While dash cams are a really nice thing to have in a car, it’s actually no surprise that many owners of one would like it to be concealed for one reason or another. Yes, there’s the fact that a smaller, more inconspicuous camera gets in the way much less, but sometimes you just want to secretly record everything that’s happening when your car is parked without anyone knowing about it.
Whatever your reasons, you will find that there are plenty of dash cams on the market that fit the bill. But in the pursue of making a dash cam small and inconspicuous, many manufacturers forget about the actual functionality and quality of them. Therefore, we’ve got a list of five hidden dash cam models that are all great, and you can’t make a mistake with.
To further help, we’ve got a buyer’s guide that explains what you should be careful about when you’re shopping for a hidden dash cam. We’ll cover the crucial aspects, such as physical size, attachment, resolution, field of view etc., and explain them so you know where your money is going. But more on that later, for now let’s take a look at our recommended models.
Best Hidden Dash Camera This Year (Our Top 4)
|#1||Garmin Dash Cam 65||1080P FHD||1080p video|
180 degrees FOV
Forward collision & lane departure warning
|Read Review||Check Price on Amazon|
|#2||VIOFO A119 V3 2K Dash Cam||2560 x 1440P||2560 x 1440P|
Sony image sensor
140 degrees field of view
|Read Review||Check Price on Amazon|
|#3||ddpai Dash Cam||1080P FHD||1080p video|
140 degrees FOV
|Read Review||Check Price on Amazon|
|#4||Chicom V21||1080P FHD||1080p video|
170 degrees FOV
|Read Review||Check Price on Amazon|
Hidden Dash Camera Guide
When it comes to navigation devices, Garmin’s reputation is unparalleled. Fortunately, that same level of quality and craftsmanship transfers over to their dash cams, which hare all excellent models that you can’t go wrong with. Our top pick is their flagship Dash Cam 65, which is a tiny camera that packs quite a punch. It is, however, priced a lot higher than any other on our list, which makes you wonder is it worth it. We believe it is, but read on and decide for yourself.
First things first, since you’re looking for a hidden dash cam, the Garmin is tiny. It comes in at 2.2 x 1.6 x 0.8 inches, and you can hide it pretty much anywhere. Whether you put it right below the headliner, or low on the dashboard, chances are nobody’s going to spot it unless they know what they’re looking for.
As far as the video quality goes, the camera records at 1080p, at 30 frames per second, and gives you excellent video even in low light conditions. With a field of view of 180 degrees, you won’t be missing out on anything that happens in front of your car. A neat feature is the addition of voice control, which lets you operate the camera with voice commands.
The Dash Cam 65 comes with a few features that set it apart from the competition really easily – forward collision and lane departure warning. The first one will warn you if you’re too close to the driver in front of you, something all of us have been guilty of at some point, and the second one will warn you if you’re straying from your lane. To add to that, you have red light and speed cameras warnings, but they aren’t available everywhere.
All things considered, the Garmin Dash Cam 65 is a clear winner in the hidden dash cam competition. Aside from it being tiny and as inconspicuous as they come, it has more features than any of the other cameras on our list, and the video quality is terrific. An excellent buy, even at the high asking price.
- 1080p video
- 180 degrees FOV
- Forward collision & lane departure warning
Here is the dashcam, which features a whole new chipset design and supports Quad HD+ recording. Due to its compact design, no one would notice this dash camera, making it the perfect hidden camera. With 140 degrees field of view, it can cover a wide area. The dashcam comes with a separate mini USB port, AV-Out, and micro SD card slot.
The dashcam can capture the view in 2560 × 1440P with 60 or 30fps, 2560 × 1080P with 60 or 30fps, and 2560 × 1600P with 30fps. It offers high-quality, detailed, crystal clear images and videos in various light conditions. The dash camera comes with Sony 5MP Starvis Sensor, which gives brighter, sharp, and clear recordings. Besides that, it ensures no overexposure during daylight and provides high clarity videos at nighttime.
