5 Best Car Security Cameras of 2019

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We’d like to believe that our cars are safe havens against crime, but that is no longer the case nowadays. The harsh reality is that cars can draw a lot of unwanted attention, whether it’s form thieves, carjackers, or vandals who might get a kick out of scratching your car or slashing your tires.

If we keep our homes safe with security cameras, then why not our cars, as well? Car security cameras are slowly becoming a popular thing since they provide better surveillance than a standard dashcam. What should you be looking for when buying a car security camera? What are the best models available today?

Why get a car security camera?

Dashcams have already been very popular in the last couple of years, to the point where just about every car owner has one installed in their vehicles. So, what’s the point of getting a car security camera? How are they different from the usual dash cams?

1. Designed for stealth

Everyone knows what a dashcam looks like. It’s typically mounted on the rearview mirror and has a camera pointed at the road. In some models, there may also be another camera pointed towards the interior of the car. Since they are now so common, thieves and other crooks know to steer clear of them.

If you suspect something suspicious going in or around your car, then you can get a car security camera that is designed to be hidden. These can take the form of something conspicuous but not eyebrow-raising, such as a dashboard ornament or car charger. When you need a touch of stealth, a suitable car security camera is so much more effective than some dashcam.

2. May come with multiple lenses

Car security cameras are designed to do just more than to record videos of what’s going on right in front of your car as you drive. They can also be used to keep an eye on what’s happening around or inside your car. For this purpose, many car security cameras come in dual-lens or multi-lens packages. Usually, a second lens can be mounted elsewhere in your car. This can give you a unique perspective if you feel like there’s something suspicious happening that cannot be captured by a camera mounted on the dashboard.

3. Sends notifications to your phone

One of the most obvious advantages of a car security camera over a dashcam is that it comes with many of the features we have come to expect of modern security cameras. These include “smart” capabilities that allow the camera to be monitored remotely through a partner mobile app on your smartphone. Even if you only end up using your car security camera as a normal dashcam, this feature could still come in handy should your kids need to borrow your car.

4. Comes with parking protection

Most dashcams are only useful when the car is moving. The problem is that cars are still prone to theft and vandalism even when they are parked. Car security cameras often come with a ‘parking protection’ mode that starts to record videos when they detect vibrations or any type of movement.

What to consider when buying a car security camera

When buying a car security camera, one thing you need to keep in mind is that you are NOT buying a dashcam. A car security camera isn’t meant to just provide video evidence of traffic mishaps – it should help you monitor and prevent serious crimes, like theft or carjacking. With that in mind, here are the most important aspects of a car security camera that you should consider.

1. Video resolution

Any security camera worth its salt needs to be able to record videos with at least 1080p resolution. This should be just clear enough to identify the possible culprits in a crime, even from far away. Of course, nothing’s stopping you from getting a security camera with an even higher resolution, aside from the potentially high price tag involved.

2. Night vision

Another staple feature of security cameras, night vision on a car security camera is just a prudent move that recognizes the fact that most crimes happen at night. Not just any night vision will do – different cameras offer different levels of clarity and range for their night vision capabilities, and it is up to you to gauge what numbers will be satisfactory. Obviously, a longer range is preferable. Again, you’ll need to be ready to pay a premium price for high-end specs.

3. Field of view

No matter what car security camera you get, it would be impossible for it to provide all-encompassing footage of all the nooks and crannies of your car. Car security cameras compensate for this imperfection by using wide-angle lenses that offer a larger field of view. There’s a balance that needs to be struck when it comes to field of view, as super wide-angle lenses can typically lead to a lot of distortion.

4. Size and design

There’s very limited space inside your car to mount a security camera, so a model that is as compact as possible is preferable. When it comes to design, there are two approaches to take – you can either make your car security camera as visible as possible to ward off potential miscreants or make them very inconspicuous to catch any unruly behavior in or around your car. This decision depends on the intended purpose of your car security camera.

5. Storage and connectivity

Unlike a home security system, the security camera on your car will be constantly on the move and cannot rely on a Wi-Fi connection for real-time surveillance. Thus, a car security camera will need to have 3G or 4G connectivity options. With this feature, a car security camera may even be able to store recorded videos in secure and foolproof cloud storage.

If backing up your videos on the cloud and real-time surveillance isn’t up your alley, then you can always get a model that stores videos locally on an onboard microSD card. This should also eliminate any concerns with data theft and privacy.

