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Five (and a half) Dash Cams for Roadtrippers

Five (and a half) Dash Cams for Roadtrippers

A dashboard camera is the latest must-have road-tripping accessory. Whether you want to reminisce on your favourite drive or catch those hilariously unexpected moments, a dash camera is the perfect travel companion. Another major plus is in case of a car accident, the footage can act as the perfect witness on board.

Thanks to Amazon, there are many affordable options available, from premium brands to economical options like ROAV, Aukey, Rexing, Pruveeo, Vantrue, Nextbase and Garmin dash cams. Unfortunately, a dash cam is one of those you get what you pay for purchases. In this article, we will share 5 and a half recommended models, with varying price points and features.

The essentials

The best dash cams on the market have similar technology, and it’s down to you to decide which features are most important to you. For example, the video resolution and quality might be the most important feature to you. Or you are looking for additional features such as GPS, WiFi, Touchscreen, ADAS, and the list goes on. However, as with all technology, additional features usually mean a higher price.

When it comes to the best dash cam, we are talking about a dash cam that boasts the most impressive array of features. While the Thinkware U1000 is many dash cam expert’s pick for the Best All-Round Dash Cam of 2020, you can definitely get by with a less “impressive” but more affordable dash cam. Don’t forget, when you’re out on the open road, you won’t be needing many of the advanced features that the Thinkware U1000 or even the BlackVue DR900S-2CH offers, such as Cloud connectivity (unless you have a WiFi router in your car) or advanced parking mode features (unless you plan on abandoning your car on the side of the highway for days).

For most roadtrippers, a dash cam on the middle range of the price spectrum will be more than enough, and there is no shortage of solid options to choose from in the sub-$100 to $250 price range. That will get you a discreet dash cam system that continuously records video with decent low-light performance, and automatically saves it in the event of an accident, or at the push of the button.

Many dash cams also have GPS, either built-in or as an external add-on module, to let you track your route and record speed and location along with your video clips. Smart features like smartphone (both Android and iOS) and Cloud connectivity are good to have, but if you’re not bringing the WiFi router along for the drive, we recommend getting a dash cam with a built-in LCD screen so you can easily adjust the camera settings and manage your video footage.

With that said, here are our 5 (and a half) most favorite road trip dash cams.

BEST VALUE FRONT COVERAGE ($)

What you will get:

The Apeman C450A has a decent 3-inch LCD display, and will record 1080p Full HD onto a microSD card up to 32GB (note: microSD card is not included). Night vision is made possible by a large aperture F1.8 camera with WDR and HDR technologies, so it’s technically not the same “super night vision” that you will get from Thinkware or any of the premium dash cams. Suction cup mount gives you the option for a more transient installation - perfect for rental car or carshare.

What you won’t get:

As you would expect with any dash cam around the $50 price range, the Apeman C450A comes with its share of trade-offs - you won’t find built-in GPS or any driver-assist features, for starters. The C450A also doesn’t support any microSD card larger than 32GB.

The C450A is one of the smaller cameras on the market, but if you are looking for an even smaller one, there’s the APEMAN C420 Mini Dash Cam that packs the same 1080p video resolution, loop recording, wide-angle view and user-friendliness, but in half the size.

microSD Card Capacity

Approx. Hours of Recording/Footage

16GB

3 hours

32GB

6 hours

BEST VALUE FRONT AND REAR COVERAGE ($$)

What you will get:

The Thinkware X700 is a dual-channel camera system. The front camera offers a 140° wide angle view and it records 1080p Full HD onto a microSD card up to 64GB. The X700 comes bundled with a 16GB microSD card, complete with reader adapter so you can easily plug it into your laptop for footage file playback. Night vision is made possible by a Sony STARVIS image sensor. GPS is an external add-on module (included in the dual-channel bundle), but unlocks features like automatic time and location stamping as well as Advanced Driver Assistance System, which keeps tabs on the dangers around you, including potential front collisions and lane departure warnings.

The Thinkware X700 comes with a 2.7-inch touch-enabled color display. For those who think touchscreen is not worth the extra money, it does make a huge difference in usability - especially at night, when it difficult to see the buttons.

