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#1 Garmin Mini 2
Above all else, this Garmin dash cam mini gets the job done in HD and still makes room for voice activation and cloud storage through your phone. Garmin dash cam doesn’t record in 4K, which is moving toward table stakes for dash cams, and anything operation beyond the basics has to be accomplished via an app. But the unobtrusive size, excellent HD video quality and trusted brand name make this dash cam mini a great choice for the driver who wants a simple, elegant drive recorder.
#2 Nexar Beam
The Nexar Beam dash cam is also “just” an HD camera but integrates GPS location data into its recordings via a GPS receiver built into its windshield mount. It uses image processing algorithms to alert you to road hazards and can let others know if you’re delayed getting to your destination via the dedicated Nexar app. Check if your phone is supported before buying a Beam: A number of popular phones are not as of this writing, which reduces which of the advanced features the Beam can offer. This dash cam has a rear-facing camera that records crisp 135-degree-wide dashcam footage in 1080p and includes a 32GB SD card.
Like the Garmin Mini 2, the Beam uses your connected phone for its full interface — but also uses that pairing to do free unlimited clip backups. Next to the Garmin Mini 2, it’s the least obtrusive option on the list, though it’s still much larger than the Mini 2.
#3 Vantrue N4
The Vantrue N4 is a three-channel powerhouse able to record out the windshield, inside and behind the car all at once in HD or greater resolution, or it can record two views at once in 4K and HD. Two of the views are captured by sensors built into the main front-facing unit, while the third is recorded by a remote rear camera that comes with a long cable to reach the back window on most vehicles.
Unlike many dash cams today, the N4 doesn’t require a phone for settings or clip review: It has a compact but sharp rear screen and plenty of dedicated buttons to access features and settings. This is a great camera if you don’t want to fuss with a second device to use it.
The N4 also has motion detection, not just impact detection, so it can wake up and record activity around the car when it’s parked. It also uses a robust super capacitor to power those functions when the car is off, as opposed to a conventional battery that may suffer in a car’s punishing temperatures.
#4 Nextbase 622GW
The Nexbase 622GW is perhaps the best-looking dash cam on this list, with more image stabilization than its 422GW and 522GW predecessors. This 4K camera maximizes capture quality with a rotating polarizer on the front of the lens, image stabilization and built-in processing to reduce the occlusion of fog in recordings.
Your choice of three rear camera modules are available to also record the cabin or rear window view. Two of those three rear cam options plug elegantly into the 622GW’s main body, while the third is mounted remotely on a long cable for the best rear road view.
Alexa is built in for device voice control and, in the event of a detected major collision, the 622GW can upload your blood type, allergies and other relevant medical history to an emergency call center if you opt in during setup. The 622GW also features support for What3words, an alternate GPS labeling platform that is slick but few people seem to use.
Control of the 622GW is via its ear screen or phone app. It’s one of the larger cams out there, partly due to its prominent lens, but its quality of finish and performance would help make it a welcome addition on your windshield.