This dashcam model has a motion detection function and starts recording the view when it detects any movement. It comes with an emergency lock G-Sensor feature. When your vehicle is in parking mode and if a collision happens, the camera will record the detailed view and other moving objects. These recordings are flagged as important and will be protected in the memory card so that you can rewatch them.
The VIOFO A119 V3 2K Dash Cam uses State-of-the-Art motion detection technology. Because of that, the dashcam will automatically record a 15-second video before the collision and a 30-second video after the crash. The video segments are recorded in full-continuous clips when the vehicle is in parking mode. So, you longer have to deal with the old-style frame-by-frame footage.
The operating temperature of the dashcam is -10 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 149 degrees Celsius). This model supports various menu languages, such as English, Russian, French, Italian, Japanese, Espanola, Portugal, Deutsch, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. You will receive 1 × A119 V3 Dash Cam, 1 × Car charger, 1 × Mini USB cable, 1 × GPS mount, 2 × Non-GPS mount, 5 × Clips, 2 × Stickers, and 4 × EVA Foam.
- 2560 x 1440P video resolution
- Sony image sensor
- 140 degrees field of view
ddpai may not be a brand you’ve heard of. However, they have a dash cam that’s certainly worthy of being on our hidden dash cam list, and it’s also the cheapest cam on our list. It’s proof that cheap doesn’t equal bad, and you can get a lot of bang for your buck if you know what you’re looking for. So, is the camera worth its below $50 price tag? Let’s find out.
First things first, let’s discuss the build itself. This is a cylindrical-shaped dash cam that’s meant to go on your windshield behind the rearview mirror, or on the dashboard. At 3.4 x 1.7 x 1.4 inches, it’s tiny, and is really easy to hide. It’s built pretty well, with an inconspicuous black plastic body that blends in with just about any car.
The other important thing with a hidden dash cam is how good it actually works as a dash cam. In the case of the ddpai, it works admirably. You have an OV2735 sensor with a 140 degree field of view that records 1080p video. You also have wide dynamic range, which is very helpful when it comes to dark scenes, such as recording at night, as it captures a lot of detail from shadows.
It’s not just the build and the video quality that the ddpai has going for it. The feature set is pretty good, too. It has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can connect your smartphone to it and review or download footage off it. The loop recording makes sure you don’t lose your newest footage if the storage is full, and he G-sensor will automatically detect if something happens and lock the current video, making it impossible to delete it.
All things considered, you may find that the ddpai has less features, or is from a lesser known brand when compared to the AUKEY or the Garmin above. However, factor in the price, and you’ll see that you have a great value proposition, especially if you’re looking for a hidden dash cam but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars.
- 1080p video
- 140 degrees FOV
When we’re talking about a hidden dash cam, an interesting way of achieving this is masking the dash cam as something else. In the case of the Chicom V21, the dash cam is disguised as a rearview mirror. It’s an interesting concept, and you won’t know there’s a dash cam in the car unless you know where you’re looking. So, how does it fare compared to other hidden dash cam models?
To begin with, the design is much different from what you’re used to seeing with dash cams. There are two cameras here, one is meant to go at the back of the car, and record everything that happens at the back, while the other one is mounted on the rearview mirror unit itself. The one at the back is waterproof, so you can mount it on the outside and not worry about it. It’s extremely useful as a parking backup camera. Then there’s the main unit’s display, which is a massive 9.66” display that shows you live what’s happening at the back. You can use it for reviewing footage and changing settings, too. It’s a full HD touchscreen, so image quality and navigation is great
The cameras themselves are pretty good. They both record in 1080p, and you’ll get 170 degree and 140 degree fields of view at the front and the rear, respectively. The back camera has an f/2.0 aperture for nighttime recording, and you’ll get great quality video in low light as well.
The rest of the camera is a pretty much standard affair if you’ve looked into dash cams. There’s continuous loop recording to overwrite the oldest video when the storage is full, as well as a G-sensor to lock any important video. You also get a parking monitor that keeps your car safe when in a public parking space.
