Dash cams are hot property at the moment, with loads of options from a range of manufacturers. They vary widely in design, price and functionality, with some offering 4K video or an entire suite of driver assistance features.
Others are much simpler but perhaps lack the crisp video quality you need to record video detailed enough to be used as evidence after an accident.
Thankfully, there is a halfway house, a sweet spot in the dash cam range, and we reckon that is around the £100 / $140 mark. Here, you get compact design, good video quality, Full HD video at 60 frames per second, GPS, and a range of connectivity options to make transfering video easy.
- These are the best dash cams
A dash cam which slots neatly into this segment is the Nextbase 322GW, which carries a retail price of £99 / $138.
Nextbase 322GW review: Video quality
First up, the most important aspect of any dash cam – video quality. Here, the Nextbase 322GW shines brightly, thanks to 1080p Full HD video resolution at 60 frames per second. This means you get enough pixels to produce a clear image, and a fast enough frame rate to make video smooth, and to help you see important details like vehicle registration plates.
The 322GW shoots through a 140-degree lens. While some other dash cams offer a wider view, they often do so while causing the video to distort slightly at the edges, painting an inaccurate picture of the road ahead, and potentially your view at the time of an incident. You can lower the resolution to 720p (still at 60fps) but we reckon 1080p is what you want, as it produces high-quality video without the massive file sizes of 4K.
This camera can’t match the HDR-like footage of the more expensive Nextbase 522GW and 622GW, but for under £100 it’s still impressive, both during the day and at night.
As with many other dash cams, the 322GW can also record audio, but you might want to switch this off as not everyone wants their private conversations (or awful singing) recorded while they drive.
Nextbase 322GW review: Design
Much like the rest of Nextbase’s GW range of dash cams, the 322GW is fairly compact, has a touchscreen display on the back, and a smart magnetic mounting system.
This work by removing a panel from the front of the camera, then replacing it with one of the two included windscreen mounts.
These attach to the camera using strong magnets, then one includes a suction mount for easy attaching and detaching from the windscreen. The other mount is smaller, features a ball-and-socket join to position the dash cam just so, and sticks to the screen using 3M adhesive.
While there is a USB power port on the camera itself, the included power cable also plugs into the windscreen mount. This makes it very easy to remove and replace the camera, as you just pull it away from the magnetic mount and away you go.
There’s also an HDMI-out port for plugging in Nextbase’s rear-facing camera, if you want to buy that too.
We like how two mounts are included with the 322GW, giving buyers the choice of how they want to fit the camera, or making it easy to transfer the camera between vehicles. The camera measures 47 x 85 x 45mm, weighs 82g, and the LED display is 2.5 inches.
Nextbase 322GW review: Features
The 322GW includes Nextbase’s Emergency SOS feature, which uses a connection to your smartphone to call the emergency services and give them your precise location if an accident is detected and you don’t respond.
If a significant impact is detected, the camera turns your phone into ‘beacon mode’. If the phone remains still and unanswered, the emergency services are automatically contacted. The system can also share your heading, as well as medical history, blood type and allergies (if set up in advance). This feature requires a Bluetooth connection between the dash cam and your phone, and a subscription to the Emergency SOS service, which is free for your first year.
There’s also a parking mode, where the camera enters a low-power mode where it uses the internal battery and will only fire into life when it detects movement, such as something pranging your car exiting the adjacent parking space. The camera then records for 30 seconds, before shutting down into low-power mode again.
Finally, GPS is included for logging your precise location, speed and direction of travel. All of this data can be added to every video the camera records, if you so wish. Integrated GPS like this makes for a more seamless process than connecting to your smartphone and using its GPS.
Nextbase 322GW review: Software
Speaking of connecting to your phone, the dash cam uses a combination of Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi to hook up to the free MyNextbase app, which is available for iOS and Android.
The app is quick and easy to use, helping you download footage from the 322GW to your phone, where you can then cut out the bit you need and send it onwards.
The menu system on the camera itself is also easy to use with the 2.5-inch touchscreen. Often dash cams are set-it-and-forget-it products, so once you have configured the 322GW the way you want it, you’ll rarely need to dive into the on-camera menu system.
Nextbase 322GW review: Verdict
If your budget for a dash cam is just under £100, then you really can’t go wrong with the Nextbase 322GW. It’s easy to use, produces high-quality Full HD video at 60fps, and the Emergency SOS feature could be genuinely life-saving.
It lacks the driver assistance features of other dash cams, like speed camera alerts, but personally we often find these quite distracting, and would rather fit a dash cam which quietly gets on with its job.
The design might not scream premium, but the metal details give the 322GW a slightly more premium feel than cheaper, all-plastic models in the Nextbase dash cam range.