March 23, 2018: Completely revamped our recommendations and layout. We still have some photos to add to explain a few concepts better. Coming soon. Sept 26, 2017: Updated camera selections and descriptions. Jan 8th, 2017: Added our latest budget camera roundup
Table of Contents
Dual Channel – Front / Back Cameras: Two cameras, one on the front, the other on your rear windshield facing outwards. Better protection and coverage, but more expensive and harder to install.
Taxi Cameras: Two cameras, the second faces passengers, sees their faces and what they do. The second camera can be attached to a short cable or more commonly integrated with the main unit. Best for taxi and ridesharing drivers.
Choose the Right Memory Card: All microSD cards wear out over time when videos are recorded to the chip. When a card becomes too damaged, your camera will stop recording. We found certain cards to be significantly more durable and resilient because of their construction. We wrote a longer explanation below or if you’re short on time get either the Sandisk High Endurance or Transcend High Endurance microSD cards (except Thinkware cameras).
Shared Features For All Our Dash Cam Recommendations
- Automatic Start and Stop – Will turn on and start recording when power is received and safely turns itself off when power is lost. In most vehicles, this happens when you turn on or off the ignition.
- Loop Recording – The camera records over the oldest videos when the memory card is full, so you don’t have to delete files.
Single Lens Cameras
Our Top Value Pick for Most Drivers
Viofo A119V2 – $95
The Cheapest All-Around Pick
Blueskysea B1W – $55
There are a few reasons to spend the money on the Viofo A119 if possible. The A119’s day video is much sharper and can help you pick up fast-moving license plates. The night quality is also better but not the dramatic differences compared to the day footage. The B1W’s microphone quality can sound noisy and somewhat garbled, but you can hear what is said.
The B1W replaces three prior picks:
Cheap Pick for Cool Climates
Yi Dash Cam – $45
If you live somewhere warm or want something stealthier, we strongly recommend buying the BlueSkySea B1W. However, in cooler environments, the Yi has shaper video quality than the B1W Dash Cam with a smoother WiFi interface.
Budget Hot Weather Pick
Transcend DrivePro 200 – $100
See the Price on Amazon USA Amazon Canada Amazon United Kingdom See it on eBay
Premium Upgrade – Best Single Channel Camera
Vicovation Opia1 – $225
This is our video review of the older Vicovation OPIA2.
The full review of the OPIA1 will come out in the future.
The OPIA1 is the only single-lens dash cam we think is worth spending double over the Viofo A119. It has all the features we want, and they’re done well: WiFi, 70°C/158°F operating temperature, amazing video quality, 360° rotation, and a reliable, efficient parking mode. The camera can be somewhat bulkier, but it’s matte finish and shape make it stealthy. It’s the best we can find for a single channel camera on the market today.
Still, not everyone thinks these features are worth the premium in price. You can get a decent dual budget dash camera for $130 to 200 or stick with Viofo A119V2.
Dual Channel Front-Back Camera Recommendations
These cameras record not only the front but also out the back through the rear windshield. The rear camera is connected using a long cable to the front camera body. The rear footage isn’t as crucial for proving fault, but it can help in road rage incidents, hit and runs accidents and tailgating. You can show how the other driver’s actions affected your driving.
The tradeoff is the longer time required to install these cameras. You’ll need to hide the cable running to the rear of your vehicle. For most people it will take between 30 minutes to an hour. As well it costs more money compared to comparable single channel models.
Major Problem with Our Budget Dual-Channel Picks
All things being equal we prefer dual channel cameras for their coverage. However, a big issue is that all the budget options we could find have poor error notifications. These alert you when there’s a problem recording such as when your SD card has failed. The warnings either flash briefly and disappear or don’t exist at all which makes it very difficult to know if you’re camera is actually recording.
We are not comfortable saying these cameras below are a perfect upgrade over one-lens cameras like the Viofo A119V2. You’ll need to check the LCD of your camera to see if it is recording. Most people won’t do this and we’ve heard too many stories of drivers only finding out their camera doesn’t work after getting into an accident.
Budget Dual Channel Review VideoWe suggest watching the video below to learn about dual channel cameras and our recommendations.
For our full written review see our article here.
Great Video Quality and Ease of Use
Mini 0906 – $130
As well it also uses capacitors for added reliability. We found many dual channel cameras using lithium-ion batteries which can swell in warm weather. We were also a fan of its wireless remote which is a handy way to lock your files if there’s an issue. We’re impressed as this price-performance blend didn’t exist a year ago.
