Buy or Not: A Guide to Less than Great Dash Cameras

We get many questions on what cameras are best. We only recommend cameras we judge to be at the top of their categories but there are many more that didn’t make the cut. Some are bad, others overpriced and worth buying on sale and others that have a narrow range of usefullness.

Some of the cameras were purchased and tested but many more were rejected during the research stage. We use data from previous tests, existing reviews, manufacturer specifications to help determine if a camera is worth testing.

We looked at factors such as:
  • Video hardware (processor, image sensor, lens)
  • Capacitor vs lithium ion battery design
  • Retail and warranty support in USA, Canada, UK and Australia
  • Manufacturer quality
  • Past product performance
  • Unique features and manufacturer claims
Ethics Statement
We have never taken money for reviews. In the past we did take free samples but have moved to purchasing all test cameras since Jan 2017.

Table of Contents

Aukey DR-01

The DR-01 performs similarly to the Viofo G1W-S but is on average $20 more expensive. While the DR-01 is smaller and has a two-year warranty we think its drawbacks makes this camera only worth buying at <$55 or if you need a small camera and don’t want to spend about $100 on the better Viofo WR1
*On July 17, 2017 the average online price was $70 USD

Researched // Tested
Purchased and tested.

How We Made Our Decision
The Aukey DR-01 is the smaller, more expensive version of the Viofo G1W-S with a longer two year warranty versus 1-year on most cameras. It uses nearly the same video hardware including the Sony Exmor sensor and the video quality is quite similar. When we tested the DR-01 we found it couldn’t detect any of our failed SD cards and it couldn’t rotate to face the side windows.

We like Aukey the brand but we felt the $15 premium for the DR-01 isn’t worth it for most drivers. Still, if it goes on sale for around $55 or you want a small camera and can’t afford the Viofo WR1 ($100 on average in Aug 2017), we think the DR-01 is worth purchasing. Otherwise get the Viofo G1W-S

Links to Our Reviews
Aukey DR-01 (Short): YouTube
Viofo G1W-S: Youtube

Anker Roav

Great build quality and nice accessories but the ROAV’s underwhelming parking mode, poor SD card notifications and lithium-ion build holds it back. We think it’s only worth buying on sale for <70.
*On July 17, 2017 the average online price was $100 USD

Researched // Tested
Purchased and partly tested.

Our Thoughts on the ROAV
We’ll be updating this section as we continue to run the ROAV through our tests. These are our preliminary thoughts as of Aug 18, 2017.

The ROAV is one of the most popular cameras on the market. Right now we think it’s good but not worth $100. In many ways it’s similar to the Viofo A119V2 except it has worse video quality, less heat resistance, unproven reliability and only differentiates itself with its special parking mode.

The ROAV uses a lithium ion battery to power it’s parking mode. Anker claims that it can record over 30 clips (each about 30 seconds long) when its battery is fully charged while your car is off.

What’s included with the Anker Roav

The problem is that the camera isn’t constantly recording to save power. A YouTuber called US Dash Camera found it takes around 7 seconds from impact to recording to start recording. You may miss capturing a license plate in a hit and run incident and you won’t capture the actual impact.

As well a lithium ion battery can be a liability in hot weather. Your car acts like a greenhouse and the battery can swell and cause your camera to malfunction.

The camera also has problems detecting a faulty SD card. Out of our four failed SD card the ROAV only showed a “memory card error” on one card. Two others say “card full”, the last one dissolves into static. For $100 we expected much better as your SD card will eventually fail and most people don’t buy a good card.

The touch buttons look nice and very sleek, but it makes it harder for people to find and hit the emergency lock button as there is no tactile feedback.

The ROAV does have the best build quality I’ve seen in a dash camera. It’s made from solid metal and has great fit and finish. WiFi is one of the fastest I’ve tested. You also get Anker’s 2-port 24W car charger which is a solid product and a $10 value.

