dashcams-header

Buying Guide: Leading dashcam dashboard cameras reviewed (updated)

Dashed good ideas


Leading dash cam dashboard cameras tested and reviewed. Dashcams from Nextbase, RAC, Cobra and more

Jump to the dashcam reviews:

 

THE TECHNOLOGY that has been safeguarding the reputations – and insurance policies – of good drivers in Russia for many years is now beginning to take the UK by storm.

Our roads are by no means accident-free, and fitting a dashcam to your car can help reduce your insurance premiums – and offer you peace of mind when it comes to disputes over liability in an accident.

Driving has pulled together a number of leading examples, from basic video recording models to top-of-the-range dashcams with multiple cameras, accident sensors and the ability to record your speed and location by GPS.

Our detailed findings are below, with the models tested in order of price (lowest to highest) so this is the best place to come for information on the top dashcams currently available.

 

Dashcam Q&A

Why fit a dashcam?

The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates that 30,000 “crash for cash” incidents – for example, when a driver slams on their brakes to make a following car hit them – take place every year. Dashcams can help insurers identify fraudulent claims and determine who is at fault, so some offer a discount for drivers who have one installed, as long as they agree to provide footage on request (check with your insurer to see if a deal is available with your chosen dashcam).

Bear in mind that police will get involved if someone has been injured in an accident; they have the power to seize footage, which may be used as evidence.

How do dashcams work?

Dashcams are smarter than your basic video camera. Yes, you could attached a forward-facing GoPro or Dogcam to your windscreen and record your whole journey in one long file, but what if you run out of space on your memory card before the end of the journey?

Dashcams get round the problem by splitting the video into small chunks, usually video files of 1-3 minutes. When the memory card is full, the oldest file will be deleted to make room for a new file, meaning it will always record.

However, important files can be locked and protected from deletion, either manually (by pressing a button on the device) or in most cases automatically if the device detects a sudden change in speed (because of an accident or emergency stop).

Do I need to wipe the memory card manually?

Yes. Although the oldest video clips are deleted automatically to make way for new footage as the dashcam records, you may find that the protected (emergency recording) files build up over time and eventually fill the card, perhaps causing an error message to appear. For this reason, it’s best to format the memory card once every couple of weeks or so. In most cases, you will be able to do this via the dashcam’s menu.

Where can I mount a dashcam?

Dashcams should intrude no more than 40mm into the swept area of your windscreen wiper blades and must not be mounted in the area directly above the steering wheel.

Can a dashcam screen be on when I’m driving?

No. If a dashcam has a built-in screen, make sure it is switched off or turns itself off after a few seconds, as the law says motorists must not be able to view video-playing devices while driving (there are some exceptions to this rule related to providing information about the status of the vehicle itself – a parking camera, for example – but a dashcam does not meet these criteria).

Note: Most dashcams will need a 12V (cigarette lighter) socket for power, which means that if you have only one socket in your car and already use it for a sat nav or for charging your mobile phone, you will need to invest in an adaptor. Maplin has a number available: click here.

 

Dashcam reviews

 * RRP correct at time of review

 


Entry-level forward-facing dashcams

Nextbase iN-CAR CAM 101 Go review

RRP at time of test: £50
Check latest prices on Amazon

Nextbase 101 dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

A compact shape and twist-to-grip suction mount plus long cigarette lighter charger make this very easy to attach to and detach from your windscreen. A star is knocked off as there’s no SD memory card in the box – you’ll have to buy that separately. Still, you can get one for a few quid these days.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

As with most dashcams, plugging in the power triggers  recording, so there’s minimal delay to starting your journey. Four buttons below the 2in screen enable easy navigation through an uncomplicated menu system, so setting the date, for example, is a doddle. One of the buttons also allows easy locking of video files, ensuring you won’t overwrite any accidents that happen ahead of you

Functions ★★★☆☆

There’s no GPS, so you can’t record your speed or location and then play it back through software on your computer, but there is a date and time stamp on the footage and settings such as video resolution and G-sensor (sudden speed changes) sensitivity, which could help if you have a heavy right foot and find you keep unintentionally locking files with harsh braking or accelerating.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

At 720p, the definition isn’t up there with the best, and the 120-degree viewing angle is average, but it captures 30 frames per second, so there’s no judder in the footage, and low light is handled fairly well. Audio is captured clearly, too.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Unobtrusive, simple to use and producing good-quality footage, this is a great budget option. Nextbase is recognised by insurers and says Swiftcover will offer a 12.5% discount to customers that use its dashcams.

 


SmartWitness Smart-i Drive

RRP at time of test: £59.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

SmartWitness Smart-i Drive dashcam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

A suction mount makes this very to attach to and detach from your windscreen. It comes with a 4GB memory card as standard but a larger one can be specified.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Plugging in the power starts recording and a simple menu can be navigated via the 1.5in screen. Video can be viewed on your computer with your usual video player.

Functions ★★★☆☆

With no GPS or G-sensor, the Smart-i Drive can’t track your location or speed or register an accident automatically. The specification sheet highlights that it can be used as a PC webcam, which gives you an idea of the genesis of the device – it doesn’t appear to have been born for use in a car. However, there is a motion sensor, in case you want to leave it set up to record movement after you have left the car, and it does loop record to make sure recording continues when the memory card is full (the oldest file is overwritten – see above).

Video/audio quality ☆☆☆☆☆

Sound records fine and its 720p resolution is technically high definition. However, a look at the footage will show that the image quality is the poorest of the cameras we’ve had on test, made even worse by the fact that the viewing angle – how much you can see to the left and right – is just 72 degrees; it has by far the most blinkered view of any dashcam featured here (the next worst is 118 degrees – see table below).

VERDICT ★☆☆☆☆

If you’re after a budget dashcam, the poor quality video and a very restricted viewing angle make the SmartWitness Smart-i Drive one to avoid, especially as the Nextbase 101 (above) is superior in almost every way and will save you some cash.

 


 

CrashCam Simplicity review

RRP at time of test: £69.99

CrashCam simplicity dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

Attaches with a sucker mount and is compact in size. Quite a nice looking unit, too.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Starts to record when plugged in to the power outlet, while six buttons make it slightly more complex than some but it does enable easy navigation through the intuitive menu.

Functions ★★★★☆

No GPS means speed and location are not recorded, while the 120 degree viewing angle doesn’t offer the widest field of vision out there. However, the 1.9in screen is clear and there are other tricks up this unit’s sleeve, such as motion detection, a clever feature that could be used while the vehicle is parked to capture vandals or thieves stealing fuel from your tank, for example.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

While the picture size is full HD, we found the lens focused on the windscreen rather than the road in front of the car. There is a night vision mode, which should improve the quality of the footage at night, but in reality it wasn’t better than most rivals’ efforts. The audio is poor – it sounds like it is under water.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

A smart little unit that comes with a free 16GB memory card, making it the best value option we tested. However, the lens’ poor focus let it down.

