Dash cams are one of the fastest growing areas of technology at the moment because they provide peace of mind and can save people a lot of money.
The new 522GW Dash Cam from Nextbase is not only an in-car sentinel, constantly recording the road ahead, it introduces Amazon Alexa into your car’s cabin, and adds a potentially lifesaving feature.
This may be the most exciting dash cam ever made!
- These are the best dash cams
Nextbase 522GW review: Video Quality
Let’s start with image quality, though, as this is still the most important aspect of a dash cam. Thankfully, it’s an area where the 522GW excels.
Footage can be recorded in either 1440p at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps, both settings look crisp and detailed, with new software that delivers optimal lighting and colour, irrespective of the time of day or weather conditions.
The quality of the video is incredibly impressive, and may be the best we've ever seen from a dash cam. We think it's better than the Nextbase 612GW, which is capable of recording 4K (which also gives you massive file sizes) thanks to the new HDR-like software. We’d recommend buyers keep the resolution at 1440p for maximum detail.
Audio is also recorded, but this can be switched off in the settings menu, if you wish.
Nextbase 522GW review: Design
The physical design has received a big refresh. The 522GW is now around 35% smaller than its predecessor, and the new Click&Go Pro mounting system is a much neater solution, taking up less windscreen real estate.
This was one of our biggest issues with the previous model, so it’s nice to see this has been addressed, although the design still lags behind the more attractive Garmin 66W (opens in new tab).
The 522GW measures 94 x 53 x 45mm, weights 125g, and features a large 3-inch touchscreen on the back. It's fairly compact, although the lens protrudes quite a distance from the body, still, it can easily fit behind a rearview mirror.
As we previously mentioned, the new mounting mechanism is brilliantly compact. It comes with two methods of attaching it to the screen – either a suction cup or 3M adhesive sticker. This then connects magnetically to the dash cam.
You plug the power cable into the mount, rather than the dash cam. This makes removing the dash cam (to swap it into a different car, for example) incredibly easy.
The mounting arm attached to the camera itself features a ball-and-socket joint, allowing the camera’s position to be easily adjusted, allowing you to get a clear view of the road ahead.
For those of you who want to record what’s going on behind you, Nextbase is also releasing a simple plug in and play rear camera, part of a collection of ‘Modules’ which can add extra functions to the 522GW.
Nextbase 522GW review: Features
Where things get really interesting, however, is that this is the first dash cam in Europe with Alexa built-in. It allows you to control certain functions of the dash cam, such as recording an incident; as well as ask Alexa for directions, to play music, make a call, and more. It’s incredibly useful, and keeps your eyes focused on the road.
What’s more, the 522GW comes with a new feature called Emergency SOS, which can alert the emergency services to your vehicle’s exact location if a serious collision is detected and the driver is unresponsive.
Once an incident is detected, the system will follow a series of failsafe protocols, to ensure there are no false callouts, before ringing the owner’s phone. If the driver remains unresponsive, the emergency services will be alerted and the vehicle’s GPS position uploaded.
We think this feature is amazing (although, we haven't had the chance to test it, thankfully).
The system can also be pre-loaded with medical history, blood type, and next of kin. Obviously, we didn’t get a chance to test this, but it’s reassuring to know your dash cam is equipped with this potentially lifesaving feature.
Nextbase 522GW review: Software
As well as these headline features, Nextbase has also focused on improving the basics. For example, connecting to your phone is now super fast thanks to the combination of Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi.
The MyNextbase companion app (iOS and Android) is also greatly improved over the previous version, which was often slow and unresponsive.
We were seriously impressed with how easy it was to download footage using the app, and think Nextbase has the best system currently out there for this.
We found the on-camera menu system clear and easy to understand. It's also easy to navigate thanks to a responsive touchscreen. The menus do look a little basic, however this is just a minor quibble.
Nextbase 522GW review: Verdict
When it comes to finding the perfect dash cam, we think the Nextbase 522GW is just about it. It's class leading in a number of categories, from video quality and smartphone connectivity, to safety features.
The menu system looks a little dated, and the design isn't quite as slick as the Garmin, but this doesn’t stop us from recommending the Nextbase 522GW as one of the best dash cameras you can buy.