Car Advice

DASH CAM BUYING GUIDE: Which dash cam is right for you?

In-car cameras put to the test in our dash cam reviews

By Nick Watkins Published

dash cam | products | NEXTBASE IN-CAR CAM 101 GO | SMARTWITNESS SMART-I DRIVE | Crashcam Simplicity | TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 100 | COBRA CDR 820 | TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 200 | RAC DIGITAL CARCAM 01 | Crashcam Essential | TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 220 | RAC DIGITAL CARCAM 02 | NEXTBASE IN-CAR CAM 402-G PROFESSIONAL | SNOOPER DVR-4HD | COBRA CDR 840 | Garmin Dash Cam 20 | Kaiser Baas R20 | NEXTBASE 512G | Mio Mivue 658 WIFI | SMARTWITNESS SVC1080 | Crashcam Pro | COBRA CDR 900 | ROADHAWK HD | Garmin Nuvicam | Crash Catcher CC3 | TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 520 | NEXTBASE DUO | Phillips ADR610 | RAC04 | Garmin 30 | Cobra CDR855BT Drive HD

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AS VIDEO technology has become more and more accessible, sales of dash cams have risen drastically.

With more cars on Britain’s roads than ever before, drivers are taking extra precautions by using the latest high-tech kit. Fitting an in-car camera - a dash cam -  gives you peace of mind, can prove an accident wasn’t your fault and can drive down your insurance premium.

As demand continues to grow for dash cams, the market has been flooded with various types of camera. Dash cams come in different sizes, record in different quality and offer a range of unique features -  so choosing the right dash cam for your needs isn’t an easy task.

Sun Motors has tested a range of dash cams currently on the market. Below you’ll also find our Q&A which answers frequently asked dash cam questions.

QUICK LINKS TO DASH CAM REVIEWS

Entry-level forward-facing dashcams (£49 – £100*):

Nextbase 101 ★★★☆☆ (Driving Best Value Dashcam 2015)

RAC 04 ★★★☆☆

SmartWitness Smart-i Drive ★☆☆☆☆

Nextbase 212 Lite ★★★★☆

CrashCam Simplicity ★★★☆☆

Transcend DrivePro 100 ★★★☆☆

Cobra CDR 820 ★★★★☆

Transcend DrivePro 200 ★★★☆☆

RAC CarCam RAC01 ★★☆☆☆

High-end forward-facing dashcams (£107 – £300*):

CrashCam Essential ★★★★☆

CobraCDR855BT Drive HD ★★★☆☆

Garmin 30 ★★☆☆☆

Transcend DrivePro 220 ★★★★☆

Phillips ADR610 ★★★☆☆

Nextbase 312GW ★★★★★

RAC CarCam RAC02 ★★★☆☆

Nextbase 402-G ★★★★★ (Driving Best Buy 2015)

Snooper DVR-4HD ★★★☆☆

Cobra CDR 840 ★★★★☆

Garmin Dash Cam 20 ★★★★☆

Kaiser Baas R20 ★★★☆☆

Thinkware X550 ★★★☆☆

Nextbase 512G ★★★★★

Mio MiVue 658 WiFi ★★★★★ (Driving Top Tech 2015)

SmartWitness SVC1080 ★★★☆☆

CrashCam Pro ★★☆☆☆

Cobra CDR 900 ★★★★☆

Roadhawk HD ★★★☆☆

Garmin nüviCam ★★★★☆

Dual-lens (forward and rear-facing) dashcams (£150 - £200*):

Crash Catcher CC3 ★★★☆☆

Transcend DrivePro 520 ★★★☆☆

Nextbase Duo ★★★★☆

DASH CAM FAQs

What’s the point of a dash cam?

Fitting your own personal in-car camera can help prove to insurers that an accident wasn’t your fault when you’re making a claim. Swiftcover insurance offers a premium discount for motorists who already have one installed when taking out a new policy.

How do dash cams work?

The difference between a dash cam and say, a GoPro, is that dash cams film in short continuous loops so the SD cards never run out of space. Typically, a dash cam will record in three-minute segments, which are overwritten by new clips as you drive along. Important files such as those before and after an impact are automatically saved - giving you vital evidence.

Do I need to wipe the memory card manually?

Yes if you have a number of important files on your SD card, as they won’t delete automatically. If you don’t have any major incidents the clips on the SD card won’t need manually deleting. It’s a good idea to check every few weeks what footage is on your SD card.

Where do I put a dash cam?

Dash cams should not be placed directly in your line of vision, so don’t mount it above your steering wheel. The unit should not intrude more than 40mm into the swept area of your windscreen wiper blades.

Can a dash cam screen be on when I'm driving?

No. You should switch your dash cam screen off, unless it switches off automatically, which some do. It is illegal for a motorist to be able to watch the screen recording as they drive. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as a parking camera.

Are dash cams battery-powered?

Some units will have their own battery built-in which will last for a short journey but generally speaking they require a 12V cigarette lighter socket. Or they can be hard-wired via your fuse box. Halfords will do this for around £30.

ENTRY LEVEL DASH CAMS

NEXTBASE IN-CAR CAM 101 GO

Price at time of test: £45.99

Check prices on Amazon NextBase In-Car cam 101 GO

Installation ★★★★☆

The cheapest of Nextbase’s range, the 101 GO is a small unit that is easy to attach thanks to a long cigarette lighter charger cable, and its twist-to-grip suction cup. No SD card included.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Thankfully, the menu is uncomplicated and you can control it with just four buttons around the 2in screen. You can lock important files with the touch of a button too. As with most dash cams, recording begins as soon as the unit is plugged in, so you don’t have to worry about faffing around setting it up.

