April 4th, 2018: Please see our recently updated Best Dash Cams Article for a full list of cameras we recommend.
Sept 1st, 2017: Vantrue released the N2 Pro which adds IR lights to the passenger camera. It has an upgraded processor and image sensors which may produce better video quality than the Transcend 520. We’ll test this camera in the future, potential pick. Aug 25th, 2017: As previously promised in the video, we’ve added instructions on adding a second infrared light to boost indoor night clarity for our budget cameras. We tested an invisible 940nm IR light and found it works with all cameras including the Dome GS65H.
Our Video Review
Our Top Pick – Transcend DrivePro 520 – $200The best combination of features and reliability for your money
Released two years ago and we don’t have a better choice. Transcend is a mainstream brand that delivers the best features and protection for a camera under $200.
Our Cheap Pick – Dome GS65H~$90 USD
If you’re tight on cash the Dome GS65H is the cheapest taxi camera we could find that delivers the essential features for taxi and ridesharing drivers to capture the video evidence they need. Night clarity isn’t as strong and there are fewer features than DrivePro 520 but at less than half the price, you’ll be satisfied.
Upgrade Pick – Thinkware F770 2CH-IR$400 USD
The Thinkware F770 takes the 520 and improves on everything. It’s heat resistant as it uses capacitors. The video quality is better and has better coverage at night. WiFi is faster and the camera is smaller and less noticeable for passengers and to pedestrians. It also has a proper parking mode so you can capture anyone who hits your vehicle while you are away.
Janus V2 HD – Theft & Robbery Protection$500 USD
The Janus V2 isn’t a direct upgrade as the video quality, installation experience and other features are harder to use or worse than the Transcend 520. The V2 instead has one unique feature – it makes a simultaneous copy of the recorded video onto a separate USB stick. If someone tries to steal your camera you can rig the SD card so it stays in your vehicle. You’ll pay a large price for this feature at $500 for the camera.
What Is A Taxi Dash Cam?
It’s A Dash Camera – Records on a Loop
This might be obvious but there are two main features that are essential. First, it has to record on a loop which means the oldest videos are automatically overwritten when the card is filled. You’ll have hours before this happens or you can press the file lock button found on all our cameras to save the file.
Turns on and Starts Automatically
The second dash cam feature is that when the camera receives power it will turn on and record. Otherwise, it may be too inconvenient to use.
Has a Passenger Facing Camera with Infrared Lights
Whether it’s attached to the camera or on a separate wire there should be a way to film your passengers. Infrared lights illuminate passengers at night without being very visible to human eyes. When you have cameras without infrared lights, you can’t see anything at night unless you are in a bright city or turn on the dome lights. Infrared lights are actually in the near-infrared spectrum and the versions used by dash cameras are slightly visible if you look at the LEDs.
Having a record of what was actually said is important. During testing, we found there was a difference in audio quality in four recommended cameras. But, it had no impact in figuring out what was actually said.
Who Should Buy A Taxi Dash Cam?
While it may be obvious we are targeting drivers who pick up passengers professionally, we also think it’s not a good choice for the typical consumer driver. For professionals, there are many situations where a dash cam recording the inside your vehicle is helpful.
If you are attacked or robbed you’ll have a video showing their face and what actually happened.
Discourage Bad Behavior
Having a dash cam may make people think twice about doing anything stupid.
Some passengers may try to extort you or say you stole their items.
Other unusual behavior you can document so you have a record if they come back to you at a future date.g
Instructions: Add an Infrared Light
Caution: These infrared lights were originally designed to be screwed into a supporting wall. We cannot see every outcome which can result in damage or an injury from the infrared light. Read through these instructions thoroughly and follow them at your own risk.
Parts You Need
940nm 48LED Infrared Light
Illuminates your passengers with invisible infrared lights. These 940nm lights work with all our premium and budget cameras including the Dome GS65H.
5.5 x 2.1mm Coaxial Car Adapter
Allows you to plug the IR light into your car’s electrical supply. 5.5 x 2.1 refers to the size of the barrel and an inner plug which you need to get for it to work with the IR light. We got an 8ft version. Easiest to find at your local electronics supply store.
3M VHB Tape
We recommend 3M VHB Tape to stick the IR light to your windshield. VHB tape can be removed cleanly from your windshield and has exceptional strength. You can get a 9′ roll of Black VHB tape for $10 on eBay. Try to get enough to cover the base dimensions (2½” long, ¾” wide) and extra if you make a mistake.
Car Socket Adapter
Unless your car has multiple 12V sockets you will want to buy an extender. I like using a box type design with multiple ports. There are Y-Splitters available. Search for “12v socket splitter” on Amazon or eBay. We don’t have recommendations as we’ve never reviewed this product before.
Safety Wire Ring (Optional) A backup method to hold the camera to your rear view mirror if it flies away during a crash. 3M VHB is strong, this is just for those who want greater assurances.
InstructionsUnscrew the Glass Cover
Grip and spin counterclockwise to remove the waterproof cover. This improves the evenness of the light and gives you access to the light sensor.
Tape the Light Sensor
Each IR light only turns on when the sensor detects it’s dark enough. We found that headlights would cause the infrared light to turn on and off. We recommend covering the sensor with tape so the light stays on.
Press the exposed side to the center of the light bracket. If possible, we recommend covering the entire surface with a tape, not just the center. In the photo, we used one piece of tape. You can also fully cover the center circle for greater adhesion.
Attach Light to Windshield & Route Wires
We recommend attaching your light to your windshield as it’s more secure in most vehicles. The light projects downwards and will be less blocked by your seats. In other vehicles you may have to attach it to your dashboard. Afterwards tuck in all cables, this helps keep the camera secured from falling.
(Optional) Secure Light to Rear View Mirror
Attach your steel loop around the arm of your rear view mirror and your IR light to prevent the camera potentially flying off during a hard crash.
Insert and Hide 12V Cord
Plug the male light end to the female socket on your power adapter and plug into your car socket adapter. Route the cable. You can see our video guide on how to hide the cable.
Adjust Light Position
Next, adjust the light position and secure it in the place using a screwdriver by tightening the screws attaching the light to the bracket.
The light turns on automatically when it receives power and you should have better coverage of your passenger’s deeds (or misdeeds).
Video Quality Comparisons
External Day Quality
We compared the dual lens camera against the Viofo A119 which is our top $100 single lens dash camera. While the A119 is much sharper, the Transcend 520 is surprisingly close in quality. The Falcon F360 is noticeably worse.
Dome vs Transcend
You can see there’s not a big difference between the two cameras
Transcend & Premium Cameras Compared
Transcend F770 has the best quality, followed by Blackvue, Transcend and last Janus V2 which only has a 720P resolution.
External Night Quality
Premium Cameras Compared
Passenger Day Quality
Transcend vs Dome
Premium Cameras vs Transcend 520
Passenger Night Quality
IR Light Quality Testing
We drove with only one camera turned on at a time so you can see how powerful each camera’s IR lights are.
Falcon F360 – IR Lights Aren’t Always On
Here’s a video showing the moment immediately before the IR lights are turned on.
We tested the camera at 59°C to see what the effects would be in focus. The Dome’s front camera had significant blurring whereas Transcend was only mildly affected.