right).

DVR-047 • $38

The DVR-047 is a standard definition camera in use by tens of thousands of Russians. It’s functional and easy to use, just old. You pay $2 less than the K6000 but the quality is horrible, it’s difficult to see license plates day or night as the video is block and grainy.

DVR-207 • $67

The DVR-207 is the successor to the widely used 720p DVR-027. You pay $30 for slightly worse video compared to the K6000. You are able to see license plates during the day only from nearby vehicles. At night you lose much of the clarity.

Camera Review

Comparison of 5 Chinese Cameras including DVR-027& DVR-047 (Review)

The video review I made and the post if you want to go into greater detail. Link

GS1000 – “Value & Performance”


• Excellent Day Video • Good Night Video • GPS • Compact Design


Sharp day video and good video at night, it also has a GPS. The best compact camera under $200. You can have either video quality or compactness under $200, not both. The drawback is quality control and the number of fakes (as always with Chinese cameras).

There are two versions called “blue menu” and “orange menu” GS1000. Blue menu cameras use cheaper components and often don’t include a GPS module dropping the price to $60. Avoid these cameras as they are unreliable, warp in the heat and other nasty things.

The Orange menu is the version linked, it uses the Ambarella A2 chip which provides the quality seen below. Unfortunately it’s only found on Aliexpress and sold through two vendors: E-Prance and Shenzen Saddle (linked below).

HD GPS GS1000 Car DVR Camera Orange Menu Ambarella Chip Apperance and Menu Setting Review
GS1000 Orange Menu Day Video
GS1000 Dash Cam Orange Menu Night Video

Picking Your Premium Camera

Above $150 you enter the realm of branded cameras mainly bringing better quality and few if any counterfeit models. Virtually equal day performance and excellent night performance and common features such as GPS are found in the majority of cameras in this range. You’ll have to pick the design and added features you think are important.

Camera Features

Best Video Quality

DOD_LS300W_Small#1 Pick – DOD LS300W
Crystal clear video. Great Menu. Easily Removable. Everything you need. [Details]

Vicovation_TF2_Small#2 – Vicovation TF2
Excellent Video, most heat resistant camera. Durable. Lacks GPS and is a bigger camera. [Details]

Aiptek_X5_Small#3 – Aiptek X5
Similarly excellent video to above. #3 Pick because it’s not small and less heat resistant. Great value due to price (~$80 Cheaper). [Details]


Commercial Grade

DOD_GSE580_Small#1 – DOD GSE-580
Only one choice for a robust, reliable camera that can also double as a night security camera. Impact-resistant to 6 feet, water-spray proof and dust-ingress resistant. 1080P video, GPS, plate overlay for fleet management and video proof. [Details]


Proven Reliable

Cameras which have been tested by numerous driver for at least a year in varying climates from the Russian Winters to the Australian Summers. No longer the latest design or great value.

Itronics_ITB100HD_Small#1 Pick – Itronics ITB-100HD
Compact camera with very good video (not excellent), only 24FPS (frames per second, compared to 30). Works up to 70C/158°C. Has GPS. Extensively with few failures. [Details]

#2 – Vicovation DS2Vicovation_DS2_Small
Older version of the Vico-TF2, bulkier with worse night quality. Top heat resistant to 75°C/167°F. Used by many professional truck drivers with few problems reported. More reliable than the Itronics ITB-100HD, much bigger. Has Emergency button to save road encounters. [Details]


Compact Cameras

The all around “good pick” cameras – small and feature loaded.

LukasLK7900_Small#1 Pick – Lukas LK-7900
Everything you could want but an LCD screen and local North American dealers. [More details]

PittasoftDR500_Small#2 – Pittasoft Blackvue DR500GW-HD
Really creative camera. Has great quality video, easy to use mute feature (literally a swipe of your hand) and WiFi. It’s a stylish camera, which is good and bad depending on the area you are residing in. [Details]

Best Temperature Resistance

Vicovation_TF2_Small#1 Pick – Vicovation TF2
Current leader with a 75°C/167°F operating temperature. If you live in any consistently hot (Singapore, Las Vegas, etc) areas I would get this camera for long term reliability. [Details]

#2 – Vicovation DS2Vicovation_DS2_Small
Older version of the Vicovation TF2, exact same resistance at 75°C/167°F. Less features, poorer quality video, $100 cheaper. [Details]

LukasLK7900_Small#3 – Lukas LK-7900
“Second Tier” heat resistance at 70°C/158°F. Much more functional than the Vico TF2. [Details]


“Budget” Cameras

If you’re looking for a more reliable camera but don’t want to spend $200+. These are not small cameras. No clear winner.

Aiptek_X2_SmallAiptek X2 – $144
Aiptek X2 launched early 2013 has great video, heat resistant to 65C. Has the majority of features from $200+ cameras (F2.0 lens, Voice Notifications). Great value overall.

Vicovation DS2 – $170Vicovation_DS2_Small
For added reliability especially when it’s hot get the Vico DS2. Heat resistant to 75°C/167°F. Proven design, picture quality will be worse than the Aiptek X2 shown above.[Details]


Infrared Equipped – Night Security Cameras

DOD is the only company that supports a reliable high-resolution infrared camera. You can find cheaper, low resolution cameras in the budget section. The best feature is the dedicated IR switch as only want the IR lights running while parked but avoiding the inconvenience of activating/deactivating it through the menu.

