No matter what type of vehicle we own, it is an important part of our lives. It’s the second biggest investment after the house. Some of us spend hours driving to work, picking up kids from school, getting the groceries, or just driving on our favorite backroads. North American drivers have been spending almost an hour behind the steering wheel every day, which means in one year, we are driving for more than 15 days of our lives.
So when we spend more than 15 days of our lives in a year, the chances you get involved in or witnessing an incident while you are driving are pretty high. To save yourself a headache, dashcams are one of the most critical tools that record everything happening around you while you are driving. It is the most crucial electronic device that saves you from your word-against-my-word situation, in case of an accident.
From personal experience, I’ve been using dashcams for the last 10 years continuously, but never had a chance to understand their importance of it until we were t-boned by an inexperienced driver. All it takes is one accident to realize how good of an investment it is, all I had to do is send 30-second footage to the insurance company, and they let us know that we weren’t at fault in the next 5 minutes.
Purchasing your first dashcam is probably more confusing than buying your first car. There are thousands of different options, and most of them are no-name brands with misleading reviews, wrong specs, and no technical support. So you really rely on 3rd party seller’s return policy if something goes wrong, and then you are on your own.
We have found that there is one product that stands out, which we recently had a chance to get our hands on to review. Nextbase 322GW offers a quite unique value proposition. First of all, as you can see, it is not just one dashcam, you can customize it basically to have more footage all around the car. There are several different options that you can choose for your lifestyle.
Before I started the installation, I found that the fit and finish is really good, even though 322GW is not the top-of-the-line model. The dashcam feels very sturdy, it has higher build quality than the industry average. It definitely feels like a premium product from all angles, especially when you touch it. There is a big TFT touch-sensitive screen which is very easy to read. You can simply tap the screen to have quick screenshots, and the Nextbase button located at the bottom allows you to lock the footage, so you will not delete it by accident.
The unique feature that I really like is the mount. The dashcam is powered through the mount, meaning that all you need is to get an extra mount and use 1 dashcam for multiple cars. The mount has a plastic joint that allows a lot of adjustment options. It also uses integrated magnetic power connectors to hold the dashcam in place.
Installing the Nextbase 322GW is pretty much like any other dashcam installation. You need to decide if you want to keep the interior clean looking or if you are lazy, you can just use the power adapter that comes with the dashcam. If you want to take the short route, it can be done in less than a minute, and you can start using it right away. It won’t look pretty, but it will get the job done. Regardless of which route you choose for the installation, you can always add more accessories for extra protection.
The first accessory is the interior camera, you can simply plug it in, and start using it. It is a useful add-on, especially for commercial use, like taxis or Uber. You can also change it with the rearview camera, which looks pretty similar to the interior camera, but with a different lens. Both cameras can be replaced quite easily in case you want to swap them over. You might have to restart the dashcam after you switch the cameras.
If you want the best visibility possible and if you have the patience, that’s when you have to wire it all the way back, with a dedicated rearview camera that you need to place to the rear window. The rear window camera can offer up to 1080p resolution depending on which dashcam you use. With the 322GW, the rear window camera can offer 720p resolution and the dashcam can still provide 1080p footage with no compromise in terms of footage quality.
The rear window camera takes more time to install, and it might be a pain to remove interior trims and the headliner, depending on what type of car you drive, but you only do it once. The length of the cable is more than enough for large vehicles. You can still unplug the wire, and use the interior camera if needed. I just wish 322GW came with two ports, one for the interior camera, and the other one for the rearview camera.
If you want to have a cleaner look in the interior, the hardwiring kit comes in handy. Installation is pretty easy if you know what you are doing, but it takes time and a little bit of research. The hardwire kit comes with different fuse options, so all you need to do is to find the fusebox which is usually located left bottom side of the dashboard, then find the right fuse, connect wires securely, run it behind the A-pillar trim, and the headliner, and voila!
What matters more is the footage quality. At the end of the day, if the image is blurry or not clear enough, the build quality or the installation really doesn’t matter. This is a common problem with no-name brands even if they claim they can record 4K footage. It is important to remember this is not the top-of-the-line model, therefore it only offers 1080p resolution, which is usually more than enough for many cases.
Let’s start comparing the Nextbase 322GW with my no-name 4K dashcam that I bought from Amazon around 3 years ago. Daytime footage is usable when I checked both footage. I can read license plates easily, but street names can’t be read if they are far away from you. The 4K dashcam image looks just a little bit sharper, but they are not your mileage may vary based on lighting and weather. To be honest I was expecting a bigger difference as 4K should give you a lot more details.
The gap closes even more when it comes to low-light situations, and my 4K dashcam performs worse. First of all, I cannot read the license plate, and the street name is blurred and impossible to read. On the other end though, I can easily read the license plate in front of me with the 322GW, despite having a dirty windshield after an off-road event. In both pictures, the street names are equally far, and both names are blurred, but I think the 322GW has a slight edge over the 4K dashcam.
What makes the 322GW more appealing to me is the features that it offers especially for the price range. Some of them are built-in GPS, and parking mode, but most importantly, the app integration is available even though it’s not the best version, and it works quite efficiently. You can download, share, watch and use the emergency SOS feature if needed. If you have a rearview camera, you can choose which footage you’d like to check (front or rear individually), and it will start playing the footage with a map look included. You can also see your “locked” footage, and it will not overlap with the new footage.
If I really have to nitpick about the app, it would be the firmware update. It’s great that it offers an update feature over the app, but I just couldn’t update it after several attempts. I had to go to Nextbase’s website and download the latest firmware manually. Once you install the latest firmware to the SD card, it will automatically update the firmware, and it was an easy process. It’s not a deal breaker and I’m sure they can update the app quickly.
At the end of the day, if your aim is just to prove an action or incident, pretty much any dashcam will get the job done. However, it is important to remember the fact you might need more details when the time comes, and it would be too late if you don’t have the right device. With the price tag of $250, 322GW offers great value for the money, considering it comes with neat features with decent footage quality.
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