2017 is looking to be an exciting year for dash cams. Manufacturers are listening to their customers and offering products with features that people are looking for such as higher video resolutions and bitrates, capacitor based power supplies, memory card partitioning, and more! Each dash cam we'll recommend in this guide offers design, video quality, and value that we would approve for use in our own vehicles. We'll start off with our three best value choices for 2017.
Best-Value 1-Channel Dash Cam
Budget 1-Channel dash cams are the go-to choice for many first-time dash cam buyers. Nowadays great video and build quality can be had for well under $150 if you're considering a non-parking mode device. Systems in this price range typically don't offer WiFi or parking mode functions but as far as protecting you in the event of an accident, they can be just as good as dash cams costing two or three times as much.
Our budget 1-channel dash cam pick is the VIOFO A119 which offers amazing 1440P video and a sleek design at a price tag that many buyers will find very reasonable. There's also an option for Full HD 60 FPS recording which is great in higher speed environments. The capacitor based power supply and adhesive mounting bracket make it a good choice for hotter environments, and a factory CPL filter is available to help reduce glare as well.
VIOFO really pushed the boundaries of what was available at an entry level price point by offering high bitrate recording and GPS functions. In fact, a few of the guys at the BlackboxMyCar office actually use the A119 as a secondary device to complement their parking mode 2-channel setups.
Best-Value Parking Mode Dash Cam
In some ways, a parking mode dash cam setup can be more important than a driving-mode-only dash cam. When you get into an accident while driving, you might have eyewitnesses and the other driver's license plate or insurance details available as evidence. However, when your vehicle is parked and gets hit, you can only count on the decency of the other person to own up to the accident, but after seeing countless customer hit and run videos, we think it's important to protect yourself with a dash cam in these scenarios.
Our best-value pick for a parking mode dash cam in 2017 is the Thinkware F50. This dash cam is simple in its execution with no screen, built-in GPS, WiFi, or a rear camera option. The simplicity of this device has helped make it one of the most reliable devices we've ever carried as there's really not much to go wrong. That being said, we can't underestimate all of the great parking mode features built into this dash cam that are trickled down from the flagship F770 model.
These features include built-in voltage detection and timer cutoff, memory card partitioning, parking mode event and motion announcements, and very low power consumption to extend parking recording time. A lot of higher end parking mode dash cams don't even offer all of these great convenience features!
Best-Value 2-Channel Dash Cam
To start, it's our best-value 2-channel pick for 2017. It seems that a lot of dash cam buyers nowadays are looking for a 2-Channel setup to record both front and rear, but they also want the value of a true parking mode dash cam. These cameras offer a wide range of coverage and can be setup to record all the time which is particularly useful in hit and run situations.
Our pick for this category goes to the BlackSys CH-100B which offers decent video quality, a user friendly WiFi app, and infinitely customizable memory card partitioning. This is the cheapest 2-channel dash cam that we would recommend and use in our own vehicles as lower end systems don't offer the video quality or convenience features we expect in 2017.
It's not a flagship device and it lacks some of the top-of-the-line features found on more expensive 2-channel systems such as built-in GPS, cloud connectivity, and 1080P rear camera recording. But we found this to be a good middle ground as a lot of customers don't need to spend the additional $100-150 to get features that they might not even take advantage of.
Best of the Best 2017
If you simply want the best dash cam regardless of price point, these are the dash cams you should consider. To make it onto our best of the best list, these models need to score well in video quality, user friendliness, and long term reliability. Here are our picks:
Best Video Quality
The best video quality dash cam goes to a dash cam that can perform well in all lighting conditions and be able to pick up details like license plates where other dash cams can't. This is not to say that the camera will flawlessly pick up these details every single time, but it might be your best bet when there's a large speed differential or when lighting is poor.
The VicoVation OPIA2 is our pick for best video quality. This high end dash cam offers so much in the way of video quality and is the benchmark that all other manufacturers should pit their products against in our opinion. To start, this camera is capable of 1440P recording at a staggering 25 Megabits per second, it's also capable of doing 1080P at 60 frames per second which is useful when another vehicle speeds past. There are 6 resolution and frame rate combinations in total to cater specifically to the user's needs.
Furthermore, VicoVation has gone and provided different firmware options to tweak the video processing sharpness to the user's preference. We found that the CPL filter option was very handy as well and unlike some other dash cams, the OPIA2 performed very well at night even with the CPL in place. Another reason we really like the OPIA2 is the versatility of its mount which essentially lets you aim the camera however you want!
Best Rideshare Dash Cam
For our customers that want a dash cam in their rideshare or limo service vehicle, good interior recording is key. A compact design is also appreciated so as to not look too intimidating for passengers. In our opinion, the best dash cam for these purposes is the Blackvue DR650S-2CH IR. While we've been tough on the regular Blackvue DR650S-2CH for only offering 720P rear video, in the IR application the 720P video quality offers great sharpness and clarity even in pitch black environments. As there's no need to pick up license plates from far away vehicles, the 720P resolution is more than adequate.
The front camera offers full HD recording featuring the Sony EXMOR CMOS sensor which performs quite well at night. The overall design of this camera is quite attractive and compact, and when you opt for our special 2 foot coaxial cable, it's a breeze to install as well. Not only that, but like any Blackvue dash cam it offers parking mode by motion detection when hardwired or paired with a battery pack.
The latest DR650S model features the thoroughly refined Blackvue Over the Cloud system which actually works quite well. While not all users can afford to invest in the data plan necessary to take full advantage of the cloud, we can see this being attractive for fleet service managers. This cloud feature can warn of driver speeding, impacts in driving or event mode, and allow cloud backup of selected files. It can also provide live-tracking and 2-way communication.
Best 2-Channel Flagship Dash Cam
The best 2-channel flagship dash cam right now would have to be the Thinkware F770. It resembles a good combination of discreet design, great video quality, and parking mode functionality. Out of all the true parking mode 2-channel dash cams, the F770 offers the best overall video quality at the moment. The powerful 1080P Sony sensors perform significantly better than its competitors 720P rear cameras, especially through tinted windows, even if it's a light factory tint!
The main selling points of this unit will be the parking mode features and rear camera. In terms of parking mode this camera really stands out by offering event and motion detection announcements, a time lapse option that reduces file sizes dramatically, and memory card partitioning to protect parking impact files. That being said, a lot of what makes this device such a winner in our books is not all that obvious and really takes first-hand experience to appreciate.
One thing that's very rarely mentioned about the F770 but worth pointing out is the energy efficiency of this device which is rated below 3.5W. Other 2-channel dash cams from Blackvue, LG, and BlackSys are rated at around 5W or higher so the Thinkware F770 can last significantly longer in parking mode. We also loved the fact that this device is very compatible for Mac and iPhone users due to the use of EXFAT SD card formatting and .MP4 file formats.
After thoroughly testing all of the devices in our product range, these 6 models stood out to us as the best in their respective categories. Each manufacturer brings something a little different to the table so it's always important to consider what your needs might be. If you have specific requirements and want a personalized recommendation, feel free to contact our experienced sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org!