Functions ★★★☆☆

Unlike some more expensive dash cams, there’s no GPS, so you can’t record your location. There is however, a G-sensor which detects sudden breaking (or drastic change in speed).

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Audio and footage is captured clearly, but there are better quality dash cams available. The resolution is 720p, which is clear enough, but not the best. The Nextbase 101 GO records 30 frames per second.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Simple and effective, this is a great option if you’re not looking to fork out.


RAC 04 Dash cam

Price at time of test: £59.99

RAC04

Installation ★★★★☆

It’s a nice little dash cam, which comes with a sucker mount and the angle can be altered manually with a screw up knob, so it’s simple to position. The dash cam itself clips in to the mount and the cable plugs into the side. There’s a 8GB SD card in the box, which is an added bonus.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

There’s six buttons on the front of the dash cam, the menu is navigated on the left side with the up/down arrows. On the right the dash cam is switched on and off and ‘OK’ selects the different options on screen.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

There are dash cams with more features built-in than the 04, but it has a G sensor for automatically recording and locking serious incidents. There’s also a photo option for you to take a picture of what’s going on up ahead. There’s no GPS – it’s basic, but it has the essentials.

Video/Audio quality ★★★☆☆

The 1.5” screen is pretty small but footage is recorded in full 1080p HD, but if you watch it back on the dash cam itself it’s tiny. Files watched on a computer are clear enough though, and the 120 degree wide angled lens is good for the money. Nighttime filming isn’t so clear however.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

For a mid-range dash cam the 04 is decent value, aided by the fact it comes with an SD card already in the box. We don’t particularly like the shape of the dash cam though and the screen is tiny, but it does the basics.


SMARTWITNESS SMART-I DRIVE

RRP at time of test: £59.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Smart I-Drive

Installation ★★★☆☆

It’s easy to attach to the windscreen thanks to the simple suction mount. Plus, it comes with a 4GB memory card.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Like rival units, it’ll start recording automatically after you plug it in. It has a simple menu which is controlled by the 1.5in screen.

Functions ★★★☆☆

The motion sensor works well, and it records on a continuous loop with the oldest file being overwritten. Interestingly, the device can be used as a webcam when plugged into your computer.

Video/audio quality ☆☆☆☆☆

While it’s technically high definition (720p) the quality of the recording is actually pretty poor, and with a viewing angle of just 72 degrees, you don’t actually see a lot.

VERDICT ★☆☆☆☆

Probably one to avoid, especially when you consider the Nextbase 101 (above) is cheaper and records in better quality.


Nextbase 212 Lite

RRP at time of test: £69.99

Check prices on Amazon: N/A

Nextbase 212 Lite

Installation ★★★★★

This is the first of a new type of Nextbase dash cam which uses Click&Go technology to make attaching and detaching to your windscreen a piece of cake. The unit attaches to a suction mounted bracket by magnets, and powered touch points. It’s the first dash cam we’ve tested with such technology and we like it. The angle of the dash cam can be adjusted and locked once it’s attached.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Under the 2.7” screen are seven buttons, with these you turn the unit on, select the mode, scroll up and down through menus, record/take photo and lock emergency recordings. Once you’ve put your SD card in (sold separately sadly) and plugged it in via the DC-IN socket, you’re basically ready to go as it records from the off. A red light flashes when recording (and a blue light when charging). A CD is in the box too, explaining how to navigate through the device.

Nextbase

Functions ★★★☆☆

It’s not as packed with functions as some other dash cams on the market, but it has the essentials; A G-Sensor, GPS and Parking Mode (for when there’s motion going around your vehicle). You can also take photos, if there’s an incident up ahead that need capturing for example.

Video/Audio quality ★★★★☆

Nextbase’s camera quality is generally of pretty high quality and the 212 Lite is no different. Importantly, it records well in night and day in full 1080p HD resolution. The sound quality is nice and clear and the 140 degree wide-angle lens is very impressive too, especially for the size and price of the unit.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

With this dash cam, Nextbase are trying to attract younger drivers by making it even easier to install (and use) and this could do that trick. The Click&Go technology is a triumph and the camera records in high quality. The size of the unit means you could carry it with you in your pocket or handbag without it getting in the way too, which will appeal to younger drivers. It’s a pity an SD card isn’t included in the box though.


CRASHCAM SIMPLICITY REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £69.99

CrashCam simplicity

Installation ★★★★☆

It’s very easy to attach with a standard sucker mount. Small in size so it won’t cause a distraction when you’re driving either.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

As you’d expect, it’ll record straight from the off when it’s plugged into a power source. You’ll find six buttons on the device which help you navigate your way through the menu easily enough.

Functions ★★★★☆

Like others in the budget range, there’s no GPS built-in so your location isn’t tracked. However the 1.9in screen offers a clear picture. Motion detector could act as a key deterrent for thieves loitering around your vehicle too.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The audio is disappointing, but it’s not the be all and end all as it’s the footage that’s most important with a dash cam. Sadly, it falls down on that as well though as the lens tends to focus more on the windscreen than the road ahead.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Shame about the recording quality but it does come with a 16GB memory card, so you shouldn’t ever have to worry about it running out of space.


TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 100 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £74.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Transcend DrivePro

Installation ★★★☆☆

Unlike other units the DrivePro sticks to your windscreen with an adhesive pad, making it pretty hard to remove once installed, so make sure you’re happy with the position. You can however, detach the camera and take it with you. Comes with a 16gb memory card too.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

The 2.4in screen is big and clear, and the menu is easy to navigate. You can view your files on the device itself or on your computer.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

The good news is the DrivePro has a built in G-sensor. The bad news is that it’s super-sensitive and will detect an ‘accident’ while you’re just driving along. If you want to lock a file because you have actually had an accident, you can do that manually using a button on the side. GSP is not an option either.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

In low light the recording quality isn’t the best but it’s good enough and there is plenty to see with the 130-degree viewing angle. Audio records well too, certainly better than others for a similar price.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The downsides are the semi-permanent adhesive pad, and the G-sensor, which should add to the unit, actually makes it worse.


