Dash Cams are growing in popularity and functionality in the UK, following the trend from overseas. Read on to find out more about the purpose of dash cams, best dash cam reviews, and why you should consider installing dash cams within your vehicle. Once the reserve of police forces, we’re now seeing dash cams on corporate fleets, dispatch vehicles as well as private cars as the consumer market continues to grow.
|What are Dash Cams|
|How do Dash Cams Work?|
|Dash Cam Reviews|
Predominantly the best dash cams are being used to provide an impartial ‘eye witness’ in the case of accidents and incidents. Additionally, car dash cameras and dash cams for other vehicles are promoting a level of driver accountability sought after by fleet managers.
What are Dash Cams?
Before moving on to which is the best dash cam currently available in the UK, it’s important to consider what makes a good dash cam, what they do and how they work.
A dash cam, or an in-vehicle dashboard-mounted camera, is usually a forward facing camera within the vehicle set to record the events on the road as they happen. They therefore provide an insight in to situations and events, and can also act as evidence should an accident occur. There are rear-facing in-car cameras available as well, usually slightly cheaper than the forward facing dash cams, or sold in a combination set.
How do Dash Cams Work?
Car dash camera reviews usually all highlight certain functionalities that you should look for when choosing the right cam for your vehicle. The best dash cams will be a general-purpose recording device that requires minimal driver input. The dash camera will be hard-wired to the vehicle and instantly begin recording when ignition is switched on, and cease when ignition is turned off.
Furthermore, the best dash cams have excellent but limited functionality to make them simple for the job, whilst housing a built-in or removable storage media device. Most work by recording in small chunks with archive recordings being deleted to make way for the new. Additionally, certain recordings can be ring-fenced as likely to be needed in the future and therefore not deleted. Nonetheless, you are likely to need to manually delete some of the recordings from time to time to ensure there is always plenty of memory for new footage.
In order to comply with UK law, dash cams have to be both small and either dashboard or windscreen mounted. They can’t encroach on your field of vision and they must automatically switch off the screen whilst you are driving. You must not drive with the dash cam showing you what it is recording - as this is illegal.
The best dash cams are set apart by the quality of the image they record and how accurate the footage is in line with GPS data recorded such as speed and location. This additional data can be invaluable in the case of the footage being used.
A G-Sensor is also a feature of the best dash cams as it will highlight and automatically record potential incidents. It will be triggered by certain events or behaviour such as extreme braking.
The Benefits of Dash Cams
The benefits of having dash cams mounted in your vehicle or across your fleet are extensive. Often it is not until a benefit becomes a real helping hand that drivers and fleet managers realise how useful and invaluable a dash cam can be. The benefits of dash cameras include:
- Vehicle and fleet security: eyes on the vehicle when the engine is turned on, as well as acting as a deterrent to would-be opportunistic thieves.
- Accident dispute resolution by providing proof or evidence in the event of an accident.
- Prevention of fraudulent or exaggerated accident claims.
- An ‘all-seeing’ witness recording details you may not immediately have been aware of, for example, the brake lights on the vehicle in front being obscured or not working.
- Driver accountability: providing fleet managers with a record of their fleet, driver behaviour and an accurate replay of events.
- Peace of mind for drivers and fleet managers.
- Assistance with protecting your no-claims bonus, and keeping insurance premiums in check.
- Insurance claims can potentially be dealt with more efficiently with less paperwork going back and forth between parties.
- A fail-safe way of reporting dangerous or negligent drivers, and road-rage.
Best Dash Cam UK Costs
As with most in-car tech, there is a huge spectrum of costs when it comes to dash cams available on the UK market. Very basic dash cams start at around £20, but the functionality of these products can be very limited when directly compared to high end products. At the top end of the market dash cams range from around £200-£300.
These dash cams are typically more reliable as well as having increased functionality, but specifically they stand out for the quality of their images and the accuracy of their GPS integration. For a good quality, middle to high end dash cam in the UK you will be looking at £150 upwards.
Dash Cam Reviews
In order to get an understanding of the best dash cam reviews, let’s look at 5 of the top products on the UK market:
ASUS Reco Classic
Priced at around £99.99 the ASUS Reco Classic comes with a bracket mount allowing it to securely positioned on the windscreen. Set-up of this product is fairly easy with user-friendly instructions to get you recording as quickly as possible. The ASUS Reco Classic comes with High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology enabling the DVR camera to catch the footage whatever the lighting conditions.
There is an external GPS recording element to the dash cam, and the route replay and history can be viewed online in conjunction with Google Maps making it fairly intuitive and versatile, particularly for fleet managers.
The ASUS Reco Classic comes with an emergency record function which makes the device start recording when it predicts an incident is underway. It provides good data back-up for the storage of footage.