 


 

Transcend DrivePro 100 review

RRP at time of test: £74.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Transcend DP100 dashcam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

Comes with an adhesive pad rather than a sucker mount, so effectively once stuck it’s hard to remove the mount. You can detach the camera and take it with you when you leave the car, however. The DrivePro 100 comes with a very generous 16Gb memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Nice, simple button layout makes the menu easy to navigate and the 2.4in screen is large and clear. Video files are easy to play back on the device and on computer.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

The DrivePro 100 has a G-sensor but it’s so sensitive that you’ll be diving into the settings to switch off the thing after the umpteenth time it tells you that it’s detected an accident and is making an emergency recording. Effectively this renders the sensor useless; instead, if you want to lock a file you can do this manually via a button on the side (it locks 30 seconds of footage before and after the button being pressed). There’s no GPS on this model so speed and location are not recorded.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Picture quality and colours are good. It’s not the best performer in low light but footage is certainly decent and clear. It has a decent 130-degree viewing angle, which ensures a middling-level field of vision. Audio can be recorded but we had inadvertently pressed the mute button while recording, so check the audio icon on the screen if you want to ensure that sound is captured.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

As strong performer in video quality and ease of use but the overly-sensitive G-sensor lets down the DrivePro 100 and we’d have preferred a suction mount attachment.

 


Cobra CDR 820 review

RRP at time of test: £79.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Cobra CDR 820

Installation ★★★☆☆

Slightly fiddly to install as it has a screw-in sucker mount, which can also mean it loosens if you try to angle the camera once attached to the windscreen. However, the tiny size makes it a discreet addition to your car. An 8Gb memory car is in the box.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Tiny unit means tiny buttons, of which there are seven. A bit fiddly. Having said that, most of the time you won’t need to use them – as with the other models, plugging it into a power supply starts the recording.

Functions ★★★☆☆

No GPS on this one so speed and location are not recorded but there is a motion sensor for capturing movement when the vehicle is parked and it does have a G-sensor to lock footage that might have captured an accident.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

Excellent picture quality in day and low light conditions, with no judder or pixelation. The audio is captured crisply, too.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

For under £80, this is a great product offering sharp video, clear audio and the basic features. It also comes with an 8GB memory card. Cobra says that, while there are no specific insurer discounts at present, it is working with insurers on this and we can expect details early in 2015.

 


Cobra CDR 835 review

RRP at time of test: £79.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Cobra CDR 835 dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

Cobra released this dashcam in late 2015 (some time after the CDR 820) but at the time of writing (April 2016), both are for sale for the same price on the Cobra website. It is described as “an easy out-of-the box solution that is quick and uncomplicated to set-up”. It’s simple enough but as with the 820, the screw-in sucker mount isn’t the most user-friendly. It also requires you to enter the date and time before use. However, it shares a couple of advantages with the 820 — compact size and an 8Gb memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

A major plus over the 820 is a simpler menu system — the four buttons below the screen access a nice, clear menu with large icons. In addition, there’s a very obvious emergency record button above the screen and a power on/off button in the top right-hand corner.

Functions ★★★☆☆

As with the 820, there’s no GPS on this one so speed and location are not recorded but there is a motion sensor for capturing movement when the vehicle is parked and it does have a G-sensor to lock footage that might have captured an accident.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

We awarded the CDR 820 five stars for picture quality and the CDR 835 is just as good, if not better, with excellent picture quality in day and low light condition and no judder or pixelation. The audio is is a little muted, though.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Another low-cost winner from Cobra, and it comes with the company’s usual 8GB memory card in the box. If you don’t want GPS tracking or other high-end features, the CDR 835 is worth a look.

VIDEO COMING SOON


 

 

Transcend DrivePro 200 review

RRP at time of test: £89.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Transcend DP200 review

Installation ★★★☆☆

This Transcend device also comes with an adhesive pad rather than a sucker mount, so effectively once stuck it’s hard to remove the mount. You can detach the camera and take it with you when you leave the car, however. Like the DrivePro 100 (see above), this DrivePro 200 comes with a large 16Gb memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

This also has nice, simple button layout makes the menu easy to navigate and the 2.4in screen is large and clear. Video files are easy to play back on the device and on computer.

Functions ★★★☆☆

As with the DrivePro 100, the DP200 test unit had a very sensitive G-sensor that believed we were having an accident every few yards, thereby making emergency (locked) recordings constantly. You will end up turning off the sensor. You will then need to manually lock files via a button on the side (it locks 30 seconds of footage before and after the button being pressed), but in the event that you are hurt in a real accident, this may not be your first priority (or possible).

For the extra cost over the DrivePro 100, the DrivePro 200 includes Wifi connectivity to allow review of footage over a wireless network and mobile app, but as with the Cobra CDR 900 we found that this was more of a gimmick than a really useful feature. The DP200 also has a VGA video out connection to connect to a television.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Picture quality and colours are good but not significantly improved over the Transcend DrivePro100. It’s performance in low light was better thatn the DP100. It has an excellent 160-degree viewing angle (30 degrees wider than the DP100), which is one of the highest on test and ensures a wide field of vision. As with the DP100, audio can be recorded but again, we had inadvertently pressed the mute button; be sure to check the setting to make sure that sound is captured.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Really decent video quality but as with the other Transcend we had on test, the overly-sensitive G-sensor was a big problem. The 16Gb memory card is a great addition at this price but we’d have preferred a suction mount to the adhesive mount. WiFi capability and a mobile app are a distraction, not a necessity, but you’re not paying a huge amount for these additionally features.

 


RAC Digital CarCam 01 review

RRP at time of test: £99.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

RAC 01 Digital CarCarm dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

Easy, with a nice long power cable. Comes with a 4GB memory card.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

The slick, simple look belies a slightly fiddly menu system, with buttons on the top, bottom and side.

Functions ★★★☆☆

The camera can rotate on its axis, allowing you to angle up and down or, if you wish, spin it around to face the rear. The image appears upside-down, mind, and you can change the angle of all the cameras tested by adjusting the mount, of course, so we were a little baffled as to the point of this feature. There’s no GPS to show speed and location and no motion sensor. Fairly limited for the money.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Records in 720p and the footage is clear during the day, but the camera struggles to adjust to the correct exposure in changeable light. Pretty poor at night with objects difficult to make out; not up there with the competition. Audio is clear, though, and a high frame rate means there is no judder.

VERDICT ★★☆☆☆

Not a terrible unit but certainly not as intuitive or fully loaded as rivals at this price, and low light footage is significantly under par.