COBRA CDR 820 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £79.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Cobra CDR 820

Installation ★★★☆☆

It’s small and so it won’t get in the way, but it’s trickier than other dash cams to install. Unlike the DrivePro 100, this uses a screw-in sucker mount.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Setting up and navigating the menu will be hard if you’ve got big hands, as there’s quite a few fiddly buttons, but once you’re happy with the settings you’re good to go and won’t need to use them again.

Functions ★★★☆☆

A built-in motion sensor captures movement when the vehicle is stationary, good for spotting potential thieves. The G-sensor will save important files for you in the event of an accident too. Like others in this price bracket, there’s no GPS.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

You can’t fault the clear picture quality and the audio is nice and clear too, should you need to listen back.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

For the price, it’s a pretty good unit. The video recording is clear and it comes with an 8GB memory card so it’s ready to go straight out the box.


TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 200 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £89.99

Check prices on Amazon Transcend DrivePro 200

Installation ★★★☆☆

This is another unit which comes with an adhesive pad and not the sucker mount, so once it’s on it’s pretty much on. In the box is a 16Gb memory card, which is an added bonus.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

With a nice 2.4in screen it’s easy to use and the picuture quality is nice and clear, and the files are easy to play back on the device or computer

Functions ★★★☆☆

Like the DrivePro 100 and DP 200 the G-sensor is overly sensitive and you’ll end up turning it off because it locks files all the time - which means in the event of a crash you’ll have to lock files yourself manually - annoying and not practical. Unlike the DrivePro 100, this device has wifi connectivity so you can watch footage back on an app or wireless network, if you please. You can also hook it up to a TV if you fancy showing all the family your footage.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The quality is good and the picture is clear but it’s not a remarkable improvement on the DrivePro 100, although the 160-degree viewing angle is an improvement.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The wifi is a nice feature but in truth it’s more of a novelty than anything of much use. The G-sensor is too sensitive, so having to save files manually is not great, especially after an accident. The 16Gb memory card is a plus though.


Phillips ADR610

RRP at time of test: £98.95

Phillips

Installation ★★☆☆☆

The ADR610 is a small dash cam, which sits nicely on the windscreen, although it’s fixed by an adhesive mount rather than a suction cup. The 4m cable is nice and long though so it can run along the windscreen and be tucked under the carpet into the cigarette lighter but it does stick out the side of the unit, rather than the top. There are two slots in the dash cam, one Micro USB and one for a HDMI cable, (which needs to be bought separately).

Ease of use ★★★★☆

It’s pretty simple to set up and use, and starts recording as soon as it’s plugged in. There’s five buttons underneath the 2” screen. There are up-down arrows, an; ‘OK’ button to select from the menu, a ‘warning’ button, and an ‘on/off’ switch With a 16GB SD card you’ll get 200 minutes of recording too.

Functions ★★★☆☆

Phillips has packed this dash cam out. It’s got a G-sensor, and a date and time stamp when you watch your files back, which could be vital if you’re showing the footage to insurers. It’ll also lock any emergency recordings automatically.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The ADR610 records in full 1080p full HD so it’s a nice clear picture on screen. This dash cam is best suited for daytime recording though, as it struggles more with low-light, so not great for nighttime recording. It has a 100 degree wide-angled lens, which is good for the price. It films on a seamless loop at 30 frames a second. Audio is crisp and clear too.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

It’s a pretty good dash cam. The picture is nice and clear and it’s simple to use, which in essence, is what most motorists are after. It loses marks for not having a sucker mount and SD card in the box though.


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Nextbase 312GW

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RRP at time of test: £99.99

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Installation ★★★★★

Nextbase’s new range of dash cams use Click and Go technology which basically means you secure the unit to the sucker mount with magnets. It’s very effective. Once you’ve positioned your sucker mount on the windscreen the dash cam is easily attached and removed with minimum effort.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

There are seven buttons on the interface, most notably is the new Wifi button, which allows users to send/view/download footage onto a mobile device at the touch of a button. The menu is uncomplicated and the 312GW records as soon as it’s plugged in. Handily, you can toggle the audio on/off, take a photo and emergency record using buttons on the back of the unit. If there’s one thing that did take us a while to figure out, it was how to turn the screen off when the unit was still plugged in and recording.

Functions ★★★★★

The point of the 312GW is to encourage younger drivers to use a dash cam, which the WIFI option will certainly help. Via the (free) Nextbase app, you can download your files onto your phone (iOS or Android); upload them to Twitter or Facebook, your insurer or even the police. It’s packed with functions too like a G-Sensor, GPS, motion detection for emergency recording.

The playback on your laptop is in high quality HD (see below) and includes the date, time, speed and location too.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

Like other Nextbase dash cams recordings are in Full 1080p HD on the 2.7” LED screen and the 312GW boasts an impressive 140 degree viewing angle. What’s more, it’s clear at low light too, even number plates can be made out at night. The 312GW is up there with the best we’ve seen in terms of clarity. Audio is clear too if you choose to keep it on.

VERDICT ★★★★★

For £99 you get a lot for your money. The 312GW basically makes life easier for the user. The unit is easier to install than other dash cams thanks to the Click and Go magnetic tech, and files are easier to share with the WIFI function, so you never really have to bother taking the SD card out of the unit. If there’s one downside, it’s that the SD card has to be bought separately.

