5 Best Driving Recorders of 2021 | Wirecutter's Review

2021-12-08 08:16:24 By : Ms. Sophie han

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After our latest round of testing, we have concluded that Vantrue X4 provides the best combination of clear video, ease of use and convenient features.

Wow! A car accident may happen in an instant. Although this may be frightening, it is equally painful to be blamed for a crash that is not your fault. This is why the driving recorder can provide important help in the event of an accident. After researching more than 270 models and testing 40 of them, we found that the best overall driving recorder is Vantrue X4. It provides the clearest video we have ever seen, it is the easiest to use dash cam, and it has convenient features that most other dash cams do not have in its price range.

This driving recorder can provide a clear ultra-high resolution lens at any time of the day or night. It also has key features, such as 24-hour parking monitoring and GPS tracking, although its cost is only half of other competitors.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$200.

Vantrue X4 is equipped with advanced features such as 2160p (4K/UHD) resolution, night vision, 24-hour parking monitoring to catch hit-and-runners, and GPS tracking in the windshield holder (available for free) in some bundles), but Its cost is half of some similar models. It is compact (slightly smaller than most point-and-shoot cameras) and relatively unobtrusive on the windshield, and its 3-inch screen is bright and easy to read. It has an intuitive menu, and its control buttons are clearly marked and easy to access. And because it is powered by a capacitor instead of a lithium battery, it can work even in extremely hot climates such as the southern and southwestern United States. Unlike some of our other options, X4 does not have an app connection, and you can view and download videos remotely. But we think that most people will not miss this feature, because it is still quite convenient to view the lens on the camera itself or using a microSD card reader.

This dash cam works at a colder temperature than our other options (down to -22 °F). It has all the features we prefer (4K resolution, night vision, 24-hour parking monitoring, GPS tracking), and adds Bluetooth and app connectivity, built-in Alexa support, and emergency calls.

If you need more features that Vantrue X4 cannot provide, such as the built-in Wi-Fi network connected to the smartphone app, Bluetooth connection, Alexa support, and emergency call function, you can automatically send help when the following conditions occur-Nextbase 622GW is worth it Splurge. It is powered by a lithium ion battery, so it is not suitable for extreme high temperatures compared to our capacitor-powered paddles, but because its rated operating temperature is as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit (cooler than the average winter night in Minnesota), it should In extreme cold conditions, it is better than our other options. Like X4, it has 4K resolution, night vision, GPS tracking and 24-hour parking monitoring.

In addition to the 4K resolution front camera, this model also has a 1080p rear camera that can record events behind the vehicle. Compared with X4, its settings are more obtrusive and tricky, but it has as many advanced features.

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If you want to record events behind and in front of the vehicle and don't want to spend money on the Nextbase 622GW and its optional rear window camera, then you should buy Vantrue S1. It's more bulky than our other options, more cumbersome to set up, and its screen is harder to read than the X4 and 622GW, but it still easily outperforms the other front and rear options we tested. It has the same intuitive menu as other Vantrue models. The front camera provides 4K resolution, and the rear camera provides 1080p resolution. It also has convenient functions such as night vision, GPS tracking and 24-hour parking monitoring. Like X4, it consists of a The capacitor is powered, enabling it to operate at extreme temperatures up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

N2S is a good choice for those who want to record the situation in and in front of the car. Its 4K front camera and 1440p internal camera can capture clear images both day and night. However, compared to our other options, it is not suitable for ultra-cold climates.

If you want to record the inside of a car while driving, we recommend Vantrue N2S. It has a camera that can record the scenery in front of the car, and the other camera faces the inside-this is Uber, Lyft or other taxi drivers who want to record passengers. Its two cameras (providing 4K and 1440p resolution respectively) can provide clear day and night shots. It also has all the advanced features we prefer, including GPS tracking, 24-hour parking monitoring, and a capacitor power supply that can operate at temperatures up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit (although for people living in very harsh environments, this is a Worse choice) cold climate, because it cannot work below 14 degrees Fahrenheit).

Garmin’s Mini is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested, but its lack of a display means you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view videos and adjust settings.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$110.

If you prefer a dash cam that people might not notice, we recommend the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, which is one of the smallest and most discreet models we have tested. The Mini is about the size of a remote control key and almost disappears on the windshield. Despite this, it still provides surprisingly excellent video quality for the 1080p model, and its windshield holder is one of the best we have seen-it is firmly glued to the windshield with adhesive But the magnet allows you to easily remove everything except the small plastic ring you want to throw it into the glove box or move it to another car. Since the Dash Cam Mini has only two physical buttons and no display, you must use Garmin's smartphone app to view videos, adjust settings, and even just point the camera correctly.

This driving recorder can provide a clear ultra-high resolution lens at any time of the day or night. It also has key features, such as 24-hour parking monitoring and GPS tracking, although its cost is only half of other competitors.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$200.

This dash cam works at a colder temperature than our other options (down to -22 °F). It has all the features we prefer (4K resolution, night vision, 24-hour parking monitoring, GPS tracking), and adds Bluetooth and app connectivity, built-in Alexa support, and emergency calls.

