Best dash cam 2019: top car dash cams tried and tested

Want to know which is the best dash cam? Well, good news, we've tested dozens from Garmin, Nextbase, Thinkware, Cobra, and more to find the best, and give you the most reliable recommendation out there.

Best dash cam 2019: top dash cams tried and tested
(Image credit: Nextbase)

Want to know which is the best dash cam? Well, good news, we've tested dozens of dash cams to find the best, and give you the most reliable recommendation out there. There's also a short answer and a long answer, so strap in and come along for the ride.

The short answer is that the Nextbase 522GW is the best dash cam you can currently buy. 

The 522GW is a hugely impressive dash cam, which not only nails the basics (such as recording outstanding image quality and solid smartphone connectivity), but also offers features never before seen in a dash cam. All-in-all, it's a very compelling dash cam package!

The Garmin Dash Cam 66W is a very close second, offering a slimmer, more stylish design than the Nextbase, but inferior image quality and less useful safety features, or, if you're looking for an invisible dash cam, which sits discreetly behind your rear view mirror, check out the Thinkware F800 or Mio MiVue J60.

If you're looking for the best budget dash cam, try the Mio MiVue C330 or Nextbase 222.

The long answer involves how you plan to use the dash cam, what specific features might be useful to you, and different options to suit your budget.

The best dash cams you can buy today

Best Dash Cam: Nextbase 522GW

1. Nextbase 522GW

Quite simply, the King of Dash Cams in 2019

Specifications
Camera: 1440p
Field of view: 140°
Screen: 3-inch HD touch screen
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Outstanding image quality+Alexa built-in+Emergency SOS+Compact mount
Reasons to avoid
-Menu UI looks dated

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. 

(Image credit: Garmin)

2. Garmin Dash Cam 66W

Sleek design, high-quality video and a wide-angle lens

Specifications
Camera: 1440p
Field of view: 180°
Screen: 3-inch HD touch screen
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Subtle, compact design+Good video quality+Easy to mount+Extra-wide field of view
Reasons to avoid
-Video and app can't match Nextbase-Runs quite hot-Voice controls inaccurate 

This fantastic little dash cam from Garmin earns second place on this list with good image quality, a number of extra features, and actually quite attractive design. It's one of the most compact cameras here (so takes up less windscreen space) and resembles a GoPro, making it the most attractive as well. That might seem like a funny thing to say, but it won't look out of place in a Range Rover or Mercedes, while others on this list will.

Despite being small the Garmin 66 manages to pack in plenty of extra features, such as GPS and smartphone integration with the Garmin Virb app. There's also Lane Departure and Forward Collision warning, as well as Speed Camera warnings. The former two are somewhat less useful than the later. 

The video footage is great as well. Recording in 1440p with an ultra-wide 180-degree field of view. The video quality might not be as good at the Nextbase 522GW, but it's good enough.

The mount is excellently designed, with a small 3M magnet mount making removal and placement of the dash cam incredibly easy. The downside is the slightly fiddly menu system, which is controlled by four buttons on the side, and the inconsistent voice control.

Best dash cam: Thinkware F800 Pro

3. Thinkware F800 Pro

Almost invisible design, video quality good, and night mode very impressive

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 140°
Screen: No Screen
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Non-intrusive design+Parking and Night Modes+Cloud features interesting
Reasons to avoid
-App and connectivity issues-It's there almost permanently

The Thinkware F800 is probably the dash cam that we've used for the longest amount of time – mainly because it's so low profile you just forget about it (which is kind of what you want with these devices).

The F800 is fixed to your car windscreen with sticky 3M tape, and, as there's no screen, you can essentially hide it behind the rear view mirror. We think that's the best place for them.

The F800 comes with GPS tracking, lifetime safety camera and speed alerts, as well as Safety Warnings such as forward collision and lane departure awareness. Although, while these are marginally useful on dash cameras with screens, they are zero use without a screen.

The HD video quality is good, and the night mode (now on its second generation) is very impressive (it's surprisingly sharp and there's next to no noise). There's built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to your smartphone, although, we did experience some connection issues, and it looks very dated. 

