Best dash cams 2018: reviews and all you need to know

As dash cam sales continue to boom, we test the latest and greatest to find the very best

Dash cams are enjoying huge growth, with over 2.6 million on the road today. Drivers can not only receive insurance discounts, they can also send footage of illegal driving to the police. In fact, these cameras are becoming so popular certain car makers are offering dealer installed options, such as Citroen’s ConnectedCam and MINI’s Advanced Eye. You can scroll to the bottom of this group test to see a comparison between our winner and a dealer option.

Since our last test, cam manufacturers have introduced models with 4K recording, while others still rely on 1440p (and lower) quality to help motorists in accidents. More dash cams also incorporate mobile apps so sharing and downloading footage is easier. 

• Car insurance: how to save money and get a cheaper quote

How we tested them

Clarity of footage is always central to our dash cam tests. After all, you need to be able to rely on what they record in the event of an accident. So we wanted cameras to capture lots of detail such as number plates, street signs and pedestrian movements in a variety of light conditions. In addition, we rated each device for ease of use, looking at how straightforward it was to change settings and whether they were easy to install. Price was the final factor. 

Dual dash cameras (which record the front and rear of your car) have also been gaining popularity. Which is why we conducted a mini test to see what these up and coming dual lensed recorders are all about. How we tested them was almost the same to the main test, although of course, the testing can’t be 100 per cent identical as it was not carried out at the same time. 

Verdict

Nextbase takes the crown in our dash cam test once again thanks to the all-round capabilities of its latest 612GW. The far more expensive BlackVue DR900S-1CH now provides the best footage, while the Philips ADR820 impresses with its great-value price tag and good-quality recordings. 

  • 1. Nextbase 612GW
  • 2. BlackVue DR900S-1CH
  • 3. Philips ADR820
  • ReviewsNextbase 612GW

     

    Price: Around £250
    Rating: 5.0

    All-new for this year, the 612GW is Nextbase’s first 4K cam. The crisp footage puts most rivals to shame. We still like the polarised lens that adds a level of depth and detail in sunlight – it highlights colours better, for one. Reading licence plates from distance was easy, plus the camera’s night vision was good. While the BlackVue’s recordings were clearer, the Nextbase has a far more attractive price. The interface is intuitive and the app easy to use.

    Buy now from Amazon

    BlackVue DR900S-1CH

    Price: Around £400
    Rating: 4.5

    The BlackVue DR900S-1CH records the highest-quality footage here. It edged the 612GW on reading plates from far away, while in low light the 162-degree lens picked out hazards better. The BlackVue also features an industry first by being able to upload footage to remote cloud servers. The sleek design means settings have to be changed via the BlackVue app. But the price is a chink in this cam’s armour. 

    Buy now from Halfords

    Philips ADR820

     

    Price: Around £140
    Rating: 4.0

    Philips’ ADR820 is cheaper than many rivals, but video quality is still great. The 1296p Super HD footage from the 140-degree lens picked out similar detail to our 1440p cams. Also, the F1.8 aperture was good in low light and the CMOS sensor adjusted exposure well as light changed.

    • Auto Express Product Awards

    The 2.7-inch LCD screen was easy to use, although the interfaces on the Nextbase and Garmin were better and they used higher-quality materials. Still, this is a great budget buy.

    Buy now from Halfords

    RoadEyes recSMART

     

    Price: Around 160 Euros (£141)
    Rating: 3.5  

    A contender in last year’s test that still impresses. You have to order the recSMART from France, but it captures great footage, with colours highlighted particularly well. It also starred in low light conditions, with the 1440p recording picking up pedestrians and cyclists quickly. There’s no screen so users have to download the RoadEyes phone app. But the software wasn’t as slick as rivals’; we had to exit it occasionally on our Android mobile as it didn’t connect with the cam.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Garmin 55 dash cam

     

    Price: Around £150
    Rating: 3.5 

    Like the RoadEyes, Garmin’s dash cam scored well on video quality. The 1440p recording captured lots of detail, even if the BlackVue and Nextbase were better able to pick out plates from distance or spot pedestrians sooner. We like Garmin’s sleek design, the camera feels solid and sturdy and even looks good. Less appealing are the driving assistance systems built in – they often chime in when going over bumps, and we ended up turning them off.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Halfords HDC400

     

    Price: £129
    Rating: 3.0 

    A decent debut from Halfords. The HDC400 is the range-topping device from the UK retail giant and comes with clear footage that picked out a good amount of detail. The 180-degree lens was the widest we tested, although the 1440p footage wasn’t as crisp as that of rivals. Images of reg plates were sharp from close-up, but at longer distances they turned blurry. The same was true of street signs and details like pedestrians in shadowy areas or in low light conditions. Still, the design feels solid and the Halfords MyHDC app is easy to use.