While you can hard-wire the X700 to your car battery, the simplest setup is to use the out of the box plug-in through your car’s cigarette lighter socket. If you choose to hard-wire the camera (requires the Thinkware hardwiring kit), it will give you access to G-sensor collision detection when your car is parked.

What you won’t get:

The Thinkware X700 is not a top-tier Thinkware model, so you won’t be seeing all of the Thinkware features that you would say, on the Thinkware U1000. One of which is the smartphone app. In other words, you can will either need to do all your file management right on the touchscreen display or you will need to take the microSD card out and plug it into your computer for the Thinkware Desktop Viewer program.

microSD Card Capacity

Approx. Hours of Recording/Footage

16GB

2 hours

32GB

4 hours

BEST PICKUP/RV SOLUTION ($$$)

What you will get:

The BlackVue DR750S-2CH IR Truck is a dual-channel camera system that records the road ahead and the traffic behind. The front-facing camera offers a 139° field of view and records 1080p Full HD at 60 frames per second onto a microSD card up to 256GB, which means there is the option to upgrade the stock 32GB to a 256GB card. The 60 FPS bitrate allows for fluid and clear capture of fast-moving objects. The rear camera also records at 1080p Full HD, but at 30 fps. Enhanced night vision in both cameras made possible by Sony CMOS image sensors. Built-in GPS for location and speed logging.

The difference between the DR750S-2CH IR Truck and the regular DR750S-2CH is the IR-Truck camera. The BlackVue DR750S-2CH IR Truck is a dash cam system built for trucks and commercial vehicles as the rear camera is infrared-equipped, weatherproof and externally mounted - which makes it also perfect for anyone looking for a waterproof external rear camera.

The DR750S-2CH IR Truck has a toggleable local WiFi hotspot that allows you to directly connect to the dash cam and view the files and settings using your smartphone. The WiFi capability also supports BlackVue Over the Cloud features like live viewing, two-way communication, real-time GPS tracking and more - providing you have an Internet connection in your car.

What you won’t get:

First off, for that price tag, one would expect more than 1080p video (at least 2K QHD). The other thing we are not a big fan of is once you’ve decided on a 1-channel system, there is no way to expand it with a rear camera. The front cameras on the 1-channel models do not have the additional ports for an add-on rear camera - in other words, you're stuck with a front-only single channel camera. Unfortunately, this is the same with all BlackVue dash cams. Also, BlackVue does not sell standalone rear cameras, so it’s impossible to switch to a regular rear camera or an in-cabin IR camera.

microSD Card Capacity

Approx. Hours of Recording/Footage

16GB

1 hours 25 mins

32GB

2 hours 50 mins

BEST RADAR-DASH CAM INTEGRATION ($$$)

What you will get:

If having a radar detector and a dash cam make sense to you, then the Cobra Road Scout could be the solution you’ve been searching for - it is a 2-in-1 radar detector and dash cam hybrid. In other words, one device gives you radar detector and well as video recording capabilities. You can always find sub-$200 integrated units on Amazon. But you get what you pay for: sub-par radar detector integrated with a sub-par dash cam. By comparison, the Road Scout is going to cost you more, but by going with a higher price point, Cobra is also offering you a lot more quality and performance.

From a radar detector point of view, the Road Scout offers great detection radius and sensitivity, and delivers a performance that rivals other mid-tier Escort and Beltronics radar detectors. In fact, if you are familiar with the Escort products, you will see that Cobra and Escort use essentially the same technology as well as the same Defender database: cloud alerts get updated about three or four times a month and your Road Scout gets the updates via Bluetooth or WiFi.

The Road Scout dash cam is a front-facing camera and records at 1080p Full HD at 30fps onto a microSD card up to 32GB (it comes with a 16GB microSD card). Night vision brought to you by a Sony EXMOR image sensor. It also comes with features like automatic GPS and built-in WiFi (so you can tap into it with an app). It uses the EZ Mag Mount that uses a silicon suction cup to adhere to the windshield. The magnetic mount does make for easy installation and removal.