6. Battery life

Cars don’t offer a lot of options of powering your security cameras through a wired connection, so you’ll most likely be using a battery-powered car security camera. Naturally, the main disadvantage of a battery is that it can only provide power for a limited time. The problem is that a battery that lasts longer is inevitably also going to be physically larger. Thus, going for ultra-compact car security cameras may come with the unavoidable consequence of having a battery that lasts only somewhere around two hours.

The top 5 best car security cameras in 2019

1. Best overall: VAVA Dual Dash Cam

VAVA Dual Dash Cam

Our top pick, the VAVA Dual Dash Cam combines superior technical specs with a host of innovative and user-friendly functions that will ensure that this car security camera has you back when it counts the most.

Both the front and rear cameras can record videos at 1080p videos at 30 fps, with the front camera even offering the option to go up to 1440p. The top-notch level of detail is not wasted on these cameras since the extra-wide 155° field of view can capture up to five lanes both in front and behind your car. With the advanced Sony IMX307 sensor and a single infrared LED light, the dual cams can provide surveillance footage even in low light conditions.

The dash cams can be paired with your phone using the VAVA dash mobile app, which at the moment is only available for iOS. Through this feature, the videos from the cameras can be live-streamed to your phone and quickly saved when necessary. The app also allows you to quickly trim the videos for sharing to your friends, family, or insurance agent.

When parked, you can also use the VAVA dual dash cams as a parking monitor. When the cameras detect any motion, they will start recording a 15-second video. The only downside is that the cameras operate only on a small 320 mAh battery when in parking monitor mode, so you might still need to connect them to an external power source if you’re going to leave your car for a long time.

The VAVA dual dash cams have no cloud storage capabilities. Instead, all of its videos can be stored on a microSD card or directly to your phone through the mobile app. It also has internal G-sensors that can detect sudden brakes, turns, and acceleration, and immediately preserves the videos recorded during such events.

One feature of the VAVA dual dash cam that we really like is the Snapshot button which you can attach to the steering wheel. This gives you the ability to capture a photo or a 20-second video almost instantly. You never know what to expect on the road, so we like the peace of mind that this button offers.

Tech Specs
Type: Dual front and rear cams
Resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 155°
Storage: Local
The Pros
Has good night vision
Front cam can be swiveled 360°
Easy to install
Small and compact design
The Cons
Expensive
Limited battery life
App is only available for iOS

2. Best value: TOGUARD Uber Dual Dash Cam

TOGUARD Uber Dual Dash Cam

For a product with such a friendly price tag, this dual dash cam from TOGUARD is surprisingly brimming with premium features. Each of the two dash cams can rotate a full 180°. Combined with their 170° field of view, this dual dash cam setup can potentially provide video surveillance throughout the whole 360° covering your car and cabin.

Both the cameras can record 1080p Full HD videos and are equipped with a Sony IMX323 sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, which is quite well-optimized for low-light conditions. All the recorded videos are stored in a microSD card and are automatically recorded in a loop when the microSD card has reached full capacity.

The camera also comes with a smart G-sensor that can detect sudden brakes or bumps and prompts the camera to start recording. This can come exceptionally handy if you run into any accidents on the road. Painful as such events can be, at least you’ll be assured that you have evidence that you can use to support insurance claims.

The camera offers a Parking Mode which can be activated when the car is stopped. Under this mode, the camera will automatically start recording videos if it detects any motion or vibration.

Of course, since the videos can only be recorded on a microSD card, you can only see the videos after the fact. It is this lack of synergy with mobile devices which greatly reduces the usefulness of the TOGUARD dual dashcam. However, it’s hard to complain about such an affordable product.

Tech Specs
Type: Dual front and rear cams
Resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 170°
Storage: Local
The Pros
Cheap
Both cams can be swiveled 360°
Easy to install
Good low light performance
The Cons
Limited battery life
Does not have mobile app support

3. Best budget: APEMAN Mini Dash Cam

APEMAN Mini Dash Cam

We know that not everyone has the cash to spend $100 to $200 on a car security camera. The good news is that this budget car security camera only costs around $50 and has just enough features to keep you and your car safe.

The APEMAN Mini Dash Cam, despite its name, still surprised us with how small and light it is. Because of its lightweight build, mounting it on your windshield with the included suction cup will not be a problem. The camera records videos at 1080p Full HD resolution and 30 fps framerate. It retains a good level of quality even when recording at low light with its advanced sensor and large f/1.8 aperture.

