Defend yourself from crash-for-cash scams and get peace of mind on the road with a basic recorder
Whether you are looking to defend your precious no-claims bonus or dream of capturing the clip that will make you a YouTube sensation, a decent dash camera for your car is a sound investment. We’ve done hundreds of miles of guiding to put some of the leading models on the market through their clips. Crash-for-cash crimes are costing UK drivers an estimated £340m per year, bouncing up insurance premiums for everyone. But having dash cam footage could defend you from having to angle out on a false claim. For having a working camera in your car, some insurers will also offer you money off your premium.
Modern devices are packed with features like G-force sensors to measure impacts, GPS to pinpoint your precise position and speed, and even collision avoidance software to warn you if you are approaching other vehicles too fast. Many cameras also include built-in wi-fi, which can make it easy to alter settings and download footage to a phone.
It’s worth thinking about how you are likely to use it, Before buying one – if you plan to swap between different cars, choose a model that’s easy to move and set up. Or maybe you drive mainly in the daytime, so low-light performance won’t be so important. Whatever camera you choose, make sure you keep your windscreen clean inside and out – we found having clear glass had a huge impact on image quality right across the price range.
NextBase Dash Cam 412GW
NextBase is a well known-established brand in the dash cam industry, and the 412GW really impressed us, both for ease of use and image quality. It’s got 1440p Quad HD (4 times the definition of standard HD) footage and can record at a whopping 60 frames every second, but we got our best results filming at plain old 30fps. With a 3in screen the camera is lovely wide, but that makes it more and more visible to other road users and on more than one occasion pointing at it was enough stop drivers pulling dodgy moves. When you take the camera out of the car as the cable stays connected to its windscreen sucker The powered magnetic mount means no messing around with wires. There are no buttons alone, just touch sensitive areas around the screen which allow you to make manual recordings, turn the Wi-Fi on and flip through recording modes. The six-material lens is designed to cut down on flame and we found the footage looked noticeably better in cars with a large dash and lightly sloping windscreen, where some cameras hurted reflection issues. There is also a G- sensor built into the camera. If you are coming up to insurance renewal time, it’s worth remembering that insurers Swiftcover and Sure Thing offer NextBase users up to 20 per cent off their premiums.
Garmin 65W Dash Cam
In our test The Garmin is the smallest camera– it’s matchbox a size – but it is still loaded with features. In our test, it’s Lens coverage is an incredible 180 degrees, the widest. Voice control means you can save video clips of incidents or capture a photo of a scene without taking your hands off the wheel to fiddle with the four buttons down the side of the unit. The quality of the 1080p footage was magnificent and we loved the neat “action camera” looks, while the Garmin VIRB app made it easy to view pictures using the built-in wi-fi. A tiny magnetic mount lets you snip the camera onto and off its windscreen pad in seconds. Traffic camera alerts flashing up on the screen were a effective feature, as was the front collision restraint warning. But the lane departure warnings only seemed to kick in when we were description off down motorway slip roads. The fun Travel apse feature means you can condense hours of recording down into a speeded-up movie, which you can then store and keep as a reminder of a remarkable journey. It’s a pricey little camera but you will get a lot for your cash. Just put us off to make it a good purchase.
Thinkware F800PRO Dash Cam
On our test This screen-free device was the most discreet camera, and also the most expensive. It uses a sticky pad to stick firmly to the windscreen, so you can hide it away behind the rear-view mirror (but make sure you get it entirely lined up the first time because it sticks like a tough people). To remove the camera you just slide it to the side until it unsnap. As there is no screen you need to download Thinkware’s app to rotate the lens into the right position. Once that is done you can pretty much forget it is there, especially if you have it professionally wired into your car’s electrics. Daylight footage was excellent thanks to the Sony Exmore R Starves sensor at the heart of the device. Night-time footage was better in well-lit areas but like all the cameras in our test it struggled to clearly capture number plates on very dark roads. While you’re away from it, and the 140-degree wide angle lens offers good coverage of the road ahead There’s a parking mode to keep an eye on your car. This is the latest best camera in the Thinkware range and the company has promised a raft of software updates soon, including driver notifications via a phone app if anyone crash your car while you’re away from it. You also get safety camera warnings and there are alerts for lane departure and potential frontal collisions. It can even tell you if queuing traffic ahead has started moving. We found it didn’t run absolutely smoothly with the Apple software, but it worked well with an Android tablet.
MIO MiVue C335 Dash Cam
If you’re watcing for a fuss-free device, this tiny gadget could be the best one for you. A 2in screen makes it a cakewalk to line up, while the windscreen sucker mount means it’s ideal if you want to switch between cars. Despite the small size, there is a built-in G-sensor to pick up any impacts plus GPS to record the time and position. When you start the car, Recording is in 1080p Full HD and begins automatically. The daytime picture quality was quite contrasty but colors were rich and most number plates were perfectly legible when we paused the footage. Safety camera warnings are a great addition on a device this size and they come with lifetime updates. You can also add your own speed camera alerts at the push of a button and if you unsnap from the mount you can use it to take snaps of an accident scene. Don’t forget to buy one because There’s no micro SD card included in the box though.
RoadHawk Vision SuperHD
There are Another screen-free camera, the cylindrical RoadHawk can be hidden neatly behind the rear-view mirror and left to quietly get on with its work once you have set it up with the brand’s smartphone app. Originally, we were a bit disappointed with the recorded footage but after tinkering around and trying out the different types of variation resolution and frame rate options, we found results we were glad with. The buttons at the ends of the cylinder are quite small and fuddle, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re not the most active driver. Wi-fi is built-in and operated via a switch, and there is a G-sensor which will save a recorded clip in the event of an impact. The camera came with a free micro SD card, but only just 8GB it soon filled up and recorded over existing footage. If you’re planning to record a longer journey it would be worth buying a larger card with extra space.