 


Kaiser Baas R10+ review

RRP at time of test: £99.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Kaiser Baas R10 dashcam review

Installation ★★☆☆☆

Not a complicated unit to install — there’s the camera, the windscreen mount and the 3m long power cable, which is USB to mini USB with a 12V adapter allowing a choice between plugging into a USB port in the car or the “cigarette lighter” socket. However, Kaiser Baas insists on supplying adhesive mounts, so when you unclip the camera from the mount it leaves a tell-tale sign that electronic gadgetry may be hidden in the glovebox — we prefer suction mounts, which are also easy to readjust if you get the positioning wrong. You’ll also need to buy yourself a memory card separately, and with no GPS function, you’ll need to set the date and time manually.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

We like the large screen, while six buttons and a reasonably intuitive operating system make the Kaiser Baas R10+ menu easy to navigate. It starts recording as soon as it receives power and downloading the footage to your computer can be done from the camera via USB or, even easier, removing the MicroSD card and plugging it into your computer via a Micro SD to SD card adapter.

Functions ★★★☆☆

There’s no GPS, so you’ll not be able to record speed or position, but the G-sensor will detect crashes and lock the related footage as an “Event”, which is minimum requirement for an effective dashcam. There’s also a Parking Guard mode, which will record for 30sec after a shock is detected while parked, and a Motion Detection mode, which triggers recording when it detects movement, but the value of both of these is debateable.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The R10+ records in 1080p by default and clarity is decent in daylight, although slightly less crisp than the best 1080p cameras. At night the image is quite dark, which sounds obvious but the best cameras’ sensors do a better at brightening up the image in low light. Audio is nice and clear.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆
Not a bad camera for the price but no GPS function may be a problem for some buyers and image quality, while decent, isn’t up with the best, especially in low light. No SD card in the box and the adhesive mount (rather than our preferred suction mount) may tip the balance the wrong way.

VIDEO COMING SOON

 


Mid-priced forward-facing dashcams

CrashCam Essential review

RRP at time of test: £107

Crash Cam Essential dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

Nice and easy, and records as soon as it is plugged into a power outlet.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Large screen and simple buttons make it easy to operate, but we’d have liked a clearly-marked button to lock footage in case you witness an accident ahead.

Functions ★★★☆☆

A smart little unit with motion sensor and G-sensor, and while GPS is not standard you can plug in additional hardware if you wish to upgrade at a later date. You can watch the footage using the video player that comes with your computer, so it seems odd that specific playback software comes with the Crashcam as it doesn’t offer any benefits, such as data on your speed and location.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Video quality is excellent and astounding at night. Not a moment will be missed. Great value.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Arguably not the most attractive dash cam but it became one of our favourites thanks to the large screen, high quality video even at night and low cost. CrashCam even include a big 16GB memory card. The option to plug in a GPS recorder seems smart but would make set-up slightly fussy. There are no deals with specific insurers at present so discuss it with your insurer before purchase.

 


 

Transcend DrivePro 220 review

RRP at time of test: £129.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Transcend DrivePro 220 review

Installation ★★★☆☆

The DP 220 is relatively simple to install as the GPS is built in, meaning no additional cables beyond the power cord, and it’s a nice, compact unit. However, the UK version comes as standard with adhesive pads and so you’ll need to get the position right first time as removal and adjustment is a pain. It is possible to buy a Transcend suction mount (sold separately), which we strongly advise as it means you can detach the camera easily and it leaves no evidence of any electronic device on your windscreen; use the adhesive mount and you can unclip the camera but it leaves behind the tell-tale plastic stalk.

Once plugged in we had to work our way through a number of date and time settings before the device started recording, but this is a one-time affair and not uncommon. A generous 16Gb memory card comes in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Transcend’s menus are easy to navigate and the 2.4in screen is large and clear. Video files are easy to play back on the device and on computer. If you want to bother with the WiFi capability and smartphone app then things get a little more complicated, but we don’t see much point in dashcams with WiFi.

Functions ★★★★★

The DrivePro 220 is pretty much fully-loaded, with built in GPS to record your location and speed, as well as a G-sensor to detect hard braking and accelerating or, indeed, a crash. In addition, the latest smart features for dashcams are available including Lane Departure Warning, a speed alarm (for when you exceed the speed limit) and Forward Collision Warning. There’s also a snapshot feature in case you need photo evidence of an accident. Parking Mode will detect movement when the car is parked and start recording, which could prove useful if another driver prangs your car while you’re out and about but could invite car thieves (who would nab the dashcam, anyway).

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The DrivePro 220 records in 1080p full HD and what is called “WDR” (Wide Dynamic Range), which adjusts the aperture and thereby improves the clarity in low light conditions. We found quality of the footage to be excellent in day and night driving conditions. It has a 130-degree viewing angle, which is mid-table of those we’ve tested and gives a decently wide view of the road. Audio was quite clear.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

The DrivePro 220 has a number of smart features, is simple to use and compact. At under £130 it represents excellent value for money. Just make sure you buy the additional suction mount.

 


RAC Digital CarCam 02 review

RRP at time of test: £149.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

RAC02 Digital CarCam dash cam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

Attaching the camera is simple enough thanks to the suction mount but the GPS is not in-built – it comes as an attachment which adds an extra cable to the set-up, which trails across the dashboard. Quite messy.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Five buttons mounted under the large screen make menu navigation simple, and it records as soon as power is plugged in.

Functions ★★★★☆

The joint largest screen on offer, the widest viewing angle of the cameras tested, full HD video and a G-sensor mean this is fairly well loaded. The external GPS cable records speed and location, which is stamped onto the video footage, but there’s no software to plot these details on a map.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Full HD video at a top spec 30 frames per second but, as with the RAC01, this model struggled with low light conditions. The wide angle is very useful for catching what’s going on at the sides of the vehicle, though – it gives the joint widest field of vision of the dashcams we tested, along with the SmartWitness SVC1080 (below).

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Plenty going for it, and one of the more attractive dash cams, but the low light issue and external GPS set-up are a pain.

 


Nextbase iN-CAR CAM 402-G Professional review

RRP at time of test: £149.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Nextbase 402G dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

The 402-G comes with a sucker mount, for easy attachment to the windscreen, and an extra long power cable that allows you to run the wire around the top of the screen, down the A-pillar and under the carpet, keeping it relatively hidden and out of the way. The GPS is in-built, so unlike the RAC there’s no extra cable running across your dash.

Ease of use ★★★★★

Records as soon as it’s plugged in and has a very simple-to-navigate menu system, with three buttons either side of the screen and two buttons on top of the unit.

Functions ★★★★★

Along with in-built GPS, which records speed and location (you can choose to have this displayed on the video footage itself and/or viewed using the supplied software), the 402-G includes a G-sensor that detects potential incidents and locks the related video file. It also has a motion detector for recording any vandalism while the car is parked, a 140 degree viewing angle (not the widest, but above average) and a 2.7″ screen.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

If one thing sets the 402-G apart from the competition, it’s the video quality. The lens doesn’t look much at first glance, but Nextbase attributes the video clarity to its “6G” construction, which basically means it has six layers of glass (“More layers equals better quality,” a spokesperson told us). In addition, the 402-G seems to be able to deal with low light better than the competition, thanks to what is called “wide dynamic range” – essentially the lens aperture opens and closes to suit the light conditions, rather than relying on an infrared mode. Audio is also very clear.