In addition to the 4K resolution front camera, this model also has a 1080p rear camera that can record events behind the vehicle. Compared with X4, its settings are more obtrusive and tricky, but it has as many advanced features.

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N2S is a good choice for those who want to record the situation in and in front of the car. Its 4K front camera and 1440p internal camera can capture clear images both day and night. However, compared to our other options, it is not suitable for ultra-cold climates.

Garmin’s Mini is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested, but its lack of a display means you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view videos and adjust settings.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$110.

Sarah Witman, responsible for our latest round of tests, has been a science writer for more than seven years, covering topics ranging from particle physics to satellite remote sensing. Since joining Wirecutter in 2017, she has reported on tracking cameras, portable power stations, rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, etc.

For the past 25 years, Rik Paul has written an updated version of this guide, and he has been testing and writing articles about automotive electronics and accessories. He was previously the automotive editor of Wirecutter. Before that, he was the automotive editor of Consumer Reports and the senior feature editor of automotive trends. In order to understand the driving recorder from a legal perspective, he interviewed Ben Schwartz, a personal injury lawyer and managing partner of Schwartz & Schwartz law firm.

If your daily driving becomes a life-changing event, you might like to have a dash cam to show what happened. This continuous recording, windshield-mounted device can record the accident or other incident you are involved in, and provide you with evidence that can (ideally) help prove your innocence to a lawyer, insurance company, or law enforcement agency.

For example: a staff member of Wirecutter was able to use his dash cam lens to prove that he was not at fault after being rear-ended in a parking lot. Although the front camera cannot record that the vehicle behind actually hit his car, he said, “It shows that I drove properly and captured the sound, the bumps during the impact, and the reaction of my girlfriend and me.”

In addition, the driving recorder can help other drivers who need objective witness evidence to provide assistance after a crash, hit-and-run incident, road rage, or police misconduct. You can use it to record unsafe road conditions or monitor the driving habits of other people in your car-of course, with their consent-such as inexperienced drivers or elderly people. If you just want to capture and share interesting scenes, unforgettable travel moments, beautiful scenery or unusual events, such as meteors (video), the dash cam can also come in handy.

"Every year, thousands of people are injured and killed by hit-and-run drivers," said Ben Schwartz, a personal injury lawyer we interviewed. "If those hit-and-run victims have a dash cam in their car, maybe the video will record the tag number of the vehicle that hit them, and then it will lead the police to the bad guy."

But there are also potential shortcomings. Schwartz pointed out: "The driving recorder will not only record the mistakes of other people, but also record your mistakes." Schwartz said, whether you think you are wrong or not, you should first set the lens Show it to your lawyer. "Let the lawyer determine whether the video is beneficial to [your] case, and have the lawyer advise you on how to handle the video."

Finally, there are some practical considerations. Learn how to set up a dash cam, and start to consider how to install a dash cam in your car, and then decide whether you need it. Almost all dash cams record video on removable microSD cards, and many do not, which adds to the cost (at the time of writing, a good microSD card costs about $35). In addition, you should confirm that you can legally install a dash cam on the windshield where you live, and understand the rules for recording audio conversations in your state.

Most microSD cards are good enough, but if you know what to look for, it's not difficult to get a great card.

Before choosing the driving recorder to test, we spent several hours researching the specifications and functions of approximately 270 models. We read reviews from Autoblog, BlackBoxMyCar, CNET, Digital Trends, PCMag, Popular Mechanics, T3 and TechRadar (although many of them lack practical experience), as well as customer reviews and ratings (after we checked their reliability) Fake). We also read some driving legislation and insurance claims carefully, and watched several hours of dash cam footage on YouTube.

Most driving recorders work similarly. They are recorded to a microSD card and use loop recording, so the latest video will overwrite the oldest video. They have a built-in gravity sensor (or accelerometer) to detect the impact, and if a collision occurs, they will automatically save the shot to avoid being overwritten. Usually, you can also manually save the material by pressing a button or issuing a voice command. You can view the material on your device’s display, smartphone app, or any device that can read a microSD card. If needed, the dash cam can also record audio, and most models allow you to take still photos.

The price of a model does not determine its quality, but we found that the cheapest dash cam (usually less than $100) cannot compete with higher-priced models in terms of resolution, range of functions, and overall quality. We are not willing to recommend cheaper dash cams, because we believe that when you really need high-quality video recording, they may disappoint you.

We narrowed our search based on the following criteria:

We also prefer (but do not require) models with the following features:

Our selection process left us with eight models that can be compared with our existing selections in the 2021 test: MyGekoGear Orbit 960, Nextbase 622GW, Thinkware U1000, Vantrue N2S, Vantrue S1, Vantrue X4, Vava VD009, And Viofo A129 Pro Duo.

When setting up each dash cam, we first evaluated the layout of the controls, the size and location of the buttons, and the difficulty of navigating the menu. We checked the brightness and clarity of the display, downloaded and connected to the app (if applicable), and performed common tasks. We also recorded the build quality and overall design of the camera.

