With thanks to Bill for sending this one in and reloaded with thanks to WHICH – Daily. Author is Chris Lloyd.
Take a look through any TV guide and you’ll see the listings bursting at the seams with programmes like Police Interceptors, Road Wars and Motorway Cops. All of these rely on police cars being fitted with cameras to film the road ahead. This footage is not only useful for producing TV shows, but also valuable as evidence in court.
The same can be said be said for insurance claims too, where dashcam footage can be used to prove fault. That’s why there’s a booming market for dashboard cameras, with costs ranging from £15 to over £300. The devices attach to your windscreen and keep a constant record of your fellow road users, as well as any stray meteorites you might encounter. We took one out for a test drive to see whether it was worth the money.
Which? Car – car reviews and reliability ratings for 500+ new and used cars
1) Know what scams to look out for
With a price tag of just under £150, the NextBase In-Car Cam 402G Professional is not cheap. That said, it comes with a raft of features including full HD recording, GPS tracking, a wide angle lens, a G-force sensor and motion detection. The latter is particularly useful, as it means the dashcam should start recording if someone drives into your parked vehicle.
The most common motoring scam occurs when the driver in front of you slams the brakes on without warning. Before you know it your insurer will be paying the ‘injured’ party for damage and personal injury at no small impact to your premiums. As a result, some insurers offer discounts of up to 15% for people using dashcams.
2) Protect yourself against night-time collisions
Most drivers drive in both bright and dark conditions, so having a dashcam that can cope with either is key. Our NextBase camera captured a wide angle of view, and video quality in bright condition was reasonable. Unfortunately, it was difficult to read number plates in low-light conditions over moderate distances. Something that may prove problematic if you need to identify another vehicle further down the line.
3) Track your speed and location
The NextBase camera also includes GPS tracking, which logs the route you drive plus your speed alongside the video file. Your route is clearly overlaid on a Google map when you connect the dashcam to a computer, making it easier to prove your innocence in an insurance claim. While useful in principle, we found the NextBase’s GPS signal could drop in and out. Not only is your speed not displayed until the dashcam secures a signal again, but your position is also not displayed – not ideal for proving your innocence in court.
4) Check your camera’s always recording
The NextBase dashcam uses a micro SD card for storing footage and has a motion sensor which measures G-force. Should you run out of space on the memory card the camera will automatically start recording over the earliest footage. However, the motion sensor does mark any moments of strong G-force (which may involve instances where you’ve hit the brake pedal hard) and protects these so they don’t get overwritten. Despite this, there were a couple of occasions when the camera wasn’t recording when we thought it was.
5) Don’t buy a dashboard cam on the cheap
We chose to test out an In-Car Cam 402G Professional because it sits in the middle of NextBase’s dashcam range with plenty of features for the price. Despite this, the product was often clunky to use (especially when connecting it to your computer) and could have been a more compact presence on our dashboard. We’ll be testing out a broader range of devices in the near future, but it certainly seems like skimping on a dashboard camera could leave you just as vulnerable to a scammer as not having one at all.