Reviewed by Colin Hewitt
Stuck for an original idea for a Father’s Day gift? Has he got all the toolboxes, coffee mugs, socks, and boxer shorts he requires? If so, why not consider going high-tech this year and purchase a Dash Cam for his car?
I was recently sent the Nextbase 312GW GPS/Wi-Fi Dash Cam to review.
When I opened the box it contained, the Nextbase camera unit, together with a windscreen mount, a power supply lead for use in car, a micro-USB lead which can be used for charging the unit indoors (and downloading recorded footage to a computer), a Quick Start Guide, a windscreen sticker (stating that your vehicle is protected by a dashcam), and a couple of customer information leaflets (charging recommendations, and firmware updates etc).
To use the camera, you will require a microSD Card which isn’t included as standard (although NextBase kindly provided a 32GB Card for the purposes of this review).
After unpacking, I consulted the quick start guide which recommended charging the unit for at least two hours before use. I used the micro-USB cable and the charger (5V) that I use for my mobile phone.
While waiting for the unit to charge, I went to the Nextbase website www.nextbase.com/getstarted312G and downloaded the full English language instruction manual. It’s approximately 40 pages, but don’t worry, it’s written in very plain English. I would highly recommend reading this manual in its entirety before using the camera for the first time – it will save a lot of time in the long run, and you will be able to use the device to its maximum capabilities far more quickly.
As instructed in the manual I checked the firmware release (this is the internal software contained within the device), but on this occasion, an update was not required; however, I could see that if in the future, it did need to be updated, the website would clearly guide you through the process.
The 312GW is easily attached to the car windscreen via a small suckered mount. I followed the guidelines and placed it behind my rear-view mirror, hence no distractions while driving. The power cable needs to positioned around the top of the windscreen, which is a little untidy, for initial use, I used a few self-adhesive cable ties; however, I will eventually route the power cable more permanently and neatly. There are some specific and precise guidelines within the instruction manual regarding where to position the unit for safe use, and maximum video coverage.
As you would expect from any gadget designed to be used in a car, once fitted, the operation of the camera is effortless, in fact, you do not operate the camera at all while driving. Automatic start and stop functions mean you don’t need to – everything is done for you. All of the default settings have been carefully set so that you do not need to change them, however when you are accustomed to the basic default settings you can customise them for your individual needs if required.
The unit has the following functional modes:
Video Mode (The standard ‘recording’ mode, and the one I would use most often). The recording starts automatically, and it records in files of three minutes duration; when the micro-sd card is full, it will record over the oldest video. (A 16GB memory card records approximately 2 hours, and the camera accepts cards up to 128G.
Photo Mode. Where you can take single-shot photos.
Playback Mode. This is where you can review the video and photographs you’ve captured on the Dash Cam itself, without downloading to a computer, phone or iPad.
Parking Mode: This is a useful additional feature. When left in this state the camera will start to record if any movement of your vehicle is detected. This can deter any would-be thieves or vandals who may see our car as a target in your absence.
I downloaded the NextBase UK Cam Viewer App onto my iPad and my mobile phone (Samsung Galaxy A3). I must admit, I found the app a little tricky to use, and I would opt to download the recorded videos onto my laptop PC instead – however, this hasn’t made me mark down the overall score for this product. Apps can be changed and updated, so it might even have improved by the time you have read this review (or, given a little more time, I will get the app working correctly). I found that it is not essential to use the app.
I took the device on a drive to my local supermarket. When I reviewed the video on the dashcam’s screen I could clearly see the quality of the recordings, however, when I transferred the videos onto my laptop, and viewed them on a much larger screen, I could see that the captured video was exceptional for such a small device.
One advantage of fitting a dashcam to your vehicle is that it may be possible to obtain a discount on your car insurance. After a very brief Google search, I discovered a couple of insurance companies who offered such a premium; however, at the moment, it is far from universally provided. I’m sure, over the years, more and more companies will offer a financial incentive to have a camera fitted. If your insurance premium is high, then the discount received may even pay for the camera itself. If you do not obtain a reduction in the cost of your insurance, in the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident Dash Cam footage can, in some cases, provide evidence of liability, this may help you preserve your no claims bonus.
In summary, I found this device very easy to fit and operate. The captured video is of exceptionally high quality. It is straightforward to transfer the footage to a computer (although the apps could be easier to use).
Hopefully, if you purchase the Nextbase 312GW Dash Cam, you won’t need to use any of the footage for insurance claims, but it will be a comfort to know that your view of events will be available for others to review if required.
While this would make an ideal Father’s Day gift, why not treat yourself, a friend, or another member of your family?
This is a very useful, and easy to use, in-car gadget, which I will happily award 5/5.
For more information or to buy visit www.nextbase.com.