RAC DIGITAL CARCAM 01 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £99.99

Check prices on Amazon RAC Digital carcam

Installation ★★★★☆

Comes with a 4GB memory card and has a long power cable, making it as easy to install as any other dash cam.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Unlike other units there’s buttons all over this one, on the top, side and bottom. It’s not the simplest to use either.

Functions ★★★☆☆

There’s no GPS so your speed and location won’t show up when you watch your clips back on your computer. You can however angle the unit any which way you like, including facing the rear mirror if for some reason you want to film cars behind you.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

At night the camera quality suffers but during the day it’s good enough quality, recorded in 720p. The audio is clear too.

VERDICT ★★☆☆☆

An okay unit during the day but it struggles at night and it’s functions are limited, especially for the price.


CRASHCAM ESSENTIAL REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £107

Crash Cam essential

Installation ★★★★☆

Records as soon as you plug it in and is easy to set up.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

It’s pretty basic but the buttons are simple and the screen is large enough.

Functions ★★★☆☆

Again, no GPS is included with this dash cam but it does have a G-sensor, which actually works quite well and won’t think you’re crashing every few hundred yards. Additional GPS software is available.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The picture quality is one of the best on the market and it really earns its crust at night time, somehow managing to capture everything.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

It’s got a big screen and records in high quality, at any given hour so you should definitely consider it when looking to buy a dash cam. It also comes with a 16Gb memory card too. Even though CrashCam isn’t the best-known brand, they’ve come up with a winner.


 Cobra CDR855BT Drive HD

Drive_HD_CDR855BT_Right_0.620x535

Price at time of test: £129.99

Check prices on Amazon

 

Installation ★★★★☆

The Drive HD comes with a sucker mount and can be adjusted with a turning the adjuster screw to change the angle of the unit, which clips into the mount from the top. Under the 2” screen are four buttons which turn the display on and off, mute audio, play and pause and emergency capture if you see something worth saving up ahead. The micro USB plugs into the top right hand side of the unit and the SD card, which is included slots into the left.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

It’s fairly straight forward to use and starts recording as soon as it’s plugged in. It’ll also record for around 30 minutes without being plugged into your cigarette lighter. Where it gets complicated is the Bluetooth GPS, which you can only use while running the iRadar app to keep track of your location. It’s fine with an iPhone, but it would be easier if the GPS was just built into the unit itself. You have to connect your phone every time you want to use the dash cam, which is frustrating. Although, the app does let you share information with others using it. Accidents, police location etc.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

Other than GPS built-in, it has everything else you’d expect such as G-Sensor to detect an incident, although it is a bit sensitive, it went off twice down a bumpy road when we tested it. It records on loop so you don’t have to worry about doing anything (except pressing the emergency record button if it doesn’t do it automatically). It also has Parking Mode, so you can record activity around your car when you’re not going anywhere, you can turn this off too.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The CDR855BT records in full 1080p HD quality, which you only really get a sense of when you watch the footage back because the screen it a bit diddy. In the box is PC software so you can easily watch the footage back on your laptop. It’s not as clear as some on the market but it’s good enough and ok in low light too. The 160 degree wide-angle lens is impressive.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

It’s a good but basic dash cam, and for the price we’d expect a little bit more. The lack of built-in GPS means it loses points. While the iRadar community app is a good idea, it’s probably not something most motorists will want to bother with. Having said that, it records in good quality and it’s a tidy little unit which won’t get in the way while you’re driving. Unfortunately for Cobra we tested this just after the wifi-enabled Nextbase 312GW, which although it more expensive, is one we prefer.


GARMIN 30 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £129.99

Check prices on Amazon 71f9205QQ.28.620x413

Installation ★★☆☆☆

The Garmin 30 is attached with a suction pad, which takes 24 hours to fully stick to the windscreen, so don’t put your dash cam on straight away. Sadly for us, the sample dash cam didn’t have a suction pad on the mount so we used it balancing on our windscreen.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

It’s pretty simple to use and records as soon as the engine is switched on so there’s little faffing around. The unit itself is small and the screen is tiny (1.4”), with four buttons on the side, with which you turn the dash cam on/off, scroll through menus, save photos and save video clips.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

You can take photos and save videos at the touch of a button, which is handy. The model is available with and without GPS, with it you can see time, date, location when watching videos back on your computer, via the included SD card.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

For a small dash cam it records in very good Full 1080p HD quality, but the screen is so small you don’t get a sense of that until you’re looking at files on your computer. It records well in low-light too.

VERDICT ★★☆☆☆

For the recommended price of £129.99 it’s expensive for what you get. It’s basic and records in high quality but we’d recommend getting the unit with GPS, otherwise it doesn’t really feel like you’re getting value for money compared to others on the market.


TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 220 REVIEW

TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 220

RRP at time of test: £129.99

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Installation ★★★☆☆

This is yet another dash cam with the adhesive pad instead of the sucker, which we prefer, so make sure you get the position right first time around. You can buy the sucker mount separately but, really you shouldn’t have to. Once you’ve set up the time and date after plugging in, it’s ready to go. You’ll get a 16Gb memory card in the box too.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Video files are easy to play back on the device or your computer. The 2.4in screen is more than enough to watch them on. It has wifi too if you want to watch the clips on a smartphone or tablet, via an app.

Functions ★★★★★

The DrivePro 220 comes with GPS so your speed and location are recorded as well as a G-sensor, which thankfully works well and saves files automatically when it detects a sudden change in movement. Other features include Land Departure Warnings, should you be drifting across lanes, a speed alarm, which alerts you’re when you’re going to fast, and Forward Collision Warning. You can also take a photo using the snapshot feature. Parking Mode senses movement when the car is parked, which is useful if your car is hit while you’re not around.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Clips are recorded in full 1080p HD, which is excellent for when making a claim, or just watching your footage back. It has a 130-degree viewing angle too, which is around average for a dash cam.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

It’s simple to use, packed with features and records in high quality, making it a great dash cam. It would be even better if it didn’t come with the adhesive pad instead of a suction mount though.