What you won’t get:

If you are looking for a top-tier dash cam or a top-tier radar detector, then you will get better performance by going separate. But if you are going for the convenience of one device, then the Road Scout is a good consideration. However, 2-in-1 means that upgrade would be tougher because you can’t just upgrade one without the other. And, if you should break the Road Scout, you will be out of both the dash cam and radar detector.

Also, do note that the Road Scout comes with two different apps: Cobra iRadar to control the radar detector functions, and the Cobra Drive HD for the dash cam part of it. So, if you’re not a big fan of smartphone apps, you not have 2 new ones to learn to use.

microSD Card Capacity

Approx. Hours of Recording/Footage

16GB

3 hours 15 mins

32GB

6 hours 30 mins


BEST ALL-ROUND ($$)

What you will get:

If you are looking to start a travel blog with your dash cam footage, or if you’re simply looking for the best video quality and best technology, we strongly recommend opting for one of the newest 4K UHD dash cams - specifically, the VIOFO A129 Pro Duo.

The VIOFO A129 Pro Duo is a dual-channel camera system. The front camera offers a 130° viewing angle and it records 4K ultra high resolution onto a microSD card up to 256GB (it doesn’t come with any microSD cards). The rear camera records 1080p Full HD. Night vision is made possible by a Sony EMXOR image sensor. The front-facing camera has a 2-inch color display with 5 navigation buttons, including one to take emergency videos and an other for a quick-enable WiFi connection. There is GPS on board, built into the mount and allows for features like automatic time and location stamping.

One thing to mention: if you are using the front camera by itself, you get the option to upgrade to a faster, 60FPS recording, but the resolution will be limited to 2K QHD. There’s even an additional option to record in 1080p Full HD at 129FPS, which is a great option to have if you’re planning on using the A129 Pro as a racing camera. With the rear camera plugged in, your framerate will be limited to 30FPS at any resolution.

What you won’t get:

You will not be getting any Cloud features with the A129 Pro Duo. VIOFO also doesn’t have a desktop viewer program. If you are looking for a dash cam with advanced parking mode features or ADAS, you won’t find them on the A129 Pro Duo either.

If you like to go the 4K UHD route but want something that is Cloud-ready or offers better parking mode coverage, then we recommend you check out the BlackVue DR900S-2CH or the Thinkware U1000 Dual Channel. Don’t care much about Cloud, but want something that you can use to take time-lapse videos, especially on a hot summer day in the desert? The IROAD X10 won’t disappoint!

microSD Card Capacity

Approx. Hours of Recording/Footage

16GB

1 hours 5 mins

32GB

2 hours 10 mins

16GB

4 hours 32 mins

BEST ALL-WEATHER, ALL-TERRAIN ($$$)

What you will get:

The Thinkware M1 is the half in our list because it is not a dash cam you would install in your car - but rather, your motorcycle or any other outdoor vehicle you’re taking along for the drive. The M1 is a dual-channel camera system that is designed to record 1080p Full HD high-quality videos of your adrenaline-filled motorsports adventures. Advanced Electronic Image Stabilization ensures you get smooth and steady video recordings, making shaky footage due to bumpy roads and vibrations a thing of the past.

The M1 works on motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, go-karts, sea-doos, jetskis, snowmobile and much more. Built-in GPS and WiFi support, and comes with a smartphone app so you can easily playback and share your clips. And unlike GoPros where you have to manual start and stop the camera, the M1 is hardwired to your bike’s battery so that it starts to record video whenever you power up and shuts down when you power down. There’s a control button that you can stick onto your dashboard so you can manually lock and save a clip to your memory card.

What you won’t get:

The M1 supports a maximum 64GB microSD card so you might want to bring a few spare memory cards with you if you’re going on a transcontinental ride. Also, the M1 requires a little more work in terms of installation - depending on your vehicle, the main unit may or may not fit under the seat.

Road Trip! Let’s Go!

Now that you have found the perfect dash cam for your road trip, it’s time to load up the playlist and start driving. Stay tuned to our blog next week as our team will share some of the best road trips they’ve taken to date. Until then, if you have any questions about the dash cams mentioned in this blog, you know where to find us!

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