Want to know which is the best dash cam available in Australia right now? We put dozens of car cameras through their paces to find the best options for you. With one particular model emerging as top dog.
If we were taking one along for the ride, it would be the Nextbase 622GW – it’s the best dash cam you can currently buy. It nails the basics, with outstanding image quality and solid smartphone connectivity, while also offering features that aren’t too common in in the dash cam world.
That said, it’s never just a ‘one size fits all’ answer to which is the best dash cam in Australia. It all depends on how you plan to use the camera, what specific features might be useful to you and, more importantly, which model fits into your budget.
So we went ahead and found a few more options for you. Whichever dash cam you choose, you'll want to also read our guide on fitting a dash cam – it’d be an annoyance to get home and find you’ve filmed the roof of your car for 12 hours.
Here are T3’s picks of the best dash cams in Australia.
The best dash cams you can buy today
The Nextbase 622GW boasts high video quality, excellent stabilisation and the inclusion of the delightfully clever What3Words geolocation services. There is also integration with Amazon Alexa for voice control and app usage.
With the ability to capture 4K/30fps video, the resulting footage is detailed, vibrant and smooth when viewed on a laptop or PC. You even have access to a Super Slow-Mo mode (1080p at 120fps), meaning it’s now easier than ever to see exactly what’s going on no matter the circumstance.
The 3-inch rear touchscreen is crisp and clear, while the inclusion of What3Words is clever, as it can alert the emergency and breakdown services of an exact location, even when there is no Wi-Fi or mobile data available. Australian emergency services' recent adoption of the What3Words standard is a testament to its effectiveness.
Easy to set up, sleekly packaged and a breeze to operate, the Nextbase 622GW is our top pick, doing everything that's required of a dash cam and doing it well, but also offers some useful additional features.
The F800 is a multi-talented device. It comes with GPS tracking, lifetime safety camera and speed alerts, as well as safety warnings such as forward collision and lane departure awareness. There's built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your smartphone. There's even a time-lapse mode that records your parked car for a full 48 hours if necessary – a great feature if you're worried about the vehicle being vandalised while left out at night.
The most interesting capability bundled in with the F800 Pro is Thinkware's new Cloud service. This includes the ability to get notified when your car leaves a geofenced area, or when an impact occurs to your vehicle. You can also use it to locate your vehicle when parked, which is worth its weight in gold.
If you like the low profile design of the F800 Pro, but require even higher video quality, then you should read our review of the Q800 Pro, which records at 2K resolution.
This is BlackVue's flagship front-and-rear dash cam package. The front-facing camera records in 4K resolution with an 8MP sensor, while the smaller rear camera captures footage in Full HD (1080p). The front-facing field-of-view is 162º, while the rearview is a little tighter at 139º. Both cameras record video at 60 frames per second.
Wi-Fi and GPS are both included, and Blackvue also sells an optional 4G module to give the camera system constant connection for remote notifications and live viewing. The data connection also enables two-way voice calls, where you can speak with whoever is in your car remotely.
There’s a parking mode that uses motion and vibration sensors to detect events and record footage in a bid to catch evidence of vandalism or a parking incident. Both cameras feature a cylindrical design that makes them more compact than some others, though this saving in size is paid for with a lack of display.
With dual cameras, connection between the two can be a concern, and the Blackvue uses a long cable to connect them. So you will likely want to get this professionally installed for the neatest result.
The 522GW is a massively impressive dash cam, which not only nails the basics (such as recording outstanding image quality), but also offers features never before seen in a dash cam.
It’s the first dash cam available in the UK with Alexa built-in, so you can play music, find parking, control smart home devices and make calls whenever you want, without taking your eyes off the road. We found it surprisingly useful.
There’s also impressive safety features, such as Emergency SOS, which will alert the emergency services to your location in the event of an accident. This feature is potentially lifesaving, and is one of the main reasons we rate it as the best dash cam in 2019.
That's not all, however, the 522GW also packs an 'Intelligent Parking Mode' that records any bump or physical movement on the vehicle when left unattended.
It's not just the impressive list of features that means this is the best dash cam, however, as we previously mentioned, the Nextbase 522GW is also a master when it comes to the basics. It records incredibly crisp, perfectly lit 1440p video, the Click&Go mount is a really neat solution, and its smartphone app, MyNextbase, is the most polished experience we've encountered.
We're firm fans of Garmins extensive series of fitness watches, so we were excited to see how the Dash Cam Mini performed. If you’re looking for the smallest dash cam possible, then you'll want the Garmin Dash Cam Mini, which really is tiny, and will fit comfortably out of sight behind you rear view mirror.
Of course, the small size does mean the Garmin Dash Cam Mini is a pretty barebones device, it does exactly what you expect it to, and no more. There are no extra features here, and it lacks GPS, but it does record excellent 1080p footage, and it's very simple to use.
A more affordable option from Blackvue, this is the company’s lowest-priced dual-camera system. It has a similar, cylindrical design to other Blackvue dash cams and records in Full HD 1080p resolution to the front and rear. The footage is captured at 30 frames per second and there is a night vision mode to improve low-light recordings.
The front-facing camera has a 139-degree lens and the rear is slightly narrower at 137 degrees. These are a light tighter than some other options out there, but should still be enough to capture a good outward view from most vehicles.
The camera system has WiFi for connecting to your smartphone or tablet, where the Blackvue app is used to set everything up, and GPS can be added as an optional extra.
There is no display on either camera, but some drivers will prefer this as it makes for a more subtle and less distracting design. Each camera attaches to the windscreen with an adhesive pad, and can be rotated on its mount to point at the right angle to matter the rake of the screen.
