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Sat, Apr 10, 2021
Jan20

Best Dash Cam 2021: Top Car Dash Cams Tried and Tested

Vol 2 issue 1

Best Dash Cam 2021: Top Car Dash Cams Tried and Tested

Want to know which is the best dash cam? Well, good news, we've tested dozens from Garmin, Nextbase, Thinkware, Cobra, and more to find the best, and give you the most reliable recommendation.

(Image credit: Amazon)
BY SPENCER HART

Want to know which is the best dash cam? Well, good news, we've tested dozens of dash cams to find the best, and give you the most reliable recommendation out there. There's also a short answer and a long answer, so strap in and come along for the ride.

The short answer is that the

Nextbase 622GW
is the best dash cam you can currently buy.
The 622GW is a hugely impressive dash cam, which not only nails the basics (such as recording outstanding image quality and solid smartphone connectivity), but also offers features never before seen in a dash cam, such as Alexa voice control and What3Words integration. All-in-all, it's a very compelling dash cam package!

Garmin Dash Cam 66W
is a very close second, offering a slimmer, more stylish design than the Nextbase, but inferior image quality and less useful safety features, or, if you're looking for an invisible dash cam, which sits discreetly behind your rear view mirror, check out the Thinkware Q800 PRO or the positively tiny Garmin Mini Dash Cam.

If you're looking for the best budget dash cam, try the exceptionalyl reaosnable Amazon-only Apeman dual dash cam or the

Nextbase 222G, if you want the brand name.
The long answer involves how you plan to use the dash cam, what specific features might be useful to you, and different options to suit your budget.

 THE BEST DASH CAMS YOU CAN BUY TODAY

 1. NEXTBASE 622GW

Quite simply, the King of Dash Cams in 2020

SPECIFICATIONS
Camera: 4K
Field of view: 140°
Screen: 3-inch HD touch screen
GPS: Yes

REASONS TO BUY
+Outstanding image quality
+Alexa built-in
+What3Words integration
+Compact mount

REASONS TO AVOID
-App is clunky
-Relatively large unit

Don't view this as merely a replacement for the previous range-topping 522GW, the latest dash cam from Nextbase boasts much-improved video quality, improved stabilisation and the inclusion of some rather clever What3Words geolocation services and a bunch of Amazon Alexa Skills.

Plump for the 4K at 30fps video resolution and the resulting footage isn't too far off today's leading action cameras, proving incredibly detailed, vibrant and smooth when viewed on a laptop or PC.

Even in poor lighting, it's easy to pick out details and features, while a special Super Slow-Mo mode (1080p at 120fps) means it is now easier than ever to read registration plates on fast-moving vehicles.

A built-in polarising filter on the front of the camera can be rotated to reduce glare from windscreens, while digital image stabilisation is another first for the dash cam market and helps smooth out those bumps and shakes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces.

Like its 522GW sibling, this model can be controlled via the voice with Alexa Skills, but it requires the accompanying smartphone app to work, which isn’t the best. Despite new dual 2.4GHz + 5GHz Wi-Fi, it still has trouble connecting with phones to transfer images and video clips.

Thankfully the 3-inch rear touchscreen is crisp, clear and very easy to use, while the inclusion of What3Words is clever, as it can alert the emergency and breakdown services of an exact location, even when there is no Wi-Fi or mobile data available.

Easy to set up, sleekly packaged and a doddle to operate, the Nextbase 622GW is our top pick, doing everything that's required of a dash cam and doing it well, but also offers some useful additional features.

2. GARMIN DASH CAM 66W

Sleek design, high-quality video and a wide-angle lens

SPECIFICATIONS
Camera: 1440p
Field of view: 180°
Screen: 3-inch HD touch screen
GPS: Yes

REASONS TO BUY
+Subtle, compact design
+Good video quality
+Easy to mount
+Extra-wide field of view

REASONS TO AVOID
-Video and app can't match Nextbase
-Runs quite hot
-Voice controls inaccurate

This fantastic little dash cam from Garmin earns second place on this list with good image quality, a number of extra features, and actually quite attractive design. It's one of the most compact cameras here (so takes up less windscreen space) and resembles a GoPro, making it the most attractive as well. That might seem like a funny thing to say, but it won't look out of place in a Range Rover or Mercedes, while others on this list will.

Despite being small, the Garmin 66 manages to pack in plenty of extra features, such as GPS and smartphone integration with the Garmin Virb app. There's also Lane Departure and Forward Collision warning, as well as Speed Camera warnings. The former two are somewhat less useful than the latter.

