Our team tested over a dozen budget dash cams by installing them in a vehicle and taking a spin. We are sure to test every feature as well as the companion apps. We also review the footage collected to compare video quality. Each budget dash cam is given a rating for the following criteria:
Ease of Installation
To test ease of installation, our team members went through the process of installing and setting up the dash cam in a vehicle, noting which components proved more difficult than others to attach to the camera and windshield.
Dash cams that set up quickly score best in this category.
Video quality is among the most important characteristics of a dash cam. We tested video quality by capturing both pictures and videos with the dash cams and scrutinized the images on a PC. We tested both daytime and nighttime video qualities.
Dash cams that offer the crispest video and which best capture license plate detail score best in this category.
Our team tested for user experience by connecting to the dash cam via a mobile app and seeing how easy it was to save photos and videos.
Dash cams with an intuitive interface that quickly connect and are easy to interact with score best in this category.
How We Score Budget Dash Cams
Every budget dash cam we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. What those star ratings mean in concrete terms is described below. Note that our scoring system for budget dash cams is different than how we score dash cams more generally because we take into account what is typical for dash cams under $100:
- 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a budget dash cam is among the best in a category. It offers 4K video quality, is installed in minutes, or offers a seamless user experience with no reports of difficulty accessing footage.
- 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a budget dash cam performs better than average in a category. It records at least 1080p video quality while providing a clear view of license plates during the day, is installed in under 10 minutes with ease, or allows for easily-accessible review of footage through the app.
- 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a budget dash cam, based on our testing experience. It records at 1080p or lower, with poor low-light resolution, can be installed in half an hour, or has a functioning smartphone app.
- 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the budget dash cam performs below expectations in a category. It offers poor recording quality, even during the day, is difficult to install, or does not have an easy way to access footage.
- 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the budget dash cam is well below expectations in a category. It records illegible video, may damage your vehicle upon installation, or fails to record video with any consistency.
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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.