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The Best Dash Cams of [year] for Every Budget and Need

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We are all about safe driving here at Educated Driver, and we encourage all our readers to take certain steps in order to protect themselves on the road.

One thing we often recommend to our readers is to buy and use a dashboard camera.

Dash cams can help protect drivers from liability in an accident, insurance fraud, unnecessary traffic violations, and more – but only if the camera is on and recording!

There are many reasons why you should have a dash cam, and likewise, there are MANY different dashboard cameras on the market – so how can you possibly hope to find the best one for you?

Hopefully, we can help! In this guide, you’ll find our list of the best dash cams of 2021.

Because there are so many different options and classes, we have broken things down into categories.

Enjoy, and let us know in the comments which one you choose!

Best Dash Cam Overall: ROVE R2-4K

The Rove R2-4K Dash Cam is an ultra-HD dash cam that’s still offered at an affordable price.

It can record in up to 2160p, which is considered Ultra HD/4k.

The camera comes with some very high-end features, like parking mode, night vision, wide dynamic range, built-in WiFi and GPS, and more.

We picked this cam for the best dash cam 2019 because it offers an excellent set of features for an affordable price, and it’s very well-rated by customers and industry experts alike.

  • Records in Ultra HD (2160P)
  • Built-in WiFi, so you can view footage on your smartphone
  • Built-in GPS (beneficial for insurance claims)
  • Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) for better recording at night and in harsh light
  • Parking Mode turns the camera on automatically if a vehicle gets too close to your parked car
  • Loop recording to save space and continually record
  • 1-year warranty included
  • Great customer reviews

Looking at the feature set, you’d expect this cam to carry a hefty price tag.

Thankfully, it’s an affordably priced mid-range option that we think makes a lot of sense for the average driver.

You can certainly go cheaper (see below) or more expensive, but for the bulk of people, the Rove R2-4K is an excellent option.

Best Budget Dash Cam: Yi Smart Dash Camera

If you’re on a tight budget, or if you are not sure if you actually need a dash cam (hint: you do), you’re probably looking for a solid but budget-friendly option.

To us, there’s no better choice than the Yi Smart Dash Camera, which is typically available for less than $50.

This cam records in HD, offers a WiFi connection so it can be controlled with your smartphone, and has many of the features you’d want in a dash cam – all for 50 bucks. Deals!

  • Full HD recording (1080p)
  • Offers a smartphone app for controlling the camera + viewing footage
  • Very budget friendly (around $50)
  • Loop recording continuously makes room for new footage
  • Wide angle lens
  • Small, discrete design
  • Built in LCD screen for viewing
  • Excellent customer reviews

For the price, this camera can’t be beat.

We’re honestly not sure how they can make much of a profit on this thing, given the features, but hey – we’re not complaining.

This cam is missing a few things that some drivers would like to have – like a rear-facing camera, parking mode, etc – but again, it’s a very budget friendly choice if you don’t need all the bells-and-whistles.

Best Front and Rear Dash Cam: Z-Edge S3

Most dash cams only have front-facing cameras to record the road in front of you – but what about what’s going on behind you?

If you’d prefer to capture both, getting a good front-and-rear dash cam is a great choice.

These are typically 2 separate cameras, one which goes on your dash board, and one which goes on your rear window or rear dashboard.

The Z-Edge S3 is our top pick for this category.

  • 2 cameras – one for the front, one for the rear
  • Both cameras record in 1080p HD
  • Wide dynamic range technology for better night vision
  • Parking mode to protect your vehicle 24/7
  • Compact and discrete design
  • Excellent reviews
  • 18 month warranty included

This camera is one of the best dash cams overall, and we were impressed with the recording quality of both the front-facing and rear-facing units.

Best Dash Cam with Night Vision: WheelWitness HD PRO

Anyone who frequently drives at night should look for a quality camera with adequate night vision recording capabilities.

The WheelWitness HD Pro is a great option in this category – here’s why:

  • Records in up to 2k/Super HD
  • Excellent night vision recording
  • Wide dynamic range/WDR mode for crisp and bright night recording
  • 170° wide-angle lens
  • Built-in GPS
  • Comes with an SD card
  • Excellent reviews
  • 1 year warranty

This camera uses wide dynamic range technology to balance light and dark patches in camera footage, in order to record clearer, brighter, and crisper images.

Plus, it’s just a great camera all around, recording at up to 2304 x 1296p resolution. If it’s not quite what you’re looking for, read through our guide to the best night vision dash cams.

