I’ve recently been having fun trying out some different dash cams. I think investing in one is a great idea for all drivers since it can save you a tidy sum on your insurance premiums and prove who is at fault in the event of an accident, either while driving or parking. It can also protect you from insurance fraud. I think most of us have seen the videos of pedestrians or other drivers staging what looks like an accident in order to extort money. It may be that people just want to document road trips, which is far nicer and less cynical but whatever the reason, investing in the best dash cam you can afford is a prudent thing to do. The latest one I tried is the Next Base 512GW and here are my thoughts on it.
My first impression of this dash cam was that it looked sturdy and unlike some smaller dash cams, this actually has the appearance of a traditional camera, so there’s no mistaking what it is. It’s still smaller than the palm of your hand though. On removing it from the box, I found it was easy to set up. There’s a clip at the top which is removed and you can then fit the mount to it. There are two different types of mount included. One has a sticky pad that attaches to the windscreen and the other, which I preferred, used a suction pad. If you’re using it in more than one car, this is the best option. It’s easy to swivel the camera around and aim the lens in the right direction, so once it’s attached to the windscreen it’s not difficult to point it in another direction.
It stores short clips of footage on a MicroSD card, which isn’t supplied with the dash cam. It can support up to 64GB and it is easy to insert into the camera, and just as easy to remove. It then connects to the car’s power outlet or to a power bank. I own a Fiat Panda with no power outlet, so I had to use a power bank when it was in my car. The cables are a reasonable length but the USB cable is much shorter than the cable with the in-car adaptor.
Once it’s connected to a power source, it is easy to operate. You choose the language and country you live in and it is controlled with buttons on the left and right hand side of the screen. They are all quite self-explanatory. There’s a 3.0″ LCD colour screen on the back of the camera with a high quality image, so you can be sure you’re aiming the lens at the right place and can view what you’re recording. The 6 element glass lens has a 140 degree wide angle with a polarising filter to reduce glare and reflections in your recordings.
The are some really great things about this dash cam. It has Wi-Fi connectivity and pairs with a smartphone app. You can use this to view live footage from the dash cam or watch videos or photos captured with the camera. You can also use the app to upload videos that are too large to be emailed to the Nextbase cloud type service and then you can send the link to friends, family or insurance companies. Watching the live footage is a great idea but there’s a lot of buffering some loss of quality in the images. However, it’s still quite interesting to view, even with those issues.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s GPS logging too so you can view your journey online on Google Maps which is handy if you need to know the exact location of an accident in which you were involved or maybe if you took an unscheduled detour and wanted to know where you went. Having not been in an accident, it wasn’t a feature I took a great deal of interest in but I know there will be some readers who would love to use this.
There’s also some editing and uploading software included with the dash cam, which is compatible with Windows and Mac. This was easy to install and navigate but my preference was just to stick the MicroSD into my laptop’s card reader and view using the standard video viewing software on my laptop. Just as a side note, the instruction manual is also on the disk so it’s worth holding onto, but if for any reason you weren’t able to keep the disk, the software and manual are available online.
The one thing that I wasn’t a fan of with this dash cam was the intelligent parking mode. Again, this is a nice idea and it promises that it will be activated by movement but it’s not automatic, or if it is, it didn’t work for me. I was able to activate it by sorting through some menus, but that makes the “activated by movement” statement misleading.
Despite the issues with the intelligent parking mode, I really enjoyed trying this dash cam. The images were consistently clear and crisp, the sound quality was reasonably good and it was easy to move from one car to the other.
If you would like to read more about this dash cam, you can check it out on the Halfords website where it is currently priced at £149.