VERDICT ★★★★★

Outstanding video quality in all lights plus lots of features for mid-level money, as well as a potential 12.5% insurance saving at Swiftcover, make this our dashcam best buy.

 


Snooper DVR-4HD review

RRP at time of test: £149.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Snooper DVR-4HD dashcam review

Installation ★★★★★

The Snooper DVR-4HD comes with a suction mount, which makes it easy to attach to and detach from the windscreen, and when it fired up the time and date were already set (although to BST during GMT months), so there wasn’t any delving into menus before setting off for the first time. GPS is built in to the device, which is a decently compact size.

Ease of use ★★☆☆☆

We were initially a bit baffled as to why the DVR-4HD wouldn’t power up after being plugged in, but soon located the “on” switch underneath; not something we’ve encountered before and unnecessary, we’d argue. We like touchscreens on dashcams but the icons on the Snooper’s 2.7in display were a little small and the emergency/event icon was especially tricky to press. Then, when you do press it, the only indication is the flashing word “Emergency”, writ small on the left of the screen — we’d have liked an audio alert and a more obvious visual clue that you’re capturing the emergency, as it draws the eye for too long while driving. The menu system is much less intuitive than the Mio MiVue 658, for example, and most the advanced features need to be switched on manually.

Functions ★★★★★

The Snooper DVR-4HD is loaded with tech: GPS and G-sensor are joined by Collision Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Alert, Driver Fatigue Alerts (voice and screen alerts after an hour of being switched on, and then every 30 mins thereafter)  and Speed Camera Detection. The latter requires regular updates via your PC, and the process is a bit fiddly, and the alerts are not at all obvious — the Garmin Dash Cam 20 and Mio MiVue 658 (both below) do the job better. There’s WiFi capability, so that you can connect to a smartphone and share videos online. However, most of these aren’t vital and it’s likely you’ll not use several of them.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Footage records in 1080 full HD and with a 140-degree viewing angle. Footage in daylight is very good, with numberplate clarity of on-coming cars being somewhere above the Mio MiVue 658 but below the Nextbase 512G. Night footage is decent but a bit washed out and blurry when compared to the best. We found that the GPS didn’t show our position or speed when tested in daylight in November 2015, whereas it is clearly shown on the night footage from October. Audio is a bit tinny.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

In terms of aesthetics the Snooper DVR-4HD is one of the most utilitarian we’ve tested, and while we like the idea of touchscreens, the menu system could do with a redesign to make it more user friendly. The video quality was pretty decent, though, particularly to make the emergency record function more obvious.

We like dashcams that offer speed camera alerts but the Snooper wasn’t as accurate out of the box as the same system on the Garmin Dash Cam 20 (below), nor were the alerts as clear, and updating the database is an unnecessarily complicated process. There’s a lot of tech here for your money and as a way to record incidents, it does the job.

 


 

Cobra CDR 840 review

RRP at time of test: £149.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Cobra CDR 840 dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

This attractive dash cam is simple to set-up using the suction mount but doesn’t have an especially long power cable. Comes with an 8GB memory card so it’s ready to go straight out of the (nicely-presented) box.

Ease of use ★★★★★

Very simple to navigate the menu thanks to the up-down-left-right-OK button cluster. Records as soon as it is plugged in.

Functions ★★★★☆

Comes with in-built GPS to record speed and location, which can be played back on the provided software. It didn’t always record the location, we found, perhaps indicating the satellite may be tricky to reach in poor weather conditions (we tested it on a very rainy day). It also comes with a G-sensor to lock footage that it suspects may contain an accident, along with a clear red button to do this manually should you witness an accident up ahead.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Driving tested this on a rainy day but quality of the image was very good and the footage in the dim light conditions was easily a match for the Nextbase 402-G. The night footage was arguably slightly crisper than the Nextbase, but the image overall was darker.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Nearly five stars, the CDR 840 is attractive, has lots of features and shoots great, crisp video but it just falls short of the 402-G on the ability to deal with very dark night-time footage, and we’d have liked a long power cable. The free memory card is an incentive to buy, though, and should an insurer offer a discount similar to that of the Nextbase models, choosing between the two would be tough. Definitely worth a look.

 


 

Garmin Dash Cam 20 review

RRP at time of test: £169.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Garmin dash cam 20 dashcam review

 

Installation ★★★★★

Quick and simple to attach and detach using the sucker mount, and the ball joint means angle adjustment is amongst the easiest we’ve tested. Its tiny size means finding a discreet location on the windscreen is no problem.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Starts recording straight away and navigating the menus is intuitive, navigable via the four buttons running along the underside of the screen.

Functions ★★★★★

The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is small in size but packed with all the essential features: a G-sensor to detect accidents and auto-protect related footage, as well as the ability to manually protect footage, GPS to record speed and position (this info is recorded on the footage by default). As with most other dashcams, you can take stills photos after an accident, should you want to record it for insurance purposes, but most drivers would do this on their smartphones, we imagine.

There’s no WiFi capability but we’re dubious as to the value of such a thing. Instead, Garmin has added something much more useful for drivers: speed camera alerts. It’s not available in all locations, the database needs to be updated regularly via a home computer and the annual subscription for UK & Ireland costs £16.99, but we imagine many drivers will appreciate such a feature.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

As with the Garmin nüviCam, picture quality is 1080p HD and performs well in daylight and at night, but the final recording seems a fraction more compressed than the best performers in this regard. In addition, the contrast seems to be higher than average. That doesn’t stop the footage from being very decent. The field of vision is hampered by a 90-degree viewing angle, which is the second-narrowest of all dashcams on this page (jointly with the nüviCam). Audio is quite muffled and hissy, but acceptable.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

A no-nonsense product that’s easy to set up and live with, features a G-sensor and GPS and records high quality audio and video. It beats other similar devices thanks to the speed camera alerts, but the narrow field of vision does let it down somewhat.


Kaiser Baas R20 review

RRP at time of test: £169.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Kaiser Baas R20 dashcam review

Installation ★★☆☆☆

There were a number of fiddly steps to setting up the Kaiser Baas R20 dashcam. If you’ve read any of our other dashcam reviews you’ll know that we’re not fans of adhesive mounts, as they’re a visual clue to would-be thieves that something worth stealing may be in your glovebox. Sucker mounts are our preferred choice. All Kaiser Baas models  sent to us came with the adhesive attachments. Second, the clip for the unit must be attached like a photo camera to a tripod clip, before it can then be slid on to the mount – unnecessarily complicated.

In addition, the power cable connects to the unit not via a mini or micro usb connector, as with most other dashcams — a unique DC plug connection is required, so losing your cable would mean you need to call Kaiser Baas for a replacement.

We also had to set the time and date before initial use – it doesn’t do it via satellite – and there’s no memory card in the box.

Any good news? The power cable is long, GPS is built in (no additional aerials are required) and the 12V plug for the power cable has two USB sockets, so you can power the dashcam and have a socket free to charge your phone.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Once up and running, it records as soon as it receives power and navigating the menus via the 2.7in screen is simple, using the four buttons running either side of the screen. The screen times out automatically, to comply with the law. Manually recording an incident requires you to press OK and then OK again – it’s not especially clear.

