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The best dash cams you can buy

Telegraph Reporters
Nextbase Dash Camera - Nextbase

Car dash cameras have seen a recent boom in demand as drivers find new ways to keep their cars safe and give themselves as much security as possible when caught up in insurance claims.

These small, windscreen mounted cameras provide a feed of traffic data to keep drivers confident on the road. The video evidence they provide can be vital for insurance claims.

In fact, plenty of insurers now offer discounts if you choose to fit a dash camera, leading to long-term savings for investing in one. The rise of crooks trying it on with a "crash for cash" has led to insurers offering premiums of 10 to 15 per cent.

The Telegraph took some of the best dash cams for a spin to see how they compare.

The best dash cams to buy in 2018

Nextbase 612GW

£249, Halfords

Nextbase 612GW dash cam

The Nextbase 612GW is the top of the range dash cam you can buy. It features 4K high definition resolution, one of the only cameras to provide such detail, plus it comes with a magnetic GPS mount that is easy to fit and use. Setting up the Nextbase is simple, just pop in a MicroSD card and plug the camera into your cars cigarette lighter. The mount for the nextbase was one of the quickest to attach with a suction base.

The Nextbase comes with a three inch touch screen for controlling navigation, while the GPS records location and speed data to view your journey on a map. The touch screen is intuitive with a modes menu and settings. It connects with Wi-Fi to your phone so you can connect up easily and download your footage.

However, at £250 you will really want the very best dash cam technology, and other models we tested provided many of the same features, without 4K recording.

Telegraph rating: 9/10

Garmin Dash 45

£105, Amazon

Garmin Dash 45 Credit: Garmin

Garmin's tiny Dash 45 is a discrete camera with a 2.1MP camera which records in 1080p. It has built-in GPS which records location data and speed for your records or if you have an incident on the road. The 2-inch display shows useful  information to add to your road awareness, without bombarding you with details as you drive. Alerts include lane departure warnings and forward collision warnings if you are driving too close to the car in front.

It is also pre-loaded with speed camera alerts from the Garmin database. Mounting the Garmin is easy, with a thin sticky magnet that means you can easily unclick the camera (although the actual magnetic strip itself is harder to remove). 

For close to £100 it is packed with features. We particularly loved the Garmin Dash for its small size, which provided the least distraction when mounted on the windscreen. While it's not the cheapest dash camera on the market you get all the essentials in a miniature package.

Telegraph rating: 8.5/10

Nextbase 312GW

£96, Amazon

Nextbase 312GW

Nextbase produces some of the most popular dash cam devices, which connect via iOS or Android to the Nextbase app which becomes your store for footage you want to keep. The Nextbase 312GW is cheaper than its premium 612GW model, lacking the 4K footage and instead giving you 1080p.

It has a 140 degree lens for wide angle viewing and a 2.7-inch display for menu and playback selection. It keeps the built-in Wi-Fi for data transfer and the GPS you get on more expensive models, but the 312GW can be found for under £100 on most stores.

Telegraph rating: 8/10

Mio MiVue 733

£129, Halfords

MioVue

The MiVue 733 comes with a 2.7-inch screen for touch control and records at 1080p, similar to the competition. It is a little more expensive than similar models from Garmin and Nextbase, but does have plenty of features to keep you up to speed with what's going on.

It has a forward collision warning system, lane departure warnings and a fatigue warning. It also includes a sensor to record force and direction of impacts as well as GPS tracking which automatically records driving information. You can also enabled parking mode for motion detection while parked, although this requires an additional power supply.

Telegraph rating: 8/10

Black Friday products disclaimer

Why do you need a dash cam?

Dash cameras are small cameras that sit on your front or rear windscreen, or clip onto the rear view mirror, that provide an uninterrupted view of your drive, giving you a record ready for insurance claims. Insurers will often give a discount if you choose to fit an approved dash camera, as it can help sort out claims.

Dash cams can also be a good way to keep an eye on younger or inexperienced drivers, with their permission of course. They are relatively inexpensive at between £50 and £200 and could save you real money should an accident happen.

When there is a sudden change in speed, most dash cameras and car security cameras save their footage automatically in case the change was caused by a crash.

Dash cameras can also provide smart collision warnings Credit: Garmin

Hardware retailer Halfords says it has seen a major increase in dash cam fittings in recent years, up by nearly 200 per cent. Halfords Natasha Chauhan dash cam expert said: "Fitting a dash cam to your car can help reduce the cost of your insurance premium and offer reassurance when it comes to disputes over liability in the event of an accident."

Dash cams are only growing in popularity in the UK, where "crash for cash" scams have been on the rise. In other countries they are hugely popular. In Russia almost all drivers fit their cars with dash cameras, due to dodgier roads and high accident rates.

How does a dash camera work?

Dash cams use a car's 12V socket, the cigarette lighter, for power. They are mounted on top of the windscreen, usually out of sight behind the rear view mirror with the wires are tucked around the sides.

The camera begins recording when you start the engine and stops when you turn it off and the camera detects sudden changes of speed, which may be caused by an accident, to save footage. The cameras record footage to an SD card which can then be transferred via Wi-Fi to a smartphone.

Dash camera key features

There are several key features to look for in your dash cam. Screen resolution is a key part of dash cam tech, and most of the best models will have at least 1080p, or HD, resolution, but premium models may even have 4K resolution for extra detail.

Having a wide field of view on the dash cam is also important so you can make sure the camera takes in plenty of details when recording. 

You will want to make sure the camera you buy has built-in incident detection. This means the camera will automatically start recording when it realises an accident or collision has happened due to a sudden change in speed. Others provide feedback and alerts as you drive.

Storage is also something to look out for when buying a dash cam. Check what size of memory card your dash cam can take, which means it will need changing and checking less often.

Other key things to consider

  • Size: Having a small and discrete dash camera is a bonus as you don't want them to be a distraction while driving.
  • Mounting: Some dash cams clip onto your windscreen mirror, others stick to your windscreen. You want them to be easy to remove to hide. 
  • GPS: Dash cams with a built-in GPS can location stamp videos you take so you have a record of where an incident took place right away. 

Verdict

For an absolute first rate dash camera experience you could hardly go wrong with the Nextbase 612GW. A GPS dash cam with 4K footage, it will give the highest quality you will need, plus it comes with handy security features and extras. That said, we also really enjoyed installing and using the Garmin Dash 45. It's diminutive and probably has the smallest profile of any dash camera. You are also saving yourself close to £100 than on the 612GW.