The Nextbase 222 is a well-priced and smartly designed dash cam which gets the basics right. It is small enough to fit neatly behind your rear view mirror, has a good-sized screen for adjusting settings and viewing recorded video, and comes with a smart magnetic mount.
Those wanting more from their dash cams - like Bluetooth, GPS, driver assistance features and a more useful parking mode - will want to look elsewhere, but in doing so they will invariably spend more. If you want a simple, no-fuss dash cam with Full HD video recording, the Nextbase 222 is a solid option.
Two cameras are all well and good, but what about three? This dash cam system from Zenfox has the usual front- and rear-facing cameras connected to each other with a long cable, but also includes a third camera to monitor the interior.
This is attached to the back of the front-facing camera and is designed to provide even more evidence in the event of a collision, and would be particularly useful for passenger monitoring in taxis and minicabs.
The front camera has the highest specification, with a 1440p resolution and 160-degree lens, while the two rear-facing cameras record in 1080p Full HD and each have a viewing angle of 140 degrees. GPS is included for adding speed and locational data to recordings, and the front camera has a small, 2-inch display on the back.
If you want to test the dash cam waters before jumping in, this affordable model from Mio is a great place to start.
The MiVue C330 will begin filming in 1080p at 30 frames per second as soon as you start your car. Video quality is good, although, obviously not as good as the more expensive options on this list.
The C330 comes with plenty of extra features, including safety camera warnings and built-in GPS tracking. That's particularly impressive, given the price.
The only thing that really lets this camera down is the night mode – it's not great, so if you a lot of night driving this one isn't for you.
Viofo don't have the same brand recognition as some of the others on this list but that's no reason to dismiss it, because its 4K resolution Pro Duo model represents phenomenal value for money. It's no way near as sleek as some of its more recognisable rivals but this package comes with both front and rear cameras.
That does mean plenty of trailing wires to stash underneath headliners but it also adds further peace of mind for all-round coverage. There's the option of glorious 4K (3840 x 2160p) video recording up front, with the resulting footage offering a great amount of details and Wide Dynamic Range for rich colours in all weather conditions.
The fact that you get night vision, a parking mode, motion detection, automatic emergency recording, GPS tracking and dual channel 1080p makes this a package well worth considering if you cover a lot of miles and want total camera coverage that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
The Garmin 55 is a fantastic little dash cam which is more compact and stylish than most others on the market. It offers good video quality, voice control, and convenient driver assistant features. Plus, the small size and discreet design means we would feel comfortable leaving the camera permanently installed in our car.
It's slightly older than others on this list, but that means you can get an excellent dash cam for a great price.
The cheapest, smallest unit here, the 122 packs a 120-degree camera and smooth brushed-plastic casing. The two-inch screen is a little fiddly in this touchscreen era, rivals have sharper images, and extremes of light and shade throw it a little, but the 122 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, although we'd suggest spending a little more on the Nextbase 222.
The DriveAssist 51 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), as is a microphone, providing you 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.
How to choose the best dash cam for you
You want at least 1080p recording, 720p doesn't quite cut the mustard, and while 4K is a nice option to have, the file sizes are very large and older computers will struggle to play them.
Next, you'll have to decide whether you want a dash cam with a screen or a model without. Dash cams with screens are easier to set up and view footage on, but ones without screens are a lot less intrusive. Both are useful, but we'd choose one with a screen for occasional recording (track days and scenic drives), but one without a screen setup and forget about for everyday driving.
Mounting type is also important. Most stick on the windscreen with a suction mount, the same a sat nav, whereas some more permanent cams have sticky 3M mounts.
The key feature to look out for is a Wi-Fi smartphone connection, this makes it so much easier to view, download and share footage.
There are also gimmicks such as lane departure and forward collision warning – while these are potentially interesting inclusions, in practice, they don't work very well, so shouldn't sway you're buying decision.
One feature which isn't a gimmick is GPS – this allows the car to record your speed and direction of travel, which could be used as extra evidence in an insurance case.
It's also important to note, that while these are battery-powered, we've found they all have minuscule, sub-thirty-minute battery lives. That means they're going to require a power cable.
All companies include a charger that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter, while some offer kits which allow you to hardwire the dash cam into your car's fusebox.
How we tested the dash cams
These are a selection of the best dash cams available in the UK, they all automatically record footage when they sense a collision, but some of them have a few extra abilities thrown in.
They're certainly a worthwhile investment (especially in the winter), and could end up saving you a lot of money, either in the event of an accident, or in insurance premiums (for example, some companies will give you a 15-percent discount car insurance with most of these cameras).
There are several things to consider when buying a dash cam, but the most important factor is image quality. These devices are absolutely pointless if, when it comes to reviewing the footage of an accident, it looks like the lens has been smeared with Vaseline and you have difficulty telling whether you were cut up by a grey Vauxhall Corsa or a baby elephant.
We enlisted the help of a brand new Land Rover Discovery to throughly put these dash cams through their paces. Testing all of the cameras with the same lighting conditions, in a number of different, challenging scenarios, such as driving towards the sun and at night.
If we weren't happy with the image quality, they didn't make it in this list.
Here is everything you need to consider when buying a dash cam:
- Mount type – permanent or suction cup
- Design – screen or no screen
- Installation – cigarette lighter or fusebox
Here are a list of dash cam features you should look out for:
- 1080p video
- Voice control
- Compact design
- Parking mode
And here are the dash cam features you should ignore:
- Lane departure warning
- Collision warning
- Any other superfluous features