Picture quality is pretty good for this range of dash cam, with a 140-degree viewing angle giving a good range of field with visuals to both the sides and the front of the vehicle.
Nextbase iN-CAR CAM 512G
The Nextbase iN-Car CAM 512G is a popular option in the middle range of the market. It was awarded the Which? Best Buy Award for dash cams in July 2016 and has earned this accolade based on its user-friendly make-up and diverse functionality and reliability.
Retailing for £179.99 it costs around the same as most middle-of-the-road dash cams, whilst punching above its weight in terms of functionality.
Perhaps most notable is the anti-glare polarising filter which serves to cut out the glare from the windscreen which can frequently pose problems on footage gained from other in-car dash cameras.
The picture quality of the Nextbase iN-CAR CAM 512G stands out from the crowd relying on its Sony Exmor technology and wide 140-degree angle lens. The display is 2.7” and LED with an easy to use playback function. It is one of the more compact dash cams on the UK market and is unobtrusive once mounted in the vehicle.
The reliability of the device means that it is frequently favoured by insurers. Additionally, the inbuilt GPS function enables it to record both speed and location information alongside the footage, making a holistic recording of road incidents and events.
Garmin Dash Cam 35
Dash Cam 35
The Garmin Dash Cam 35 is on the UK market for £159.99 and for this price it offers a diverse range of functionality. The images recorded are captured through a wide angle lens affording a good view of the road ahead and to some degree to the sides. Additionally, the images are high quality with good definition and good colours.
The Garmin Dash Cam 35 lives up to the Garmin reputation for being easy and intuitive to use. This combined with the accurate GPS time and location stamping afforded by the dash cam make it a reliable tool for both private individuals and fleet managers.
Unlike some other dash cams, the Garmin Dash Cam 35 copes well with the variability of light, particularly important for UK drivers. Whether it is light or dark, heavy rain or blinding sunlight, the Garmin Dash Cam 35 seems to be up to the job.
The device comes with a windscreen mount and you can choose to operate the camera with the provided microSD or replace it with one with more storage space.
Drivers and fleet managers can choose to play back the route recording using the in-car screen (not whilst driving), or alternatively view the recordings via PC or Mac.
Unlike many other dash cams, the Garmin 35 offers a few unique features. There is a red light and speed camera warning allowing you to become a better and safer road user and predict the driver conditions you will face.
Furthermore, there is inbuilt incident detection enabling the device to begin recording as soon as certain parameters are met, for example excessive and harsh braking. The in-vehicle dash cam microphone will simultaneously record both the drivers and passengers voices, as well as any external noise. This information can be collated with the recording for a more accurate ‘picture’ of events.
Users do not need to be concerned that this device is only recording when the vehicle is moving, as the Garmin Dash Cam 35 works with continual recording as long as the device is plugged in.
Cobra CDR 900
At the cheaper end of the middle of the market, the Cobra CDR 900 dash cam is available in the UK for approximately £135. For this range of dash cam it has a very wide angle view for recording at 160 degrees, giving good visibility not only to the front of the vehicle but also considerably to the sides. The image is generally good quality.
The high-definition pictures make the recordings easy to view and understand. The Cobra CD 900 is Wi-Fi enabled making it useful alongside a smart phone (iOS or Android) with the free Cobra Drive HD App.
This dash cam starts automatically when the ignition is switched on. However, the Cobra CDR 900 generally gets very mixed reviews, with a love it or hate it write up, and this seems to be the problem area. When the device is appropriately set up and working then it’s a great piece of kit for the money. However, many reviews report that it fails to commence recording with ignition and this obviously can let it down.
It comes with a windscreen clamp for windscreen mounting and the small screen makes it unobtrusive.
Garmin Dash Cam 20
Dash Cam 20
The Garmin Dash Cam 20 is a handy and easy to use dash cam retailing for approximately £169.99 in the UK. It regularly scores well amongst the best dash cam reviews.
The high definition images are captured by a wide-angle lens and this is combined with a 2.3” LCD display. As well as linking with GPS data which provides time and location stamps, it also records both motion and still footage.
Like other Garmin dash cams, it comes with an inbuilt in-vehicle microphone so that voice and external sound recordings can be captures alongside the visual recording of events. It comes with integral incident detection so that recording and autosaving of collisions takes place without separate intervention.
It is possible to use the playback on the device or alternatively to view the recordings on a PC or Mac. Like some other dash cams, it doesn’t just work if the ignition is switched on, but works if it is plugged in.
What makes for the best dash cam is a combination of functionality and price. Picture quality, reliability, and GPS integration are all important. Dash cams are increasing in popularity in the UK and as they continue to do so then more options will be available on the market.