The dash cam market was once lorded over by a few big names, with consumer choice largely down to a couple of models, but since buyers caught wind that having recorded footage of an accident or incident is priceless for insurance claims and court cases, the dash cam industry exploded.
Alongside big names like Garmin, Nextbase and Mio, we now have a raft of Chinese brands that have access to the same image processor and camera technology as the leading companies, meaning a very good device for recording the action out of the front windscreen can be purchased relatively cheaply.
Still, if you want the absolute pinnacle of image resolution and additional features, we think that two brands currently stand head and shoulders above the competition: Garmin and Nextbase.
The 622GW from Nextbase is absolutely crammed with cool features, such as Alexa voice control and What3Words geolocation integration, while the Garmin 66W manages to pack fantastic HD quality video inside a svelte, diminutive and stylish package.
With a slight price disparity between the two (the Garmin is cheaper), it might be difficult to make that choice, so we’ve tested each camera back-to-back to deliver a definitive verdict on which we think is ultimately the king of the dash cams.
Nextbase 622GW vs Garmin 66W: design
Hands down, the Garmin 66W is the more compact and stylish unit out of the two. That’s not to say the Nextbase is worth writing off straight away, because the plastic casing is neat and shapely, but it is a little larger and slightly more cumbersome than its rival. But that the price you pay for a decent sized screen on the rear, which is ten-times easier to interact with than Garmin’s diminutive display.
Around the size of a matchbox, the Garmin 66W can easily be stashed behind the rear view mirror, which makes it more discreet than others, particularly if you are thinking of mounting it to a more luxurious car.
So it really comes down to whether you utilise that rear screen or not. Although once set up, it’s much nicer to leave the Garmin in position and forget about it, whereas the Nextbase is a tad harder to conceal.
Nextbase 622GW vs Garmin 66W: video quality
In our initial review of the Garmin 66W, we pointed out that it is a little frustrating that the default option for video is 1080p Full HD at 60 frames per second, while other options include 1440p with HDR at 30 frames per second, 1080p with HDR at 30 fps, and 720p with HDR at 30 fps.
It is annoying that users can’t have a combination of these to create 1440p with HDR at 60 fps, so you have to pick which you think will produce the best video for your situation. A higher frame rate will produce smoother video and should help improve the clarity of individual frames - such as when trying to read the number plate of a vehicle that caused a collision. HDR helps to boost image quality when light conditions vary, pulling out details on shadowed areas without over-exposing lighter parts of the frame.
It is much the same with the Nextbase 622GW, but we’d go so far to say that the footage from the Nextbase is superior, purely because the onboard stabilisation does an awesome job of smoothing out footage. The built-in polarising filter is also fantastic for knocking out glare from the sky and other windscreens.
Although Garmin advertises a full 1440p resolution, we found the footage a little grainy at this res, but that’s only when you really punch in on the details. However, a wider 180-degree lens (as opposed to the 140-degrees on the Nextbase) captures far more out of the front windscreen and even to the left and right of the vehicle.
In our humble opinion, the Nextbase 622GW is the one to plump for if you want absolutely pin sharp imagery on all conditions (including during low light or night driving), but then you do pay extra for the privilege.
Nextbase 622GW vs Garmin 66W T3: features
We’ve said it before, but dash cams are now so good at automatically capturing crisp footage in the case of an accident that manufacturers are looking for new ways to attract customers. Throwing in a bunch of driving assistance features and additional emergency technology seem to be the flavour of the year.
In this respect, Garmin adds forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and alerts you if the vehicle in front sets off and you don’t. It also warns of upcoming speed and red light cameras.
The usefulness of these features is questionable, with most of these alerts coming in the form of indecipherable bleeps. However, the addition of voice control is good and by uttering the words “Okay Garmin”, you can instruct the camera to save important footage or take a picture, for example.
Nextbase, on the other hand, does away with most of the irritating lane departure warnings et al and sticks with advances in its Emergency SOS suite of features. Here, the camera can alert emergency or breakdown services, even in areas where your tethered smartphone can’t reach mobile signal or Wi-Fi. On top of this, the addition of What3Words geolocation speeds up the process of locating a stricken vehicle.
Controlling the camera via Alexa “Skills” is also neat and it goes beyond simple camera functionality by also controlling other Alexa-enabled devices in the vehicle.
However, perhaps the most important element is the provided smartphone app, which both Nextbase and Garmin haven’t quite perfected. Garmin’s offering is clunky to navigate, while the Nextbase app can be equally as fiddly, and despite advances in dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, camera connection for file transfer is fairly unpredictable and often unstable. The same can be said for Garmin. It’s much easier to eject the microSD card and plug it into a laptop or computer.
Nextbase 622GW vs Garmin 66W: price
In the UK, the Nextbase 622GW retails at £249.99, or $259.99 Stateside. The Garmin 66W is slightly older than the Nextbase, so prices vary.
We found they can be picked up for as little as £169 form the likes of Amazon and Halfords in the UK, while other stockists hover around the £200 mark. Best Buy in the US stocks the Garmin for around $222.99.
You can find the best prices in our widget below:
Nextbase 622GW vs Garmin 66W: verdict
If you’ve got deep enough pockets, we would suggest opting for the Nextbase 622GW, purely because the image stabilisation and overall image quality is excellent. It’s offering of clever additions, such as What3Words and Alexa comparability, feel better value for money than often pointless driver assistance warnings too.
The Garmin 66W is cheaper and packs some seriously good video production skills (it’s also more discreet), but it falls just behind its main rival here in terms of video quality, usability and additional tech features.
Not convinced by either of these dash cams? Check T3's best dash cam buying guide to find the perfect model for you.