Best Dash Cam with Parking Mode: Thinkware F770

The main purpose of most dash cams is to protect you from liability resulting from an accident while you’re driving.

But what about when your vehicle is parked? Dash cams with a parking mode feature can automatically power themselves on when they detect a crash is about to happen (using motion detection & impact detection technology).

This can capture a crash even if you’re sound asleep at home, with you car parked on the street.

The Thinkware F770 is our pick for this category because it has the most advanced detection technology, meaning it’s most likely to successfully capture an accident while your vehicle is parked.

  • Excellent parking mode uses a combination of motion and impact detection
  • Automatically records incidents, even when your car is powered off
  • Front and rear facing cameras included
  • Full HD recording
  • GPS capabilities built in
  • Built in WiFi for wireless footage viewing
  • Good night vision
  • Excellent reviews

The ThinkWare 770 is definitely not the cheapest option on this list, but it’s one of the only cameras that uses a combination of motion and impact detection while the car is turned off in order to capture accidents. It won’t drain your battery, either, as it will shut itself off if your vehicle’s battery gets too low.

Best Dash Cams for Uber/Lyft Drivers: VanTrue N2 Pro

Rideshare drivers working for Lyft or Uber should definitely have a good dash cam in order to protect themselves from a range of issues. Rideshare drivers will want a cam with both front and rear-facing cameras, in order to record the road in front of them as well as the passengers in their car. The VanTrue N2 Pro is our top pick because it checks all the required boxes, records excellent quality videos, and has racked up impressive customer reviews. Here are the highlights:

  • Front-facing and rear-facing cameras built in
  • Wide view lens – 170° front-facing and 140° rear-facing
  • Excellent night vision recording
  • Loop recording to make room for new footage
  • Automatically permanently saves footage if a crash is detected
  • GPS unit can be added on easily
  • Parking monitor to protect from accidents while parked
  • In-cab audio recording
  • Excellent customer reviews

The VanTrue N2 Pro is an excellent camera overall, and we considered it for best dash cam 2019 overall. It didn’t quite make the cut in the overall category, but it was an easy choice for our recommendation for rideshare drivers. If this isn’t quite what you were looking for, check out our guides to the best dash cameras for Uber drivers and the best dash cams for Lyft drivers.

Best Dash Cam for Truckers: Street Guardian SG9665GC

Truckers spend more time on the road than anyone else, so having a dash cam is quite important to them. A dash cam can protect truckers in legal disputes, insurance disputes, and even employer disputes. Key features to look for are good night vision, HD recording quality, and large storage capacity. The Street Guardian SG9665GC checks all these boxes, and is our top pick for truckers.

  • Full HD, 1080P recording quality
  • Excellent recording quality, night or day
  • GPS tracking built in
  • Massive recording capacity – supports up to 256gb SD cards
  • Excellent reviews
  • 1 year warranty included

This is a really solid camera, both in terms of recording quality and build quality/durability. The real highlight for truckers, though, is the support for up to 256gb of storage. That’s enough for more than 48 hours of continuous recording! If this one isn’t quite what you were looking for, read our guide to the best dash cams for truckers.

Dash Cam FAQs

How much is a dash cam? 

Generally speaking, you can expect to spend $50 to $150 for a good dash cam, although you can find budget models as low as $30, and you could also spend upwards of $300 if you wanted a very high-end model. See our dash cam pricing guide for details.

What is the best dash cam for my situation?

The cams listed on this page are all great options. For most, we recommend our top pick, the Rove R2-4K, because it covers all the bases and is a great mid-range option. That said, depending on your specific situation, vehicle, etc. you may want to consider the other options we’ve discussed above.

Can you get a dash cam that records when your car is off?

Yes! Dash cams with “parking mode” or similar features will use motion sensing technology to detect when vehicles get close to your parked car, and will automatically turn the camera on at this point. Not all cameras do this, so look at the features list for parking mode or a similarly named feature.

How do you install a dash cam?

Different styles of dash cams will install in different ways, so follow the instructions included with your specific model. For more information, see the section below.

How to Install a Dash Cam

Dash cam installation depends on a variety of factors, including the style of cam you get, the vehicle you drive, and your intended use for the camera setup.

The video below does a good job of going over the basics of dash cam installation:

Didn’t Find What You Were Looking For?

The above list contains – in our opinion – the best dash cameras currently on the market.

With that said, there are certainly other options out there.

For some further reading, check out our related guides:

STILL not satisfied?

Boy, you sure like dash cams!

Well, we’re always open to hearing from our readers, so what is YOUR favorite cam? Let us know in the comments!

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