RAC DIGITAL CARCAM 02 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £149.99

Check prices on Amazon RAC digital Car Cam 02

Installation ★★★☆☆

It’s a bit of a fiddle getting it set up because of the extra cable, which trails across the dashboard. It does come with a suction mount however, which is simple to attach to your windscreen.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Like others it records as soon as it’s plugged in. A large screen with five buttons underneath make it easy to use as well.

Functions ★★★★☆

It has the widest viewing angle of all the dash cams tested, and it records in full HD too. The external cable records GPS and it’s got a G-sensor, so you’ll be fully covered if you need to make an insurance claim.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

It records well during the day but if you do a lot of night time driving this might not be the one for you as it struggles with low light. The whole road is covered off though with the wide angle.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The only thing that really lets it down is the quality of recording in low-light. The external GPS is slightly annoying too, otherwise it’s a solid dash cam.


NEXTBASE IN-CAR CAM 402-G PROFESSIONAL REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £149.99

Check prices on Amazon Nextbase In-Car Cam 402-G professional

Installation ★★★★☆

In the box is a sucker mount which attaches easily to the windscreen as well as an extra-long power cable so you can run it along the centre of your windscreen to the cigarette lighter without too much hassle. The GPS is built-in too.

Ease of use ★★★★★

Three buttons either side of the screen make it a doddle to use and it fires up as soon as it’s plugged in so you don’t have to do anything to get it working.

Functions ★★★★★

The 402-G has a G-sensor which will record, and lock, potentially dangerous incidents, as well as a motion detector which records movement around the vehicles when the car is parked. GPS is recorded too on the 2.7in screen.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

Nextbase’s “6G” construction means it records incredibly high quality video through six layers of glass in the lens. It also handles low light a lot better than rivals, so it’s ideal for recording night and day. The audio is also very clear if you need it.

VERDICT ★★★★★

It has a lot going for it, even though it’s not Nextbase’s premium dash cam. Great value for money, it records in incredibly high quality, plus it could save you 12.5% on your insurance thanks to a deal with Swiftcover. Five stars.


SNOOPER DVR-4HD REVIEW

Snoper DVR-4HD

RRP at time of test: £149.99

Check prices on Amazon

Installation ★★★★☆

It’s easy to attach to your windscreen via the sucker mount and sets itself up to work straight away after plugging in; however it doesn’t come with a memory card, which you’ll need to purchase separately.

Ease of use ★★☆☆☆

Unlike other units, this dash cam has a separate “on” button located on the underside of the device. This is uncommon on dash cams, normally they just turn on when they’re plugged in. The screen is touch-sensitive, however it’s fiddly and tricky to use because the icons are so small. Advanced features need to be switched on manually too.

Functions ★★★★★

In terms of technology, it’s hard to fault the DVR-4HD. It comes with GPS, Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Alert, Driver Fatigue Alerts and Speed Camera Detection. There’s also Wifi built-in so you can connect to a smartphone to watch and share videos, if you feel the need. It’s a nice extra to have but still seems a little pointless.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

It records with a 140-degree viewing angle and in 1080p full HD, which is pleasing. The picture is clear but not as good as say, the Nextbase 512G and quality in low light is acceptable but could be improved.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

It’s a practical unit physically, but the menu, especially the touchscreen is a little tough to use and could do with a re-think. The video quality is good and it’s full of features which we like, such as the Speed Camera Detection. It’s let down by the fact you need to buy an SD card separately though.


COBRA CDR 840 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £149.99

Check prices on Amazon Cobra

Installation ★★★★☆

It’s a cool-looking device and simple to set up, using the suction mount, although the power cable is a little on the short side. It comes with an 8GB memory card too so it’s ready straight from the box.

Ease of use ★★★★★

This is one of the easiest dash cams to use on the market. The menu is easy to navigate using the up-down-left-right buttons. It records as soon as it’s plugged in too.

Functions ★★★★☆

A G-sensor, which works well, and GPS are built-in. There’s also a red button for you to lock files manually if you see something which doesn’t trigger the G-sensor.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The image quality is good in all weather conditions, and even in low-light the camera records to a very high standard, rivalling the Nextbase 402-G.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

One of the better dash cams available, the CDR 840 records clear video and has a lot of great features. It comes with an SD card in the box, which is a bonus; the power cable is too short however. Definitely worth a look though.


GARMIN DASH CAM 20 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £169.99

Check prices on Amazon Garmin dash cam 20

Installation ★★★★★

Out of all the dash cams we tested this is one of the simplest to attach, thanks to the suction mount and the ball joint makes adjusting the angle a piece of cake. It’s also a small unit so you can tuck it away discreetly without it getting in the way of your driving.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

As soon as it’s plugged in it starts recording and it’s a doddle to operate thanks to the four buttons underneath the screen.

Functions ★★★★★

The G-sensor detects accidents automatically, but you can protect files yourself manually if you feel the need. GPS is built in and you can take pictures after an accident, which may aid your insurance claim should you make one. There’s also Speed Camera Alerts which is a handy feature, although it needs updating via a computer and costs £16.99 for a year’s subscription.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The Garmin 20 records in 1080p HD and is crystal clear at all hours. The only drawback is the rather narrow – 90-degrees. The audio is not so clear however, not that you’ll ever really need it. When making a claim the clear footage should be enough to show insurers you weren’t at fault.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

It’s a decent dash cam, which records well day and night, plenty of features and is easy to use. It’s a shame about the narrow angle recording though.