Functions ★★★★☆

All the requisite features are here: a G-sensor to detect accidents and lock the related footage (it definitely works – just tilt the device to start an “event” recording), GPS to record speed and position, which is shown on the recordings by default. There’s no WiFi capability here but that’s not much use anyway. It does, however, display on the screensaver either the time or a compass with your direction of travel, which could prove useful to some. The computerised voice alerts (“Normal recording starts”, etc.) are a bit tiresome after a while, but can be switched off in the menu. Speed and location are not recorded on the footage: you need to install the supplied software to see that information.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The Kaiser Baas R20 records in 1296p but the default setting is 1080p. We’re not sure why that’s the case but it meant that we recorded our footage without realising we weren’t set to optimum resolution. The 1080p footage we captured was clear in daylight but struggled with both clarity and vibration (numberplates event on parked cars were blurred).

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Relatively powerful but not one of our favourite dashcams to look at, install or operate, and its footage (in 1080p mode, at least) is average, especially in low light. Overall, too many irritations meant we didn’t warm to the Kaiser Baas R20.


Nextbase 512G review

RRP at time of test: £179.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Nextbase 512G dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

A plug and play model, you’ll be up-and-running in no time as it starts recording as soon as you connect to the 12V cigarette lighter socket. GPS is built in so you don’t have to mess around with extra cables, and the suction mount makes it easy to attach and detach from the windscreen. The 512G drops a star because Nextbase doesn’t supply a memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★★

Nextbase’s menu systems and button layout are as simple as they come. A word of warning, though: you’ll need to set the screen to timeout in order to comply with UK law and when you do so, you’ll need to press the emergency record button twice if you witness an accident ahead; once to wake up the screen and again to lock the file. We fell foul of this ourselves.

Functions ★★★★★

It is packed with everything you need – GPS, G-sensor, screens, wide-angle lens – and very little of the things you don’t (e.g. WiFi connectivity). Motion detection is included, but we’ve yet to find a good use for it. The real point of this camera, though, is the image quality…

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

…which is superb. Nextbase says it has added a new polarising filter that helps removes windscreen glare and reflection but we found there was still some of the latter. Overall qaulity in varying light conditions, though, is unrivalled thanks to a new image sensor and a six-element lens. Crystal clarity is important, especially in situations where you need to record numberplates. In addition, the 140-degree viewing angle ensures that the periphery is covered and the camera performed well in low light conditions.

VERDICT ★★★★★

Another excellent dashcam from Nextbase that raises the bar for image clarity, which could prove vital in capturing video evidence. However, the 402G remains our best buy thanks to its lower price.

VIDEO COMING SOON

 


Mio MiVue 658 WiFi review

RRP at time of test: £179.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Mio MiVue 658 WiFi dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

A nice compact design thanks to its touchscreen, so there are no buttons around the edge adding extra width/height. It comes with a suction mount so it can be added and removed easily when you park up and want to conceal it or take it with you. A single cable plugs into the 12V socket – nice and simple.  It doesn’t come with a memory card, though, so loses a star.

Ease of use ★★★★★

The touchscreen interface is excellent, with a very clear and nicely designed operating system. There are quite a few useful features on the MiVue 658 WiFi, so this is especially welcome. In addition, the screen is set to time out by default, which complies with the law without the user needing to change the settings.

Functions ★★★★★

In addition to the GPS, G-sensor, large screen and 150° wide-angle lens, there’s also a Parking Mode with motion sensor, which is designed to capture any dings to the front of your car while you’re parked. However, this requires an adaptor to ensure power is supplied from the car’s battery at all times (usually it cuts out power to the 12V socket shortly after you lock up), and we prefer to hide or remove the camera to deter thieves. Also, there’s WiFi mode that allows playback, backup and sharing via a smartphone, but this is also fluff, in our opinion.

Really useful features include the speed camera recognition with a large, clear speed readout on the touchscreen, which is marginally more trustworthy than our car’s speedometer, we found, thanks to the GPS. In our video below, the daytime footage was recorded when the unit couldn’t find a satellite, however, so no speed or location is displayed. This occasionally happens with GPS devices when you switch them on in an underground car park, as we did – something to watch out for. When it works (most of the time), it’s an excellent feature.

Video/audio quality ★★★★★

Mio says its range of cameras come with technology used in GoPro action cams, so the quality is just as good. We were certainly impressed with the clarity, in daylight and at night, although numberplates are washed out in low light conditions. The level of detail is aided by the better-than-full-HD 2304 x 1296  pixel resolution, recording at 30 frames per second – tremendous stuff, although on our overcast filming day it was a little dim compared to some other devices. The 150-degree viewing angle is one of the widest on test, so action to each side is captured, too.

VERDICT ★★★★★

One of the best dashcams that we’ve tested, with great video and smart features, such as speed camera recognition and a superb touchscreen interface. The WiFi and Parking Mode features are less useful but it’s quick to set up, small, attractive and very user friendly, so even though there’s no SD card in the box, the MiVue 658 WiFi gets a well-deserved five stars and a Top Tech award.

 


SmartWitness SVC1080

RRP at time of test: £199.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Smartwitness SVC1080 dashcam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

This model comes with an adhesive mount, so make sure you place it correctly first time (we prefer the flexibility of a suction mount). The SVC1080 itself can be unclipped when you leave the car to deter would-be thieves. It comes with a 4Gb memory card as standard but a larger one can be specified.

Ease of use ★☆☆☆☆

The buttons on the SVC1080 are a little small and fiddly but the menu is simple enough to navigate. A big frustration was that video footage can only be reviewed using the SmartWitness software. The company told us that this is because it is the only way to view the real-time mapping information stored on the files but it does make it a more laborious way to review footage than is necessary; as the map co-ordinates are visible on the footage it seems an unnecessary complication.

In addition, the footage playback using the software was jerky; only by exporting the file (minus the location info) from the SmartWitness software and watching it with our usual video players (VLC or QuickTime) did it play smoothly.

Functions ★★★☆☆

The SVC1080 can track your location and speed thanks to inbuilt GPS, but as you’ll see above, the information doesn’t play back very smoothly in the SmartWitness software. Recordings can be password-protected and the manufacturer says it is 3G, 4G, Wifi, WiMax and Bluetooth ready.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Video quality is clear and smooth, and the viewing angle (170-degree, or pillar-to-pillar) is excellent. However, night-time footage is grainier than the best here. Audi recording is optional – it wasn’t captured by default on our test device.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The best part of £200 is a lot to spend on a camera that only comes with a 4Gb memory card, doesn’t outperform others in video quality and forces you to use the supplied software for playback. The extra-wide viewing angle is useful, though.