One of the more impressive characteristics of this small dash cam is its extra-wide field of view of 170°. This is a much larger number compared to even some of the more high-end models in the market. This means that just about everything in front of your car is visible from the camera, and with minimal distortion, to boot!

The APEMAN dash cam also has a parking protection mode which will start recording as soon as it detects any vibration on your car. Unfortunately, the compact design of this dash cam means its built-in battery only lasts a couple of minutes. APEMAN also sells external power kits for this purpose.

Tech Specs
Type: Front cam only
Resolution: 1080p
Field of view: 170°
Storage: Local
The Pros
Cheap
Has good night vision
Easy to install
Small and compact design
The Cons
Limited battery life
No mobile app support

4. Owlcam 4G LTE Smart Dash Camera

Owlcam 4G LTE Smart Dash Camera

The Owlcam is one of the most popular car security cameras mainly because of one distinguishing feature: the ability to connect to a 4G network to allow for real-time live-streaming. With this ability alone, it has become a favorite for parents who let their kids borrow their cars and for many other families.

The Owlcam dash cam kit has two cameras: a 1440p camera to capture the road immediately in front of your car, and a rear-facing 720p camera to capture videos in the interior. The field of view of the cameras has been carefully optimized to minimize any distortion, allowing you to examine fine details such as license plates and the faces of people.

This dashcam does not save videos on an SD card. Instead, all images and videos for up to 2 weeks can b accessed and stored using the companion mobile app. Access to the cameras can also be granted to multiple family members.

When your car is parked, enabling Guard Mode will activate a bright green beacon inside your car which may ward off potential thieves or vandals. If this still doesn’t work, the camera will send a notification to your phone in case it detects any activity. You can also enable Live View to see exactly what is going on in and around your car.

The only downside, and it’s a major one, is that you need to pay around $100 per year for the 4G connectivity and cloud storage. Even at this rate, the access that the plan gives you is not unlimited, since you only receive an allocation of 60 credits per month. These credits are consumed every time you activate Live View or view your camera’s video history. This means that you could potentially need to spend more to make full use of this camera’s wireless access features.

Tech Specs
Type: Dual front and rear cams
Resolution: 1440p outside and 720p inside
Field of view: No data
Storage: Cloud
The Pros
Easy to install
Has wireless connectivity
Allows for remote monitoring
The Cons
Requires subscription plan

5. Lawmate Car Charger Hidden Camera

Lawmate Car Charger Hidden Camera

This car security camera from Lawmate is vastly different from all the other entries in this list because it’s designed to be hidden. The camera plugs right into your car charger and looks just like a standard USB adapter. This design accomplishes two things: first, it provides continuous power to the camera, and second, it hides the camera in plain sight.

Despite the diminutive size, the Lawmate hidden camera can record videos at a resolution of 1080p. The camera starts recording as soon as the car engine starts, and all the videos are recorded in a microSD card.

As you can imagine, a camera as small as the Lawmate can have a very limited field of view. To compensate, the camera can be freely swiveled in any direction depending on what area of the car you want to focus on. It even comes with night vision capabilities, so there is nothing that happens inside your car that can be hidden from you.

One glaring omission of this hidden camera is that it does not come with any audio recording capabilities. Although this may have been necessary to abide by federal regulations, it severely limits the situations where the Lawmate hidden camera can be useful. It’s also one of the more expensive security cameras in this list – which is quite surprising, to be frank, given that it doesn’t come with any of the “smart” features we have come to expect from high-end cameras.

Tech Specs
Type: Hidden camera
Resolution: 1080p
Field of view: No data
Storage: Local
The Pros
Constantly powered
Stealthily designed
The Cons
Expensive
Can only record videos locally

Final thoughts

When we accept that crimes can happen anywhere, we can be better prepared for them. Your car – both inside and outside – is not immune to crimes. In fact, the fact that it’s a valuable piece of property can even make it an even bigger target.

Investing in good security camera gives you the peace of mind that if a crime does happen involving your vehicle, you’ll at least have video evidence on hand. Even the mere presence of a security camera mounted on your parked car may be enough to ward off possible vandals of thieves.

Ultimately, a car security camera is such a small investment considering the value it can provide in investigating car-related crimes or in processing your insurance claims.

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