It is no longer good enough to simply offer a dash cam that automatically captures footage out of your car’s windscreen. Well, that’s what the dash cam-makers of this world would like you to believe, anyway.
Today, these little units pack all manner of driving aids, lane departure warnings and crash detection technology, but lots dismiss the important factors, which are usability and the quality of the resulting footage.
Nextbase has long been a leader in quality cams but its latest 622GW model comes absolutely packed with the latest video recording technology. For a start, it features a new Ambarella H22 quad-core chipset, which allows users to capture pin-sharp 4K footage at 30fps. On top of this, the firm has seen fit to install a removable polarising filter, which allows drivers to rotate a bezel in front of the lens to produce beautiful, glare-free footage.
Of course, it wouldn’t be enough to simply nail the footage recording thing, so Nextbase has also thrown in Amazon Alexa integration and What3Words emergency geolocation, which works even in those areas where phone signal and internet connectivity are a problem.
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Nextbase 622GW review: Design
Compared to something like Garmin’s diminutive Dash Cam Mini, the Nextbase 622GW actually feels quite large. That’s not helped by the three-inch full colour rear touchscreen display that sits at the rear.
However, I personally prefer having a physical screen, as it makes setting up the camera much easier, while interacting with it on the move is possible, rather than having to pull out a smartphone and access an app to review clips or make sure things are saved properly.
The unit is otherwise sleek and feels sturdy, with the smooth front design only interrupted by a fairly protruding lens. This is accompanied by a neat magnetic flap that allows easy attachment of the windscreen sucker mount and gives access a removable battery, which is great for prolonging the life of the unit. Simply swap in a new battery pack if charge levels start dropping too rapidly.
Other than that, there’s a rubber flap on the side that covers a port for attaching a rear camera, a power button on the opposing flank, an external slot for an SD card and an oversized red button at the bottom of the rear screen that can be hit in the event of an emergency to ensure all-important footage is saved. A built-in gyroscopic sensor will most likely do this automatically, but a physical button is nice for peace of mind.
Nextbase 622GW review: Features
The Nextbase 622GW can capture footage in stunning 4K should you opt for that setting (it requires a large memory card to store a decent amount of footage and these cost extra) but the Super Slow Mo 120fps in 1080p is also excellent. This is down to the built-in stabilisation that results in buttery smooth imagery and the polarising filter, that can be rotated to cut out glare from the sun and other windscreens.
There is also an option to add a rear camera module that films at 1080p/30fps, but this is sold separately. On a positive note, it doesn’t require an irritatingly long wire dangling from the rear window because it neatly plugs into the side of the 622G
As expected, onboard gyroscopic sensors automatically detect a prang and store footage to the memory card without any user interference, but there’s also a manual button that can be pressed to ensure nothing is lost. The sensitivity of said crash detection system can be adjusted via the touchscreen display, but there’s also a handing Parking Mode that will automatically record footage if the G Sensor is activated, even when the camera isn’t drawing power.
Perhaps the biggest boon here is the addition of the What3Words integration, which has the ability to pinpoint a location and send it on to the emergency services in an instant. More and more breakdown services are using this tech, meaning they could reach you quicker in the event of a mechanical issue or flat tyre.
Pair the camera with the smartphone app (more on that in a bit) and users can set-up Alexa Skills that operate a bunch of camera functions with the voice. These include verbal commands to snap photos, save images or play a favoured Spotify playlist if you’ve got everything synched up.
Nextbase 622GW review: Video quality
As previously mentioned, the 4K video footage at 30fps is absolutely brilliant, but there is also a mode for poor weather, which automatically adjusts the camera settings to deal with heavy rain and even fog.
Footage is sharp enough to read number plates and if the option of super slow mo mode is selected, it can be slowed right down to snare anyone thinking of making a hasty exit. In good light, footage is up there with some of the best action cams, but even in lower light situations, it still proves clear enough to serve its main purpose.
A 140-degree viewing angle is also good for capturing most of the action out of the windscreen but there are other cameras on the market with more extreme angles, should you want to covers areas to the left and right of a standard filed of vision.
Resulting footage is time-stamped with the correct date, while GPS means it is also cleverly processed with the exact location an incident occurred. This could prove crucial when using the footage as evidence.
Nextbase 622GW: Software and app
Perhaps one of the biggest let-downs is the Nextbase app, which proves a little clunky to operate and can take several attempts to connect a unit to a smartphone. According to Nextbase, the addition of dual 2.4GHz + 5GHz Wi-Fi should make things easier, but I still had several connection issues when trying to review or download footage, it simply crashed.
This could prove extremely frustrating in the event of an accident, but I found it far easier to remove the SD card and plug it into a laptop or PC, where it’s a doddle to access and edit using existing software. However, it’s best to use the Nextbase software if you want to easily access the GPS and geo-tagging data.
On top of this, customers receive a year’s free trial to the EmergencySOS feature, which means What3Words can be used even when there is no mobile data or WiFi available, but they are then required to pay a subscription after that time period has elapsed.
Nextbase 622GW review: Verdict
Some dash cams try to do too much, offering things like lane keep assist and tiredness alerts that are fairly annoying when they come as standard with a modern car, but prove really frustrating when the dash cam is also bleeping at you.
The Nextbase 622GW does the basic stuff really well and then only offers additional services that are actually useful. The footage is excellent and it’s extremely easy to ensure vital clips are saved.
Setting up is simple, as the Click&Go magnetic Pro GPS mount makes it very easy to fix in place and remove, while the rear touchscreen is clear and responsive, so a great view out of the windscreen can be achieved quickly and with very little fuss.
Despite a lack of opportunity to properly test the What3Words integration, we can see the Emergency Response safety suite working very well in the event of an accident or breakdown, especially if these occur in a particularly rural or remote area.
Experience clearly counts for a lot, because the Nextbase 622GW is slick, easy to use and looks the part. It’s one of the best dash cams we’ve tried in a long time.