Time Lapse Mode which records your parked car for 48-hours. That's great if you're worried about the vehicle being vandalised while left at night.

That final feature requires the camera to be hardwired into the car. We think that's what you'd want to do with the Thinkware. It's not too difficult and also the neatest looking option, freeing up the 12V port.

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.

These are potentially very useful features, but we found it very difficult to get them working, and from reading other online reviews, we're not the only ones.

Best dash cam: Mio MiVue J60

4. Mio MiVue J60

A discrete dash cam with an impressive feature set

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 150°
Screen: No Screen
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Compact mount+Can be hidden behind mirror+GPS+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Mini USB power

The Mio MiVue J60 is a really neat little device, with a compact body which manages to squeeze in a lot of technology. 

It's the sleek design that's key here, as the shape of the camera and small mount means it'll sit discreetly behind your rear view mirror. Despite its small size, the MiVue J60 has a sensor capable of capturing sharp 1080p footage at 30 frames per second with a wide 150-degree viewing-angle.

It's got a dedicated night mode as well, which ensures registration plates and small details are captured in most lighting conditions.

The J60 not only captures clear video; it also features Wi-Fi, for video playback and updating camera settings via a smartphone app; as well as GPS, which tracks your vehicle's location and speed.

The MiVue J60 is packed full of safety features (although, you know what we think about those) including Advanced Driving Assistance System, Lane Departure Warning System, Forward Collision Warning System and Fatigue Alert.

If you decide to have these on (they can be turned off through the app) the dash cam will emit a beep if you start to drift over road markings or go over the speed limit.

The device also comes with safety camera data, and free data updates for the lifetime of the device, so drivers can avoid any dreaded speeding fines. That's potentially very useful, depending on your driving style.

Best dash cam: Garmin Dash Cam Mini

5. Garmin Dash Cam Mini

Without doubt the smallest dash cam we've reviewed

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 140°
Screen: No Screen
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Tiny design+Quick release mount+Distraction free+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS

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.

We found it very easy to set up and use, and for under £100, we think it's difficult to fault.

Best Dash Cam: Nextbase 222

(Image credit: Nextbase)

6. Nextbase 222

This dash cam from Nextbase represents excellent value for money

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 140°
Screen: 2.5-inch
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Low price+Full HD 1080p video+Parking Mode+Compact mounting
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS

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.

Best dash cam: Mio MiVue C330

7. Mio MiVue C330

A great Full HD dash cam with GPS for less than £100!

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 130°
Screen: Yes
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Small+Fully featured with full HD video
Reasons to avoid
-Large mount-Not so good at night

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.

Best dash cam: YI Dash Cam Mini

8. YI Dash Cam Mini

A discrete dash cam with a screen – it's affordable too!

Specifications
Camera: 1080p Full HD
Field of view: 140°
Screen: 2-inch screen
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Compact design+Includes screen+Easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
-No GPS

We must say, we love the design of this compact dash cam from YI. It's probably our favourite form factor out there. You mount the lightweight camera to your windshield using sticky 3M, and once in place it's incredibly discrete and subtle.

This type of design doesn't usually include a LCD screen, but the YI features a 2-inch screen which is useful for reviewing footage, and and east to hit record button. The quality is fine, capturing a 140° wide-angle image in 1080p at 30 frames per second. 

If you need to provide detailed recordings of collisions that can be viewed at any time through the YI Dash App.

Best dash cam: Garmin Dash Cam 55

9. Garmin Dash Cam 55

A sleek, premium dash cam from Garmin

Specifications
Camera: 1440p
Field of view: 122°
Screen: 2-inch LCD
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Action cam-like design+Easy operation+Well designed mount+Voice control
Reasons to avoid
-Complex menus

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.

Best dash cam: Nextbase 612GW

10. NextBase 612GW

The best dash cam for 4K image quality, but with a clunky design

Specifications
Camera: 4K Ultra HD Resolution
Field of view: 150°
Screen: 3-inch LCD
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Best image quality+Magnetic mount+Useful features, no gimmicks
Reasons to avoid
-Large and chunky design-Poor app

First of all, NextBase has really improved its build quality, replacing plastic with aluminium.

