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Best dash cam 2020: 9 great car-ready cameras for peace of mind

Z-Edge Z3
Image credit: Z-Edge (Image credit: Z-Edge)

Trying to find the best dash cam for you? Whether you want peace of mind, lower insurance premiums or the ability to record motoring mishaps for your YouTube channel, dash cams make it easy to capture footage while you’re driving. And we've tested all of the best ones to bring you this exhaustive guide.

With the world slowly coming out of lockdown, many of us are climbing back into our cars for the first time in months. Because of this, it could be the right time to invest in the best dash cam you can buy right now.

Why? Because dashboard cameras have proven to be worth their weight in gold in the event of an accident or insurance claim, where the footage captured by these small devices acts as indisputable evidence. Or, they can simply be the perfect way to snare traffic-based mishaps for your YouTube channel. 

Either way, there’s currently plenty of choice when it comes to selecting a dash cam. With a large number of models on the market, there are several things to consider when deciding which is right for you. Price will often be a deciding factor, but it’s important that even affordable models are able to capture clear images in all conditions.

More expensive models are likely to offer premium features, such as GPS location tracking, G-force sensors that can detect the severity of an impact and infra-red night vision for pin sharp footage in the dark. Some dash cams will also start recording automatically if they detect an incident, while others come with smart features, such as Alexa support for handsfree voice control and Wi-Fi for easier sharing of footage.

Improving video resolution is the biggest breakthrough of late, with many of the biggest names now offering 4K video recording. It might seem excessive, but when it comes to reading a blurry numberplate in a hit and run incident, a crystal clear resolution is invaluable. 

But not everyone will want or need the same features for their dash cam. Some will be happy with a straightforward recording device, while others might want to record as much data as possible. Not sure where to start? The buying guide below details the very best dash cams you can buy right now, with options from several well-known manufacturers that span a whole range of budgets and built-in features.

The best dash cams 2020 at a glance:

  1. Nextbase 522GW
  2. Garmin Dash Cam 66W
  3. Garmin Dash Cam Tandem
  4. Viofo A129 Pro Duo
  5. Kenwood DRV-830
  6. Thinkware TW-F770
  7. BlackVue DR900S-2CH
  8. Vantrue N2 Pro
  9. Halfords HDC400

The 9 best dash cams in 2020:

Nextbase 522GW

(Image credit: Nextbase)

1. Nextbase 522GW

The best dash cam you can buy right now

Video quality: 1440p | Viewing angle: 140 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (not included)

Amazon Alexa built-in
Reasonably priced
Footage isn't class-leading
No SD card included

Nextbase has long been a name associated with top-quality dash cams, and its latest Series 2 range is arguably the best yet. We're in the process of testing the 4K-shooting NextBase 612GW, but the top-spec 522GW model does the basics very well, thanks to a crisp 1440p HD resolution and wide-angle lens, and also throws in plenty of additional features.

There is a reactive three-inch touchscreen at the back, as well as the option of using the built-in Alexa functionality. Currently, users can ask Alexa to play music, place calls and listen to audiobooks through connected devices, but they'll soon be able to use an upcoming Dash Cam Skill to command it to ‘start recording’, ‘stop recording’, ‘protect a recording’ and ‘send to my phone’.

That all might seem like a bit of a gimmick and, to be honest, we didn't use it all that much, so it is lucky that the remainder of the UX is extremely simple. Videos can be quickly and easily shared to a smart device via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while a clever Emergency SOS system will alert the emergency services of your location and other details if you prove unresponsive following an accident. 

Garmin Dash Cam 66W

(Image credit: Garmin)

2. Garmin Dash Cam 66W

Very easy to install, effortless to use

Video quality: 1440p | Viewing angle: 180 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (not included)

Compact design
Lots of extra features
Some lens distortion
Voice control isn't great

We've often rated the Garmin dash cam offerings for their ease of use, and new to the party is its concise line of cute, inconspicuous dash cams, which piggyback on the marque's action camera user interface but boast plenty of features that make them a valuable assistant on the open road.

This more expensive and latest 66W unit is the one to go for in our eyes, simply because the inclusion of the massively wide 180-degree viewing angle lens makes it the master of capturing everything that's going on ahead – although there is some distortion at the very edge of the frame.  

There are very few dash cams that don't automatically record and save footage when a built-in G-sensor detects and accident and that's exactly what Garmin has implemented here too.

On top of this, users can operate the 66W using voice commands, such as 'OK, Garmin, save video' and 'take a picture,' but we found this system a little clunky when out on the noisy motorway.