KAISER BAAS R20 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £169.99

Check prices on Amazon Kaiser-baas

Installation ★★☆☆☆

If you haven’t gathered by now, we’re not big fans of adhesive mounts and unfortunately this one comes with just that. It’s also complicated to click into place. Annoyingly, the device connects to the power cable with a DC plug – not a standard micro USB – so if you lose your cable you need to call Kaiser Baas for a replacement. The power cable is long though and the 12v plug has two USB sockets, which as we all know by now, you can never have enough of.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

It records as soon as it’s plugged in and using the menus on the 2.7in screen is easy enough via the four buttons either side of the screen. The screen turns itself off too, in compliance with the law.

Functions ★★★★☆

It’s loaded with features including a G-sensor which records and locks important files based on a sudden change of speed, GPS also records your speed and position, which you can only see when you install the supplied software. Unlike most dash cams, this one talks to you via voice alerts when it’s doing something – such as “Normal recording starts”.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Recordings are in 1080p which is clear in daylight but not-so-much at night time. Number plates aren’t very clear though which could be a big flaw if you come to show footage to your insurance company. You can set the quality higher to 1296p too.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

From the off, it’s tricky to install and a bit annoying to operate. The footage is clear but not exceptional and it comes with an adhesive pad.


THINKWARE X550 review

Thinkware

RRP at time of test: £179.99

Check prices on Amazon

Installation ★★★★☆

The Thinkware X500 attaches with a plastic pad, so make sure you get it in the correct position on your windscreen as it’s not as easy to attach/detach as a sucker mount. Once you’re happy with the position the unit itself clicks in and is adjusted to the preferred angle by turning the knob on the mount. The unit itself is pretty small, the screen is 2.7”, so it’s good for putting in your pocket when you leave your car, but not so good for watching/navigating through files.

Ease of use ★★☆☆☆

It’s easy to get started and fairly straight forward to use once you’ve fiddled around a bit with the menus. You can set up most of your preferences on the unit itself or when plugged into your computer. There’s four buttons on the back of the dash cam which you use, instead of a touchscreen, to navigate your way around the settings if you choose to do it on the dash cam itself, which we always prefer. Other than that the camera is ready to go. It’ll record continuously on a loop, with the older files being overwritten when the memory card is full. You also have the option to record manually, but it’s best to just have it running at all times. Navigating through the options isn’t as simple as say, the Nextbase 512G which is of similar price, but it’s not rocket science either.

Functions ★★★☆☆

Unlike some leading dash cams the Thinkware X550 has a Safety Camera Alert which warns you of speed cameras up ahead, which is something we like, even though it’s not essential with a dash cam. It also has lane departure and front collision warnings, which could be useful but we found them to be overly sensitive. We ended up ignoring them most of the time and wondering why the camera was bleeping at us, when nothing was going on up ahead. If your camera is hard-wired into your vehicle it’ll record in Parking Mode, so if it detects sudden movement around your car it’ll save a short clip onto the SD card, which is a nifty feature. An additional rear camera can be attached too, so footage is recorded from front and back.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

It records in full 1080p HD which is good, and records audio well too, if you choose to have the mic on. Night-time recording is very clear and good enough if you’re using the dash cam for low-light driving on a regular basis. One thing we did notice when looking back for a file on a MAC was the amount of files it separated out, due to the over-sensitive warnings, so finding an exact file took longer than with other dash cams we’ve tried. Having said that, GPS is recorded so when you do get to the file you’re looking for, it has a good lot of information on it – time, date, location, speed ect. Also, there’s no wifi option so files can’t be viewed on directly on your smartphone or tablet.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

It’s a decent choice but on the pricey side. We like the amount of functions but they could do with tweaking so they’re not so sensitive. If you’ve got this plugged in along with a separate sat-nav device, you’re in for a noisy ride. Files are recorded in HD and it gets to work straight out of the box, but the £179.99 (current) asking price seems a little steep compared to others on the market.


 

NEXTBASE 512G REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £179.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Nextbase 512-G

Installation ★★★★☆

The Nextbase 512G fires up as soon as it’s plugged in and the GPS is built-in. You attached it with a sucker mount (thumbs up) and it’s a tidy looking unit. However, it doesn’t come with an SD card so you’ll need to buy one separately.

Ease of use ★★★★★

Unless you set the screen to timeout, you’re breaking the law so make sure you do so via the easy –to-use menu. If you see something you wish to record urgently, you have to press the emergency record button twice – once to turn the screen on and once to lock the file. It’s pretty simple, as long as you remember to do it.

Functions ★★★★★

We’ve given it top marks because it has everything you need, but that doesn’t mean it has everything. Nextbase haven’t bothered with WiFi connectivity but they have included GPS, G-sensor and a wide-angle lens, which, really, is all you need if they do their job properly.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

The image quality is the best we’ve seen on a dash cam, thanks to the polarising filer which removes glare from the screen. A six-element lens means it records brilliantly in low-light too, so even at night it’s super clear. The camera also records with a 140-degree viewing angle.

VERDICT ★★★★★

In terms of quality the Nextbase 512G is hard to beat. It’s crystal clear at all hours and is simple to use. You could also save money on your insurance with it in your car too. The only downside is it’s pretty expensive.


MIO MIVUE 658 WIFI REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £179.99

Check latest prices on Amazon MIO MIVUE 658 WIFI

Installation ★★★★☆

It attaches nice and easily with a suction mount and it’s a decent looking unit. It’s a touch-sensitive screen and plugs into your cigarette lighter as you’d expect. Doesn’t come with an SD card though.

Ease of use ★★★★★

The screen times itself out so you don’t need to worry about turning it off to comply with the law. It’s easy to use and is generally pretty simple to use.