Then, we set up the driving recorder in the car and evaluated how easy it is to install the bracket to the windshield, connect the driving recorder to the bracket, adjust the camera's target, and then remove it. We tested the cameras in bright sunlight, at night, on highways and suburban streets, and accumulated hours of driving time. To ensure that we can accurately compare the dash cams with each other, we drove the same routes, and we chose these routes to allow the camera to capture the amount of detail.

Then we spent more time playing the video clips on the computer so that we could check and compare the details and overall image quality. Based on all these, we finally made a choice.

This driving recorder can provide a clear ultra-high resolution lens at any time of the day or night. It also has key features, such as 24-hour parking monitoring and GPS tracking, although its cost is only half of other competitors.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$200.

Vantrue X4 is a simple, comprehensive and excellent driving recorder. It offers the best range of features—$200 at the time of writing, or the cost of a few cans of gasoline we found. It's small and stylish, so it won't hinder your vision while driving, but its 2-inch screen is large and bright enough to allow you to easily navigate through the menus. It is particularly simple and clear to set up and use, and it can reliably capture clear and clear video. Unless you are particularly worried about being rear-ended, or if you are a professional driver and you want to record activities in the car, you may not need rear or internal cameras (such as Vantrue S1 and N2S, respectively). If you can live without luxury features such as app connectivity (both Nextbase 622GW and Garmin Dash Cam Mini), this is the driving recorder you should get.

The X4 has a 4K resolution front camera (the best resolution available in any dash cam currently sold). In our tests, it recorded clear shots with realistic, appropriately saturated colors. Even in dim or dark environments, it can recognize license plate numbers and other important details.

The GPS tracking function of this device is built into its suction cup mount, so you need this mount to use this feature. The mounting base is clamped on the top of the driving recorder, and the crank on the back of the mounting base firmly fixes it on the windshield. The knob on the neck of the bracket allows you to aim the dash cam at the angle that best suits you, and the suction cup has a small lip so you can easily remove it and adjust the position.

X4 is equipped with a 12-volt car charger, the base of which is opened to reveal a USB-A port. This function is very useful if you want to charge your mobile phone or other small devices from the car port when using the dash cam (otherwise you need to use a socket distributor or carry a power bank). It also has a useful circular light to let you know that the charger is properly plugged in and powers the dash cam. The Mini-USB cable connected to the charger is 12 feet long, the same as most models we tested, so you can flexibly place the dash cam in the vehicle. The camera also comes with a Mini-USB-to-USB-A cable, you need to connect it to most computers or wall chargers.

The X4’s screen is 3 inches diagonal and occupies most of the space on the back of the fuselage, so there is not much extra volume. The entire unit is also very slim; the lens and body together are only 1.5 inches deep. It has a power button on the top, so you don't need to unplug the power plug (or turn off the car) to turn off the power. The charging cable can be plugged into the port on the top of the device or the port on the stand.

The device has four control buttons on the right side of the screen. These buttons are clearly labeled and easily accessible, allowing you to quickly turn audio on and off, format the microSD card, and perform other basic tasks. The screen is brightly backlit, and the menu interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. In addition, the camera's FOV is 160 degrees, which is exactly in the best position of our preferred viewing angle range. It is wide enough to capture cars parked on both sides of most streets, as well as vehicles from the left or right of intersections.

Like our other options, X4 has a 24-hour parking monitoring mode (Garmin Dash Cam Mini requires a hard-wired kit sold separately to activate this feature). This spy tool is very useful when you are not around, when recording hit-and-runs or other vehicle damage. The camera will turn on and start recording when it detects any movement inside or around the vehicle, such as when a neighbor's car taps your bumper.

Since the X4 is powered by a capacitor instead of a lithium-ion battery, it can work at extreme high temperatures, which is a good asset if you plan to drive in a particularly hot climate. It is designed to be able to operate at temperatures between -4 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hotter than the summer in Death Valley, so in most cases you should be able to rely on it.

Although Vantrue X4 works well in warm weather, it is not suitable for very cold climates. If you think you might use the dash cam at temperatures below -4 degrees Fahrenheit, then you'd better use Nextbase 622GW (stop working below -22 degrees Fahrenheit).

Another significant disadvantage of X4 is that it does not have a built-in Wi-Fi network to connect to smartphone apps. This means that when you are away from the dash cam, you cannot remotely check the speed and location of the car, nor can you view, download, and share videos, just like with Nextbase and some other models we have tested. But the lack of these features also means that X4 will not cause any privacy or security issues on how the company uses the collected data. Although for other dash cams, the company may decide to stop supporting or update the application at any time, causing your dash cam to lose some functions, but you will not take this risk with this model.

X4 also lacks some of the convenient driver assistance features that Nextbase has, such as Alexa support, Bluetooth connectivity, and emergency calls. However, since it is usually half the price of Nextbase, we think most people will not miss these luxury items.

This dash cam works at a colder temperature than our other options (down to -22 °F). It has all the features we prefer (4K resolution, night vision, 24-hour parking monitoring, GPS tracking), and adds Bluetooth and app connectivity, built-in Alexa support, and emergency calls.

If your budget allows, Nextbase 622GW is our first choice for a big improvement. At twice the price, you can get the same excellent image quality and a wider range of features, including Bluetooth and app connectivity, built-in Alexa support, and emergency calls. The 622GW has the best installation system of all the driving recorders we have tested, and it has various convenient add-ons, which most cheap models do not have.