 


Kaiser Baas R30 Wifi review

RRP at time of test: £199.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Kaiser Baas R30 review

Installation ★☆☆☆☆

About as far removed from “plug and play” as you can get, the Kaiser Baas R30 requires you to download an app to your phone before you can view the footage it records. That’s simple enough, assuming you have a smartphone and an internet connection to download the app. You then connect to the camera via WiFi, allowing you to view a live stream of the camera on your phone for initial positioning on the windscreen. It’s a faff, but you may only need to do this once.

Kaiser Baas supplies adhesive mounts so you’ll want to get it right first time (we prefer the flexibility of a suction mount). The good news is that it’s such a compact design, you could tuck it away discreetly at the top of your windscreen and thieves might not notice it’s there.

Further marks off for the fact that there’s no SD card in the box.

Ease of use ★★☆☆☆

Without a built-in screen, you’re relying on the mobile app to replay footage and check the framing of the camera, and to change settings. One the plus side, there’s little to distract the driver and the emergency record button is clear enough, should you want to lock footage of an accident ahead of you.

Unfortunately our night-time footage didn’t record due to a “card error”, and connection issues with the app meant that we weren’t able to format the card to correct the problem. Trying to rectify the problem was intensely frustrating and, after some time, we gave up.

Functions ★★★★☆

The WiFi element of the Kaiser Baas R30 is a necessity, rather than a useful feature for those wishing to share footage online, which does take some of the fun out of it. Having said that, sharing of footage is extremely easy, with the ability to link your phone to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as two social networks clearly aimed at the Asian markets, Youku and Sina Weibo.

A built in G-sensor monitors sudden shocks and will lock footage when it thinks there has been an accident, and GPS logs your position and speed.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

The R30’s big selling point is its 2304 x 1296 (2K) resolution, which is 44% larger in scale than full HD. That should allow greater detail in the image, and it’s not at all bad, but we found the image to be slightly grainy at full size, with oncoming cars’ registration plates still quite tricky to make out, indicating that the lens isn’t a match for the very best we’ve tested.

As mentioned above, we were unable to get a recording at night due to a “card error”, which is hard to resolve due to the fact that there’s no built-in menu system on the camera, and our WiFi connection kept failing.

Audio is clear.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The Kaiser Baas R30 promises better-than-HD picture quality and lots of functions but in reality the picture quality is only OK and the key functions can be found on cheaper models. Not having a built-in screen is a major problem, in our experience (see the CrashCam Pro and Roadhawk HD below), even if it has WiFi connectability, and in this case the mobile app connection let us down. We also didn’t like the adhesive mount and the fact that you have to buy a memory card separately. Overall, quite frustrating, especially at this price.

VIDEO COMING SOON

 


 

High-end forward-facing dashcams

CrashCam Pro review

RRP at time of test: £226.80

CrashCam Pro dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

The Crash Cam Pro is small, light and easy to attach to the windscreen. The adhesive pad (rather than a sucker mount) was a little annoying, although it is possible to pull the camera off the windscreen and restick it a couple of times without too much of a problem. The long power cable plugs into the 12V power socket (cigarette lighter)and can be fixed, using additional clips, around the top of the windscreen, down the A-pillar, into the footwell and under the carpet, which keeps it neatly out of the way.  However there’s no screen so you’ll not be able to set up the frame as accurately as other devices.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

There’s one button, which is used to lock an event recording. Simple. However, the software provided, while quite smart in that it played back the footage with realtime speed and location information, kept freezing on our brand new Windows 7 laptop. It’s so irritating you’ll not want to bother with it.

Functions ★★★★☆

Includes GPS for logging your speed and location, a G-sensor for automatic accident detection, and support for a second camera.

Video/audio quality ★☆☆☆☆

According to the Crash Cam website and accompanying press notes the Pro plays video in HD, but we found the video had actually recorded in 640×480 resolution. That, for non-videophiles, is most definitely not HD – it’s woeful compared with all other cameras we tested (Vision Techniques has promised to correct the misleading online description). What’s more, it was pixelated, stuttery thanks to a low frame rate and didn’t perform well in low light conditions. In addition, the audio was extremely muffled – voices within the car were audible but the speech difficult to make out. Very poor, especially at this price.

VERDICT ★★☆☆☆
Easy to use and plenty of functions but it doesn’t include a screen and the video quality, at this price, seems like an insult.

 


Click to read car REVIEWS or search NEW or USED cars for sale on driving.co.uk


Cobra CDR 900 review

RRP at time of test: £229.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Cobra CDR 900 dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

One of the smaller devices, this attaches quickly and easily to the windscreen via a suction mount. The power cable is a decent length, allowing you to tuck it away down the A-pillar and under the carpet in the footwell.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

It’s simple to start recording your trips and there are only two buttons on the device itself, making it quite easy to control, but this is easily the most complex dash cam if you want to use all its functions. See below.

Functions ★★★★☆

It may be small but the CDR 900 dash cam is perhaps the most technically advanced dash cam in our line-up. There’s no in-built GPS (it can be plugged in if required), but the 160 degree lens is one of the widest we tested, while the stand out feature is the ability to connect it to a wireless network. You can do this either locally – to your phone for video streaming, playback and immediate sharing – or via “the cloud” – to your home/office wireless router so that you can watch the footage via an app on your phone from anywhere in the world. Combined with a motion sensor it could be used for home surveillance, for example. But while this is a gadget-lover’s dream, we question the usefulness for drivers.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

A good frame rate ensure the footage is smooth, and the footage can be recorded in Super HD (1296p), but in fact we found the image to be not a sharp as either the Nextbase 402G or Cobra CDR 840. Meanwhile, the microhone seemed overly sensitive resulting in booming audio.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Very smart and should appeal to gadget lovers, but without GPS and top notch video footage, this isn’t our favourite dash cam. Especially at this price.

 


Roadhawk HD review

RRP at time of test: £229.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Roadhawk HD dashcam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

The Roadhawk HD’s slim profile allows the device to be discreetly tucked behind the rear-view mirror so your vision remains unimpeded, although the mount is adhesive rather than suction so hard to remove once attached. The external GPS connector is unnecessarily fiddly; other devices have this built into the unit. An 8Gb memory card is included in the box.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

The lack of a screen makes it difficult to frame video and change settings – this has to be done while connected to a computer. The software included also displays video with the mapping/location information but isn’t required for a quick review of the footage.

There are virtually no buttons to play with on the unit itself… but that’s the idea; Roadhawk, more than any other manufacturer, doesn’t want drivers to be distracted by its products.

Functions ★★★☆☆

Its industrial appearance conceals a hi-tech device with 1080p recording, a GPS connection checked six times a second for accurate location information and a high-quality lens with image stabilisation  and a G-sensor are included.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Really excellent high-definition video quality but there’s more glare in low-light when compared with the Nextbase 402-G. Also, the viewing angle isn’t as wide as others we tested. The audio is clear, if a little tinny.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

Hi-tech, with excellent video quality, but there’s no screen and the price is high for a product that isn’t quite as good as the best on test.

