Dash cams have gone from niche market to big business, and it seems that prices are increasing, too. Of the latest eight models we’ve tested, six cost £100 or more – but are they worth it?
If there’s anything that’s worth buying, it’s something that helps to protect you. A dash cam could prove vital when you’re on the road, dealing with an insurer, or in court over a motoring incident. A little bit of extra cash spent now could end up saving you money in the long term by preventing a big insurance claim or, worse, a criminal record.
So how much money do you need to spend? Plenty of dash cams have fancy new features and intriguing extra abilities, but how can you know if you should trust them when it comes to the most important factor of all – the quality of their recorded footage? We tested these eight new models extensively to find out – results were mixed, and one is even a Don’t Buy.
Dash cam Best Buys – see our comprehensive list of the best models we’ve tested
Garmin Dash Cam 55 – £150
If you’re going to spend £150 on a dash cam, you’d better make sure you’re getting one of the best on the market. At a glance, Garmin’s Dash Cam 55 looks like it could certainly be a contender. 4K is the standout feature here: the captured footage has four times the number of pixels as a standard 1,080p Full-HD model. However, the number of pixels is often of little relevance to picture quality.
It also has warnings for lane departure, red lights and speed cameras, as well as voice control, making it one of the most feature-packed dash cams we’ve ever seen. It’s not bad looking, either.
Find out if it’s worth the outlay in our Garmin Dash Cam 55 review.
Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-D – £300
No, that’s not a typo in the price. Garmin really has released a £300 dash cam – comfortably the most expensive we’ve ever tested. But there’s more to the DriveAssist 51 LMT-D than meets the eye.
It’s not just a dash cam, but a sat nav with a dash cam built in. Only you can decide if this is something you really need or not. When it comes to value, we’ve tested Best Buys in both categories for less than £100 each – the remainder is a lot to pay for the convenience of having two in one. Plus, there’s no guaranteeing that the DriveAssist 51 LMT-D will capture footage of a reliable standard.
Kaiser Baas R50 – £120
Kaiser Baas may well be a brand you’ve never heard of, in which case it would be fair for you to be sceptical about laying out such a large sum for one of its products. It’s an Australian firm that specialises in dash cams and other types of camera, but we’ve only tested its dash cams.
This particular model has gesture control – something we’ve never seen before. Just wave your hand underneath it to take a screen shot or save a certain portion of footage. It also has a wide 152-degree field of view and a standard 1,080p Full-HD lens.
Has this niche brand put out a hidden gem? We reveal all in our Kaiser Baas R50 review.
Kaiser Baas R40 – £100
Coming in at a slightly more reasonable £100 is the Kaiser Baas R40. While the names may be similar, this device looks completely different from the R50, opting for a more discreet cylindrical design. It also has almost all the same features as its more expensive sibling – the only real difference is that you get just one choice of mount with it, rather than two. A fair trade-off for the £20 discount, if you ask us.
Will lightning strike twice, or not at all? See if there’s money to be saved with our Kaiser Baas R40 review.
Nextbase 512GW Ultra – £160
Historically, Nextbase has made some very strong dash cams – and it clearly knows it, going by the steep price of the 512GW Ultra.
Another model that can record in 4K, it also has built-in wi-fi, a sensor produced by Sony, and a large 3-inch display with touch-sensitive buttons. Is it a big enough upgrade on any of its high-scoring predecessors to make it worth buying?
Nextbase is the undisputed king of dash cams, but will this latest model see it dethroned? Read our Nextbase 512GW Ultra review.
RAC 205 – £100
The RAC is a familiar name to most British motorists, but it’s less well known that it has branched out into the field of in-car technology, too.
The 205 is the RAC’s latest effort to crack the dash cam market – something it’s been trying to do for a few years now. Is the average driver willing to trust a breakdown-cover firm to manufacture a high-quality dash cam? And, more pertinently, are they willing to pay £100 for it? The 205 is pretty basic at a glance, with not much more than a 2.3-inch LCD display and a 1,080p recording resolution to its name. You can also pay an extra £75 to have it professionally hardwired into your vehicle, if you so desire.
The RAC can be a lifesaver in the event of a breakdown, but what about if you’re in a crash? Read our RAC 205 review to find out.
It’s not all expensive, high-end super-cameras right now, though – we also tested three cheaper options for those on a budget. Can any of them challenge their pricier rivals?
Praktica 10GW – £80
Not heard of Praktica? That’s not surprising, so it’s a good thing the 10GW is a little cheaper than the rest of the dash cams in this latest batch. The feature list is actually quite impressive, too. In addition to what is now standard 1,080p footage and GPS tracking, it also has lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, and a 2.7-inch touchscreen.
It also has a feature we’d never seen before – a ‘driver-fatigue’ warning system. The idea is that it can tell when you’ve been driving for too long and aren’t at your sharpest, and will recommend you pull over and take a break.
The £80 price isn’t pocket change, but it’s a bit less of a stretch. So is this model worth it? Read the full Praktica 10GW review to find out.
Phillips ADR610 – £80
Don’t be fooled by its 1980s Polaroid camera aesthetics and Phillips’ snappy name for it – a ‘car driving video recorder’ – this is a dash cam all right, and one that comes at a reasonably competitive price.
When it comes to features, it’s remarkably similar to the Praktica – it even has the driver-fatigue warning system, although there’s no lane-departure or forward-collision detection. It’s also guaranteed to retain its footage in the case of a technical malfunction or extreme conditions, for example if your car was ever to heat up to around 70 degrees Celsius.
Can Phillips create a high-quality dash cam? Find out with our Phillips ADR610 review.