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Rest Assured You’re Not at Fault With the Best Dash Cams to Tell the Whole Story

Vava 1080p Dash Cam | $29 | SideDeal

The first time I totaled my car, I was 18 years old. It was a blustery winter night in late December. Another vehicle, driving well over the speed limit collided into me, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Despite the driver running away on foot and appearing intoxicated, the accident was deemed my fault. For the years that followed, I felt this accident in my pocket as insurance premiums skyrocketed, well beyond the already exorbitant rates for younger drivers. Had I owned a dash cam, things would have been different. I would have been able to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the accident wasn’t my fault. There would have been crystal clear, recorded, irrefutable evidence of the incident, but alas.

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The lesson you should take from this is simple: Don’t make the same mistake I did. Pony up the cash to equip your dash with a camera, and avoid the fight against plausible deniability later.

Best for Cars Overall: Vava 1080p Dash Cam

Illustration for article titled Rest Assured You’re Not at Fault With the Best Dash Cams to Tell the Whole Story
Graphic: Chaya Milchtein
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Jaime V Salazar writes in an Amazon review that she too was a skeptic and didn’t understand why anyone even needs a dashcam. But she wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so she bought the Vava 080p dash cam, an economical choice sold for just $29 on SideDeal.

“I am pretty impressed with this little thing,” she writes in her review.

The video quality on this dash cam is good—not the best, but it gets the job done without the unnecessary bells and whistles that drive the price up for most of its competitors. In my own use, I was impressed with the lightweight design, intuitive setup, and bright screen to top it all off

Jamie did point out one troubling factor, which I picked up on as well. “The battery life is terrible. My guess is you should always have the cord and car adapter when using it. I was running it just off the battery and it died fairly quickly,” she writes.

As long as you aren’t looking for top-of-the-line video quality, don’t need any fancy features, and don’t mind keeping the device plugged in, the Vava 1080p dash cam is all business and no frills. You can’t do better at this price point.

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Best for ADAS: Thinkware Q800PRO Car Dash Cam

Illustration for article titled Rest Assured You’re Not at Fault With the Best Dash Cams to Tell the Whole Story
Graphic: Chaya Milchtein
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Thinkware offers a dash cam that does a whole lot more than just record the view outside of your car as you drive. It boasts the advanced driver assistance systems new cars are known for, albeit without the price tag to match. The dash cab alerts the driver if they aren’t paying attention to impending forward collisions, lane departures if the driver is drifting, and front vehicle departures.

“The video quality is great, [it has a] very sleek design so I can’t even see it while driving,” B Jackson writes in an Amazon review of the dash cam. “I had hardwired it a few months ago and it has been great to see it recording motion and events when the car is in park to make sure my vehicle stays safe and any incidents are recorded.”

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The Thinkware Q800Pro is easy to install and doesn’t have to be hardwired unless you want it to be. “The Thinkware Q800PRo may be expensive, but is also fairly worry-free and installation-friendly,” writes Trianine. “Comes with both a hardwire kit and cigarette adapter so you can fire it up immediately, and then worry about the installation later.”

The cloud feature is on that multiple reviewers took issue with. “It really isn’t that great since the camera requires an external internet connection to make this work,” Jackson continues in their review. “So if you use your phone, sure it will keep things backed up when you have it connected.”

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The cost is steep, but the extra trappings make it a great value purchase.

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Bottom Line?

The best dash cam for you is wholly dependent on your needs and budget. Think about what you’re using it for and decide which model is worth the investment. If you aren’t quite sure, perhaps start with a budget option and move up from there.

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Chaya Milchtein is an automotive educator, freelance writer, and empowerment speaker who's made it her mission to engage and empower people in her community and beyond.

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