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Dash Cams vs. Mirror Cams

A dash cam is a small video camera that is fitted within the vehicle. Most commonly, it is mounted on the dashboard or the windshield of the car using a suction cup.

Mirror cams are essentially a kind of dashboard camera that is attached to or replaces a rearview mirror with a few critical differences.

The main differences between a dash cam and a mirror cams are:

  • Placement inside car
  • Design (hardware, screen, etc)
  • Price (mirror cams are more expensive)
  • Size (dash cams are much smaller)
  • Dash cams are dedicated devices (mirror cams are also rearview mirrors)

While both dash cams and mirror cams have the same core function (turns on and begins recording automatically, loop recording, G-sensors, etc) there are a few key differences.

Dash vs Mirror Dash Cam Mirror Cam
Pricing Low-cost cameras Medium-high
Dedicated Device Yes No - also a rear view mirror
Risk of Theft Low Very low
Setup Easy Difficult
Placement Variable Fixed
Video Quality Medium Low - high
Wi-Fi Yes No
Size Small Large - very large
Screen Yes Requires manual activation
Car Mount Suction cup mounting kit included Rearview camera mounting clips
Dual Cam (360 Option) Yes - films outside and inside your vehicle simultaneously Depends on the model
Smart Alerts Yes - helps prevents accidents No
Memory High by default Low to high
Shop Now Shop Dash Cams

 

Dash Cams vs. Mirror Cams

1. Screen / display

Dash cams come with a screen that allows you to review footage in real time from a dedicated screen. Mirror cams can show you a screen overlapped on the mirror, however, you need to manually activate it and it can be very dangerous as it obstructs half or more of your rearview mirror.

2. Installation

Compared to traditional, dedicated dash cams, mirror cams are complicated to install, especially if they come paired with a backup camera. Although practical if your car doesn't already have one, it requires you to have the technical expertise to pass wires through your car to the power supply.

3. Price

High-quality dash cams cost no more than $175 or so while mirror cams can cost up to thousands of dollars, although most cost between $250 and $500.

The pricing of mirror cams alone makes them much less interesting when compared to dash cams.

4. Dedicated device

Dash cams are designed to be dedicated car recording devices while mirror cams act as a rearview mirror, a dash cam and occasionally a reverse camera.

Being a dedicated device, dash cams don’t compromise on anything compared to mirror cams. For example, when trying to view footage in real time on a mirror camera, the screen will obstruct at least half of your rearview mirror, which can be very dangerous when driving.

5. Size

Dash cams are typically very small and discreet devices, making them very practical to have. Mirror cams can be very big, which can obstruct your vision of the road.

6. Placement

Since mirror cams must be connected and hooked to your rearview mirror, their placement is fixed and doesn’t offer and flexibility.

Dash cams, on the other hand, are placed using a suction cup and can be placed virtually anywhere in your car, so long as your power cable reaches far enough.

Key takeaways - why you should choose a dash cam

Although mirror cams have the same core and essential dash cam features not found in traditional cameras and action cameras, experts recommend dash cams for a few reasons. Not only are dash cams much cheaper than mirror cams, installation is significantly easier, they come with a dedicated screen, they are much smaller and can be placed freely practically anywhere in a car. For these reasons, we recommend a dash cam over a mirror cam.