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)
- Best video quality on the market
- What3words built-in
- Good value
- 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
- Speed camera detection
- 1080p rear cam
- No 4K video quality
Best for day to day use
The Nextbase 522GW makes the podium because, like its big sibling, it offers fantastic build
- Shares many features with the 622GW
- Alexa built-in
- Good value
- No enhanced night vision
Best for ease of use
If functional is more your bag, then the tiny unit from Garmin is what you want because it has all
- Wi-Fi and GPS
- Great value
- 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
- Remote connectivity
- 60 fps on the front camera
- Wi-Fi and GPS
- 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.
For verdicts, scoops, news and analysis from the team, delivered direct to your inbox, subscribe to the CAR newsletter.
You can enjoy CAR in its traditional print format, or one of the swelling number of digital editions, optimised for Apple iPhones, Android devices, iPads, tablets and desktop computers.
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.