Dash-cams are all the rage. They’re becoming more and more popular, as the burgeoning quota of accidents and near-misses on video-sharing websites will attest.
They’re all well and good in the daylight, but a good dash-cam will still record everything you need it to even in the darkness and rain of a British winter. We’ve put the UK’s best selling unit to the test and rated it for user-friendliness, recording quality and more.
This is the Nextbase In-Car Cam 402G Professional, which is yours for a penny shy of £150 at Halfords, among other retailers. It’s more popular than any other of its type thanks to a high number of business users, and on paper at least, it’s clear why.
A good viewing angle is essential in a dash-cam, to capture as much going on through the windscreen as possible. If the footage is going to be any use, the camera needs to see as much as possible. The 402G, one of the higher-spec models in the Nextbase range, has a 140-degree viewing angle which, in practice, means it doesn’t miss much.
You’ll need to spend time routing the power cable through your car. There’s a small battery in the camera but for the most part it needs juice from the car via the supplied adapter. The cable needs to run past the glove box, up the windscreen pillar and out to the centre at the top. The camera, neatly enough, fits behind the rear-view mirror where it’s out of the way – although in some cars that does make it awkward to reach the buttons without unclipping the camera from the user-friendly ball-head mount.
ts makers list some bold claims about clarity with a multi-element glass lens dubbed ‘6G’, and full HD recording. The quality is great in daylight, with sharp detail and good colour. It struggles just a little at night, and only when conditions are changeable. Considering the frequent oncoming headlights it actually holds on to a surprising amount of shadow detail even in the rain, but when leaving street-lit areas into the abyss of the countryside or a forgotten back street, it takes a couple of seconds to adjust automatically to life under the Suzuki Vitara test car’s excellent LED headlights.
Niggle alert: because dash-cams need to have very wide-angle lenses in order to squeeze a wide angle of view into frame, the perspective makes other cars look a long way away. A truck nearly took the front end off the Vitara but on the in-situ playback it didn’t look anywhere near as close.
Dash-cams like the 402G make it easy to simply fit and forget them. It keeps recording over and over the same memory space on the card, and this model’s high-quality recording means that a 4GB microSD card lasts less than half an hour. Luckily, a G-sensor responds to an actual crash and protects the video clip that captured it. With a 32GB card (the maximum for the model), you’re looking at a maximum of 4 hours 15 minutes or so – enough to record a good, long drive in its entirety.
On the road the camera records not just the view, but also your speed, GPS-tracked coordinates and, of course, the time and date. The 402G can also take still photos in high-resolution, like in the aftermath of a crash. Again, the 6G lens will do you proud with sharp results.
Its performance is impressive in all weathers. It’s not perfect at night and there are some quirks you have to live with, like the cabling issue (bigger battery please), but the video quality and breadth of data recorded makes it easy to see why it’s a best-seller. And if you ever do have a not-at-fault collision, you’re covered.