Many insurers offer discounts if a dash cam is fitted to the car but, this being PH, that isn't always the first thing that comes to mind - it can also be used to record some of those lovely roads you found by taking that wrong turn or filming those epic track day overtakes. We put the Nextbase 412GW up against the Thinkware F770 - two different packages that take video recording very seriously.
The 412GW, a plug-and-play camera by Nextbase is a portable and fairly small unit capable of recording in 1440p at 30 frames per second viewable on the LCD screen. It's fairly easy to set up straight out of the box by connecting the locking suction cup to the windscreen and letting the magnetic connector link up. The unit is noticeable under the rear-view mirror on the initial drive. However, after a few uses, it slowly gets lost in the peripheral vision and easily forgotten. The camera is more than capable of capturing the full view out front with little shake, no matter how hard your suspension set up may be.
Videos (recorded in two, three or five-minute intervals) are stamped with a GPS location and speed markers (which can be turned off) and can be saved either on the camera or via the app when connected to the camera's built-in Wi-Fi. Honestly, I only tried the photo option once and it works well if evidence of a crash needs to be captured, but in reality, most smartphones will do a better job.
On a few journeys, the camera decided to protect videos that didn't need protecting and at night the LED headlights on our test car (or the exposure settings, we're not sure) affected the camera's ability to capture number plates.
The F770, Thinkware's offering, only records in 1080p at 30 frames per second but it does have 'Super Night Vision' up its sleeve and the option to pair it with a rear camera. It never had the peripheral vision problem either, slotting neatly behind the rear-view mirror; however, it did need to be set up via the mobile app as the unit doesn't have a built-in screen. Through the mobile app, multiple options can be toggled including parking recording, Super Night Vision and sound recording.
Video footage on the F770 is good when compared with other HD offerings but against the QuadHD the failings start to show. On the move, the camera alerts the driver of speed cameras with updated databases that can be downloaded for free. The camera also offers front collision pre-warnings, lane departure warnings and an alert when the driver ahead pulls away in stationary traffic. Small touches that make the journey a little easier. Using the desktop app, you can view your locations on Google Maps alongside the recordings to easily plot that next Dream Drive.
Both cameras have a 140-degree viewing angle and the ability to record incidents when the car is parked, helping catch those pesky car park scrape fiends. If your vehicle doesn't have all the gadgetry of a modern car and you want something extra from your dash cam, the Thinkware F770 should definitely be considered. Costing a little over £200, it brings the car into the 21st century but is let down slightly by its lesser recording ability. If all you are after is a dash cam though, peace of mind is provided by the £130 Nextbase 412GW.