Dash cam

Should you buy a mirror dash cam?

Recording your rides with a dash cam is a great way to have a bit more peace of mind when you’re on the road. The best dash cams are now simple to use, feature rich and offer excellent video quality. But a nifty variation on the theme, mirror dash cams, may also have caught your eye.

Much like traditional third-party dash cams, these are accessories that you can install yourself, but replace your regular rearview mirror. Or rather, they are usually mounted directly on your existing one. As well as providing an unobstructed view of what’s behind you, the mirror dash cam also contains a built-in camera to record forward-facing journeys.

The range of mirror dash cams is quite wide, which means you can find one for every budget. As always, you get a greater selection of features and functionality if you spend a little more. But is a mirror dash cam the best choice for you? Or should you keep it simple and stick with a standard dash cam? Our guide is here to help you choose the right in-vehicle security system for you.

What are the benefits of a mirror dash cam?

Although they are more specialized and complex than standard dash cams, mirror dash cams have a few advantages. The fact that they are fitted with a rear camera as standard makes them particularly suitable for vehicles that have poor (or no) rear visibility.

Because they typically mount to your rearview mirror, they can also be a more minimalist solution than standard dash cams. Basic dash cams are invariably mounted on your windshield, usually around the rear view mirror, or perhaps lower between the screen and the dash.

Mirror dash cams, on the other hand, often clip onto your existing rear view mirror. You get all the recording technology inside the mirror molding, which sometimes means less bulk and less dangling cables.

A Nextbase mirror dash cam inside a car

Mirror dash cams, like the one from Nextbase above, usually clip directly onto your existing rearview mirror. (Image credit: Nextbase)

Not only does the mirror dash cam allow you to do in-vehicle recording while driving, but most models also provide a recorded view of the road behind you and act as a surveillance camera on top of that.

On the other hand, a rear view mirror dash cam is less flexible when it comes to mounting options, as it must be attached to your existing rear view mirror. And installation is usually more involved, as you have to wire the rear camera from your trunk to the head unit up front.

Still, in general, the way a dash cam mirror attaches to the existing rearview mirror should mean it’s less likely to move around in transit. Some regular dash cams can be problematic in this regard and often break loose over time.

Most dash cam mirrors are attached to your rearview mirror using bands or clips, which provide a much stronger way of securing your device than, say, some of the suction mounts that come with it. windshield-mounted models.

What should you look for?

The fundamentals of mirror dash cams are not radically different from standard dash cams, with the two sharing many of the same features and functions.

Ideally look for a camera with 2K or 4K resolution, as these will allow you to make out fine details like license plates. Crisp, clear LCD and touchscreen capabilities are always a bonus, if your budget allows. Some models, like the popular Wolfbox mirror dash cam (opens in a new tab), also feature a wide dynamic range, allowing it to handle very bright or low-light scenarios more effectively. An integrated GPS module also means more comprehensive data logging.

A Nextbase mirror dash cam inside a car

(Image credit: Nextbase)

Some of the more expensive models offer even more features and functions. This can include a split screen option, for combined front and rear views, wider viewing angle which is usually between 120 and 170 degrees, parking monitor, emergency recording in case someone would try to break into your vehicle, as well as night vision.

The latter can be handy for registering intruders. In terms of external features, you’ll want to find a case that’s durable, with a decent sized mirror area and, perhaps, weatherproofing too if your vehicle is prone to condensation.

A mirror dash camera on a blue background

(Image credit: Thieye)

At a minimum, make sure the dash cam mirror includes all necessary installation cables and a decent sized media card. An optional bonus is the ability to use all cloud storage options.

This last feature is useful if you feel more reassured by having a backup of all rides stored in a location other than the unit’s media. This is a handy backup measure if you need to come back and inspect footage at a later date.

What are the disadvantages of mirror dash cams?

While a mirror dash cam might sound like a great idea in theory, it’s not going to be the best solution for everyone. Some drivers might not like the way the dash cam is physically attached to the existing rear view mirror. These can seem like a distraction, especially since a few models have information displayed on the mirror itself. If you don’t like this idea, it might be best to take a look at the best dash cams instead.

The other issue with a mirror dash cam is that it can add bulk to an area of ​​your car where it’s least welcome. Although it works as an integral addition to your existing rear view mirror, as opposed to a standalone dash cam, these units have been specifically designed to fit in the windshield area, but they can be quite bulky. If you have a small car, say a sporty model with a small cockpit and an even smaller windshield, this could be a real drawback. Again, it might be best to research the best mini dash cams on the market to use as an alternative.

A Nextbase mirror dash cam inside a car

(Image credit: Nextbase)

If you just want a basic camera that can record the view of the road ahead as you drive, a mirror dash cam may also have more features than you need. There is no point in spending more money on a gadget that might have more features and functionality than you will ever use. If simplicity is your preferred route, a standard dash cam should suffice.

The other thing to consider is the price, because although there are cheaper and largely unknown dash cam brands out there, you’ll find that the bigger and more popular names usually have a higher price tag. If you don’t mind increased functionality, then it might be prudent to take another look at a cheap dash cam instead.