Best dash cams of 2019: The UK’s top dashboard cameras from £35
You may well think of yourself as a person who doesn’t need a dash cam. Aren’t they just for the hair-trigger roads of Russia, where drivers are legally obliged to use them? Our streets – and drivers – may be a tad more civilised than that of the Motherland, but you still have plenty of hazards out there to contend with. So investing in a dash cam certainly won’t do any harm.
In fact, dash cams are proving so essential in insurance cases – especially in collisions with uninsured drivers – that police in North Wales have recently trialled a scheme in which motorists processed their own dash cam footage, before submitting it to the police as evidence of driving offences. It was so successful that the scheme has since been rolled out to all four Welsh police forces and given support from Go Safe.
Moreover, dash cams are swiftly improving in quality and capability, and dropping in price. But if you’re unsure of where to look or what to purchase when it comes to dash cams, don’t fret: we’ve got your cam concerns covered. Our complete rundown means that, regardless of budget or expertise, you’ll be able to find the right dashboard camera without the hassle. Our current roundup features six of the top dash cams on offer to UK customers.
The best dash cams to own in 2019
1. Nextbase 512GW (£145)
The Nextbase 512GW sits at the top of the company’s range of dash cams and it’s the best we’ve ever used. It captures video at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 at frame rates of up to 30fps, it has a Sony EXMOR sensor and coupled with an adjustable polarising filter in front of the lens, the quality of the video it records is superb. It’s even better than the 412GW below and a world away from a cheap 1080p or 720p camera.
In a dash cam, where the readability of number plates is key, that’s important and the filter on the cam’s front means it can deal with tricky conditions, where the sun is low in the sky, better than most as well.
Aside from the imaging part, this is an exceptionally well-designed camera. It has a 3in screen on the rear and touch controls to the left and right of that and videos are stored on microSD card. Owners have the option of watching video by transferring to the accompanying smartphone app over Wi-Fi, copying files straight off the card or by plugging it to a TV or monitor and viewing clips via HDMI.
More advanced features include a GPS and an accelerometer, which track your position and potential impacts, and there’s software for Windows and macOS that displays your video footage with your location and accelerometer data overlaid. That data can also be embedded on your videos for when you export the file or share your video.
Perhaps the weakness in for the 512GW is that it doesn’t come with a microSD card in the box. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the perfect dash cam.
2. Nextbase 412GW (£126)
Nextbase’s dash cams might not be the cheapest around but they’re the best in our opinion and if your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the 512GW, the 412GW Professional is a good alternative. It costs £126 and it’s still packed with features, including a powered quick-release mount that makes it easier to attach and detach when you’re getting in and out of the car.
You don’t get the polarising filter you do with the 512GW, but otherwise it’s pretty similar. The resolution is the same super-sharp 2,560 x 1,440, plus you get GPS, a g-sensor that marks clips to be saved when the camera detects impacts and heavy braking, a rear touchscreen LCD for instant playback and a 140-degree wide-angle lens so you can squeeze plenty of action in. Image quality is great, even in low light, making this one of the best dash cams money can buy.
3. Snooper DVR-4HD (£133)
The Snooper DVR-4HD is quite pricey, offers a relatively low resolution of 1080p and its footage can’t match the Nextbase 412GW for sharpness or performance in low light. However, its f/2 lens and 1/2.7in sensor ensure image quality is still good and there’s a huge range of extra features to play with as well. In addition to dash cam facilities, the Snooper comes with speed camera alerts, lane departure and collision detection warnings.
There’s also Wi-Fi connection so you can connect your iOS or Android smartphone to the camera and review footage without having to take out the microSD card out or connect the camera to your laptop. There are some irritations: it’s terribly tricky to unclip from the windshield mount when you want to take it out of the car, and the dock isn’t powered. Overall, though, the Snooper DVR-4HD is a very good product, and among most feature-rich dash cams you can buy.
4 Garmin Dash Cam 55 (£130)
Garmin is a company far better known for its satnavs than its dash cams – but its top-of-the-range 55 is a remarkable little device. Its 1440p sensor captures footage in an ultra-crisp detail that its 1080p rival simply can’t compare to – footage that you can quickly sync to your mobile with Garmin’s Virb app. If the worst does happen, the 55’s 3.7-megapixel sensor lets you snap good-quality photos of the accident, while the voice-control function will allow you to take a photo or make sure a video clip isn’t lost without your hands ever leaving the steering wheel.
GPS location recording? Check. Collision detection? Check. The clear, coherent layout of the menus on its gleaming 2-inch display make this very easy to use; the driver assistance feature alerts you to various hazards on the road. A supremely good camera that’s worth every last penny of its £130 price tag.
5. Cobra CDR 900 (£130.33)
The Cobra CDR 900 has to be one of the best dash cameras we’ve seen. Thanks to a small screen, the CDR 900 is the most compact here, but it packs more than enough features to make it one of the best. Like most dash cams, the Cobra comes with a G-sensor, so it can sense if you’re in an accident – and it also comes with an impressively sized 8GB memory card in the box. You’ll need it because the CDR 900 is capable of recording footage in crisp HD – and an app even lets you watch it on your phone. But the best bit? The Cobra comes with an action-cam mode, and its size means you can use it just like a GoPro when you’re not driving.
6. Mio MiVue 658 (£119.95)
Although Mio isn’t well known in the tech industry, it’s produced one of the best dash cams we’ve used. It doesn’t look as sophisticated as the Garmin nüviCam, but the MiVue is more than up to the job. Featuring high-definition capability as well as HDR, the Mio throws in a few bonus features as well. It’s one of the first Mio cameras to come with support for a massive 128GB memory card, and it also has GPS – so it will notify you of upcoming speed cameras.
7. Yi Compact Dash Cam (£34.99)
The Yi Compact Dash Cam is a cheap and cheerful device that will keep you equipped for any potential insurance claims. It comes kitted out with a wide 130-degree angle lens, providing you with 1080p recordings in 30fps. With its f/2.0 aperture, the Yi Compact Dash Cam is good enough to pick up on any action on the roads – even in low light conditions.
What’s better is that it even has a G-Sensor, a proximity sensor that can trigger an automatic emergency recording if you ever have an accident. You can also pair it with the Yi app which gives you access to your stored looped recordings and emergency recordings. The app also gives you access to a current live video feed, handy if you ever want to take a look at your car’s surroundings – even if you’re nowhere near it.
That said, the video and audio quality isn’t exactly spectacular, but then it’s not really supposed to be. Yi’s compact dash cam is cheap and affordable and it does what it says on the tin. If you just want reliable video evidence for insurance claims, this is the best dash cam for you. And it’s cheap to boot.