 


 

Garmin nüviCam review

RRP at time of test: £299.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Garmin nuviCam sat nav and dashcam review

Installation ★☆☆☆☆

We were really disappointed with how tricky it was to mount the nüviCam on the windscreen. For a start, it’s huge – the six-inch screen (five- and seven-inch versions are available) proved quite unwieldy and finding a spot in which our view of the road was not obscured beyond what is acceptable – and required by law (see Dashcam Q&A, above) – was quite a job.

Although power is fed to the screen via the sucker mount, and the two connect neatly and cleanly via magnets, we had to re-adjust the positions several times before we got it right. A spot on the right-hand side of the screen provided the best view of the road (and the Garmin will ask whether it’s being placed on the left, right or centre of the windscreen) but as you can’t move the mount without unclipping the screen, it was only through trial and error that we were able to find the position that kept the bulky unit as far to the right as possible without touching the A-pillar.

In addition, the GPS requires an additional cable to be stuck to the windscreen, which is unsightly and adds time to the installation.

If you were to exit the car leaving everything but the screen behind all the hassle is fine, as you only do it once, but with all that mounted to our windscreen we felt that we were inviting thieves to break in, so we removed it all each time and then had to attach it again on return to the car.

All in all, it was a right pain. At least there’s a 4Gb memory card in the box.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Once fired up, we were given a view from the camera and asked to adjust its position. You’re able to make further angle adjustments left and right via the lens itself. Once sorted, recording started and we were presented with a version of Garmin’s standard sat nav operating system, which is fairly easy to navigate. The first time we used it, however, the sat nav could not find a satellite and so no speed of location was recorded (reflected in the daytime video below).

Almost all settings are controlled via the touchscreen interface, although you can lock footage via a button on the top of the screen and there’s a power button on the back. All fairly simple to get to grips with, given its many functions.

There is Garmin Dashcam Player software for Mac and PC to enable location and speed overlays with the video but these can be recorded on the footage itself and files can be reviewed on your computer using your usual video player with ease.

Functions ★★★★★★

This device requires an extra sixth star as it goes way beyond the others we’ve tested here in terms of what it can do. As well as the dashcam there’s a full Garmin sat nav, which is clearly displayed on the aforementioned huge screen and includes such features as “photoReal Junction View”, voice-activated navigation and Bluetooth hands-free calling.

Of course, there’s GPS and a motion sensor to display speed and position, and sudden deceleration or accidents can be detected and the related footage is locked automatically. The sat nav and camera in combination allow clever additional features generally only found built into high specification new cars, such as Forward Collision Warning (an alert sounds if it thinks you’re about to hit something ahead on the road), Lane Departure Warning and Garmin Real Vision, which overlays navigation instructions onto the camera view to help indicate, for example, the exact house you’re looking for on a street.

A professionally-installed second camera can also be fitted to the rear of the car and connected wirelessly, converting the Garmin into a reversing camera, too. We didn’t try it, but back-up cameras can be useful tools. Of course, there additional cost for the device and installation.

One function we didn’t find much use for was Foursquare, the app that allows you to virtually “check in” at locations such as restaurants, hotels, museums and so on, and then share that information with friends. Foursquare was an interesting curiosity when launched but it hasn’t really taken off on mobile phones, so its usefulness here is open to debate.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

The quality of the footage is excellent – the lens performs very well in both day and night conditions – the footage seems to be more compressed than on our benchmarks for video quality, the Nextbase 402G and Cobra CDR820, meaning slightly more pixelation. Also, a 90-degree viewing angle is one of the narrowest we’ve tested. However, there’s no judder and overall, clarity is up at the highest end of devices. Audio is crisp and clear.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Combining a dashcam with satellite navigation is a brilliant idea, and Garmin has done a great job in bringing it to life. Kudos also goes to the manufacturer for utilising the tech to add smart features such as collision warnings, too – with all these features, the nüviCam actually represents good value despite costing nearly £300. If you’re a gadget fan looking for a dashcam and also need a sat nav (or want to upgrade from an older one) then the nüviCam is definitely worth a look.

Be warned, though: in our view Garmin has gone overboard on the screen size – it just takes up too much room on the windscreen – while fitting/removal proved frustrating, too.

 


Dual lens (forward and rear-facing) dashcams

Crash Catcher CC3 review

RRP at time of test: £149.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Crash Catcher CC3 dash cam review

Installation ★★★★☆

It attaches to your existing rear view mirror – a smart idea that makes it extremely discreet – but the spring-loaded clamps are hard to prise apart and then hook on, so it’s a little cumbersome. However, as with the Crash Cam Pro and Nextbase 402-G, the long power cable can be run around the top of the windscreen, down the A-pillar and under the carpet, keeping it relatively hidden and out of the way. Also be aware: there’s no memory card in the box so you will need to purchase your own.

Ease of use ★★★☆☆

Working out how to navigate the menu took a little more getting used to than some other devices, as there’s no obvious select/back button, and switching between menu tabs involves holding down the menu button. It also isn’t clear how to lock a video file in the event of an accident.

Functions ★★☆☆☆

There’s no G-sensor in the Crash Catcher CC3 – the only dash cam on test not to have one (they monitor g-forces and lock video files in the event of a suspected accident). There’s also no GPS, so speed and location are not recorded, and no motion detector. Instead, for your money you get two cameras, which can be set to face forward and backwards. According to a spokesperson, this has made it popular with taxi drivers, who wish to record what is going on inside the cab as much as outside. The screen is mounted behind the mirrored glass and switches off after a minute or two, making the CC3 even more discreet.

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. While this is decent quality, it only record in 20 frames per second so it is a little jerky. The footage captured at night was not bad, if a little fuzzy compared with the best we had on test.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

A bit left field and not the most high tech dash cam here, but the rear facing camera is smart, as is the mirrored screen and discreet packaging.

 


Transcend DrivePro 520 review

RRP at time of test: £159.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Transcend DrivePro 520 dashcam review

Installation ★★★☆☆

In the box you’ll find the dashcam, a generous 32GB memory card (a great incentive that gets you up-and-running straight away), the power adapter with a nice long cable and the windscreen mount, which attaches via adhesive foam. There really is no need for adhesives: a suction mount works perfectly well and is much easer to remove, leaving no evidence of technology being in the car for potential thieves to see. Transcend sells separate suction mounts and may offer the 520 with one in the box; we recommend it. The first time you fire it up you’ll need to go through setting the time, date and date format, which is slightly dull. The good news is that there’s no extra cable for the GPS to work and the design is pleasingly compact.

Ease of use ★★★★☆

Transcends menus are easy to navigate, with four buttons below the 2.4in screen, and the emergency record button is red, so clear to see, and positioned on the underside. After you’ve set the time and date, all you need to do is add power to start recording. The rear-facing camera is easy to adjust as it swivels independently of the main unit.

