Tried and Tested – Dashcams
Motorola MDC100 Rose Gold £49.99 (Argos)
2.7in TFT LCD touchscreen display
120-degree viewing angle
1080p HD display
Auto On and Record function and screen dim after three minutes, good audio, night vision, and auto parking motion detector – if your car gets bumped when the engine is turned off, it records for 30 seconds automatically
Single-lens camera suitable for front or rear use
No Wi-Fi or GPS
Ease of use
Clear instructions are included: plug the 12V adaptor into the cigarette lighter and off you go. Easy to navigate menus and settings. Includes an extra-long lead which could be hidden around the rubber surrounding the windscreen for neater, regular use. Includes an easy-to-attach windscreen mount.
Impressive HD video quality with embedded time and date. It records on a loop and continually overwrites previous recordings, handy as you don’t have to delete unwanted footage from the SD card. Crucially, it will save footage if the G Sensor senses an accident has occurred.
Compact design, uncomplicated, the perfect first dashcam. Downside: the micro SD card is not included and so you need to buy a 32GB Class 10 micro memory card. The battery lasts approx 30 mins unplugged, which might be an issue on longer journeys if phones are also being recharged. However, it’s good quality and great value for the price.
Nextbase 312GW Deluxe £99.99 (Argos)
2.7in LED screen
1080p HD display
140-degree wide-angle viewing
Use the free Nextbase app to view/delete/download videos
Device can take individual photos for further evidence following an accident
The Nextbase SOS data protection app prevents the impact/event recording from being deleted
Ease of use
A concise quick-start guide is provided. You set the time and date before plugging into the 12V cigarette lighter for instant use. It’s the world’s first dashcam to have a Powered Magnetic Click & Go car mount for easy installation, which testers really liked. We also found the direct downloading of data to an iPhone very user-friendly.
Excellent – very clear, day and night. We liked the GPS and G-force recording system, which tracks your location so you can watch your footage back with speed, location and G-force data shown alongside. It works on a loop, ensuring it is recording at all times.
We liked that this hi-tech, slimline model can easily be tucked away behind the rear-view mirror for unobtrusive use. It has great video quality. Downsides are that you can download a video only into the app and not into your phone, you need to buy a 32GB Class 10 micro memory card for it to work and it is more expensive than the others tested. We feel if you’re on the road a lot, you would gain the greatest benefit from the useful features offering peace of mind.
Philips ADR 810 £139.99 (drivesafeandlegal.co.uk)
Automatic collision detection
Driver fatigue warning function
156-degree wide-angle lens
1080p HD display
Emergency one-touch recording button located on power plug
The night-vision sensor will record should anyone touch the car when it is parked
Recorded files can be transferred to a PC or phone and played back to view on the dashcam itself
HDMI video output enables you to watch your recordings back on your TV
Ease of use
The menu system is well designed and easy to navigate. It was easy to position in the car with the provided mount and ‘clip-on’ ball joint. The camera has no internal battery and must be plugged into the power all the time, via the 12V adaptor in the cigarette lighter – which can be annoying if you need to charge your phone. The cable was long enough to accommodate many different vehicles.
With 1080p HD and a wide-angle lens the video quality was great with lots of sharp detail. The optimised night-view function means the camera constantly adjusts itself to match the lighting outside, which ensured that the footage was clear even in low light.
The sound quality could be better and the time and date settings in the real-time clock are lost if the camera is not powered for more than five days. For the price, we feel it should have GPS and be supplied with an SD card. We loved the wide-angle lens, however, and liked the option for one-touch emergency recording. It’s also very simple to use and once set up you can just focus on your driving.
MiVue Drive 55 LM €239.99 (£218) (eu.mio.com)
Two advanced driver-assistance systems – lane departure warning system and forward collision warning system.
Fixed speed-camera warnings as standard with lifetime map updates
140-degree wide-angle lens
1296p extreme HD display
The unit unclips to enable you to take photographs, which could provide crucial evidence in the aftermath of a collision
Ease of use
Pop in the 16GB micro SD card (supplied) and plug into the cigarette lighter for instant use. You do need to key in your home address and calibrate the camera from the main screen when it gives you the option. This is because you can place the camera wherever you like and then adjust the movable lens to gain the greatest view of the road. If you want to use the advanced driving assist features you need to go into the main menu to enable them to work, which isn’t difficult. The suction cup mount does exactly what it’s supposed to and testers felt overall set-up was straightforward.
The video footage is crisp and clear with the 1296p extreme HD camera. There’s a feature to zoom into an image to capture a number plate. The lens is adjustable so you can obtain the best view of the directions on the satnav while filming the road – this is an amazing feature, which isn’t available currently as standard in dashcams.
We like the fact that this is a dashcam and satnav in one, especially as separate devices generally need plugging in to the car power point/cigarette lighter – of which there is only one. We also liked the fact that the device’s built-in battery allows you to use it unplugged – to film something away from your car, such as the aftermath of a crash, for example. The view of the road is excellent. It is the most expensive of the devices on test but has numerous unique, potentially life-saving features that make it worth the cost. A sound investment for those who do a lot of driving.
Supporting evidence if you’re ever in an accident; combating insurance fraud if you’re reversed into; protecting your car when parked; and checking on the driving standard of other family members in your car, are just some of the reasons for considering using a dashcam. Here are a few handy tips to know before you buy:
- High-definition video quality is key. Choose 720p or 1080p. Check quality from other users’ recordings of the brand you like via the internet. Don’t just rely on a manufacturer’s promotional video as it can be enhanced, be made using a better lens or recorded on the outside of the windshield to avoid glare from the glass.
- Avoid dashcams with LED lights claiming to enhance night-recording performance. LEDs are not powerful enough to fulfil this claim and can be an irritating distraction to boot. If you do have this function it is better to switch it off while in use.
- Most dashcams save the videos in either AVI or MOV format, which should play back with Windows Media Player or VLC media player. To edit videos Windows Movie Maker is decent and if you have problems with MOV files you could download Avidemux, which is free and allows you to import and edit the files.