When you take everything into consideration, the Chicom V21 is an interesting take on the hidden dash cam aspect. It’s priced pretty well, too, and with all the features you’re getting, it’s a pretty good option.
- 1080p video
- 170 degrees FOV
- 9.66″ display
Did you like the ddpai’s value proposition? What if you can get two cameras for more or less the same price? Well, Crostour’s CR600 is exactly that – a dual dash cam that’s priced similarly to the ddpai we spoke about earlier. However, it does lose out on some features and is a bit larger and more difficult to conceal, and that’s why it’s last on our list.
In terms of the physical size, the camera comes in at 5.35 x 4.57 x 2.83 inches. It’s a bit bigger than the other models, and as we mentioned, that’s why it’s a bit lower on our list. However, that’s pretty much the only downside as far as a good hidden dash cam goes.
Let’s discuss video quality. The front camera is excellent – 1080p video and a 170 degree field of view is excellent and will capture a large part of the scene with plenty of details. However, the rear isn’t as good. It only records at 720p, and the field of view is much narrower at 120 degrees. It does the job, but there are much better options out there. The high performance chip, as well as the f/1.8 aperture allow it to perform pretty good in low light, but that applies to the front camera, the rear one isn’t that good. The good thing about the rear camera though, is that it’s waterproof, so you can actually install it outside your car.
What about other features? Well, the CR600 is surprisingly easy to use and set up, and the buttons that are facing the driver, along with the display, make it a breeze to navigate through the menus and review footage. You have the standard suite of features – loop recording, G-sensor, parking mode, motion detection, it’s got everything.
So, is the CR600 worth it if you’re looking for a hidden dash cam? Well, we would say it is, but for a specific group of people. If you’re limited with your budget, the ddpai is a strong competitor, but comes without a rear camera. If that’s something you need, by all means go for the CR600.
Now that we’ve got our recommendations out of the way, let’s take a look at what are the key things when you’re buying a hidden dash cam.
First and foremost, you’ve got the physical size and mounting options. If you want to hide the dash cam, you can’t get a massive model that takes up half the windshield, can you? Therefore, a small model is the best way to go. It’s best to get something that’s small enough for you to be able to hide it behind the rearview mirror, or in the case of the Chicom V21, one that takes up the size and shape of a rearview mirror. Whichever route you go for, make sure the dash cam is as inconspicuous as possible. You can achieve that with any of the models above, so you should be good to go.
Next, and this applies to any dash cam, not just a hidden one, is the video quality and resolution. At one point, this was the differentiating feature between a budget hidden dash cam and a good one. However, today, even cheap ones come with 1080p video, which is the bare minimum. You’ll notice that some dual dash cam options that don’t cost a lot will have a lower resolution on the rear camera, while some higher end models can record in 1440p or even 4K for the front one. The video quality, though, is usually a lot better with higher end models. They have more powerful processors and better sensors, and can capture a lot more detail with better colors and contrast to make distinguishing details a lot easier. This is one area where getting a higher end hidden dash cam is very much worth it.
The viewing angle is also something to take note of. When you’re getting a dash cam, you only have a single lens to cover as much of the front (or rear) as possible, and a wide viewing angle can help with this quite a bit. When we say wide, we mean get a dash cam that has at least 140 degrees of field of view. All the top dogs go for 170, or even 180 degrees, which captures everything at the front, but even 140 or 150 could do the job if you’re on a budget.
If you have the things above taken note of, you can also start looking at additional features. For example, most hidden dash cam models will come with loop recording and a G-sensor, but not all of them have a parking mode with motion detection, and not all of them have a GPS module, for example. These are features you may not need, but they’re what set apart budget dash cams from some higher end models in most cases.
When you factor in all the options, it’s no wonder choosing a hidden dash cam is a tedious task. Most of us would be confused as to what the best option is, but we’ve got a list of recommendations above to help you. Whichever one you go for from the suggested models, you can’t go wrong with them, and you can use our buyers’ guide to decide which one works best for you.