We’ve all seen the videos, heck Dash Cam Owners Australia has become a hugely popular YouTube channel simply by sharing videos sent in by average Aussies’s who’ve captured something interesting/shocking/amazing on their Dash Camera. So let’s take a look at a few on the market.
Now this was not an easy review to do. Firstly, have you ever tried sticking six dash cams on your window and then trying to see the road clearly? Not easy.
Secondly, they all need power. Sure, some have on-board batteries but they don’t last too long.
Fortunately, with the help of a bunch of USB cables and a Belkin 4-port car charger and a splitter I was able to get six USB cords plugged in:)
Each of the six products I’ve chosen here have a range of features which may set them apart side by side from each other. But in real terms, I wanted to test their video recording capabilities. Just how good does the picture look.
However, one additional thing I’ve learned in this testing is that there is some tinkering in the settings some times required. What I would want in a Dash Cam is one that records non-stop, so I can capture the stupid things, not just an accident heaven forbid one happens.
After a while I found that all but one of these did that, though it was either limited by the capacity of the memory card which is fine, but in the case of the low-cost Navig8r the limit was 10 minutes of loop recording.
Another interesting thing I found was that it was hard to get them all to save the same moment of vision. It took a while to work out which button on each was the “emergency recording” button, but on some the vision would be recorded either side of that moment and others it would start then.
For the most part though, once you get to know the features of the individual unit you’re going to capture the moments you want each and every time.
Let’s take a look, from least expensive through to most expensive.
Navig8R NAVC-502FHDi – $59.95
This guy is cheap as chips, and certainly does the job. But the video quality while it’s claimed at “Full HD” just because you’re saving that many pixels doesn’t mean they are useful. The quality isn’t great, but for recording the outline of what happened and perhaps not needing to get details like Number Plates, it does the job!
Navman MiVUE 530 – $149
A big step up in quality for just under $150, this guy records a bright picture, good enough for super close number plate reading and good all round detail in the picture and a pretty good colour palette for the money. It also stores GPS detail including location, direction and speed.
Navman MiVue 580 – $249
Almost identical in look to it’s cheaper sibling, the 580 has a blue tint around the front of the device to set it apart, plus it has no physical buttons for control, instead relying on a 2.5 inch touch screen.
Image quality is boosted thanks to the SONY Exmore CMOS sensor, so there’s a bit more detail and clarity in the picture and a step up in colour (Despite looking washed out below, its more consistent across the image). Also has GPS for tracking speed and location etc.
Uniden iGO Cam 755 – $229.95
I really like the form factor of this one, a wider device, and that compliments the much wider viewing angle too. A 170 degree angle lens gives you the whole picture more than the others.
It has some speed camera warnings as well as GPS on board for Geotagging and data recording.
Disappointingly despite having a separate GPS antenna on top, the GPS struggled to get a signal a couple of times when I drove – taking far too long all things considered.
Despite that, the quality is excellent, when you take the wide-angle, the clarity of picture and the small form factor this is one of the better ones for sure at just over $200.
Navig8r 818 Pro X – $349
A real step up from the folk at LaserCo in Sydney, this guy bats way above its average. Very easy to use, I never touched a menu, just plug and play.
On board GPS means full data recording for any incident for each and every video, plus it uses a database of maps to show actual location on-screen and speed camera and school zone warnings as you drive. Very very handy.
The video is higher than Full HD and wide angle too – captures everything you’d need and very readable.
I would suggest you do any firmware upgrades possible, as I found some of the speed zone data inaccurate (the M2 entering the Epping tunnel westbound is not a 70 zone, hasn’t been for some years), but apart from that, I find it hard to fault this one.
Garmin NuviCam $569
Forget having multiple suction caps stuck to your window, this is an all-in-one. Full GPS Navigation system with a Dash Cam added.
It’s a fully featured Sat Nav system which is the heart and soul of Garmin so no holding back there, Voice Commands the lot.
The Camera is a simple addition to the back, you can view saved recordings and get a live view too.
My only negative is the lack of loop recording, but there’s a big button on top to save a recording when you like.
So, what does that all mean? Well – take a look at the video from each of them – this video loops through each of the six cameras three times each. Watch it a few times and decide for yourself.
For my mind the Uniden has a great video, though the Navigr with GPS has a fuller frame, while the Navman and Garmin units are similar in quality. The $59 Navigr actually goes ok when you watch the motion, just not the detail.
It’s a toss up between the Uniden and Navigr, and for the extra money those speed alerts and the post-video analysis on your PC (not available on Mac) might just tip me over the edge. If money is tight, I’d recommend the Navman Mivuew 530, and if you can afford it the Navigr. The Garmin is really only suited to those sticking with traditional GPS Sat Nav systems at this stage.