/ Motoring, Technology

Life with a dashboard camera – my first impressions

Dashcam

We’ve heard that many of you would consider buying a dashboard camera to protect yourselves against scams on the road. So we bought our own to see what life with a ‘dashcam’ is like.

If you’ve ever spent any time on Youtube, chances are you’ve stumbled upon videos where unhinged drivers slew across the road causing chaos and destruction, felling lampposts and forcing pedestrians to dive out of the way. These are all filmed on dashboard cameras.

The reason so many people are resorting to dashcams is not to become Youtube tycoons, but to protect themselves from scams on the roads. In our poll, 59% of you said that you would consider buying a dashboard camera, so we thought we’d buy our own and see how we got on.

Easy to use, but prices are high

I went for a NextBase In-Car Cam 402G Professional as it offers full high definition recording, GPS logging, a wide angle lens plus motion detection and a G-force sensor.

And the price for all this? Just short of £150. That may sound expensive for a potential defence against scams, but a number of dashboard cameras cost over £300, so this NextBase represents a typical mid-range model. Add in the fact that several car insurers offer discounts of up to 15% if you own a dashcam and the price seems much more palatable.

Fitting the NextBase is simple with a satnav style suction cup that attaches to the windscreen and a long power cable that plugs into a cigarette lighter. Press the on button and the dashboard camera records until you switch it off.

However, even in the week I’ve had with it, sometimes it felt like an effort to fish out the camera, plug it in and arrange the long power cable so that it wasn’t dangling down in front of me. I ended up looping the power cord over the passenger sun visor. Although, if you plan to keep the mount in the car, you could feed the wire around the windscreen more discreetly.

Image quality could be better

NextBase In-Car Cam 402G Professional

NextBase In-Car Cam 402G Professional software (click to enlarge)

The main reason to buy a dashcam is so you can provide evidence that you’re not to blame for an insurance claim. So, image quality is paramount. If you can’t make out number plates in all conditions then your dashcam isn’t really fit for purpose.

Based on our first few outings the NextBase seems to provide reasonable footage, apart from in darker conditions where number plates were often illegible. However, this may be down to my car’s heated windscreen, which gives night images a speckled quality.

If you already own a dashcam, how are you finding it? And if you’re considering buying one, tell us why.

Comments
Guest
Raymond Morris says:
9 March 2015

I cannot get my recent aquired 204g to operate at all , I paid short of £150.00
Had it set up on I Pad no avail.
Have just had Heart attack now ok.
But too late to get my money back

Guest
Mike hardyQ4 says:
10 March 2015

I’m looking for incar cctv night camera in case of break in can you get camera for the purpose…?? If so which one, may be some one can point me in the right direction 🙂
Thanks
Mike

Guest

Hi Mike, thanks for your comments. The closest we’ve tested are dash cams – you can read all our reviews here:

http://www.which.co.uk/technology/computing/reviews/dash-cams-and-in-car-cameras/

All dashboard cameras should be capable of filming at night. However, even the top-performing model in our tests left room for improvement with its night-time image quality.

Guest
Ian Dick says:
18 March 2015

I am putting off buying a dash camera for a while as this idea of a camera and screen is far too clumsy. What is the point of having all that and trying to hide it behind the rear view mirror.
What is required is a small HD camera behind the mirror and the screen equipment that can be viewed if required tucked away some where in the car, there is absolutely no point in having one on your windscreen if it comes to that it’s a distraction and looks terrible. I think there is only one on the Market just now at a reasonable price that is like stated. So to sum up small HD camera only behind mirror really thin cable ( easy to hide ) going to the main screen box that can be hidden in car. ARE YOU LISTENING MANUFACTURERS. IAN. JHK1V

Guest
liam barrett says:
29 March 2015

i bought a dash cam today, all be it basic, but its £25 with good quality sound and video, i know the reasoning behind these and believe it or not 5 minutes after buying it i had some idiot drive into my car n try and blame me, roll on the insurance lol.

Guest

I bought the NextBase 402G solely on the “Which” best buy recommendation, there is so much “choice” out there, it gives me a head-ache.

“Which” : I am far from delighted.

1) The 402G is not recognised as a USB device and I cannot find any Win7 drivers to enable that.
THis means I have to fiddle the sd card out and into a card reader then vice-versa when I want to view any footage.

2)The play-back software works after a fashion, but its clunky and difficult to navigate. It dose not stay selected on “Protected” files, every time you change folders, you have to re-select for “Protected” or wade through the lot. Who has an hour or more to spend hunting through a half hour journey?

3) The glaring error is that, when a file is manually protected by the driver following an incident which occurs very near the end of that particular file, the incident itself and lead-up may well be lost and just the aftermath saved…too late.

Protecting one file should also protect the preceding and next file to give a full story.

4) The NextBase website is a disaster area with broken links left right and centre. Even their “Contact” form doesn’t seem to work and strange things happen. Certainly no acknowledgement or reply has come back to my eMail yet. I’m not holding my breath.

Thanks a LOT, “Which.”

Yours sincerely, disabled and low income pensioner.

Guest
Andrew says:
29 July 2015

The 302 has similar issues. It does recognise as a block device when connected by the USB lead, but is very slow! 1Mbps transfer rate 😛 . Taking the card out and using the built-in card reader, it is 16Mbps transfer rates. If you wish to play files back on a PC/laptop/whatever, copy them off the SD card to your device and play from there.

Yes, the big downside to this camera is the lack of a protect file button without using G meters, not worth enabling in places like Reading. It would be nicer to have a simpler way of recording and protecting minor shunts, road rage and the like without having to remember the time of the incident and doing maths to find the right file!

Guest
Mrhonda says:
19 April 2015

Bought the nextbase 420g last week and I found it easy to use, if you have a PC that can view HD video in .mov format (QuickTime MP4). You need a class 10 micro SD card £15 in tescos for a 32gb, which will give you over 400 mins of record time @1080p full HD. Installation disc has all instructions on and software to view journies with all stats including heavy braking/acceleration all linked to google maps. Hide the cam behind the rear view mirror and tucked up the cable along the roof lining quite neat and tidy+ I put black tape over the white lettering making it not stand out. Image and audio recording is very good crisp and clear, even at night I was surprised how good the image was
420g price 9/10 quality 9/10 easy to setup 8/10 performance 9/10
Also comes with hdmi cable to play back on your TV,nice!