Dashcam Buyer's Guide

Updated on 4/8/2019

Man researching dashcams on laptop

So you're interested in getting the best dashcam for your needs. Great decision! There are a few things to take into consideration when deciding which dashcam to buy, but our dashcam buyer's guide will make the process simple. Follow along with our questions so you can pinpoint which in-car video recorder is the best dashcam option for you. Ready to get started? Please consider the following:

  1. How many camera angles do you want to record from?

  2. How visible do you want the camera to be?

  3. How important is video quality to you?

  4. Do you want to log your GPS location?

  5. Do you want your dashcam to tell you where to go?

  6. Do you need a dashcam for your fleet or business?

  7. How much video do you want to store on your memory card?

  8. Do you want to install your dashcam in your vehicle?

1) How many camera angles do you want to record from?

I only want to record out my front windshield.

Most dashcams are mounted on your windshield, the camera lens faces forward and records the road ahead of you. To be more specific, these dashcams are known as single-lens dashcams because they only have the one lens. Single lens dashcams are the most common and basic type of dashcam, and they are a great introduction to protecting yourself from the hazards of driving! Typical single-lens dashcam placement and video coverage is shown below:

single lens forward facing dashcam diagram

If you're looking for a straight-forward dashcam and you are only concerned with recording out the front of your windshield, take a look at our front-facing dashcams category. A single-lens dashcam is going to provide evidence in case of an accident, even if the actual impact occurs behind or on the side of the vehicle; the dashcam will still show exactly where your vehicle was at the time of the incident.

Here is a list of our top recommendations of single-lens front-facing dashcams that we currently have available for purchase:

I want to record from the front and *rear* of my vehicle.

If you want to record what is happening behind your vehicle as well as record the road in front of you, a front + rear dashcam will be the best option for you. This type of dashcam includes two video lens or "channels", and records from both of these lenses at the same time.

However, you don't have to be a parent or a commercial operator to take advantage of a dual-lens dashcam! Many drivers use a dual-lens (aka a two-channel) dashcam for comprehensive coverage in and around their entire vehicle. The two channels are typically used to capture video in front of and behind the vehicle at the same time, as shown below:

dual lens forward and rear facing dashcam diagram

Here's an example image taken from a dual-lens dashcam video where the second lens is recording out the back window of a pickup truck (and the front lens is recording all the action in front of the truck). Note the 'picture-in-picture' from the rear lens in the upper right corner of the image:

Dual-lens dashcam (with external/remote second lens) video still frame example thumbnail

Keep in mind that the secondary "remote" camera lens can be positioned just about anywhere inside the vehicle to fit your needs! It could record the driver's window or keep an eye on valuable tools or cargo that are located elsewhere in your vehicle. Both camera lenses record video to the memory card inside the front-facing camera unit.

I want to record from the front and *inside* of my vehicle.

There are also dual lens dashcam models that are designed to record in front of and inside your vehicle. Check out our front + inside dashcams. These models may be composed of two separate lenses, or the two lenses may be built into one single unit.

This type of dashboard video camera is good for fleet or business owners, taxi/Uber/Lyft or other rideshare drivers, delivery drivers, and parents of teenagers, just to name a few examples. With these dashcams, one lens faces forward and the other lens faces inside the vehicle as illustrated below:

The following image shows an example still frame from a dual-lens dashcam, where one lens faces outwards and one faces inwards, with both lenses being built into one unit (such as the Vantrue N2 Pro or AVIC Elite Dual). Some dual-lens dashcams (such as the BlackVue DR750S-2CH-IR) use a separate external or "remote" second lens that connects to the main unit through a small cable, rather than having this lens be built in to the front camera unit. Click the image to view a larger version:

Dual-lens dashcam (with built-in second lens) video still frame example thumbnail

To avoid confusion, we have a separated out our top dual-lens dashcams into two categories. The first list is our front and rear view cameras. The second will focus on the front and interior-facing cameras. Let's take a look:

Here is a list of our top recommendations of dual-lens front+rear dashcams that we currently have available for purchase:

Here is a list of our top recommendations of dual-lens front+interior dashcams that we currently have available:

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2) How visible do you want the camera to be?