The DOD F890LS is an upgraded camera with brighter IR lights and a slighter higher capacity battery compared to the older F880LHD. Very common design, great day video, pretty good night video.

DOD_GSE580_SmallDOD GSE-580
The costlier, more durable alternative to the F890LS. If you need waterproofing, license plate overlays and GPS get this model otherwise night capabilities are the same.

  • Tony Parran

    I just read a report on Dash Cams and have to agree with the Blogger. Why do you need GPS? The camera is already recording the street you’re on, the highway signage, etc. GPS is a waste of money.

    • Andrew Lam

      Would love the link to the report. I do agree GPS isn’t essential.

      There is a good reason for using GPS devices – Teenage Drivers & Lending your Vehicle. While you can find out what street you are on you would have to manually review the footage and that is a time intensive endeavor. GPS data can quickly give an overview of where it’s been and how they have been treating your vehicle.

      Some people have wanted to use GPS for speeding tickets but their usage has not been fully validated in court especially for minor offenses. Might be useful in the future.

      Let me know your thoughts.

      • David N

        The GPS information such as Speed could be used against you. Hit while driving 1 MHP over the limit…now whose fault is it? Don’t Need GPS to know where something happened in 99% of cases.

  • Cowboydroid

    I don’t see any dual front/rear camera devices here. Is there a particular reason why you left them out?

    • Andrew Lam

      I decided to simplify this guide as much as possible as the vast majority of users are looking for a single camera. Adding a dual camera system adds quite a bit of complexity in wiring and setup and I thought would be best explained in it’s own article. Currently I do recommend getting two cameras instead of the 2 in 1 systems found from other manufacturers as the value simply isn’t there. It does add a bit of complexity as you will need a dual power adaptor but I don’t think it will be the biggest issue for most users.

  • SemperWhy

    Thank you for the great resource you have created. I’m just getting into my research in this area and this has been invaluable.

    • Iqbal fadal

      Thanks man. Your guide answer to modt of my questions in details. Cheers

  • Chet

    Thanks Andrew for such informative reviews. I had no clue how to select from hundreds of dashcam out there.

  • NIKOS R61

    Andrew was a great help to me having not a clew about this issue. thank you a lot. i park my car outside my house and someone scratches its paint. i have no alternative than to install one or two cameras trying to identify. cameras must have good night mode, operate while car engine is not running, have WiFi in order to send signal to a close by receiver, not to be very notable. being able to operate under high tempratures is wishable but not a must for the application i need them. ANDREW please give one more step of assistance. which one would you get?

    • Nmid

      Would like some links or advice for the same issue!

    • AA

      Any reply here please ?

      • Andrew Lam

        Hey AA, I’ll be updating this page soon. Give me a day or two and I’ll have the answers. Thanks for your interest.

  • Baloo Uriza

    It would be incredibly useful to know what codecs the camera uses and whether or not it logs to GPX as well. The last thing I want to deal with if I need to use the data in court is some proprietary format that won’t be accepted.

  • eric

    Thanks for all the info. But which one of these allows ( the very good ones day and night viewing) allows an external screen to be added for viewing. Like tv or tablet .thanks

  • GUSTO88

    Andrew, what was your response to NIKOS (below)? I am interested in a similar cam set up!

  • tracy

    need a good low light rear facing camera. any suggestions?

  • tracy

    I’m looking for a good low light camera to put in the back window of a truck. Any suggestions?

    • Tom Carr

      i just bought one from a online shop which is quite impressive. They have all kinds of dashcams, you can always find the one there. You might find the one you want here :

  • Fat Lip

    GW1 blows all this junk away, you guys are marketing cheap junk over priced, sorry my impression

  • Tom Carr

    i just bought one from a online shop which is quite impressive. They have all kinds of dashcams, you can always find the one there. Link:

  • Guest

    Does anyone know which camera this is? Just bought it on an online auction site for cheap (may be a lemon?)

  • Guest

    Does anyone know which camera this is? Just bought it on an online auction site for not much money. (may be a lemon?)

  • Guest

    Does anyone know which camera this is?

  • Ronald Osorio

    Hi and Greetings to you Andrew and to all of your readers, do you know of a dash cam that monitors the road ahead and the driver at the same time. Thanks…

  • rant1200 .

    Don’t bother with the e-prance models,they work for a short time.Bought 2 from Amazon,not sure if they will back them up.Trying to get a refund for them but seller says no need to return them.What a scam.Stay away.

  • Gary Lee

    surprised iroad not in here..

  • mcuexpert

    I am surprised there is no single wifi enabled dash camera out there with vibration based recording trigger. To preserve car battery, such cam should be in low power mode until vibration is detected just like in most car alarms, then start recording and while recording trying to connect to wifi it was configured to work with. Even some available wifi dash cams with vibration trigger consume too much battery power (~5W) to monitor unatended vehicle for longer period of time , a month or two. I am firmware engineer myself and I know how relatively easy would be to implement such function in existing products like BlackVue but without working with manufacturer, hacking it may not be practical or even not possible.