Secondly, we'd say it has the best image quality of any dash cam we've tested, thanks to the 4K Ultra HD Resolution, seven-element lens, Sony Exmor R sensor, and polarising lens (which helps reduce window glare).

It was only let down when driving towards the sun, where it would underexpose the roads and other cars. This can be fixed, however, as NextBase gives you exposure compensation control. 

In other conditions, image quality is excellent, and the most detailed we saw.

You also get all of the useful features from the Garmin, including Wi-Fi and GPS, without the more gimmicky features.

The mount is suction and magnetic, making it easy to remove and place the camera.

There are a few things that let it down, however. 

Svelte this is not, it's ones of the chunkiest dash cams we tested (taking up much more windscreen real estate than the Garmin). When using it you're also hit with a tidal wave of beeps and chimes. It's not a major issue, just slightly annoying, and makes it seem cheaper than it is (these can be turned off).

While the NextBase has Wi-Fi and a companion app available on the Google and Apple app stores, it's worth noting it only has two stars. We didn't have any major problems with it, but other people seem to have connectivity issues. Hopefully this can be fixed with a software update.

All-in-all it's a very good dash cam with excellent image quality, a number of useful features, and no gimmicks.

There's also the NextBase Ride, which is a dash camera specifically for motorcyclists. 

Best dash cam: Philips ARD 810

11. Philips ADR81BLX1 ADR 810

Easy operation and decent image quality

Specifications
Camera: 1080p
Field of view: 156°
Screen: 2.7-inch LCD
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Image quality in low light+Secure sticky mount
Reasons to avoid
-No internal battery, despite size-Not too many features

While Philips may be better known for making electric toothbrushes than dash cameras, it doesn't mean it can't have its finger in more than one pie. The catchily named ADR81BLX1 ADR 810 impressed us with its clear screen and decent image quality.

It even has something we've not seen on a dash cam before - Driver Fatigue Warning. Could be a useful feature, could also have the potential to be annoying.

A few things let the Philips dash cam down. First is that is has no internal battery what so ever, so as soon as it unplugged it dies (after saving the footage). Most of these have backup batteries, so they keep running for a bit longer. The second is the build quality, it's not what we'd expect from a Philips product.

These are minor quibbles though, and at the end of the day, the Philips dash cam produces decent 1080p video and is very easy to operate.

Best dash cam: NextBase 122

(Image credit: Nextbase)

12. NextBase 122

A compact dash cam with a screen

Specifications
Camera: 720p HD
Field of view: 120°
Screen: 2.0-inch LCD
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Small+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Fiddly screen-Not the sharpest

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.

Best dash cam: Garmin DriveAssist 51

13. Garmin DriveAssist 51 LMT-S

A great sat nav with a built in dash cam

Specifications
Camera: Unknown
Screen: 5.0-inch LCD
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Large screen+Sat nav as well
Reasons to avoid
-Driver alerts annoying-Large

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.

Best dash cam: RoadHawk Vision

14. RoadHawk Vision

This affordable dash cam packs a few neat tricks

Specifications
Camera: 1296p Super HD
Field of view: 160°
Screen: None
GPS: No
Reasons to buy
+Discrete+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Cheap build quality-No speed or location

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.

Best dash cam: Cobra CDR 900 E

15. Cobra CDR 900 E

A neat dash cam which produces good quality footage and doubles as an action camera

Specifications
Camera: 1296p Super HD
Field of view: 160°
Screen: 2.0-inch LCD
GPS: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Neat design+Good quality recording
Reasons to avoid
-Poor mic-Faffy interface

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.

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. 

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 Wi-Fi smartphone connection, this makes it so much easier to view, download and share footage. 

There's 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 insurace 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.

Here is everything you need to consider:

  • Mount type – permanent or suction cup
  • Design – screen or no screen
  • Installation – cigarette lighter or fusebox

Here are a list of features you should look out for:

  • 1080p video
  • GPS
  • Wi-fi
  • Voice control
  • Compact design
  • Parking mode

And here are the features you should ignore:

  • Lane departure warning
  • Collision warning
  • 4K
  • Any other superfluous features

Black Friday deals

Liked this?