Dashcams come in all shapes and sizes. Many customers prefer a smaller unit that is inconspicuous enough to stay mounted on the windshield in their vehicle at all times. While we recommend treating your dashcam as you would your wallet or cell phone and either take it with you or store it out of plain sight, we do sell low-profile dashcams that typically are not noticed by anyone in the vehicle.

I want a discrete dashcam.
High quality dashcam brand BlackVue produces some of the most discreet dashcams that we carry. These models do not have screens on them, so they are smaller in size and tuck out of the way, usually hiding out of view behind the rear view mirror. Click on this example image to see how "hidden in plain sight" the BlackVue dashcam your vehicle can be:

BlackVue dashcam discreet in-car photo
Do you want more information on the BlackVue brand? Check out our 2018 BlackVue buyer's guide!

Here is a list of our top recommendations for sleek and discrete dashcams:

I want a small dashcam but also want a screen on my dashcam.

Just because they are small doesn't mean they can't have a screen (for changing settings, watching videos, etc). See below for our miniature dashcams that still include a built-in screen.

Here is a list of top miniature dashcams that we currently have available:

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3) How important is video quality to you?

dashcam video quality varies from model to model, ranging from normal quality (480p), to high quality (720p), to even higher quality (1080p full high-definition, better known as HD) to the highest quality currently available on the market (2160p, also known as 4K "Ultra" HD). Higher video quality offers several advantages over standard-definition, like being able to read license plate numbers from the video, or more visibility in video shot at night. Keep in mind that increased video quality generally comes with an increased cost.

Below is an example of 720p high definition (left) vs. 1080p high definition (right). Note the size difference - 1080p captures more pixels. Click the image to view the actual size image (warning, large file - 3192x1077 - 1.17MB):

It's important! I want a dashcam with great video quality.

Here is a list of popular full high-definition (HD) 1080p dashcams:

I want even more resolution! Perhaps a 4K UHD set up.

You may have heard the term 4K before when it comes to TV screens, 4K simply refers to the number of lines of resolution that can be recorded (4,000). An Ultra HD (UHD) dashboard video camera captures video footage at a resolution of 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels high. Essentially, 4K dashcams offer *amazing* video quality; four time higher than a regular Full HD recording; it is the highest quality possible currently.

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4) Do you want to log your GPS location?

Many new dashcam models offer the luxury of logging your vehicle's position and speed with a built-in GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver. GPS logging means that when you play back your video on your computer, you can watch your vehicle move along a Google map in real time, right next to the video display.

What are the benefits of logging GPS data? You can easily prove your whereabouts at a given time, keep track of exactly where your fleet vehicles have been, or defend yourself in court from an unjust speeding ticket.

To receive GPS signal, the dashcam uses a GPS antenna. Depending on the model of dashcam, the antenna is either built into the camera itself, or receives GPS signal through an external cable and antenna (think of an XM/Sirius radio antenna).

The following image shows an example of video playback from a dashcam that stores GPS data. Click the image to view a larger version:

I want my dashcam to have GPS position/speed logging.

Here is a list of popular dashcams that include GPS data logging:

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5) Do you want your dashcam to tell you where to go?

We're happy to announce that we now carry dashcams with turn-by-turn directions! That's right, a dashcam can provide you with navigation, just like your standalone navigation device, smartphone navigation app, or built-in navigation can. Simply enter an address, hit go, and your drive will be guided by visual and verbal directions.

If you're already using a navigation device in your vehicle, you can upgrade to a dashcam with navigation features and save precious windshield space and streamline your car accessories.

I want turn-by-turn navigation.

Here is a list of the dashcams with turn-by-turn navigation that we currently have in stock:

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6) Do you need a dashcam for your fleet or business?

