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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.