The video footage is great as well. Recording in 1440p with an ultra-wide 180-degree field of view. The video quality might not be as good at the Nextbase 522GW, but it's good enough.

The mount is excellently designed, with a small 3M magnet mount making removal and placement of the dash cam incredibly easy. The downside is the slightly fiddly menu system, which is controlled by four buttons on the side, and the inconsistent voice control.

3. THINKWARE Q800 PRO

Almost invisible design, video quality good, and night mode very impressive.

SPECIFICATIONS
Camera: 1440p Full HD
Field of view: 140°
Screen: No Screen
GPS: Yes

REASONS TO BUY
+Non-intrusive design
+Parking and Night Modes
+Cloud features interesting

REASONS TO AVOID
-App and connectivity issues
-It's there almost permanently

The Thinkware Q800 is probably the dash cam that we've used for the longest amount of time – mainly because it's so low profile you just forget about it (which is kind of what you want with these devices).

The Q800 is fixed to your car windscreen with sticky 3M tape, and, as there's no screen, you can essentially hide it behind the rear view mirror. We think that's the best place for them.

The Q800 comes with GPS tracking, lifetime safety camera and speed alerts, as well as Safety Warnings such as forward collision and lane departure awareness. Although, while these are marginally useful on dash cameras with screens, they are zero use without a screen.

Video quality has improved over the various versions of this camera and the latest Ultra-HD 1440p clips rival the best on this list. There's built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your smartphone, although, we did experience some connection issues, and it looks very dated.

Time Lapse Mode which records your parked car for 48-hours. That's great if you're worried about the vehicle being vandalised while left at night.

That final feature requires the camera to be hardwired into the car. We think that's what you'd want to do with the Thinkware. It's not too difficult and also the neatest looking option, freeing up the 12V port.

The most interesting capability bundled in with the Q800 Pro is Thinkware's new Cloud service. This includes the ability to get notified when your car leaves a geofenced area, or when an impact occurs to your vehicle. You can also use it to locate your vehicle when parked.

These are potentially very useful features, but we found it very difficult to get them working, and from reading other online reviews, we're not the only ones.

 4. NEXTBASE 522GW

An amazing dash cam, especially considering the price

SPECIFICATIONS
Camera: : 1440p
Field of view:: 140°
Screen:: 3-inch HD touch screen
GPS:: Yes

REASONS TO BUY
+Outstanding image quality
+Alexa built-in
+Emergency SOS
+Compact mount
+Good price

REASONS TO AVOID
-Menu UI looks dated

The 522GW is a massively impressive dash cam, which not only nails the basics (such as recording outstanding image quality), but also offers features never before seen in a dash cam.

It was the first camera with Alexa built-in, so you can play music, find parking, control smart home devices and make calls whenever you want, without taking your eyes off the road. We found it surprisingly useful.

There’s also impressive safety features, such as Emergency SOS, which will alert the emergency services to your location in the event of an accident. This feature is potentially lifesaving, and is one of the main reasons we rated it as the best dash cams last year.

That's not all, however, the 522GW also packs an 'Intelligent Parking Mode' that records any bump or physical movement on the vehicle when left unattended.

It's not just the impressive list of features that means this is the best dash cam, however, as we previously mentioned, the Nextbase 522GW is also a master when it comes to the basics. It records incredibly crisp, perfectly lit 1440p video, the Click&Go mount is a really neat solution, and its smartphone app, MyNextbase, is the most polished experience we've encountered.

5. APEMAN DUAL DASH CAM

A no-frills 1080p cam from the front and 720p for the rear

SPECIFICATIONS
Camera: 1080p front/720p rear
Field of view: 170°
Screen: 2-inch
GPS: No

REASONS TO BUY
+Great price
+Front and rear coverage
+GPS

REASONS TO AVOID
-No Wi-Fi or GPS
-Cheap construction

If value for money is high on the list, this camera from the bizarrely-named Apeman is very difficult to beat. It feels a little cheap in the hand but offers all of the dash cam features that most will ever want and need.

Apeman provides a 32GB memory card to capture the action from a brilliant 170-degree angle from the front camera, while the rear is good enough quality to provide 720p playback. That said, making out number plates can be tricky in poor weather or low light from this rear cam.

That said, footage from the front is crips and clear, with a Wide Dynamic Range setting balancing exposure and contrast to react with the weather a light conditions. There's also a solid low-light mode for peace of mind at night.

Initial set-up is a bit of a pain, as the user is required to remove vehicle headliner to neatly tuck away the wires that run to the rear camera. A lack of GPS is a bit poor, considering this is a vital price of information if using the resulting video as evidence. Users will also have to plug the memory card into a laptop or PC to retrieve footage.