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These days, a dashcam is more than just a newfangled luxury purchase for capturing offbeat footage. It can provide evidence for insurance claims How to Save Hundreds on Your Insurance How to Save Hundreds on Your Insurance Insurance is crazy expensive -- but you can save lots of money if you keep a few things in mind. If you're looking to save money on insurance, here's what you need to do. Read More , and be used to identify perpetrators who commit crimes against you or others. Don’t have one? You should absolutely get one.

And don’t just use your smartphone as a dashcam. Exposure to sunlight and heat degrades battery life 8 Common Misconceptions About Mobile Device Batteries You Need To Know 8 Common Misconceptions About Mobile Device Batteries You Need To Know Let's strap in and clear the air about some of these commonly-held mobile battery myths. Read More and causes long-term damage. Plus, it’s better to have a dedicated recording device so you don’t have to interrupt to do other things (e.g. make a phone call).

Keep reading to see how you can get the most value for your buck when buying a modern dashcam, no matter what your budget is.

Important Dashcam Specs and Features

All dashcams have pros and cons, and it’s hard to say whether one is better than another because it depends on what you need. Here are the most important considerations to make. If you want recommendations, you’ll find them at the end of this article.

  • Video Resolution (Very Important)
    At minimum, you’ll want HD 720p recording. This ensures that footage is sharp enough to make out license plates, car makes and models, and faces. HD 1080p and 2K resolution dashcams are available too, but the trade-off is larger video files.
  • Storage Capacity (Very Important)
    At minimum, aim for 64 GB of storage. The higher the dashcam’s resolution, the more storage capacity you’ll need to record the same amount of footage. An hour of 720p footage might be 1 to 2 GB whereas an hour of 1080p footage might be upwards of 6 GB. Avoid these mistakes when buying microSD cards 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your Next MicroSD Card 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your Next MicroSD Card MicroSD cards seem simple, but there are a few critical mistakes that you must avoid when shopping for one. If you ignore these, you may regret your purchase. Read More .
  • Night Vision (Very Important)
    Night vision is crucial because you never know when an accident might occur. Headlights, city lights, and street lights can sometimes provide enough illumination that night vision isn’t necessary — but those lights won’t always be there. Don’t risk it.
  • Automatic On/Off (Important)
    Some dashcams have the ability to turn on with the car engine and turn off when the car engine shuts off. It’s a must-have feature because dashcams are only useful when they’re on — and according to Murphy’s Law, the one time you forget to turn it on will be the day you have an accident. Don’t risk it.
  • Camera Size (Important)
    All view obstructions are dangerous when driving a car, so avoid large dashcams that may block line of sight. This is critical if you have other potential obstructions, like an EZ-Pass transponder or dangling air fresheners. In general, smaller is safer.
  • Loop Recording (Important)
    When a dashcam’s storage fills up, two things can happen: it stops recording, or it loops back and records over the oldest footage. The former prevents you from overriding crucial footage that you forgot to transfer out, but can leave you vulnerable if it stops recording in the middle of a long drive. Loop recording is less risky.
  • Impact Sensor (Useful)
    Some dashcams detect accidents, then automatically save footage starting from several minutes before impact. Some can also automatically turn on when an impact is detected, even if the dashcam was off, which comes in handy when parked.
  • GPS (Optional)
    GPS tracking can “prove” that an accident occurred where you said it occurred, in cases where the footage isn’t clear. GPS tracking can also record your speeds, which comes in handy for wrongful speeding tickets. And as a parent, GPS logging can be used to see where your children really went in the night.
  • Front and Back Camera (Optional)
    If you want full coverage, a front-facing dashcam won’t be enough. What happens if you get rear-ended? A front-facing dashcam can provide some evidence, but won’t capture the whole incident. Some dashcams come in pairs, the second one mounting to the rear windshield.
  • Built-In Mount (Optional)
    While most dashcam models come with a mounting mechanism, a few don’t. These are most likely designed to lay on your dashboard, but if the idea of that doesn’t sit well with you, you can always grab a universal dashcam mount separately.
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Top Recommended Dashcams for Any Budget

Using the advice above, you should be able to shop for a dashcam on your own and find one that’s more than satisfactory. But if you’re feeling lost, or if you’re short on time and just want one that’s “good enough,” then consider one of the following.

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The Best Value: Pruveeo F5 ($37/£30)

Every once in a while you get more than what you pay for, and that’s true with the Pruveeo F5. Despite being on the cheaper end of the dashcam spectrum, it’s robust, reliable, and complete with all the basic features you’d want in a dashcam, plus a few extra.

It has a built-in windshield mount, records in either 720p or 1080p at 30 frames per second, clear night vision, starts and stops with your car engine, and has seamless loop recording. While the dashcam supports microSD cards up to 32 GB, it does NOT come with one included.

