Ben Wells is a tech enthusiast specializing in cameras and GPS devices. He has a keen interest in reviewing dashcams, navigators, and other useful car...
Compared to modern smartphones, dash cams are still affordable, but the price often plays a significant role. This is also true for cheap dash cams that cost less than $50, but you should ask yourself: do they offer the same performance as their expensive dash cam counterparts?\
Regardless of your needs, before making a decision, it’s important to understand the offers of cheap dash cams, and what they are missing. In this blog, we’ll explore whether you should go for an inexpensive dash cam and whether it is worth buying a cheap dash cam today. Here, you’ll gain insights into the key factors to consider.
What to Expect from a Cheap Dash Cam
After conducting extensive tests, we found that cheap dash cams generally offer inferior performance compared to pricier models from well-known dash cam brands. Nonetheless, there are affordable options that still provide excellent value, which we came across after extensive research and testing. Here’s what you need to know:
Lower Recording Resolution
Most cheap dash cams record in either 1,280 x 720 pixels (HD) or 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (Full HD). While Full HD may seem impressive, it is still not 100% native resolution. Instead, dash cam manufacturers use upscaling techniques to increase the resolution of the footage.
This results in missing details, but a higher-resolution version of the footage is still better than lower 480p and 720p resolutions. So, investing a bit more in a dash cam with a higher resolution, such as Quad HD (2K / 1440p) or 4K, ensures clearer and more detailed footage.
Drawbacks of Cheap Dash Cams
- Limited Functions: Cheap dash cams have fewer features compared to more expensive models.
- Missing Wireless Connectivity: Most cheap dash cams won’t provide Bluetooth and WiFi for mobile phone connectivity.
- Lack of Night Vision: Recording at night is as important as during the day, but lacking night vision puts you in a dark corner, unable to capture the dodgy vehicle’s license plate.
- Poor Detection of Voice Commands: As poor-quality gadgets, low-cost dash cams won’t offer sophisticated software and are certainly unable to detect voice commands.
- Lack of Wide-Angle Lens: Most drivers may not care about a wide-angle lens, but it matters for capturing a broad visual perspective of the surroundings.
- No Emergency SOS: This feature is only available in higher-end dash cams such as Nextbase and Garmin, providing peace of mind.
- No GPS Included: Since you are paying less for a cheap dash cam, they won’t come with a GPS logger, which may require an additional investment.
- Shorter Lifespan: With the savings of upfront cost, low-cost dash cams certainly have a shorter lifespan.
- Limited to Single Unit: It is a harsh reality that most cheaper dash cams are unable to support additional cameras, making them useless for rear-view purposes.
While there are good options available, it’s important to exercise caution. We’ve encountered cheap dash cams that fail to produce clear footage, even in daylight. To assist you in making an informed decision, we’ve reviewed the best dash cams under a £100 budget that offer worthy features without compromising on quality.
Essential Features to Consider
Certain features enhance functionality and should not be overlooked.
- Audio Recording: Clear audio can serve as valuable evidence in insurance claims.
- Auto-On Function: Dash cams with this feature automatically start recording when you turn on the car ignition, ensuring you always have footage.
- G-Force Sensor: Detects high-impact moments and protects the recorded footage from being overwritten.
- Park Monitoring: This special feature allows you to keep your dash cam turned on during parking time, recording and monitoring with a motion sensor.
- Still Photo Function: Some dash cams can also capture still images, serving as dual-purpose cameras.
- Loop Recording: Having a loop recording feature avoids the hassle of manually formatting the SD card to make room for more recordings.
In addition to that, an ideal dash cam must have a higher footage capacity to support a large storage SD card, provide clearer, wider angles, much higher resolution recording, wireless connectivity, night vision, voice commands, GPS, Emergency SOS, and the option for dual-channel and triple-channel recording to cover all sides of the vehicle, including the front, back, and cabin for comprehensive surveillance.
Is it Worth Investing More?
A higher price tag on a dash cam doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better product. We’ve discovered expensive dash cams with a lack of features, unbearable nighttime footage, and complicated setups. Conversely, there are tested models that offer excellent footage quality and user-friendly interfaces. Our dual dash cam under £100 can help you find a great multi-channel dash cam at the right price.
While cheap dash cams may have limitations, there are still affordable options that offer good value. However, investing more in a dash cam can provide higher recording resolution, additional features, and better overall performance. When deciding between a cheap dash cam and a pricier alternative, consider your specific needs and budget to determine if the added features and quality are worth the extra investment.