Footage is largely excellent and performance in low-light situations is very good but arguably its greatest appeal is the neat and tidy package. It is small, inconspicuous and doesn't cost the earth.

Garmin Dash Cam Tandem

(Image credit: Garmin)

3. Garmin Dash Cam Tandem

Compact design, excellent picture quality

Video quality: 1440p front-facing lens, 720p night vision interior lens | Viewing angle: Dual 180 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card provided

Compact design
Dual lens
Low quality night vision
Garmin app isn't the best

Garmin’s first dual lens dash cam allows you to view what’s going on both inside and outside the car while you are driving, which is handy for taxi drivers and others wanting to keep an eye on their passengers. 

Extremely compact in design, the Dash Cam Tandem features a clip-in magnetic mount and can be easily installed below the rear-view mirror and removed when not in use. 

Two lengths of USB cable are provided (the longer one enables you to run the cable around the car cabin neatly) as is a cigarette lighter USB socket with two ports for charging your phone at the same time. However, if you want to use the dash cam for incident recording – such as if your car gets bumped in the car park while you are shopping – you will need to get it professionally installed so it’s constantly recording.

Key for control of the camera is the Garmin Drive app (Android and iOS) where you can review video and audio footage from your drives without having to take the MicroSD card out of the camera. Picture quality is generally excellent especially from the front camera. And while the rear camera struggles a bit in very low light, you can still make out passengers reasonably clearly in black and white. There’s also a picture-in-picture option so you can view both rear- and front-facing camera footage simultaneously. 

Rather usefully, footage is displayed with a time stamp, the speed of the vehicle and its location. Voice control is also provided, which enables hands-free control with instructions such as ‘OK Garmin, take a picture’ or ‘OK Garmin, save video’. Safety cam alert updates will also be added to the app soon. 

The only slight problem we experienced was that the app wasn’t as intuitive as we would’ve liked and didn’t automatically connect to the Wi-Fi connection when reviewing footage from our drives. Aside from that, this is a pricey but excellent option for those who want to keep an eye on their car, inside and out. 

Viofo A129 Pro Duo

(Image credit: Viofo)

4. Viofo A129 Pro Duo

A superb value front and rear cam package

Video quality: 4K | Viewing angle: 140 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (not included)

Great value for money 
Footage is crisp
Lots of trailing wires
A relatively bulky front camera unit

We won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of Viofo, because it certainly ins’t the most recognized name in the dash cam business, but its 4K resolution Pro Duo model represents phenomenal value for money. 

The front camera is quite a bit bulkier than many rivals on this list, but it features a built-in GPS module, something that many other brands offer as an optional extra. Its plastic casing looks and feel basic, but it houses some rather trick technology that belies its overall build quality.

It runs super capacitors, rather than a traditional rechargeable battery set up, meaning its power source is built to last and can withstand an extreme temperature range without blunting performance. On top of this, you get the option of glorious 4K (3840 x 2160p) video recording up front, with the resulting footage offering a great amount of details and Wide Dynamic Range for rich colors in all weather conditions.

Unfortunately, 4K recording is only possible at 30fps, which isn’t the greatest if you want to slow footage down. However, dual recording (front and rear cameras) is only available at full HD (1080p) anyway and this is pumped out at 60fps for much smoother results.

Set up is very easy and Viofo offers a smartphone app for quickly reviewing and saving clips. Unfortunately, instillation of dual cameras requires the removal of interior trim and the clever stashing of long wires. It can be a messy and infuriating process to get it right, but worth it to avoid a dangling tangle of power cables.

The fact that you get night vision, a parking mode, motion detection, automatic emergency recording, GPS tracking and dual channel 1080p at this price makes this a package well worth considering if you cover a lot of miles and want total camera coverage that doesn’t cost a small fortune.  

Kenwood DRV-830

(Image credit: Kenwood)

5. Kenwood DRV-830

Massive storage capabilities for full HD recordings

Video quality: 1440p (Full HD) | Viewing angle: 144 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (included) and internal memory

Perfectly good image quality 
Massive storage potential
Not the best-looking camera
Menus can be fiddly to navigate

Kenwood might be a brand that’s most associated with sub-woofers and colorful head units favored by boy racers, but its recent line of dash cams is sleek and packed with cutting-edge technology. Oh, and they’re very good too.

This DRV-830 unit might not be compatible with existing Kenwood head units (you’ll need the DRV-520 for that) but it sports it own 3-inch full color TFT display, making reviewing and saving clips a doddle.

The viewing angle of 144-degrees is among some of the widest on the market and the 1440p footage is perfectly good in both day and low light conditions. Granted, it can’t keep up with the Nextbase or hideously expensive BlackVue models for image quality, but it belies its sub-£100 price tag.