The Alternatives
In our opinion most people would be better served by the Viofo A119V2. it offers offers better value and proven reliability. The most recent beta firmware has a proper, automatic parking mode if you are more serious about parked protection. For $50 the Yi provides much of the same features and performance minus Anker’s unique recording mode.

Links to Our Reviews
Viofo A119: YouTubeWritten Review

Rexing V1

The Rexing V1 is on average $40 more expensive than the Viofo A118C2 except it has worse video hardware and uses lithium-ion batteries. While Rexing’s customer service is great we don’t think it’s worth the price premium.
*On July 17, 2017 the average online price was $100 USD

Researched // Tested
Purchased and fully tested.

How We Made Our Decision
The Rexing V1 is in the same price range and body shape as the Viofo A119V2 but is worse in almost every way except their responsive customer service.

The V1 has a much larger body and LCD screen which is more noticeable. Video quality is much lower compared to the Viofo A119V2 and is more comparable to the $50 A118C as they share the same image processor and sensor. It also uses lithium-ion batteries, not a capacitor in the A118C.

The Alternatives
If you’re looking for slightly better performance for $40 less the Viofo A118C2 is your pick. It uses capacitors and has upgraded the lens for better night vision over the A118C and V1. An upgrade for about $100 is the Viofo A119V2 for much better quality, functionality and reliability.

Links to Our Reviews
Viofo A118C2 (Short Review): YouTube
Viofo A119: YouTubeWritten Review
Rexing V1 (Short Review): YouTube

Vantrue N2

Marketed as a taxi camera but you can’t see anything inside your vehicle at night as it lacks infrared lights. The Transcend 520 delivers much better value and costs the same considering you get a $30 SD Card. Keep an eye on the recently released Vantrue N2 Pro as it adds inside facing IR lights and may be a good choice in the future.
*On July 17, 2017 the average online price was $165 USD

Researched // Tested
Purchased and tested for our taxi camera review.

How We Made Our Decision
The nice design and good customer support isn’t enough to cover the lack of infrared lights. IR lights help illuminate the passenger cabin at night which is very important for ridesharing and taxi drivers. If you are looking to use this as a cheap rear camera there are many instances where you can’t see anything out of the windshield.

What the Vantrue N2 looks like at night (left).

Alternative Choices
If you are looking for a dual lens taxi camera we suggest reading and watching our Taxi & Ridesharing Dash Cameras Review first.

For taxi and ridesharing drivers, you’ll want to look at the the Dome GS65H. It’s our value pick for ridesharing drivers and provides you the functionality need. It has decent day quality and properly illuminates passengers at night.

The better pick is the $200 Transcend DP520. It is a little more noticeable than the Dome camera, but is still fairly discreet. At night it is noticeably better than the GS65H and especially the Vantrue N2. Transcend also includes their 32GB High Endurance card which helps offset the higher price. The DP520 also has WiFi which allows your smartphone to connect with your camera and transfer/stream recorded videos.

Vantrue recently launched their N2 Pro camera which adds passenger facing IR lights. We think it could be a good contender to the DP520 assuming they keep the price the same at around $125-$150 if they aren’t adding other features like WiFi and a great SD card. We’ll review it in the future.

For all other non-professional drivers you’ll want to look a system which has a rear-facing camera on the back window. We’ll have a review soon which will look at <$200 options.

If you’re looking for a budget dual channel solution (front // back) recording we’ll have a review in the future which covers interesting $150-$200 options.

Links to Our Reviews
Dome GS65H: YouTube
Transcend DrivePro 520: YouTube
Vantrue N2 (Short): YouTube

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1 Comment on "Buy or Not: A Guide to Less than Great Dash Cameras"

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Mahedi Hasan
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Mahedi Hasan

Thank you for a nicely written detailed explanation. I am interested in vantrue n2 dash cam. I have read the review. It helps me a lot. Keep it up. I also write the vantrue n2 updated review on my blog
-Mahedi

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