If you don’t own a dash cam, there’s a good chance that you know someone who does. At the very least, you’ve most likely watched one or two or twenty dash cam compilation videos.
There’s also a good chance that you’ve thought about picking up a dash cam, but maybe didn’t know where to start. If you’re looking to pick up a dash cam to help add an extra layer of security to your automotive travels – because everyone is a terrible driver except you– the Nextbase 322GW could be what you’re looking for.
A small package with a lot of features
The Nextbase 322GW dash cam is small and non-intrusive, with a crisp, 2.5-inch touchscreen display. It has a metal casing, which makes it feel nice and sturdy – although it gets a bit hot after sitting in direct sunlight.
After installing it onto my windshield with the provided docking arm and 3M strip, it was noticeable the first few times I drove around with it. However, as I became used to it being there, the 322GW eventually became a part of the wallpaper.
Like everything these days, there’s a companion app which you can use to play back footage and transfer files to your phone via Wi-Fi.
One of my favourite features is that the dash cam will automatically turn on and begin recording when you start your car, which is incredibly handy. These videos will be stored on a microSD and will support cards of up to 128GB – but you’ll need to BYO. When the microSD reaches capacity, the 322GW will tape over older footage – unless it’s protected footage, which you can do manually or with the camera’s G Sensor.
The 322GW’s in-built G Sensor will automatically protect footage when it senses an external impact, so you won’t have to worry about any important accident footage being deleted. You can adjust how sensitive the G Sensor is, but putting it on high means it’ll trigger when your car experiences even the slightest of bumps, like going over a speedbump. That’s not a huge issue – better to be safe than sorry – but it means you might be cleaning out more unnecessary protected footage than usual.
“Parking mode” will let the camera know it’s parked, and will automatically start recording for 30 seconds if someone or something happens to accidentally bump into your car.
You’re also able to set up an Emergency SOS feature that will contact emergency services the moment an accident is detected. You’ll need to set up an account with the Nextbase app to use this feature, as the 322GW uses your smartphone to make the call to emergency services, along with a subscription with the Emergency SOS service. Thankfully, I didn’t have to test this feature, but it’s nice knowing it’s there.
You do need to put the 322GW on charge for about two hours before you put it in your car. This is how I learnt that the dash cam will instantly start recording the moment it’s plugged into a power source because when I checked to see if it was ready to go I noticed that I now had two hours worth of footage of my bedside table.
The 322GW will automatically erase this footage while recording a new video once it hits storage capacity, but it’ll take a bit longer to reach full charge while recording. So be sure to stop recording or remove the microSD card beforehand.
How well does it record video?
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the camera first. The Nextbase 322GW uses a wide-angle 140-degree lens (f/1.6), and can capture video at 1080p @ 30/60fps and 720p @ 30/60fps. The camera also has a built-in microphone, which can be toggled on and off too. You can also select what information will be stamped on your video – your speed, the time of day, your GPS location – and can adjust the standard video length.
Revisiting the footage I’d captured during various drives, I was impressed by the quality of the video. Playing back footage from various points of the day, I could make out plenty of detail of the cars driving in front of me, along with the cars coming from the opposite direction. The wide-angle lens does a good job of capturing multiple lanes of traffic at once, which is great because you never know when or where an accident is going to come from.
It does a pretty decent job when recording the footage at night too, although the more light sources available, the better. When playing back footage where I was driving down a dark road with no streetlights, I couldn’t make out anything that wasn’t in my direct headlight beam. You can adjust the camera’s exposure, but that’s something you need to do manually.
Throughout all of the footage I’ve recorded, there was some degree of lens flaring. It ranged from a slight glint of a passing car’s back window to incredibly noticeable flaring from a traffic light, especially at night. It’s nothing too bad – I could still make out the number plates of the car’s directly in front of me, but the flaring overwhelmed the front of any oncoming traffic.
Although, during the few rainy nights where I was out driving, the combined flare with the reflection of wet surfaces was a bit overwhelming sometimes when viewed in playback.
Based on my recordings, on average, a two-minute 1080p/60fps video with audio that was filmed during the day is around 350MB. There’s also settings options where the camera will save both a high-quality and low-quality version of each recording, which makes transferring files between the camera and your phone via the Nextbase app a bit quicker and more manageable.
Should you buy the Nextbase 322GW dash cam?
As someone who has never owned a dash cam before, and has never really been that interested in getting one, I found the Nextbase 322GW to be a solid introduction to this kind of tech. Apart from some lens flaring issues, I was really happy with the high-quality Full HD video it recorded, during both day and night.
It’s easy to set up and use, and apart from taking out the micro SD to grab your protected videos, can live in your car uninterrupted. As for price, it sits in the mid-range for dash cams, which further adds to its appeal as a good entry-level option. While I hope I’m never involved in an incident where I’ll need to use the footage for emergency or insurance reasons, I feel safer knowing that I have it on hand.
If you’ve never owned a dash cam before and are looking for something reliable that can capture high-quality video without breaking the bank, the Nextbase 322GW is a good place to start.