Like Vantrue X4, Nextbase 622GW also has a 4K resolution front camera. Whether it is day or night, it can capture important visual information, such as road signs, license plate numbers, and even car brands and models, with vivid details. Although its 140-degree FOV is narrower than the X4 camera, it is still within the ideal range for us to view as many objects as possible at the same time.

The 622GW is equipped with a suction cup mounting system similar to the X4, but it is better in several key aspects. First of all, the mounting base is fixed to the camera body by magnets. This design is easier to install and disassemble than the X4 plastic clip, and the entire setup is equally sturdy. It has a ball and socket hinge to aim the dash cam, which is easier to use than the knob on the X4 bracket, and a small lever to lock the bracket in place on the windshield. If you prefer a more permanent setting, you can simply remove the suction cup and replace it with a sticky accessory. Nextbase conveniently includes additional adhesive mounting stickers so you can replace them, as well as a small plastic prying tool for use when you want to remove it (even with this tool, it is difficult to remove the adhesive mounting, so you will Glad to have it). This driving recorder is also the only product we have chosen with a sticker, you can stick it on the window to remind the rider of the fact that you are recording (you should tell people anyway, but it’s nice to have Visual effects) signal).

In addition to the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, Nextbase 622GW is the only model we have selected with built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to connect to a smartphone application. The app allows you to perform basic tasks remotely, such as viewing, downloading, and sharing videos. However, at the time of writing, it is rated two out of five stars in Google and Apple App Stores, and there are many complaints about slow or unstable Wi-Fi connections. As with any application, the company can decide to stop providing support or updates at any time.

Like all our options except Garmin Dash Cam Mini, this dash cam provides 24-hour parking vehicle monitoring and GPS tracking, so you can go back and view your location, speed, and other related details. Emergency. You can access your data from the app or upload it to Nextbase’s cloud storage service, but both operations are optional (if you are worried about being monitored by the dash cam app, please do not opt-in).

622GW is the only model we tested with built-in Alexa support and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as the SOS function that automatically reminds emergency services in the event of a crash. The latter function is rarely seen in driving recorders. If you need to use it, this function alone may prove that the cost of this model is relatively high.

Like our first choice, Nextbase 622GW is stylish and compact. Its screen is the same as that of Vantrue X4, with a diagonal size of 3 inches. The display is bright and the menu navigation is quite intuitive. Except for the small home button at the bottom of the screen and the power button on the side of the device, the controls are mostly based on touch screens. A rubber port protector connected by a string helps prevent dust and moisture from entering the Mini-USB port on the top of the device, but unfortunately, the port on the bracket does not have this function. In addition, we hope that the HDMI port protector also has a tether, because most people may find it difficult not to lose a small piece of rubber.

In addition to the Mini-USB-to-USB-A cable, the 622GW also includes a 12-volt car charger with a long cable (13 feet, one foot longer than the X4). When the charger is properly plugged into the car port and powers the dash cam, a small light helps to indicate. Unfortunately, Nextbase’s car chargers do not have a built-in USB-A port like Vantrue’s chargers, so if you want to charge your phone and power the dashboard, you need to use a socket distributor or put a power bank cam in your bag at the same time.

Although 622GW has the lowest operating temperature (-22 degrees Fahrenheit), it does not perform well under extreme high temperatures. Therefore, if you plan to use the dash cam at temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit (remember, a car parked in direct sunlight is like a greenhouse, which is hotter than the surrounding environment), you may want to consider our other option .

In addition to the 4K resolution front camera, this model also has a 1080p rear camera that can record events behind the vehicle. Compared with X4, its settings are more obtrusive and tricky, but it has as many advanced features.

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Vantrue S1 is the best driving recorder we have found, suitable for people who want to record behind and in front of the car. The S1's setup is more cumbersome than our main choice, but it has most of the same key features and conveniences. Its interface is easier to use than other front and rear driving recorders we have tested; we can get up and running immediately without having to consult the manual.

Like Vantrue X4 and Nextbase 622GW, S1 provides clear and clear 4K video through the front camera. The picture produced by the 1080p rear camera is significantly rougher and blurry, but the colors are still quite realistic and highly saturated. Most people don’t need two cameras, because many accidents (whether someone runs a red light in front of you, a frontal collision, or a side-slip) happen in a clear view of the driver’s seat. However, if you don't mind connecting the cable to the rear of the vehicle, the rear camera may be useful in case you are rear-end collision or need to see other things happening behind the vehicle.

The front camera of the S1 has a night vision function, which can shoot in dark and bright conditions, while the rear camera can only shoot during the day. The 170-degree FOV of the front camera makes the center object look farther, but it can capture a wider field of view compared to most cameras we tested. At the same time, the rear camera has a 160-degree FOV, achieving a good balance between center detail and width.