Functions ★★★★★

It’s packed with features – GPS, G-sensor and 150 degree wide-angle lens. Parking Mode will also detect any movement going on around your vehicle while it’s parked up, however this feature requires an adaptor so it runs off the car battery when the vehicle is switched off. It has WiFi too, so you can share files via a smartphone. Speed cameras are detected as well.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

The picture is very clear and in fact, is the same technology used in GoPro cameras according to Mio. It’s not quite as good as the Nextbase 512G when it comes to reading number plates, but you can still make them out. The 150 degree lens is very impressive.

VERDICT ★★★★★

It’s up there with the best. The video is clear and there are tonnes of useful features. It’s a pity it doesn’t come with an SD card, but otherwise it’s hard to fault. If you’re looking for a dash cam that’s easy to set up and will record in great quality, this is definitely worth looking at.


SMARTWITNESS SVC1080

RRP at time of test: £199.99

Check latest prices on Amazon SMARTWITNESS SVC1080

Installation ★★★☆☆

Unlike others in this price bracket the SVC1080 comes with an adhesive mount rather than a suction mount. The unit itself can be taken out when you leave the car so it’s not attractive to thieves. It also comes with a 4Gb memory card but you should probably buy a bigger one separately.

Ease of use ★☆☆☆☆

Compared to other dash cams this one is fairly complicated to use. What’s more, the only way to watch the footage back is via the SmartWitness software, which according to the company, is because it is the only way to view the real-time mapping information. Even when the footage is watched back, it’s often jerky.

Functions ★★★☆☆

The device connects to WiFi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth and recordings can be password-protected. The playback isn’t that smooth though, as mentioned above.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The 170 degree viewing angle is top notch and the quality of the recording is high, although it’s not so good at night. Audio is optional.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

For the money, it’s not the best value. The Nextbase 512G is better and cheaper. However, the extra-wide angle lense is useful.


CRASHCAM PRO REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £226.80

CrashCam Pro

Installation ★★★★☆

Annoyingly, the Crash Cam Pro comes with an adhesive pad, not a sucker mount, but at least this one is easily removable. Clips are supplied to keep the extra-long cable out of the way, so it’s not dangling down the windscreen. Unlike most dash cams, this one doesn’t have a screen so you won’t be able to tell how well you’ve positioned it until you watch back some footage.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

It couldn’t be much simpler to use with just one button to lock a recording. However, the playback footage has a habit of freezing, which is pretty frustrating.

Functions ★★★★☆

Your speed and location are recorded via the GPS, and show up when you watch the footage back. A G-sensor detects accidents too.

Video/audio quality ★☆☆☆☆

Sadly, the quality is dreadful compared to rivals. It doesn’t perform well in low light either which is no good if you’re driving at night. Audio is poor, although that alone shouldn’t stop you from buying one of these.

VERDICT ★★☆☆☆

Well, it’s easy to use as it’s only got one button on it however, there’s no screen and the quality of recording is poor. For this price you can do a lot better.


COBRA CDR 900 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £229.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Cobra CDR 900

Installation ★★★★☆

You attach this little dash cam via a suction mount. The power cable is long and tucks under the carpet.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

There are only two buttons on the device so it’s pretty easy to use but it’s actually pretty complex to operate.

Functions ★★★★☆

There’s no built-in GPS with the CDR 900 but it can be plugged in if need be. It’s a technically advanced bit of kit with its ability to link to a wireless network, which you can do with a voice command. It means you can watch the footage on your app, from anywhere in the world. The wide-angled lens records 160 degrees, and it comes with a motion sensor. It’s a nice touch, but more appealing to a tech-head than a motorist perhaps.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Despite being able to record in Super HD, the footage isn’t actually as crips as either the Nextbase 402G or Cobra CDR 840. The audio is really sensitive too, it’ll hear (and record) a pin drop.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

It’s expensive but it is a good dash cam, however there are more basic ones which won’t hurt the pocket as much, and will record just as well.


ROADHAWK HD REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £229.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Roadhawk HD

Installation ★★★☆☆

It’s a nice a small unit so it’ll fit nicely anywhere on your windscreen without getting in the way, although it sticks on with the adhesive mount, which is hard to remove once it’s on. Roadhawk’s external GPS connector is fiddly too, shame it’s not built-in like other devices. An 8GB memory card is included in the box though.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

There’s no screen so you can’t see how well you’ve positioned it until you watch some footage back. You’ll notice there are no buttons to play with on the unit, which is what Roadhawk want – less driver distraction.

Functions ★★★☆☆

G-sensor and image stabilisation are two functions on this little unit and it records in Full 1080p HD quality.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The recordings are of a very good standard, but still not as good as the Nextbase cameras, which are the benchmark. The wide angled lens is good, but not the biggest available. The audio sound is ok too, but again there’s better quality out there.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Shame there’s no screen to show off the excellent video quality, but otherwise it’s a solid choice. However, you can get more for your money with other dash cams.


GARMIN NÜVICAM REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £299.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Garmin nuvicam

Installation ★☆☆☆☆

There’s a fine line between having a nice big screen and one that gets in the way. Unfortunately the six-inch one we tried is too big. No matter where you put it on the windscreen, it’s noticeable. Different sizes are available (5 and 7 inch). GPS requires an additional cable to be stuck to the windscreen, which adds time to installation. Not only that, as the dash cam is so large it’s very noticeable to thieves, so it needs removing every time you leave the vehicle really – which is a pain. There’s a 4GB memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

When you turn the unit on you’re asked to adjust the position before recording starts. The Garmin sat nav kicks in, which is simple to use, although the sat nav can sometimes struggle to find a satellite. The settings are controlled with the touch screen and you can lock files with the button on the top of the dash cam.  There is Garmin Dashcam Player software for Mac and PC to enable location and speed overlays with the video too.

