Each year, there are more than 180,000 serious accidents on our roads and many more minor incidents, but dash cams offer reassurance and an instant way to see who is at fault. James Scoltock finds the best one
Easy to install and use, the Roadhawk DC-2 records in full 1080p high-definition at a decent 30 frames per second, (FPS), and gives a viewing angle of 120° so that it can capture as much of the road ahead as possible.
The recordings made by the Roadhawk are stamped with the date and time, which makes it simple to refer back and see when any incident might have occurred.
Meanwhile, the camera’s GPS function means that your footage can be paired with your movements on a map using the Roadhawk software, so if you do find yourself the victim of a crash, your speed and location data will be readily available to anyone who might require it.
The footage is much sharper than expected, partially because the video captured by the dash cam benefits from image stabilisation, so there are fewer bounces and jerks even if you’re driving over rougher asphelt.
That makes it clearer should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an incident, and even in low-light scenarios the images are clear.
The dash cam comes with an 8GB SD card but is compatible with anything up to 128GB, although that might not be entirely necessary as the unit records on a loop, so will overwrite previous footage as the card runs out of space.
It’s a small point, but you would be wise to buy a suction mount rather than using adhesive; it gives you more freedom to move the dash cam between vehicles if necessary, and also makes it much easier to place on the windscreen.
Nextbase 412GW £129.99
The cheapest dash cam on test, but that certainly isn’t reason to dismiss it. The Nextbase 412GW records at 1440p and 30FPS with a viewing angle of 140° – the widest here – but can be set to 1080p and 60FPS.
As with other dash cams, GPS helps track your vehicle and gives information on speed and position, while the G-sensor gives force data in the event of an accident.
The G-sensor aids another useful function, because it identifies sharp or unusual movements as a result of an impact. The dash cam then locks that file away so that it cannot be recorded over.
The unit also benefits from a three-inch LED screen on the rear that makes accessing recordings quick and simple, and unlike the other units it includes a battery, making the 412GW usable even if power is lost in the vehicle.
The unit’s built-in wifi allows users to download and share footage with a mobile or tablet using the Nextbase Cam Viewer app available on IOS and Android.
Nextbase wants users to deploy the app to make their phones and tablets mobile storage devices for footage you need to keep and share with insurance firms or the police.
Set up of the 412GW is simple, and the magnetic window mount means that you don’t have to fight to remove the cam when you leave your vehicle.
The downside to the unit is that the buttons on either side of the rear screen are easy to touch by accident, meaning you can accidentally turn it on and drain the battery.
One final point – although the unit is compatible with microSD cards up to 128GB, none is supplied, so you have to buy it separately. That’s where the cost have been trimmed.
BlackVue DR750S-2CH £349.99
The DR750S-2CH is undeniably expensive, but it gives you the benefit of front- and rear-facing cameras so you can capture video no matter where the incident might be.
The front camera records at 1080p and 60FPS while the rear camera works at the same resolution but at 30FPS.
The viewing angle is wide as well at 139° so the camera can see more of the vehicle’s surroundings should something happen.
The dash cam comes with a 16GB microSD card. Like the other cameras tested here, it records on a loop, overwriting older files as space runs out. However, if you are recording from both cameras you might want to upgrade the storage because it’ll fill up quickly. It’s worth doing, especially considering how relatively inexpensive memory cards are.
As with competitors, the unit stamps footage with the time and date and the GPS also allows it to include the vehicle’s speed.
However, one of the biggest advantages of the BlackVue dash cam is the cloud service available using the mobile app from both the App Store and Google Play.
Once you’ve registered your device you can access functions including GPS tracking of your vehicle, remote video playback of files on the unit and watch live views from the camera.
There are downsides, and not just the price. The BlackVue is more time consuming to install, mainly because you need to spend time pushing cables into the headliner of your vehicle so they don’t dangle down. It means that once the unit is installed you’ll be less likely to move it between vehicles.
Dash cams have become much more affordable while offering greater levels of functionality than ever seen before, so the options are varied.
However, the balance between cost and function means that it’s difficult to look past the Nextbase 412GW. It’s the cheapest unit on test but it offers the same level of features as its competitors with the added bonus of a built-in battery and LED screen for instant playback of the footage it records.
It is also easy to install, and the addition of the app for your mobile phone means that no matter where you are you’ll be able to access the videos the dash cam records.
Yes, the BlackVue 750S-2CH offers a clearer image without having to adjust settings, on top of which it has the benefit of front and rear cameras and is an incredibly slick-looking unit, but not many will be able to justify the significant additional cost it demands.
The Roadhawk DC-2 is a very capable system and the image stabilisation technology means footage remains clear even though it records at a lower frame rate, but its cost, compared to the Nextbase unit, pushes it down the pecking order.
As our roads become more congested and accident frequency rises, having a dash cam on board will become increasingly important, and the Nextbase 412GW offers cost-effective access to the technology and the sheer peace of mind that it brings.