Like X4, S1 is only equipped with one type of mount, but in this case, it has two viscous mounts (one at the front and one at the back). This means that if you decide to remove and reposition the dash cam, you must use some elbow grease, but their installation is relatively simple. After carefully installing the adhesive on the front and rear windshields, you can snap the dash cam on them via the interlocking plastic grooves. The front camera is easy to aim because, like most cameras, the display is on the back of it, but when you aim at the rear camera, it’s helpful to have a friend sit in the front seat to guide you (there are many " Low...lower...higher..."). However, if you are working alone, you can always install the rear camera first (with the front camera in your other hand) and then the front camera.

The diagonal of the S1 screen is 2 inches, which is quite small (for reference, the screen of the iPhone 12 is 6.1 inches, and the screen of the Google Pixel 4a is 6.2 inches). This display size makes the menu more difficult to read and navigate, but we still find it quite intuitive to use. Five clearly marked control buttons are located at the bottom of the screen, and the power button is located on the side of the device. Although a bit bulkier than the X4 and 622GW cameras, the S1 cameras are still quite stylish and compact (they look a bit like miniature Eames chairs and footstools when placed side by side, very cute).

Like our other options, apart from the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, the S1 has a GPS receiver for recording location and speed data, as well as handling 24-hour parking vehicle monitoring. It is equipped with a Mini-USB-to-USB-A cable and a 12-volt car charger, both of which are the same as those that Vantrue ships with X4. The S1 is also equipped with a 20-foot cable with Mini-USB plugs at both ends for connecting the front and rear cameras; this cable is quite thick, but it needs this to reliably transmit power and data between the two devices ( We have some tips on how to install the driving recorder neatly).

Like X4, S1 is powered by a capacitor and has a rated operating temperature between -4 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, similar to this model, its biggest disadvantage is the lack of a built-in Wi-Fi network. This omission made it impossible to provide app connectivity, Alexa support, and other more expensive dash cams (such as the Nextbase 622GW) usually equipped with good features. But S1 still offers a wide range of features and functions at this price.

N2S is a good choice for those who want to record the situation in and in front of the car. Its 4K front camera and 1440p internal camera can capture clear images both day and night. However, compared to our other options, it is not suitable for ultra-cold climates.

Vantrue N2S is the best driving recorder that wants to record the interior and front of the vehicle. This model is a good choice for ride-sharing service drivers who want to record passenger activity when theft, assault, damage, or other criminal activity occurs in the vehicle. In a more relaxed sense, it is also very suitable for shooting road trips or re-creating carpool karaoke (video) episodes.

Like our other choices, in addition to the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, N2S is also equipped with a 4K resolution front camera, which can produce clear images and bright colors, and the device will automatically switch to black and white when it’s dark. Infrared lens goes out. The built-in camera that provides 1440p resolution is located on the back of the device, on the right side of the display. Like the front camera, it can record in both bright and dark environments. The 1440p camera is not as vivid as the 4K camera, but it still offers a higher resolution than usually seen on dual camera models. The front camera has a 155-degree FOV, and the inner camera has a slightly wider 165-degree FOV, both of which are within our preferred range.

N2S comes with a suction cup mount, you can fix the driving recorder on the windshield. The dash cam is clamped on the bracket, and the plastic crank firmly locks the suction cup on the windshield. When you want to remove the suction cup, a small rubber cover allows you to gently pry it open. Using the ball and socket hinge, you can easily align the front camera.

On the back of the device is a 1.6-inch display, which is smaller than the screens on Vantrue’s X4 and S1 and Nextbase’s 622GW. However, it is still brightly backlit and fairly easy to read (and you don't want it to be bigger because the second camera has already added some volume, otherwise it might obstruct your sight). N2S has the same easy-to-navigate menu as other Vantrue models, and four clearly marked control buttons on the top of the device. The entire internal camera is contained in a knob on the right, you can turn the knob up and down to aim the camera.

Like most driving recorders, N2S will automatically prevent any lens from being covered after detecting a collision (or any collision-like movement, such as being too fast on a speed bump). But it is unique in our selection because it has a small button on the left side of the screen, you can press it to activate this function. Therefore, if something interesting happens, you can press this button immediately and make sure that the camera saves the footage to the microSD card.

Like other Vantrue models, N2S has a built-in GPS tracking function for collecting location and speed data, as well as 24-hour parking monitoring. Like these devices, it lacks app connectivity and other driver assistance features provided by Nextbase 622GW. The N2S is more bulky than the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, but apart from that, we found that the cylindrical shape of the N2S is the least obstructive to vision when placed on the windshield compared to other models we tested.

N2S is the only driving recorder powered by USB-C that we have tested. Compared with the Mini-USB cable used by most driving recorders, USB-C is a more powerful and modern connector type . This is a great benefit, not only because it is an excellent technology, but also because if you misplace the USB-C-to-USB-A cable that comes with your device, you can use any USB-C-to-USB-A cable that you might have at home. C cable. The N2S car charger has a 12-foot-long USB-C cable, the base has a USB-A port for charging the phone, and a small light to let you know that it is powering the dash cam. The main body of the device and the mount each have a USB-C port, so you can connect the charger to any device that makes more sense to you.

N2S is powered by capacitors and has a rated operating temperature range of 14 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. This range makes it least suitable for the extreme cold of any of our choices, but it should work well in extreme high temperatures.