Functions ★★★☆☆

The DrivePro 520 is what you could call fully loaded: the second lens; alarge, clear screen; GPS; Infrared LED for night vision; WiFi connectivity for watching live video footage and playback on mobile devices; G-sensor. It’s a pity, then, that this is another Transcend with a G-sensor that is far too sensitive. Out of the box, it was set to the lowest sensitivity and yet the 520 thought that every minor bump in the road was a major collision, and locked the majority of the files as emergency recordings. You’ll end up turning off the G-sensor (as a spokesperson advised when we encountered the same problem on another device) removing the whole point of having a dashcam.

Video/audio quality ★★★☆☆

Front and rear camera footage is recorded in separate files – forward-facing footage is shown with an “A” at the end of the file name, rear-facing gets “B”. Video quality from the 1080p front camera is exceptional in daylight – possibly the clearest we’ve seen – but at night it is grainy and a conspicuous juddered is apparent; it’s decent enough, but not the best by a long way. The rear-facing camera is a wide-angle (110-degree) lens, unlike the Nextbase Duo, which has a 50m zoom lens facing backwards (see below). The advantage of the wide angle lens is that it records events inside the cabin as well as through the rear window. The disadvantage is that numberplates are less visible. Footage from the 720p rear camera is clear during the day but at night it doesn’t pick up much at all. Audi is clear and crisp.

VERDICT ★★★☆☆

The Transcend 520 records very high quality daytime footage front and rear, and being able to record inside the cabin may be useful to private hire drivers, but at night the footage is poor. What’s more, the overly-sensitive G-sensor is a major design flaw that means we cannot recommend this dashcam.

 


Nextbase Duo review

RRP at time of test: £199.99
Check latest prices on Amazon

Nextbase Duo dashcam review

Installation ★★★★☆

The Duo’s cameras are at each end of the unit so you’ll need to position the camera fairly centrally on the windscreen. This is made easy thanks to the twist-grip suction mount, but the adjustment of the cameras takes just a few seconds longer than a single-lens dashcam to make sure you’ve got the framing correct. GPS is provided via a small square piece of plastic above the suction mount, but it doesn’t get in the way – it’s infinitely preferable to an extra wire, as you find on some sat navs. Plugging in gets you up and running straight away, provided you’ve bought a micro SD card (there isn’t one in the box, unfortunately). The cameras both twist 180-degrees so you can point he screen slightly towards you if you prefer. The screen doesn’t switch off automatically by default – you’ll need to change this in the settings to comply with the law (see top of page).

Ease of use ★★★★☆

There’s a button on the top, one on the bottom and one on the top, with three buttons either side of the screen for navigating the menu and locking footage if you witness an accident. All very straight forward.

Functions ★★★★★

With GPS, a G-sensor and the two cameras, this is a sophisticated bit of kit and works well. It eschews such fripperies as WiFi and app connectivity – Nextbase says its customer research revealed buyers weren’t interested in such things, and we’d have to agree. Being able to view footage remotely on mobile devices is mere garnish. The rear view camera is unique in its 50m zoom function – what goes on inside the cabin isn’t captured, instead Nextbase has focused on showing events through the rear window, which is useful if you want to capture licence plates or the face of the driver in the car behind.

Video/audio quality ★★★★☆

Both cameras record in 720p quality although, as with the Crash Catcher CC3 above, the footage is knitted together side-by-side into a single video (in this case, at 1920×800 pixels). This is useful but overall quality from each camera is compromised somewhat when compared with a single lens camera. Still, it’s decent enough in the daytime and the performance in low light is definitely above par. We found the rear camera to be marginally less grainy than the front camera, but the front lens has a usefully wide 140-degree field of vision. Audio is clear and crisp.

VERDICT ★★★★☆

Nextbase’s unique 50m zoom lens will be attractive to those that don’t want to capture themselves in the car but would like to show events through the rear window. Video quality is decent from both cameras and it’s easy to set up. We do wish it came with a memory card, and it is more expensive that the Transcend and Crash Catcher dual lens dashcams, but then you get what you pay for.

 


Click to read car REVIEWS or search NEW or USED cars for sale on driving.co.uk


 Do you have a dashcam you’d like us to add to this page? Email us here.

 

Table of specifications

N.b. New entries in bold

Dashcam Price (RRP at launch) Video quality Screen GPS G-sensor Viewing angle SD card inc.?
Nextbase 101 £49.00 720p, 30fps 2in No Yes 120° No
SmartWitness Smart-i Drive £59.99 720p, 30fps 1.5in No No 72° 4GB
Crash Cam Simplicity £69.99 1080p, 24fps 1.9in No Yes 120° 16GB
Transcend DrivePro 100 £74.99 1080p, 30fps 2.4in No Yes 130° 16GB
Cobra CDR 820 £79.99 1080p, 30fps 1.5in No Yes 118° 8GB
Transcend DrivePro 200 £89.99 1080p, 30fps 2.4in No Yes 160° 16GB
RAC01 CarCam £99.99 720p, 30fps 2in No Yes 120° 4GB
Crash Cam Essential £107.00 1080p, 30fps 2.4in No Yes 120° 16GB
Transcend DrivePro 220 £129.99 1080p, 30fps 2.4in Yes Yes 130° 16GB
RAC02 CarCam £149.99 1080p, 30fps 2.7in Yes (external) Yes 170° 4GB
Nextbase 402G £149.99 1080p, 30fps 2.7in Yes Yes 140° No
Crash Catcher CC3 £149.99 720p, 20fps 2.4in No No 120° No
Cobra CDR 840 £149.99 1080p, 30fps 1.5in Yes Yes 118° 8GB
Transcend DrivePro 520 £159.99 1080p & 720p, 30fps 2.4in Yes Yes 130° & 110° 32GB
Garmin Dash Cam 20 £169.99 1080p, 30fps 2.3in Yes Yes 90° 4GB
Nextbase 512G £179.99 1080p, 30fps 2.7in Yes Yes 140° No
SmartWitness SVC1080 £199.99 1080p, 30fps 2.4in Yes Yes 170° 4GB
Nextbase Duo £199.99 720p x2, 30fps 2in Yes Yes 140° & 50m zoom No
Crash Cam Pro £226.80 640 x 480, 15fps N/A Yes Yes 120° 16GB
Cobra CDR 900 £229.99 2304 x 1296, 30fps 2in No Yes 160° 8GB
Roadhawk HD £239.99 1080p, 30fps N/A Yes (external) Yes 135° 8GB
Garmin nüviCam £299.99 1080p, 30fps 5/6/7in Yes (external) Yes 90° 4GB

 

Sunday Times Driving product reviews

 

Updates
  • Originally published November 21, 2014.
  • Updated March 20, 2015 to include SmartWitness Smart-i Drive, Transcend DrivePro 100, Transcend DrivePro 200, SmartWitness SVC1080 and Roadhawk HD.
  • Updated July 7, 2015 to include Transcend DrivePro 220, Garmin Dash Cam 20 and Garmin nüviCam.
  • Updated September 18, 2015 to include Nextbase 512G, Nextbase Duo and Transcend DrivePro 520. New dual-camera section created.
  • Updated November 19-26, 2015 to include Mio MiVue 658, Kaiser Baas R20 and Snooper DVR-4HD.