The Dashcam Store™ carries several models of dashcams that are great for situations where the driver does not necessarily own the vehicle they are driving. These professional dashcams are the perfect solution for commercial fleet vehicles (plumbers, electricians, yard or cleaning crews, etc). Professional dashcams are also helpful for taxi, Uber/Lyft/rideshare drivers.

How are professional dashcams different? One major difference is professional dashcams usually record video facing outside the front windshield as well as video facing inside the vehicle to record the driver and occupants of the vehicle. Another major factor is professional dashcams may be tamper-proof, meaning either the power cord or memory card (or both) are unable to be unplugged/removed. Some professional dashcam models may be able to be tracked remotely, so a business owner can keep track of their assets at any given time.

I'm looking for a professional dashcam for my business.

Here is a list of our most popular fleet dashcams for businesses, commercial fleets, taxis, and rideshare drivers:

Do you want for more information on dashcams for your fleet or business? We have also written a Fleet Dashcam Buyer's Guide to give even more information

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7) How much video do you want to store on your memory card?

Dashboard video cameras generate large amounts of data. Therefore, you need to use a quality memory card in your dashcam. What is one of the major measures of quality when it comes to memory cards? The answer is "write speed" (the speed that the camera can "write" video data to the memory card). Memory cards are sold by capacity and by "class". The "class" (Class 1, 2, 4, 6, 10) that a memory card is in is determined by its "write speed".

Not all memory cards are able to write data at high rates, so it is important to purchase a memory card with the appropriate class. Most dashcam manufacturers we work with recommend using a Class 6 card or higher. Here at The Dashcam Store™, we recommend using a Class 10 card. Using a Class 1, 2, or 4 memory card with your dashcam can leave you with choppy video playback, incomplete files, and other problems with your video files.

The approximate times listed below are how long the camera will record HD video before reaching the end of the card and then starting over at the beginning (loop recording):

  • 16GB card - 4-6 hours
  • 32GB card - 6-12 hours
  • 64GB card - 10-20 hours
  • 128GB card - 20-40 hours
For standard definition video, you can expect to record for about twice as long as the list above before your card starts recording from the beginning again. Amazon.com has an excellent page that explains memory card write speeds and capacities (not an affiliate link).

The Dashcam Store™ only sells Samsung, SanDisk High Endurance, Thinkware and BlackVue Secure Digital (SD) and MicroSD cards. You may be able to find cheaper memory cards elsewhere, but we believe in only pairing our dashcams with reputable manufacturers. When you happen to capture something spectacular with your dashcam, you'll be glad you opted for a high quality memory card to protect your footage. You can choose a memory card on our accessories page, or let us recommend the right type for your dashcam when you add a dashcam to your cart.

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8) Do you want to install your dashcam in your vehicle?

If you're okay with the power cable dangling from your dashcam, the standard cigarette lighter power cord that is included with every dashcam we sell is all you need.

Yes, I want to install my dashcam in my vehicle.

If you prefer a sleeker, cleaner look for your dashcam setup, The Dashcam Store™ offers dashcam installation kits that allow you to tap in to your vehicle's switched power system. This means that there is no power there when the vehicle is off, which frees up your cigarette outlet. Our dashcam installation kits use a safe fused "add-a-circuit" technique, so none of your vehicle's original wiring is touched or altered in any way. See our Advanced Dashcam Installation how-to for more information.

The following image shows the difference between the basic dashcam installation (left) and the advanced installation (right). Click the image to view a larger version:

Want to see examples of how good a dashcam can look after being installed in your vehicle? Please click here to check out our example dashcam installation photo galleries, featuring a variety of personal and professional vehicles all outfitted with dashcams by The Dashcam Store Team.

Thank you for reading and as always, drive safe!

UPDATE: We now have a buyer's guide just for the BlackVue line of dashcams, click here to view our new 2019 BlackVue Dashcam Buyer's Guide!

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To request additional information, please don't hesitate to contact us. We give our best effort to respond to all inquiries within 1 business day.