Most of all, you want your dash cam to be reliable, so you can just set it up and forget about it until the day you need the footage.
For this reason, we aren’t going to focus on the latest releases here. The cameras featured below are best sellers that have all been available for at least a couple of years, are known to record quality video, and can be expected to work reliably for long periods of time.
Let’s start with the cheapest one:
A Cheap Dash Cam Below $50 That Works Reliably
Yi Dash Cam
Video quality: Good at day, Fair at night
Reliability: Very Good
Memory capacity: 64 GB
Extras: 2.7″ screen, Wi-Fi, lock file button
The Yi Dash Cam (full review) is a basic and simple to use car camera from China. It may not be the greatest looking, but it does its job, and does it very reliably.
It actually records better video than some of the more expensive cameras. Its icon-based menu is simple and intuitive. It also has Wi-Fi so you can connect to it with your smart phone (free apps available for Android and iOS).
Note: If you check on eBay, you may be able to find a matte black version of this camera which looks much better. At the time of this writing, the black Yi is only available in Chinese, but the menu is straightforward enough to use even without knowing the language.
Best Video Quality Below $100
Viofo A119 v2
Video quality: Very good at day, good at night
Memory capacity: 128 GB
Extras: 2″ screen, capacitor, lock file button. Optional GPS in mount, optional CPL filter available separately.
The Viofo A119 v2 (full review) is our best-value-for-money dash cam. It can record up to 1440p resolution at 30 frames per second, or 1080p at up to 60fps. Video quality is great for the price, and reliability is good. This camera has been around for three years already, and it has been a best seller for a very long time,
GPS and a CPL filter are both optional, and cost extra. Wi-Fi is not supported.
The A119 v2 is fairly intuitive to set up and use. Having a capacitor instead of an internal battery makes it more resistant to high temperatures in the car, for example when parking in the sun on a hot day.
Its stealthy wedge shape makes the A119 v2 an inconspicuous addition to your car that looks almost like it was built in from the start.
UPDATE: The Viofo A119 v3 has been released in July 2019. In addition to recording great video quality, the A119 v3 is also the first non-high-end dash cam to support buffered parking mode. If you’re looking for a low-cost camera with great parking protection, the A119 v3 is your best option.
As a result, the price of the A119 v2 has gone down. If you don’t need parking mode, the A119 v2 is still the best deal. Just be aware that this camera will be discontinued soon, so get one while supplies last.
A Cheap Dual Dash Cam Below $150 With Many Extras
Resolution: 1920×1080, front and rear
Overall video quality: Good
Memory capacity: 128 GB
Extras: 1.5″ screen, lock file button, CPL filter, capacitor, GPS, time-lapse parking mode.
If you want to record the road behind your car as well as the road ahead, the Mini 0906 (full review) is the cheapest good-quality front and rear dash cam on the market. Of course there are many cheaper ones, but most of them record low quality video, sometimes even at very low resolutions such as 720p or even VGA (which is 640×480). The Mini 0906 records 1080p both front and rear, which is a must nowadays if you want to have any chance of making out details like other cars’ license plates.
The Mini 0906’s video quality is good during the day time, both for the front and the rear video feed. At night, front video is good also, but rear video is only average due to the lack of illumination. (If you need better rear video quality, check out the Viofo A129 which is a bit more expensive, but still costs less than $200 unlike the high-end dash cams.)
This camera comes with a CPL filter included to reduce reflections in bright sunlight, and has a GPS antenna integrated into its mount. You won’t need to pay extra for those.
Powered by a capacitor, the Mini 0906 is more heat resistant than a camera with a battery.
In parking mode, the Mini 0906 records at a lower frame rate (time-lapse). When an impact is detected, it switches to normal recording for 15 seconds, then goes back to time-lapse mode. Note that you will need a hard-wiring kit for parking mode to work.