Functions ★★★★★★

SIX STARS! The functions are superb. Not only are you getting a dash cam, you’re also getting a sat nav, and voice-activated navigation and Bluetooth calling too. As you’d expect there’s GPS and a motion sensor, which will lock files automatically when a dramatic change of speed is detected. Lane Departure Warning and Garmin Real Vision are also included. The Garmin Real Vision uses the camera and nav at the same time so you can literally see the destination on the unit. A clever combination of a dash cam and sat nav.

What’s more, you can fit a second camera to the rear of the car, wirelessly, which converts the dash cam into a reversing camera. There’s also an app called Foursquare, which allows you to check in to destinations and share that info with friends – it’s not something we found to be of much use, but at least it’s there if you want it.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Thankfully with a screen this large, the recording quality is excellent. The lens excels at both day and night. It doesn’t quite get five stars are it’s slightly more pixelated than the Nextbase 402G and Cobra CDR820, and the 90-degree viewing angle is a bit of a let-down compared to other dash cams. Audio is nice and clear.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

You certainly get value for money with the Garmin. The sat nav-dash cam combo works brilliantly and there’s smart features included too. Gadget lovers will go mad for this, and if you’re willing to stump up the cash it’ll be worth it. Downsides are the size and fiddly installation process, but once that’s done you’re onto a winner.


DUEL-FACING DASH CAMS

CRASH CATCHER CC3 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £149.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Crash Catcher CC3

Installation ★★★★☆

It tucks nicely away by being attached to your rear view mirror, once you get it on that is. It’s a bit tricky with spring-loaded clamps but once it’s on it’s fine. It comes with a long cable which can run all the way down the A-pillar and under the carpet. It doesn’t come with a memory card however.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

The menu is ok once you get the hang of it but it takes a little longer than some other devices. There’s no obvious buttons to press and locking a file is still a mystery to us.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

The Crash Catcher CC3 doesn’t come with a G-sensor or GPS, so speed and location aren’t recorded. Basically, what you’re paying for is the two cameras, which face either direction. The device is popular with cab drivers, the company says. The screen switches itself off, to comply with UK law, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The two cameras record in 960 x 720 pixels then save the footage side-by-side in a 1920 x 720 composite. So the footage is good, however it records in 20 frames per second so it’s a bit jumpy. It’s not as clear in low light, but holds up well compared to some dash cams on the list.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Not the most high tech dash cam you’ll come across but it records well enough and is discreet when plugged in so won’t attract potential thieves.


TRANSCEND DRIVEPRO 520 REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £159.99

Check latest prices on Amazon Transcend Pro

Installation ★★★☆☆

The DrivePro 520 sticks to the windscreen with an adhesive mount, rather than a sucker which may put you off, however, you will find a 32GB memory card in the box which is a great incentive to buy. Suction mounts can be bought separately. When you first switch it on you’ll need to set things like the date and time, which is dull, but only needs to be done once thankfully. The GPS works without the hassle of an extra wire too.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Underneath the 2.4 inch screen you’ll find four buttons which you use to control the menus and settings. You’ll also see the emergency record button, which is red, on the underside. The cameras are easy to adjust too.

Functions ★★★☆☆

It’s packed full of useful functions including GPS, Infrared LED for night vision, WIFI (if you want to watch files on a smartphone or tablet) and G-sensor. Although the G-sensor is a little too sensitive for our liking, minor bumps in the road will cause the files to be locked. You’ll end up turning it off, which makes having a dash cam pretty pointless.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The files from either camera are filmed separately – from files are labelled “A” and rear-facing are “B”. The files recorded on the front camera are in 1080p, which is stunning in daylight, but a little disappointing at night. The rear camera records a 110 degree wide-angle, which differs from the 50m zoom the Nextbase Duo uses. A wide-angle means it records things going on in the cabin as well as outside. The disadvantage is number plates aren’t so visible. The rear camera isn’t as clear as the front one, it records in 720p and isn’t good at night. Audio is nice and clear though.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

It’s graet for use during the day as pretty much all angles are covered, but if you’re going to use it to drive at night you may want to consider another dash cam. Also, the G-sensor is overly sensitive, which is annoying, frankly.


NEXTBASE DUO REVIEW

RRP at time of test: £199.99

Check latest prices on Amazon NextBase Duo

Installation ★★★★☆

The Nextbase Duo comes with a suction mount, which you can twist into position nice and easily. The cameras are positioned at either end of the dash cam so you can frame it correctly too. GPS is built-in so you don’t need to worry about an extra wire, you will have to buy an SD card though as there isn’t one in the box. You’ll also need to remember to switch the screen off as it doesn’t’ do it itself, and is required by law.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

It couldn’t be much simpler. There’s a button on the top and a button on the bottom, with three buttons either side of the screen. These are used for navigating the menu and locking footage.

Functions ★★★★★

The DUO comes packed with a GPS and G-sensor, along with the two cameras. The rear view camera is different to others on the market, as it zooms in 50metres to capture what’s going on behind your vehicle. It doesn’t capture what’s going on inside. It’s clear enough to capture the face of the driver behind you though.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The overall quality of the camera is good, although it is compromised when compared to a single lens, recording in the same 720p quality. It’s clear enough at night and day though, which is rare when it comes to dash cam recording. Audio is clear and crisp too.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

It’s a unique dash cam, but a very impressive one. The 50m zoom is like nothing else on the market. The quality is good enough from both cameras, at all hours of the day. The only downside is that is doesn’t come with an SD card, so it’s more expensive than rivals.

Many of these products were reviewed by Driving.co.uk. View the original article here.


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