Garmin’s Mini is one of the smallest and most discreet models we’ve tested, but its lack of a display means you have to use Garmin’s smartphone app to view videos and adjust settings.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$110.

If you are looking for a dash cam that people are unlikely to notice, we recommend the Garmin Dash Cam Mini. Only about 2 inches high and 1¼ inches wide (about the size of a remote control key), it is one of the smallest and most discreet models we have tested, almost disappearing on the windshield.

The Mini records at 1080p resolution, but it offers surprisingly excellent video quality compared to similar models. It has the same 140 degree FOV as the Nextbase 622GW. In our tests on the Mini, we found that compared to the best 4K and 1440p models, we found that the license plates on parked and oncoming cars are more difficult to read, but the images have bright colors and striking highlights and shadow. At night, the headlights and other bright lights don't have much glare (this cannot be said for what we see in the night video of many dash cams), and the contrast is good.

Because it is too small, the Mini does not have a display; you must use the Garmin Drive smartphone app to correctly aim the device (through its real-time viewing function) and adjust the settings. You will also find that there are only two physical buttons on the Mini body: an easy-to-reach video lock button is located on the back of the device, and the button on the left is used to turn audio on and off or (with a long press) to format the SD card. Since the Mini does not have a physical power button, the only way to turn off the camera is to turn off the car or unplug the power cord.

Mini's sticky stand provides a wide range of adjustments, and you can easily turn the device on and off. But this mount does not include the convenient magnetic accessories that other Garmin models and Nextbase 622GW have.

The Garmin Drive app is more restrictive than the Nextbase app. In our tests, the recorded video was a bit choppy during playback. However, at the time of writing, the Garmin Drive app is rated 4.5 stars (out of 5 stars) on Google Play and Apple App Store, while the Nextbase app has only two stars on these platforms. So maybe most people prefer the simplicity of the Garmin app.

In 2020, Garmin suffered a ransomware attack that caused its service to be interrupted for three days. The company claimed that no customer data was stolen, but this incident has aggravated our concerns about how the company handles data. Garmin’s privacy policy states that unless you opt-in, its apps will not upload videos, locations, or other data to its servers (or third-party servers).

Anker Roav DashCam C1 Pro is a budget model with 1080p resolution and built-in Wi-Fi. But even though its lens looked quite clear and the colors were good in our tests, it also had a lot of video noise. In night shots, high contrast will produce glare in bright areas and lack of detail in darker areas.

Garmin Dash Cam 56 performed very well in the last round of testing. Its 1440p video has a 140-degree FOV, which is as clear as the video of the other 1440p models we tested, and has good overall color and night images. It measures only 2¼ x 1½ inches and is a compact driving recorder. Its controls are not as easy to use as the Nextbase model touch screen, but voice control can help complete some basic functions, such as manually saving a video. Like the Nextbase model, the Dash Cam 56 uses a magnetic bracket (fixed to the windshield with adhesive), which makes it easy to open and close, but you have to plug in or unplug the power cord every time.

Garmin Dash Cam 66W is almost the same as Dash Cam 56, except that it has an ultra-wide 180 degree FOV. This width can capture more of the scene in front of the car, but it will make things look farther, so it is harder to see details. We also noticed that the 66W wide-angle lens makes it seem as if there is more space between our car and the car in front, so when the driver cuts us off on the highway, the video doesn't look like a close call it actually is.

The previous first choice 1440p Garmin Dash Cam 55 and its wider-angle sibling, the 1080p Garmin Dash Cam 65W, have been discontinued (although they can still be purchased at discounted prices from some retailers). Their controls, dimensions and windshield holder are the same as those on the Garmin Dash Cam 56 and 66W.

In our test, considering its 1296p resolution, the Geko S200 Starlit was not as clear as we expected. This compact device has a cheap and malleable feel, with small buttons that are easy to swing when pressed, and a black-on-black design with very few labels, which is difficult to see at a glance. The S200 also does not have GPS, Wi-Fi, and smartphone apps.

MyGekoGear Orbit 960 (from the company formerly Geko) has a 4K front camera and some advanced features, such as GPS tracking and app connection. You can also purchase a hard-wired kit separately to add 24-hour parking monitoring. In our test, Orbit 960 is easy to set up and use, and the lens is clear and clear during the day and night. However, it has only two customer reviews on Amazon (at the time of writing, it was rated 1.4 out of 5 stars), which made us hesitant to recommend it.

The 1440p Nextbase 522GW is the top choice, and the 1440p Nextbase 422GW is the top runner-up. Both are still good choices, but they can't compete with the low-cost 4K dash cams that are now available.

Nextbase 322GW is very similar to Nextbase 422GW, but it records 1080p video instead of 1440p, and it does not work with Amazon's Alexa app. The 322GW video is very good, but not as clear as its more expensive siblings. However, if you want to get the functionality and ease of use of Nextbase at a lower price, then 322GW is still worth considering. For tight budget situations, Nextbase 222 is a cheaper barebones version.

The cheap Papago GoSafe 228 has the worst image quality of all the models we have tested, and a fairly narrow 120-degree FOV.