If You Value a Longer Warranty and Heat Resistance
Aukey DR02D – $130
Cheapest Reliable Parking Protection
Blackvue DR590 – $200
The DR590 is slim, stealthy and provides everything you need in a dual channel dash camera.The video quality is worse on the rear camera compared to the Mini 0906 and Aukey DR02D. Those two cameras are better choices if you don’t need to record while parked.
Note: We only tested the DR490 but from what we’ve seen the DR590 has no hardware changes, just some minor tweaks to improve energy efficiency. It’s the same camera, repackaged. As well the DR590W will be released soon which includes WiFi, something we think an LCD-less camera needs.
Get The DR590:We recommend BlackBoxMyCar for their expertise in hardwiring dash cameras, customer service and knowledge of installing cameras in luxury vehicles with complicated electrical systems
Use coupon code “carcamcentral10” for $10 off your order of $200 or more at BlackBoxMyCar Get it From BlackBoxMyCar USA BlackBoxMyCar CAN
Premium Upgrade – Best Front Back Camera
Thinkware F770-2CH – $400
We’re currently testing three premium cameras, and the Thinkware F800 Pro is its successor and a contender for the best premium dash camera. Our test results should be out late April with the full review in May. If you can’t wait we think the F800 Pro will be a good choice and is the current favourite for some reviewers.
We are also testing the Blackvue DR750S and the Street Guardian SG9663DC.
Use coupon code “carcamcentral20” for $20 off your order of $400 or more$400 from BlackboxMyCar See the Price on Amazon See it on eBay
Taxi Dash Camera Recommendations
We define taxi cameras as dash cams with two lenses, one facing the road in front and the other facing passengers. The inside facing camera must have an infrared light to illuminate passengers at night without being distracting. Without IR lights, you can’t see anything inside your vehicle when it gets dark.
We think these cameras are best for professionals like those driving a taxi or with ridesharing companies like Uber or Lyft. A taxi cam provides evidence in passenger disputes, criminal activity or help in disproving allegations of inappropriate actions (sexual assault, harassment, etc). Otherwise, for most drivers, we think having videos of you driving is a liability unless you are driving and reacting perfectly. This includes not appearing sleepy or distracted.
Budget Taxi Camera Review VideoWe suggest watching the video below to learn about taxi cameras and our recommendations.
Best Value Taxi Camera
Transcend DrivePro 520 – $170
The only downside is the slightly narrow IR light illumination. We suggest buying an additional IR light emitter ($20) to better cover all passengers. We wrote about that in our article. It’s not required though.
Potential Alternative Upgrade – Vantrue N2 Pro – $200
We’ve been keeping our eyes on the Vantrue N2 Pro as it seems to have better video quality. As well, the infrared lights appear stronger with a wider angle so you can see more of your passengers at night. Unfortunately, we may have to wait until later in the year to test this camera.
Cheapest Taxi Camera
The Best Overall Taxi Dash Camera
Thinkware F770 2CH-IR – $400
The first is that it’s a much more stealthy option, the main body hides behind the rear view mirror and the passenger camera is small. The second is that it uses capacitors which have better reliability unlike the battery designs of our cheaper cameras. Third, the infrared lights are incredibly strong and have wide coverage. It’s much better than our budget options. You won’t need to add a bulky infrared light.
Get The F770-IR:We recommend BlackBoxMyCar for their expertise in hardwiring dash cameras, customer service and knowledge of installing cameras in luxury vehicles with complicated electrical systems
Use coupon code “carcamcentral10” for $20 off your order of $400 or more at BlackBoxMyCar Get it From BlackBoxMyCar USA Get it From BlackBoxMyCar CAN
Protects Videos If Your Camera is Stolen
Janus V2 HD – $500
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 over time. Certain features like MLC memory are important, but it’s not obvious what to purchase. Read our full guide which gets into the details behind our recommendations.
Our Top Three Picks
Our top recommendation is Transcend’s High Endurance line. Optimized for dash cameras and has error correction codes which may factor into its long history of reliable performance. Incompatible with Thinkware cameras.
This is our budget recommendation. We now recommend Transcend’s 400X even though you lose the warranty when used in dash cameras. The 400X is recommended by some manufacturers we trust including Vicovation & Street Guardian. The 400X has a better history of reviews compared to other alternatives. It also has error correction codes we think contribute to its great durability. Works with Thinkware cameras.
Sandisk has their own dash cam specific memory cards. Its ratings have been excellent on Amazon in the two years since it has been released. As well it’s often cheaper and has better availability than the Transcend High Endurance around the world. Incompatible with Thinkware cameras.