Advanced driver assist systems, such as lane departure and front collision warnings, are built into the system, but many will find them a tad annoying. Thankfully, they can be switched off by rummaging through the numerous settings.

Footage is automatically captured via 3-axis G-Force detection hardware and the camera will manage storage by overwriting any older files that haven’t been saved. That said, if you are the sort of person who likes to regularly save clips, this camera boasts some of the largest memory available thanks to two SDHC micro card slots, capable of a massive 256GB with the appropriate cards.

Thinkware TW-F770

6. Thinkware TW-F770

On-board Wi-Fi for quick video transfer

Video quality: 1080p (Full HD) | Viewing angle: 140 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (included) and internal memory

Crystal-clear footage
Great night mode
No rear camera
Buttons are a bit fiddly

Thanks to an excellent 2.19MP Sony Exmor CMOS sensor and Full HD recording, the TW-F770 has cracking video footage as its star attraction – although a handful of extra flourishes provide an added bonus.

Designed to be mounted just beneath the rear-view mirror, the TW-F770 features just a few small buttons and no external screen. The reason? It can be linked to a smartphone via its on-board Wi-Fi. 

This enables clips to be quickly and easily sent to a smart device, should you need to access them quickly, but it does add an additional step to any settings and menu changes.

A Super Night Vision feature boosts low-light settings for improved image quality at night, while a neat Time Lapse feature acts as a CCTV camera when the vehicle is parked. Bear in mind that this mode will require hard-wiring the unit into the vehicle's power supply, however, as is the case with most cameras featured on this list, rather than simply using a standard 12V lighter adaptor.

An on-board GPS tracker, as well as speed and upcoming red traffic signal warnings make this a very accomplished piece of kit.

BlackVue DR900S-2CH

(Image credit: Blackvue)

7. BlackVue DR900S-2CH

Top notch video quality, but it costs a packet

Video quality: 4K Ultra-HD | Viewing angle: 162 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card included

Superb image quality
Beautifully designed unit
It's really expensive
Irritating to install

Those doing high mileage on a regular basis, braving all conditions and types of roads, will likely want to part with a little extra for their dash cam. We're not suggesting the camera needs to boast lots of fancy gizmos and superfluous tech, but spending a bit more means image quality is improved.

This is very handy in the case of an accident, especially in a hit-and-run scenario, where reading a number plate from a distance and making out any distinguishing features can be the difference between catching a perpetrator and ending up with a hefty insurance claim.

Sitting very much at the premium end of the dash cam spectrum, this package from BlackVue includes front- and rear-facing cameras, both of which capture the action in HD quality.

Its circa-£500 price tag might feel incredibly steep for a dash cam, but this is the only camera to feature an 8MP CMOS sensor up front and a high-performance Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor in the rear camera. As a result, the footage is undeniably the best on the market, day and night.

The 162-degree field of view feels absolutely perfect for the task in hand and rids the resulting footage of that awkward fisheye look that some wider-angle cameras suffer from. 

Paranoid owners can also make use of BlackVue's advanced intelligent park mode, which essentially carries on recording when the vehicle is powered down. This is possible thanks to the Power Magic Pro, which is wired in to the vehicle's battery and ensures the dash cam doesn't deplete reserves when recording overnight.

You can expect all of the obvious features, too, including built-in GPS, incident detection and the ability to send clips to BlackVue's bespoke smartphone app via the on-board Wi-Fi.

Alternatively, users can make the most of BlackVue's over-the-cloud storage offering or remotely check in on a parked vehicle (via the app) and view real-time footage from the camera.

Vantrue N2 Pro

(Image credit: Vantrue)

8. Vantrue N2 Pro

Heavyweight features without the heavyweight price tag

Video quality: 1440p | Viewing angle: 170 degrees | GPS tracker: Optional tracker | Memory: MicroSD card (not included)

Top quality sensor
Ultra-wide viewing angle
No GPS tracking
Second camera films cabin, not rear view

Type the words ‘dash cam’ into Amazon and the number of search results that appear can be intimidating. But nestled in amongst the pile of offerings is this Chinese brand that flaunts professional spec dash cams that cost up to half as much as some of the market leaders.

The front lens, which is arguably the most important here, is comprised of six individual glass elements and packs a whopping f/1.8 aperture, making it brilliant for capturing crisp imagery in low light situations.

On top of this, a second f/2 lens faces the cabin and is supported by four IR LED lights to boost what is often tricky, gloomy footage via an excellent Sony IMX323 sensor. Although not for everyone, this sort of functionality is perfect for professional drivers who may or may not want to relive any incidents that occur late on a Friday night. There’s also a built-in microphone to record sound. 