The Papago GoSafe 550 offers 1296p resolution, our previous budget choice, and the resulting image quality is clearer than what we have seen from many test models. It has a bright 2.7-inch display and its controls are fairly easy to use, although the video lock button is located in the upper right corner of the device, far away from the driver. The GoSafe 550 is also fairly basic, with no GPS receiver, Wi-Fi, or compatible smartphone apps.

Rexing V1 Gen 3 is recorded at 2160p (4K) resolution, but its 24 frames per second rate is not as smooth as the usual 30 fps. In our test, the video has soft colors and excessive glare, which is not as clear as the Nextbase 522GW and 422GW lenses. At night, the video is very contrasting and grainy. We also found it difficult to adjust the lens position or connect to an application.

Rexing V1 is one of the cheapest driving recorders we have tested, with a maximum resolution of 1080p and a wide field of view of 170 degrees. In our test, the V1 video was not as good as the video we chose, and the contrast was too high, especially at night.

Thinkware X350 is an older model, its video quality is worse than our pick, and its optional plug-in GPS receiver is not very convenient.

The Thinkware U1000 has a 4K front camera. At the time of writing, you can add a 2K rear camera for an extra $100. But it requires you to purchase a separate hard-wired kit to use the 24-hour parking mode, and it is more discerning and more expensive to use than models with a wider range of features.

Vantrue T2 used to be a great choice for those of us who needed a capacitor-driven dash cam, but some of our current options also use capacitors and have better resolution.

In our test, the 1440p video of Vantrue X3 is not as clear as the 1440p Nextbase 522GW and 422GW, and the night video has a large contrast. The buttons on the back are easy to use, but the labels are difficult to read. Although the power cord is directly connected to the mount, the camera cannot slide in and out of the mount smoothly. In addition, the application is basic and we cannot connect it to X3.

Both the front and rear cams of BlackVue DR490-2CH provide good contrast and dynamic range, and its capacitor power supply increases reliability under extreme temperatures. But it does not have a display, and there is no Wi-Fi or smartphone application, you have to play all the shots on your computer.

BlackVue’s DR490L-2CH is one of the better dual-camera models we’ve tested. Its 3½-inch touch screen with large buttons is easy to operate. Deal breaker: There is no video lock button for you to manually save shots. The mount also has no left-right adjustment, which limits your ability to accurately aim the camera at the desired location.

BlackVue DR900S-2CH has an ultra-high 2160p (4K) resolution, providing excellent sharpness and wide dynamic range. In our test, the front and rear cameras both captured very good night video, but we also saw more glare than in the Nextbase model video. The device does not have a display screen and minimal physical control, so even changing the basic settings requires an app that has connectivity issues in our tests (and has been proven to track the user's location publicly).

Cobra's DASH2316D can be linked to Cobra's iRadar application to remind you of the location of the speed camera and red light camera, as well as the location of the police. However, in our test, the 1080p front video was not sufficiently clear and the contrast was too large, resulting in too much glare at night and lack of details in the dark parts. The video from the 720p rear camera is even worse. DASH2316D runs on capacitors to provide additional protection under extreme temperatures. It also includes forward collision and lane departure warnings, but we found them to be very sensitive and turned them off.

Due to the weak video from the 1080p front and rear cameras, especially at night, the Papago GoSafe 760 failed to stand out from the competition. The rear camera has a narrow field of view of 120 degrees. In our night test, its video lacked detail in the darker area, and the glare produced made the license plate difficult to read.

The rear camera of the Papago GoSafe S780 is installed on the rear window (for shooting behind the car) or on the windshield (for shooting the interior). But the rear camera is just so-so, if there is no ambient light, the internal image is almost completely black. In addition, it is difficult for us to tighten the plastic lock nut of the mount without bending the cam.

The Papago GoSafe S810 used to be our favorite front and rear driving recorder, but it is out of stock in most places, and the newer models far surpass it in almost every aspect.

We found that the video quality of Rexing V1P Gen 3 is average, with high contrast and excessive glare. Its buttons will light up when pressed, but unless you touch one, they will not be visible at night. Although you can adjust the lens in any direction by physically moving the lens, it is difficult to do so when the device is mounted on the windshield.

Rexing V2 is specially designed to record the interior of the vehicle. There is no infrared LED, so the night internal video is almost completely black without ambient light. The camera is rotated about 180 degrees vertically, but it cannot be rotated left or right, so it is difficult to align the two correctly. Because V2 is about 5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high, it takes up a lot of space on the windshield.

The Transcend DrivePro 520 can record the interior of the car, but the rear camera has a particularly narrow field of view, 110 degrees. We found it more difficult to see people in the back seat at night than similar competitors.

Vantrue N2 Pro Dual used to be our favorite front and rear driving recorder, but its resolution (1440p and 1080p respectively) is much worse than N2S.

Vava VD009 has a 1600p front camera and a 1080p internal camera. In our test, both cameras produced clear and vivid images. We also found that the model is easy to set up and use, and is relatively inconspicuous on the windshield. But it costs as much as other models with the same features and higher resolution cameras.