What’s even niftier is that the Pruveeo F5 comes with an Android and iOS app that lets you connect through Wi-Fi to configure the device, preview footage, and download videos on demand — all from the comfort and safety of your home.

The Sporty & Portable: Mobius ($80)

The Mobius has been a top recommended dashcam for many years, and for many good reasons. We think it’s a great buy as long as you can afford the above-average price tag and absolutely need its advanced features that aren’t available in cheaper models.

Its greatest selling point is portability. Operated by battery alone, the Mobius can record up to 2 hours between charges, and it’s so small and light you can mount it anywhere (hence why it’s called an “action cam”). However, you can swap out the battery for a capacitor if you want always-plugged-in capability.

Other notable features include resolutions of 720p (at 60 frames per second) and 1080p (at 30 frames per second), wide field of view, loop recording, high-quality low-light recording that’s arguably better than night vision, and support for microSD cards up to 64 GB (but one isn’t included). Webcam mode when no card is inserted.

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The Powerhouse: SG9665GCV3 ($200/£189)

The SG9665GCV3 is about as good as it gets; you don’t want to spend more for a personal use dashcam. It has a compact and stealthy design, which helps to not tip off other drivers that you’re recording, and reduces the likelihood of your car getting broken into.

It records in 1080p at 30 frames per second, supports microSD cards up to an impressive 256 GB, has automatic loop recording, and records in Wide Dynamic Range for clear and crisp images even at night. It comes with a 32 GB microSD card included.

Two notable features are GPS logging (speed and location data tied to each video file) and a G-Sensor that triggers on impact, automatically locking video files so they can’t be overwritten by loops. You can also lock videos manually if you ever need to.

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Which Dashcam Are You Going to Pick?

You can’t go wrong with any of the above, and just because the Pruveeo F5 is five times cheaper than the SG9665GCV3 doesn’t mean it’s five times worse. They both get the job done, and at the end of the day, clear footage of an incident Buying a GoPro or Action Camera: 7 Useful Things You Need To Know Buying a GoPro or Action Camera: 7 Useful Things You Need To Know If you're into skiing, cycling or surfing, then an action camera is the perfect way to record your adventures. Read More is all you really need.

Got any other questions? Are there any other useful dashcam tips that we missed? Share with us in the comments down below!

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  1. Yazan A
    March 12, 2014 at 11:43 am

    is recording with 1080p is really a good idea? as I checked the reviews I stumbled over this one:

    "± A 5-minute 1080p video with sound generates around 560 MB."

    that's 6.5 gigs per hour!

    and I was wondering what if something interesting happened during a long ride, can I save the recording so it won't loop and record over it without stopping the camera recording?

    • dave
      March 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      So a 64 gb sd card will record about 9.8 hours of video. Alternatively pack an extra card and switch out. Not while driving of course.

    • Kristopher
      March 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Yes it is about 6.0 GB a hour if you have a 32 GB Card you can record up to 4-5 hours. Most DashCams have a option to Lock in a recording - Sometimes even automatic based on "G-Motion" if you are involved in an accident etc. The higher the quality the better the video - it can make all the difference to read a license plate...

    • Matt S
      March 20, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      I think it's a good idea. It would suck to miss an important detail (like someone's license plate number) because you recorded at a lower resolution. Especially when the only inconvenience is switching the SD card a bit more often if you buy a dashcam that doesn't automatically loop.

  2. Rob H
    March 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Mine was off ebay (new), cost GBP60 , front and rear cameras, monitor (small), separate GPS module (a black blob I stick to a corner of the windscreen). The instruction book is a bit of a challenge but it does everything I need for not much cash.

  3. Lola
    March 12, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I would like a dashcam, but I don't see much use, only a lot of money involved. However, I usually charge my ipod touch and I use a regular gps holder for phones and it does pretty much the same! It's my alterative for cheap people like moi.

  4. dragonmouth
    March 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I noticed you did not mention any negatives other than the size of some dashcams.
    1. Unless you unmount it every time you leave your car, because dashcams are new, it will be car break-in bait. CBs, radar detectors and EZ Pass Transponders all went through a period when they were highly desired by car thieves.

    2. Big Brother can access the dashcam and not only track you but also see everything you are recording.

    • Matt S
      March 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      How is big brother going to access your webcam if it's not connected to Internet?

    • dragonmouth
      March 20, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      I believe you mentioned GPS as one of the advanced features.

      • duhhh
        November 20, 2015 at 11:49 pm

        and im sure you carry around a smartphone? You think they arent trackable even with the Location settings off?

        • Anonymous
          November 21, 2015 at 12:08 am

          duhhh, that is why I do not own a smartphone.