Continuous loop recording is a given here, as is G-sensor technology that detects an incident and will automatically save the footage to the MicroSD card. However, buyers will have to plump for an optional GPS mount that saves data on speed and location alongside the video file.

Thanks largely to the brilliant Sony sensor, image quality is generally very good and linking the device to a laptop or PC is as simple as it gets. Front and rear footage is handily divided into two separate files too, reducing the time spent browsing the various folders for the desired clip.

Parking Mode is also good value at this price point, as it can be switched on to auto record whenever it senses motion. Alas, it requires a power source, so needs to either be hard-wired into the vehicle via a separate accessory or attached to an external power source. 

Halfords HDC400

(Image credit: Halfords)

9. Halfords HDC400

Discreet package boasts ultra-wide viewing angle and HD footage

Video quality: 1440p | Viewing angle: 180 degrees | GPS tracker: Yes | Memory: MicroSD card (not included)

Sleek, unobtrusive styling
Clear, crisp footage
No monitor
Max 32GB SD card

If you've already got a smartphone holder and sat-nav system cluttering the dashboard and front windscreen, it can be a step too far to throw another device into the mix – which is where the sleek shell of this Halfords number comes in.

Easily mounted directly to the windscreen, the diminutive package tucks neatly out of the way, but still manages to record in full HD and capture the action via an extremely wide 180-degree viewing angle. 

Alas, there are a few drawbacks, chiefly a lack of screen or monitor, which makes the set-up process slightly complicated. You will first have to download the accompanying smartphone app, connect to the device’s Wi-Fi and then get a live feed from the camera to check positioning.

Downloading footage this way can also be overtly time consuming, but there’s always the option to lift footage directly from the SD card. On this subject, the maximum card size is just 32GB here, which means it will quickly fill up if multiple full HD clips (the file sizes are large) are saved to the device.

That said, the footage is of very good quality, with WDR abilities making even low light image capture a suit above some more expensive rivals. Built-in functionality, such as GPS recording, is also a welcome bonus at this price point.

Also consider...

Cycliq Fly12 CE

Cycliq Fly12 CE

Front-facing camera and light that doubles as a dash cam

The Fly12 CE from Cycliq isn't a dash cam for you car, but for cyclists. Packing a 600 Lumen front bike light, the Fly12 CE can record in Full HD footage at up to 60fps in either 5-, 10- or 15-minute segments, while the 6-axis image stabilization system delivers smooth footage. 

One very neat feature is the Incident mode. If the Fly12 CE tilts over 60 degrees – falling off your bike in most instances – it will automatically lock and store the footage immediately before and after.

Thanks to ANT+ connectivity, you can connect it to your Garmin cycling computer to control the Fly12 CE on the go. There's also a handy app as well that provides greater control over the camera/light. 

Waterproof down to 1m, it should stand up to some wet rides, while the battery life is good for 8 hours (4-5 hours if you're going to be using the light as well). 

Best dash cam 2020: what to look for

Generally the best dash cams have similar technology to one another, and, for the most part, mount somewhere along a car's front windscreen or windshield. Of course, wherever you place your dash cam must not block your view of the road.

The advent of rear-facing cameras (or complete kits that contain both front and rear) require a little extra instillation, as these often involve cables that run from front to back. Expect some fiddly work involving the car's headliner to get these fitted correctly. 

Dash cams record smaller snippets of footage, usually in increments of one to two minutes at a time. The cameras continually record over the oldest clip in order to keep the memory card from filling up as well.

While older models typically required the user to manually save or tag the appropriate clip in the event of an accident, new G-Sensor-based incident detection technology has taken over, and now takes care of this automatically.

There are also dash cams that boast additional features that, just like any other technology, translate to a higher asking price.

There are also dash cams that boast additional features that, just like any other technology, translate to a higher asking price.

These extra features can include multiple lenses for front- and rear-facing coverage, together with a more refined sensor for better video quality. Some cameras only record 720p HD footage, for example, while many others now offer Full HD (1080p) and 4K capture. Night vision and built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for easy file transfer may also be included.

A rise in popularity of voice control has also made its way over to the humble dash cam, so expect Alexa integration and other such voice-activated technology at the very pinnacle of the range.

Numerous parking modes are also possibilities. These use a time-lapse feature as a surveillance function to capture details of those irksome car park prangs when you're off running errands.

Whenever we get a new dash cam review in, we'll update this list with more of the best we've tested. Keep reading to find out which rank among the best dash cams 2020.