Viofo A129 Pro Duo has a 4K front camera and a 1080p rear camera. It provides a variety of functions (including GPS tracking, 24-hour parking monitoring, and app connection), but in our tests, it is much more difficult to set up and use than cheaper models that provide the same functions .

Cobra Road Scout is basically a radar detector with an integrated driving recorder. With 1080p resolution and a reasonable 154-degree FOV, Road Scout captured good video, although it was not as sharp as the 1440p Nextbase and Garmin models we tested. The powerful magnetic bracket allows Scout to be easily removed from the windshield. But about 4 x 4 inches, the Road Scout is huge according to dash cam standards, and it is one of the most expensive models we have tested. You also cannot view the video on its small radar detector display; you must use a mobile app. Nevertheless, if you want the advantages of radar detectors and driving recorders, but do not want a separate device on the dashboard, Road Scout may be a good choice.

Garmin Speak Plus is an unusual voice-activated device, including 1080p driving recorder, Garmin navigation and Amazon's Alexa function. It is very effective for navigation, but if you mainly want a dash cam, then you have better options. It has a very narrow 82-degree field of view, the compact display does not show dash cam video, and the device needs to be paired with your mobile phone via Bluetooth to operate.

Klashwerks Raven combines a dual camera setup with navigation, security and vehicle tracking. But it is difficult to align the two cameras, and it is difficult to use the gesture control of this model to consistently save the video. We also found that in hot weather, the sticky bracket cannot secure the large 7-inch device to the windshield.

We used to recommend Owlcam (the company has replaced it with two similar versions, Owlcam Classic 3.0 and Owlcam Classic 4.0) because it can detect collisions or break-ins and record videos to the cloud, as well as streaming even when the car is parked It can also provide information in real time — ideal for 24-hour monitoring. However, the company temporarily suspended support for existing customers when it went out of business in early 2020 (it has since been acquired by Xirgo Technologies). Due to this issue and the fact that other driving recorders provide similar functions, we no longer recommend these cameras.

PureGear PureCam provides many of the same functions as Owlcam, including 24-hour monitoring, live broadcast via smartphone apps, and dual cameras that record the front view and interior of the vehicle. PureCam also provides a hotspot for connecting up to three devices. The camera is connected through the OBD-II port of the car to provide continuous power supply in parking mode and requires a data plan for a complete service. In our test, the 1080p front camera provided a fairly clear video, but it was very dark out of the box, and the night video was grainy. The 4-inch display is easy to view. But PureCam is a large device, it is difficult for us to find a position on the windshield, we can correctly align the two cameras at this position, and the device will not be too prominent. We also found its small buttons difficult to navigate; they are located on the right side, out of the driver’s line of sight, and are not tactile.

Waylens Secure360 monitors parked vehicles. Like the Owlcam model, it uses an LTE connection to save event video (or display real-time video) on its apps (iOS, Android), while the Wi-Fi version records it to a microSD card. Its 360 The high-degree lens can record the situation in front of and inside the car, but in our tests, its ultra-wide-angle view makes the details difficult to see. It does not have a display, and you need to purchase a data plan. The more expensive 4K version can be plugged into the car’s OBD-II port for continuous power supply, but the standard version needs to be hardwired into the car’s fuse box.

In order to get the best view of the road ahead, install a driving recorder in the middle of the windshield near the rearview mirror. You should be able to see the device’s screen and easily access its controls, but the camera should not block your front view. Some states have regulations on the items and locations that can be installed on the windshield, so please check your local laws.

Most driving recorders have a long power cord that can be plugged into the car's 12 V DC power socket (also called a cigarette lighter). To keep the suspension line of the device away from you, we recommend running it to the passenger's side and stuffing it into the mold between the top of the windshield and the roof of the car. From there, you can extend the power cord down the edge of the windshield and front pillar, into the gap on the side of the dashboard, and connect to the power socket under the dashboard. It is not difficult to secure the power cord, but it may require patience. Some driving recorders have small cable clamps that are fixed to the glass and fix the wires, as well as small tools for fixing the wires between decorative parts or molded parts. This video is a good show of how to make a neat installation.

If your dash cam charger does not have a built-in USB-A port, and you want to be able to charge your mobile phone or other devices while the dash cam is in use, you have several options. If the power cord is unplugged from its adapter, you can plug it into a multi-port USB car charger, leaving a port for other devices. If not, you can use a 12-volt distributor; in our tests, we successfully used these three-outlet distributors. Most dash cam companies also sell hard-wired kits that can be directly connected to the vehicle's fuse box; in fact, this is usually the best way to get reliable power using the model's parking mode. If you are used to basic car wiring and using a circuit tester, you can easily hardwire the dash cam to the fuse box yourself. But any car audio store (and some large retailers like Best Buy) can also do this for you.

Ben Schwartz, Schwartz & Schwartz Law Firm, email interview, January 9, 2019

Advantages and disadvantages of driving recorders, Schwartz & Schwartz, February 23, 2017

Since joining Wirecutter in 2017, Sarah Witman has researched, tested and reviewed various products-from massage chairs and mousetraps to pencils and power banks. Prior to this, she served as a science writer and fact checker for numerous publications, and studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she will eat as much cheese as her body can bear.

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