Jan 8th, 2017: Added our latest budget camera roundup
Nov 25th: Removed the Blackvue DR650GW-2Ch and replaced it with the Thinkware F770 which is a better camera for most drivers
Oct 24: Added the Vicovation OPIA2 as a new premium camera pick
Aug 1st: Added the Viofo A119 as our top dash camera pick.
Top 5 Budget Cameras ($100 or Less)
We have full reviews for most of the cameras if you scroll down below.
Review of our Top Pick: Viofo A119
If I could only pick one dash camera it would be Viofo’s A119. For the first time a budget dash camera has all the essential features: great video quality, capacitors for better reliability, useful warning notifications and it’s stealthy.
Watch our video above or see our written review for more information and places to buy the camera.
Best Budget Black Boxes
XiaoYi (XiaoMi) Yi – $70If You Need Wifi and a Camera that Rotates
Since the Viofo A119 was released the Yi is no longer our top pick. Still, the Yi is better than the A119 in three ways. It’s cheaper, has WiFi to easily watch/transfer videos to your smartphone and can face the side windows to capture police encounters. The Yi is not recommended for hot environments as it uses lithium ion batteries.
Transcend DrivePro 200 – $100Reliable Camera for Hotter Environments
This is a good camera for anyone who prioritizes reliability. It has a two-year warranty which is the best right now. The biggest drawback is the night video quality. I think the A119 is the better buy but the A119’s reliability is not proven while the Transcend 200 is battle tested and proven.
A118-C (B40-C) – $50Cheap Stealthy Camera
The A118-C was once our top stealth pick but with the release of the A119 I would not buy the A118 unless it was $50 or less. Compared to the A119 it has significantly worse video quality and poor warning notifications. The value from purchasing this camera has diminished greatly and it’s not worth the premium from a local retailer.
Premium Dash Camera Recommendations
Thinkware F770-2CH – $400Top Parking Mode Camera
If you’re looking for your next dash camera that has excellent parked recording for the front and back of your vehicle, the Thinkware F770 is a great choice. It has some of the best video quality for dual channel systems, great functionality which includes an automatic video backup for any g-sensor incidents.
It’s black body is specifically designed for the North American market to be stealthy. It also incorporates a thermal protection sensor which shuts down the camera when it’s over 75°C. As well it uses 23% less energy than the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH which means you can record for longer
The downside like all dual channel cameras system is the video quality relative to cost. It’s a $400 system but it doesn’t come close to the video quality of the $100 Vifo A119. It is easier to install as everything is included except the microSD. As well it has Thinkware’s history of exceptional quality control which means better reliability
Use coupon code “carcamcentral20” for $20 off your order of $400 or more$400 from BlackboxMyCar See the Price on Amazon
Vicovation OPIA2 – $250Best Heat Resistant Dash Camera that Rotates
If you’re looking for a premium dash camera that rotates 360° this camera is your only choice. Luckily it’s a great camera. It has amazing video quality, heat resistant up to 75°C/167°F for hot & humid environments and finally a good parking mode.
The issue with error notifications has been fixed with the latest software. If you want to record anything that happens on the side or police encounters this is the camera for you. Truck drivers would also be an ideal user. If you want something stealthier and heat resistant you’ll want to look at the Street Guardian SG9665GC.
Choosing the Right SD Card
Certain SD cards have better durability which is important as dash cameras put a lot of wear and tear on the memory card which can cause it to fail overtime. Certain features like MLC memory are important but it’s not obvious what to purchase. We wrote up a guide and made a video which goes in detail and explains our recommendations.
We have two quick recommendations
Optimized for dash cameras and has error correction codes. The card used by Novatek engineers to test their image processors which are found in many dash cameras. Only a 2-year warranty.
Has a good history of use with dash cameras and cheaper with a lifetime warranty.
Promising Dash Cameras
These cameras we haven’t reviewed but have researched. These are car DVRs we could probably recommend based on other reviews and intuition but will wait until they are fully tested.
Street Guardian SG9665C – $200The Hope: Reliability & Stealthiness Under Very Hot Weather
The Street Guardian has been praised for it’s reliability and focus on performance under hot weather. The camera looks the same as the A118 on the outside, but the hardware within has been significantly improved.
It adds a glass lens, more powerful image sensor and a Sony Exmor sensor for better video quality. A metal lens holder was added to prevent temperature related focus shifts. The owner is frequently on Dash Cam Talk to discuss issues and fix problems as reported by users.