Who needs a dash cam? Well, the UK’s roads can be a gruelling and dangerous place in 2017, and with reports the driving test is getting easier things could get worse on our roads. It might seem pessimistic but there are plenty of uninsured drivers out there, so investing in a dashcam is a safe bet to protect your car.
They’re proving so vital in insurance cases that police in North Wales recently trialled a scheme which saw motorists uploading dash cam footage as evidence of driving offences. The scheme was a success and is now being rolled out to all four police forces in the Wales, with support from the Go Safe partnership. Each of the drivers is responsible for processing their own videos (a process that typically takes police 15 hours per case), describing the incident. The Go Safe network can then forward the footage to the relevant authority who can verify the evidence and issue a warning, fine or even a court summons.
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Not only are dash cams often highly recommended and even a legal requirement for drivers in countries like Russia, new devices available in 2017 bolster crisp video and phone/tablet integration. Therefore, there should be greater accountability all round if you get into an unfortunate situation. However, as a rather obscure gadget, you can be forgiven for not knowing which dash cam is right for you.
If you’re unsure of where to look or what to purchase when it comes to dash cams, don’t fret we’ve got you covered. Our complete rundown means regardless of budget or expertise you’ll be able to find the right dashboard camera without the hassle. Our current roundup features six of the top dash cams on offer to UK customers.
The best dash cams to own in 2018
1. Nextbase 512GW (£145)
The Nextbase 512GW sits at the top of the company’s range of dash cams and it’s the best we’ve ever used. It captures video at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 at frame rates of up to 30fps, it has a Sony EXMOR sensor and coupled with an adjustable polarising filter in front of the lens, the quality of the video it records is superb. It’s even better than the 412GW below and a world away from a cheap 1080p or 720p camera.
In a dash cam, where the readability of number plates is key, that’s important and the fileter on front means it deals with tricky conditions, where the sun is low in the sky, better than most as well.
Aside from the imaging part this is an exceptionall well-designed camera. It has a 3in screen on the rear and touch controls to the left and right of that and videos are stored on microSD card. Owners have the option of watching video by transferring to the accompanying smartphone app over Wi-Fi, copying files straight off the card or by plugging it to a TV or monitor and viewing clips via HDMI.
More advanced features include a GPS and an accelerometer, wich track your position and potential impacts, and there’s software for Windows and macOS that displays your video footage with your location and accelerometer data overlaid. That data can also be embedded on your videos for when you export the file or share your video.
Perhaps the weakness in for the 512GW is that it doesn’t come with a microSD card in the box. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the perfect dash cam.
2. Nextbase 412GW (£126)
Nextbase’s dash cams might not be the cheapest around but they’re the best in our opinion and if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the 512GW, the 412GW Professional is a good alternative. It costs £126 and it’s still packed with features, including a powered quick-release mount that makes it easier to attach and detach when you’re getting in and out of the car.
You don’t get the polarising filter you do with the 512GW, but otherwise it’s pretty similar. The resolution is the same super-sharp 2,560 x 1,440, plus you get GPS, a g-sensor that marks clips to be saved when the camera detects impacts and heavy braking, a rear touchscreen LCD for instant playback and a 140-degree wide-angle lens so you can squeeze plenty of action in. Image quality is great, even in low light, making this one of the best dash cams money can buy.
2. Snooper DVR-4HD (£133)
The Snooper DVR-4HD is quite pricey, offers a relatively low resolution of 1080p and its footage can’t match the Nextbase 412GW for sharpness or performance in low light. However, its f/2 lens and 1/2.7in sensor ensure image quality is still good and there’s a huge range of extra features to play with as well. In addition to dash cam facilities, the Snooper comes with speed camera alerts, lane departure and collision detection warnings. There’s also Wi-Fi connection so you can connect your iOS or Android smartphone to the camera and review footage without having to take out the microSD card out or connect the camera to your laptop. There are some irritations: it’s terribly tricky to unclip from the windshield mount when you want to take it out of the car, and the dock isn’t powered. Overall, though, the Snooper DVR-4HD is a very good product, and among most feature-rich dash cams you can buy.
3. Garmin nüviCam (£279)
Garmin is already well known for its satellite-navigation systems, and the nüviCam combines that expertise with a sophisticated dashcam. The result? Less windscreen clutter, and an all-in-one solution that saves you money. The nüviCam displays a good-quality image on its 6in screen, and with a rate of 1MB per minute of video recording, it will take around an hour before it starts to overwrite old files. Garmin provides a 4GB card for video recording in the box, but there’s no reason you can’t upgrade that for a significantly larger card later on.
4. Cobra CDR 900 (£130.33)
The Cobra CDR 900 has to be one of the best dash cameras we’ve seen. Thanks to a small screen, the CDR 900 is the most compact here, but it packs more than enough features to make it one of the best. Like most dash cams, the Cobra comes with a G-sensor, so it can sense if you’re in an accident – and it also comes with an impressively sized 8GB memory card in the box. You’ll need it, because the CDR 900 is capable of recording footage in crisp HD – and an app even lets you watch it on your phone. But the best bit? The Cobra comes with an action-cam mode, and its size means you can use it just like a GoPro when you’re not driving.
5. Mio MiVue 658 (£119.95)
Although Mio isn’t well known in the tech industry, it’s produced one of the best dash cams we’ve used. It doesn’t look as sophisticated as the Garmin nüviCam, but the MiVue is more than up to the job. Featuring high-definition capability as well as HDR, the Mio throws in a few bonus features as well. It’s one of the first Mio cameras to come with support for a massive 128GB memory card, and it also has GPS – so it will notify you of upcoming speed cameras.