T3 Smackdown: 6 top dash cams square up for a road rage recording royal rumble

Dash cams, eh? In the bad old days before their invention it was always their word against yours, however now, in an age of mass-surveillance that is in no way reminiscent of an Orwellian nightmare, you can now prove that you didn't cut up that [insert other vehicle here] in HD glory.

Here are six of the best dash cams on the market right now, from budget to Bentley.

 

Garmin DriveAssist 50

The DriveAssist 50 is both a dash-cam and a sat-nav. The five-inch screen lets you check the camera position, and there’s a 4GB card to record onto, either all the time or in the event of a smash. Footage is high-quality and saved in one-minute chunks. Time, date, speed and location are included (each of these can be turned off), but this is the only unit without a mic, depriving you of vital screechy information. There’s also Bluetooth, and driver-assistance features such as lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, while Go Alert tells phone-gawpers that the traffic’s moving.

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RoadHawk Vision

The RoadHawk Vision looks a little cheap, but its compact design packs some nice tricks. There’s no screen, but Wi-Fi means you can use the free app to check the camera position on your phone, and also watch your favourite crashes – though rivals do this better. The 160-degree, 5MP camera gives a great view of junctions – most are 120-degree – and its images are crisp. Constant-loop recording means you never miss a thing, and ‘event’ clips are saved to a folder on the 8GB card. Speed and location aren’t shown, but you get a mic for some ‘I’m Ronnie Pickering’ YouTube gold.

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Next Base 112

The cheapest, smallest unit here, the 112 packs a 120-degree camera and smart brushed-metal detailing. The two-inch screen is fiddly in this touchscreen era, rivals have sharper images, and extremes of light and shade throw it a little, but the 112 does the job and records to the 32GB SD card in three-minute chunks. There’s also a mic, and a battery for 30 minutes of post-smash recording – the camera doesn’t switch off when the car does. Consider that a dash-cam is for emergencies, not something you interact with daily, and the 112 is a great budget choice.

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Next Base 412GW

Another Nextbase dash-cam but, if anything, the brand is under-represented here as it sells 75 per cent of UK dash-cams. Compared with the 112, you get a larger three-inch screen, a 140-degree field of view, and a GPS receiver so footage also displays time, date, speed and location. Recordings are triggered automatically, the higher resolution provides extra clarity, and the Wi-Fi hotspot lets you stream recordings direct to your phone when you download the free app, which proved a slicker interface than the RoadHawk’s. Shame that, like the 112, the controls are fiddly.

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Cobra CDR 900 E Super HD

The CDR 900 E gets off to a great start with a smart, sturdy body and some premium detailing. The 160-degree lens, 3MP camera and 1296P Super HD recording translate to high-quality footage with a great field of vision, and linking to your smartphone via the Wi-Fi and reviewing footage on the free app is a cinch. There’s a lot to like about the CDR 900 E, but it lets itself down with a faffy interface and a microphone that sounds like you’ve hung it out of the window. That it costs so much yet can’t record speed or location has it spinning out of contention.

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Snooper DVR-4HD

Snooper made its name with speed-camera detectors, so it’s no surprise that the DVR-4HD packs one, as well as forward-collision alerts and lane-departure warnings. Like most rivals, it records automatically and on a loop, overwriting earlier footage when the 16GB memory card fills. The 140-degree lens, 2MP camera and 1080P HD provide the sharpest imagery here: pause it and car numberplates ping off the screen. You also get time, date, speed and GPS coordinates. A 2.7-inch touchscreen, clear sound, top Wi-Fi connectivity and a free app all swing the balance in its favour.

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