The best high-tech dash cam

The upper segment of the dash cam market provides models with fantastic image quality and even smart tech.

The best high-tech dash cams

by Chris Williams |
Updated on

Fundamentally, a high-tech dash cam or indeed, any dash cam provides indisputable proof of accidents and YouTube videos of Russian road carnage. They can also reduce your insurance premiums, depending on your provider. Budget dash cams can perform these tasks very well, so what is the point of more expensive options? That is what we shall delve into here.

Your cheap dash cams bear the acceptable minimum of what a dash cam should offer: 1080p video quality, a G-sensor to protect files when sudden movement is detected, and loop recording that keeps the dash cam recording when memory cards get full. If you are prepared to pay more (increased price does not automatically guarantee top specs) for the right dash cam, you can get units that record in sharper 1440p or even 4K, have GPS location, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, Amazon Alexa or even SOS signals to emergency services in the case of a crash.

The best high-tech dash cams at a glance:

Best for video quality (Editor's pick): Nextbase 622GW Dash Cam - Buy now from Amazon UK
Best for day-to-day use: Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam - Buy now from Amazon UK
Best for remote monitoring: BlackVue DR750X-2CH - Buy now from Amazon UK

Therefore, some high-tech dash cams go beyond the requirements of traffic recording and also take on the role of a smart device for your car. This means that they also adopt a more social function, allowing you to capture your road trips in high quality and easily share them with whoever is interested. Bit of a racer? Use one for your track days, too; why not?

The best high-tech dash cams:

Best for video quality (Editor's pick)

Nextbase 622GW Dash Cam

Rrp: $395.99

Price: $349.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$297.99View offer
Best Buy$349.99View offer

The Nextbase 622GW is simply brilliant. We tested it alongside its little sibling, the 522GW, and came to the conclusion that the 622GW is the high-tech dash cam of choice for drivers who do a lot of miles and in a range of environments and conditions.

The reason for this is that in addition to the 4K video quality, there is also Image Stabilisation for gravel roads, Extreme Weather Mode for picking up number plates in fog and driving rain, Enhanced Night Vision, which is fairly self-explanatory, and what3words built in that works with the GPS for very precise location.

We also like that the 622GW essentially turns into a smart device when used with the MyNextbase app. From there, you can use Alexa Voice Control to not only control the dash cam but also other functions, such as playing music or making a call.

The 622GW has standout build quality and gives better value for money than any of its competitors. It's advanced, but all the features included are actually useful rather than gimmicks. Nextbase has also recently launched its own car insurance and is offering discounts to owners of its dash cams.

Pros

  • Best video quality on the market
  • What3words built-in
  • Good value

Cons

  • Rear cam an additional extra

Best for speed camera detection

Thinkware offers a wonderful all-round package with its Q800 Pro. The flat design sits snug against the windscreen like a limpet on a ship's hull and bears some impressive specifications.

It can't match the Nextbase 622GW's 4K, but the Q800 Pro still offers 1440p Quad HD at 30fps for crisp video quality. Meanwhile, the rear camera captures video at an impressive 1080p HD. Like the 622GW, the Q800 Pro has software to enhance its night vision and also has GPS for tracking and app connectivity for quickly accessing or sharing footage.

While the Q800 Pro misses out on Alexa and what3words, it can act as a speed camera detector – using its GPS to alert you of upcoming traffic cameras.

Pros

  • Speed camera detection
  • 1080p rear cam

Cons

  • No 4K video quality

Best for day to day use

Nextbase 522GW Dash Cam
Price: $250.38
Alternative retailers
Walmart$188.90View offer
Best Buy$269.99View offer

The Nextbase 522GW makes the podium because, like its big sibling, it offers fantastic build quality, specification, and value for money but with a few of the features taken out in order to drop the price by £100.

Thus, the 522GW records at 1440p Quad HD at 30fps, which is still very clear and better than anything else at this price. Like the 622GW, it has GPS, a subscription-based Emergency SOS service, and Alexa. That's in addition to all the usual features, such as the G-sensor, parking mode, polarising filter, and loop recording.

Like the 622GW, it is very well put together and is something you notice the moment you lift it from the box. Aesthetically, it's the winner here, thanks to its brushed metal front plate. It is the perfect high-tech dash cam for the driver who undertakes the usual day-to-day tasks and goes on the occasional weekend away because it offers value and relevant features.

Pros

  • Shares many features with the 622GW
  • Alexa built-in
  • Good value

Cons

  • No enhanced night vision

Best for ease of use

Garmin Mini 2
Price: $241.00

If functional is more your bag, then the tiny unit from Garmin is what you want because it has all the important features for a pretty reasonable price.

The Mini 2 records in 1080p HD and has a viewing angle of 140°. There's the added bonus of voice control to tell the camera to save video, start and stop audio recording, take still pictures and more, meaning you can keep your hands on the wheel.

The Mini 2 doesn't match the 522GW for build quality or specification – that's where the price difference lies – but if you don't need Alexa and all the other extras the 522GW has, the Garmin Mini 2 could be for you.

Pros

  • Tiny
  • Wi-Fi and GPS
  • Great value

Cons

  • No polarising filter as standard

Best for remote monitoring

With the BlackVue high-tech dash cam, you get front and rear cams, both with a Sony STARVIS image sensor for superior quality day or night. You get full HD1080p with smooth 60 frames-per-second video on the front cam with a perfectly acceptable 30fps on the rear cam.

The system is compatible with the BlackVue Cloud, which, by adding the optional CM100LTE 4G connectivity module, allows you to connect with your vehicle remotely, giving you an 'always-on' connection and allowing you to view live video and download footage remotely.

Add in parking mode, GPS and Wi-Fi, and you have yourself a pretty comprehensive package.

Pros

  • Remote connectivity
  • 60 fps on the front camera
  • Wi-Fi and GPS

Cons

  • Benefits from being hard-wired

Getting the most from these dash cams

Apart from the video quality, the value of these dash cams is only justified if you use the extra dash cam features they have.

You might want to consider getting them hard-wired into the car in order to make the most of the parking modes and also free up your car's 12V power socket. Hardwire kits are about £20 and are easy to do yourself if you are confident. Alternatively, retailers such as Halfords offer professional fitting. Hardwire kits allow the dash cams to keep working when the car is switched off but have an auto-off function that doesn't let the car battery get below a certain voltage.

Make sure you download the appropriate app. This is the key to fast access to footage, sharing it, and, in the case of the Nextbase 622GW and 522GW, making Alexa and the Emergency SOS functions work.

It also helps to get into the habit of formatting the memory card once or twice a month. It means you don't run the risk of any precious footage being overwritten.

The Thinkware dash cam comes with a rear cam; the others do not, but there are rear cams available for them. We tested the Nextbase rear cam module and found it to work very well and would highly recommend considering it. You just need to remember that extra footage takes up more space, and you may want to buy a memory card of at least 64GB.

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Chris Williams is an Automotive Content Writer for Parkers and CAR Magazine, but he also contributes to Live For The Outdoors and What's The Best. He trained as an automotive journalist in New Zealand, prior to which he studied International Relations and History.

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