    Buy now from Halfords

    RoadHawk Vision Super HD

     

    Price: Around £150
    Rating: 3.0

    Want a sleek dash cam? The RoadHawk Vision is worth a look as it takes up barely any room on the windscreen. The app works well, but rivals here have a better interface. And while RoadHawk’s 1296p Super HD footage was clear, competitiors captured distant number plates more clearly. We felt low-light footage could have been better; glare from oncoming traffic and street lamps affected the camera more than with other devices.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Thinkware F800Pro

     

    Price: around £329
    Rating: 3.0

    A previous favourite, but rivals now record better-quality footage for less. Thinkware’s 1080p Full HD recording is still clear, and we captured plenty of information during the day. Yet 4K cams leave it trailing, and we struggled to match detail like street names on the move. We still like the Super Night Vision, the camera adjusts for exposure well and creates a balanced recording in the dark. However, that price holds it back.

    Buy now from Thinkware

    Best dual cam dash camThinkware F800 Pro

    Price: £349  
    Rating: 4.0

    The Thinkware F800 Pro is the sleeker device here. Its low profile means it looks slightly less intrusive on the front windscreen, although its rear camera was near identical in size, shape and function to the BlackVue’s.

    On the move we were again impressed by the set-up’s clarity of recording. The 1080p footage is well balanced and is so good that in the past it’s put some 1440p cameras to shame. The recording also adjusts quickly for exposure; shadows and glare affected it less.

    The F800 Pro really showed its teeth in the night test, where we were able to pick out more detail from side streets, saw pedestrians and cyclists just that little bit quicker and had an easier time reading licence plates on parked cars in the dark.

    The rear camera impressed us with its clarity of footage, too, and we liked how easy it was to wire in. A sticking point is the price. The F800 Pro costs far more than its entry-level rival, but it’s the better cam.

    Buy now from Amazon

    Best dash cams

  • 1. Nextbase 612GW
  • 2. BlackVue DR900S-1CH
  • 3. Philips ADR820
  • 4. RoadEyes recSMART 
  • 5. Garmin 55 dash cam
  • 6. Thinkware F800Pro
  • 7. Halfords HDC400
  • 8. RoadHawk Vision Super HD
  • 9. Thinkware F800 Pro (dual camera)
  • Factory and dealer fit dash cams

    We tested a couple of the more aesthetically pleasing alternatives to aftermarket products against our current sector favourite – the Nexbase 612GW. Footage quality remained key, but we also assessed the installation, ease of use and cost. Citroen’s ConnectedCam is integrated seamlessly into the car, and is a great argument for more manufacturers to fit dash cams at the factory.

    Where that’s not possible, MINI proves that a dealer-fit option can be almost as slick without sacrificing quality, however a standalone dash cam is still the best-value option Even though it’s not the tidiest installation, the Nextbase has the edge over its rivals here.

    Factory fit: Citroen ConnectedCam

    Price: £380 (standard on Flair-spec cars)
    Rating: 4.0 

    Citroen is the only marque to offer a factory-fitted dash cam at the moment. The unit is available on the C3 supermini and will soon come to the C5 Aircross. The ConnectedCam shows this solution should be investigated by more manufacturers. It sits neatly behind the rear-view mirror and stores footage on its 128GB internal memory.

    Simply press either the snapshot or the video button. The camera also auto-saves 90-second clips if it detects an ‘event’. Functions are accessed via a slick app, and the footage is of decent quality. Recordings aren’t as high-res as on the Nextbase 612GW, although reg plates are clearly legible day and night. It’s pricey, but standard on top-of-the-range Flair trim cars.

    Dealer fit: MINI Advanced Eye

    Price: £475 (including fitting) 
    Rating: 4.0

    MINI’s Advanced Eye sits neatly at the top of the windscreen, the cables are almost completely hidden and the cam turns on and off with the ignition. Our test car had a rear-facing cam, which is visible in the rear-view mirror. The 1080p footage is good and copes better than the Citroen with sun glare. There’s no companion app, but it’s easy to load footage from the SD card on to a computer. It’s neat but pricey.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *