The best dash cams for your car
Dash cam usage is on the rise. Once a rare thing, it is now very common to see cars with dash cams and there are plenty of reasons why someone may want to invest in one. Especially as a growing number of car insurance companies offer discounts or perks if you equip your car with a dash cam. There is also the peace of mind of knowing if something were to happen, you would have a recording of the incident to be able to share.
Dash cams are not only useful for you, they can also be useful for the other people on the road. The large recording areas and clear images of today’s dash cams mean if you witness a road accident your footage can come in handy for other road users. The more dash cams that are on the road, the more likely it is every road accident is captured by one.
As well as the many perks of having a dash cam, the technology has also rapidly increased in recent years. Once dash cams were clunky and took up space on your dashboard and could even have obstructed your field of vision. Today, however, these small cameras are incredibly inconspicuous, and some have some very impressive features.
Many cameras now record in HD and feature Wi-Fi connectivity. Others have features like parking protection, which means even if your engine is off and you aren’t in the car if it detects a bump or scratch using its g-force sensors, it will start recording. A lot of dash cams now also monitor your speed and track your location using GPS. These features can be useful or unnecessary depending on your situation, so it is worth keeping in mind the features you may never use and ensuring you aren’t paying more for them.
Another key feature to think about is whether you want only a front-facing camera, or a multi-lens system that includes both a front and rear-facing camera. Although rear-facing cameras are usually fiddlier to set up, it can give someone peace of mind knowing they have both sides of their car covered. It is entirely up to you as a driver what you prefer.
The last thing you want to think about when you roll out of the Ford dealership in your new wheels is an accident on any scale. But, it is always worth taking preventative measures and a dash cam can be a good way to do that. Although it won’t be able to stop the accident, it can make sure that there is a clear record of what happened if one does occur.
In this article, we look at some of the best dash cams on the market, so you can start to consider the right camera for your needs.
Firstly, we spoke to the market leaders Nextbase. Their large range of dash cams means they have something that is perfect for every driver, whether the furthest you go is to the shops and back or you often set off on cross-country trips.
Richard Browning, Director at Nextbase, told us why the company believes dash cams are so important: “Dashboard cameras are the fastest-growing area of the consumer tech industry for a good reason. By using a dash cam, drivers are offered security with solid video evidence in the event of a traffic incident. However, even pre-incident, motorists with a dash cam installed have been proven to be 33% safer behind the wheel.
“Once footage has been captured, it can show who was at fault in the event of an incident, the speed vehicles were travelling at and even determine whether an injury claim is realistic or being exaggerated. With so-called ‘cash for crash’ schemes on the rise in the UK, an independent and unbiased witness can be the difference between winning a case or losing one – thus effectively removing the risk of being wrongly accused of something.”
Nextbase recommended the 412GW as a good starting point when looking for a dash cam. Richard told us a bit more about the camera: “A Which? Best Buy, the 412GW offers fantastic footage quality featuring QUAD 1440p High Definition and recording at 30 frames per second. Recording quality is vital as a means of providing essential evidence in the case of an incident, and a dash cam is useless unless it can provide the very best footage. This is further ensured as the 412GW also boasts a 140° viewing angle capable of capturing the entire road ahead, as well as improved night vision for clear footage in poor lighting conditions.
“On top of the crystal-clear recording capabilities, the 412GW also comes with inbuilt Wi-Fi, so that drivers can share their footage instantly via the Nextbase App. The Click and Go Mount makes the dash cam easy to install, without the interference of wires.”
Nextbase’s interesting stance on features is another of its USPs. Unlike a lot of dash cams on the market, Nextbase tries to keep the camera as simple as possible by stripping back any unnecessary features. Richard told us why: “A dash cam has one primary function, to record what happens on the road and protect the driver. Nextbase dash cams are built to capture the very best video quality and we can say confidently that we offer the best picture on the market. What's more, once set up, our cameras need no further interaction - they are silent and discreet. Only in the event of a traffic incident is the G-sensor triggered, which locks the relevant video file so it can’t be recorded over.
“There are then a few other features that can help drivers if they do record something and need to report it to the authorities or insurers - such as Wi-Fi, GPS logging, etc. Parking mode is also handy for stationary vehicles; if the camera's sensors feel a jolt (i.e. if the car is knocked by another passing vehicle) then it will activate itself and capture the culprit.
“However, for every necessary feature there are a plethora of unnecessary ones. Lane detection, traffic camera alerts, gesture control, CO2 emissions tracking, etc. The list is endless. But all of these are distractions rather than necessary functions. Meaning that they don't actually encourage road safety, in fact, we have tested these features and haven't found one to be totally reliable. To put an unreliable safety product in a vehicle is not safe.
“A dash cam should be installed and then left to do its job, not constantly avert the driver's attention from the road. The same should be said of all in-car technology. It is there to help, but a person's main concern is keeping his or her eyes on the road and staying safe.”
Garmin are well known for their GPS and satnav systems, but they also provide a top of the range dash cam, the Garmin Dash Cam 65W. This compact, discreet camera is front facing, but you can also purchase an extra back-facing camera. The camera boasts 1440p recording capabilities and allows you to quickly sync videos to your mobile with Wi-Fi using the Garmin app.
As well as saving footage on impact, you can also use voice commands to start/stop audio recording, take a still picture or start/stop a video capture. In the event of a collision or event in front of your car, this can be a useful feature and means you don’t need to take your hands off of the wheel in order to activate the camera features.
The F800 PRO dashcam by THINKWARE offers 1080p full HD recording, road safety warning systems, safety camera alerts and built-in GPS as well as other features. The interesting shape of this dash cam means it takes up less space in your car, instead of being a more traditional rectangle the camera is a long cylinder (a lot of THINKWARE’s dash cams take this shape) which can mean the camera fits more snuggly into your dash. The camera has a Super Night Vision 2.0 feature which is great for low light situations, so if you are a night-time driver this camera could work well for you.
We spoke to Tim Sagar at THINKWARE, who told us why they believe dash cams are so important: “A dash cam is the “silent witness” you can depend on. The roads are never as safe as you’d like them to be and even if you take all the precautions for safe driving, there is always a chance of you getting involved in a motor vehicle accident.”
“In the event of an accident, it is often difficult for drivers to recall the crucial details surrounding the accident due to the shock and stress caused by the event. A dash cam plays a critical role of a reliable witness to protect the driver from the possibility of unjustified liability. Video footage from the camera can be submitted as supplementary evidence for insurance purposes to protect the driver against insurance frauds and hit-and-runs.”
They also told us about some of the F800 Pros main features:
“Cloud connectivity and built-in WiFi – Through the THINKWARE CLOUD app, via an iOS or Android smart phone, vehicle owners can set up push notification alerts for various situations. These alerts can be received by the devices registered on the account, which is a service included in the price of the dash cam. The connectivity to the cloud is provided either by tethering to a smartphone in the car, a vehicle’s WiFi hotspot or a MiFi.”
“Lower power consumption – When in parking mode the F800 PRO has various options; impact detection of events (10 seconds before and after detection), time lapse photography (2 frames per second continuous recording) or economy mode, where the camera will sleep until impact is detected when it will wake up within one second to record the next 20 seconds, reducing the current consumption by two thirds while parked.”
“Advanced safety features – The driver is given warnings in potentially dangerous situations such as lane departure, forward collision and urban forward collision. When stopped at a traffic light or intersection, the F800 PRO also offers front vehicle departure warning to alert the driver that the car in front has moved off.”
“Different recording modes – Continuous loop recording, manual and impact events while driving. Motion and impact detection or Time Lapse Photography at two frames per second for up to 72 hours when parked.”
“Geo-fencing – The driver is alerted through push notifications on registered devices when their vehicle enters or leaves pre-determined geographical locations. This is a practical feature for parents, rental companies, and for fleet management.”
“Locate vehicle – The F800 PRO updates its location every 10 seconds, so car owners can find out where their vehicle is using Google maps.”
“Impact alert and video upload – Should there be an impact of 3G in magnitude or more, an alert message is sent to the cloud together with a video clip of the incident. “
Next on our list is BlackVue. Their dual-dash cams are sleek and unobtrusive. They require hard-wiring to your cars power supply, but this can be done easily with an OBD II port converter which is compatible with most vehicles.
We spoke to the team at BlackVue who told us some more about why they think dash cams are important: “A good dash cam is capable of offering protection and peace-of-mind in the event of an accident or incident, whether you are directly involved or simply a witness. In a world where cash-for-crash insurance scams are unfortunately commonplace, a dash cam can prove what really happened. Additionally, some insurers offer significant premium discounts to motorists who have a dash cam fitted.”
We then asked, which of their dash cams would they recommend to someone looking to purchase their first: “For the average motorist our DR750S series is perfect, available in forward facing only and front and rear equipped versions, the DR750S has excellent day and night video quality, full Apple and Android App control and is a ‘connected’ device, meaning footage from the camera can be accessed remotely if required. We have also just launched the DR900S series, the world’s first 4K Ultra HD ‘connected’ dash cam, bringing never-before-seen video fidelity to the dash cam market.”
Finally, one of BlackVue’s main selling points is their Over the Cloud technology, we asked the team to tell us some more about that: “Both the DR750S and DR900S models feature our unique 'Over the Cloud’ technology - an industry first; an app-driven suite of real time features that lets the user connect to their dash cam anytime, from anywhere in the world, including remote Live View and Push Notifications to a phone. Back-up important videos to the free Cloud storage. Play and download videos from the dash cam’s memory or the Cloud from anywhere.”
“Enjoy Two-way Voice Communication with the driver from the app through the BlackVue’s integrated speaker and mic. Whether the user is driving or away from his/her vehicle in parking mode, you can rest assured that the BlackVue dash cam will capture all the critical details.”
The Mio MiVue 698 has been on the market for a while but is still a strong player in the dash cam game. This easy-to-use camera offers a dual-camera system and touch screen controls and is championed for its ease of use.
When movement is detected, the screen will automatically blank out, abiding by some country’s road laws and also avoiding unwanted distractions. Similarly to the Thinkware, the MiVue offers speed alerts to warn you of up and coming speed traps. Another admirable feature of this camera is the large 150-degree lens, which captures a very significant amount of the road ahead.
When looking at dash cams the most important thing is ensuring the features will work for you. Ensure it has the capabilities you are looking for, perhaps like Nextbase you don’t want any fancy thrills or features to distract, or perhaps the BlackVue Over-the-Cloud feature is something you can see yourself using. Whatever it is, you’ll have peace of mind when driving your new Ford.
Image Credit: Nextbase, BlackVue, Thinkware