Nextbase 312GW

PC Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The Nextbase 312GW is a smart­look­ing dash cam, which does a lot well and only a lit­tle badly. It has a 2.7in screen that’s flanked by well-la­belled but­tons, which makes it easy to use.

De­sign

The Asus Reco Clas­sic has an un­usual por­trait de­sign, which makes it a lit­tle un­wieldy in cer­tain cars. The 312GW, mean­while, adopts the stan­dard land­scape ori­en­ta­tion, which means it sits a bit higher in the car and doesn’t im­pede the pas­sen­ger’s view. The rear-mounted but­tons aren’t as easy to use if you mount the cam­era im­me­di­ately be­hind you re­view-view mir­ror, but then again, you won’t see the screen eas­ily if you do that.

An­other rea­son to mount it so you can see it is that it slides back­wards off its mag­netic mount, leav­ing the power cable at­tached to the GPS re­ceiver built into the wind­screen suc­tion mount. This makes it so easy to quickly re­move it and pop it in your glove­box when you park with­out fid­dling around with ca­bles or hav­ing to read­just the an­gle when you reat­tach it. The same can’t be said about the Asus – it’s re­mov­able, but it’s not nearly as easy.

The 312GW comes pre­set with the most com­mon set­tings, so most peo­ple shouldn’t need to ad­just any­thing – even the date and time should be cor­rect be­cause it’s part of the GPS data, but you may need to ad­just for Bri­tish Sum­mer Time.

What you might want to change is whether or not your speed is stamped on the video. Time, date, lo­ca­tion and even your num­ber plate can all be there, but if you’re prone to a heavy right foot, it’s prob­a­bly best not to in­crim­i­nate your­self by record­ing ex­ces­sive speed on your dash cam.

There’s built-in Wi-Fi too, though as we’ve said in pre­vi­ous dash cam re­views, it’s an un­nec­es­sary ex­tra. It sounds good to have, but the re­al­ity is that it isn’t as con­ve­nient as whip­ping the cam­era off its mount and con­nect­ing it to a PC.

Nextbase claims that the 312GW is the world’s most con­nected dash cam, but it fails to live up to this prom­ise. It says you can eas­ily share the video with friends, fam­ily, your in­surer or the po­lice. But as videos ex­ist only within the Nextbase app

and aren’t part of your cam­era roll, all you can do is tap the up­load but­ton (and the video up­loads only when the app is open).

Videos are up­loaded to Nextbase’s server and you then get a link that you can share. What it needs, of course, is a trim func­tion so you can up­load only the rel­e­vant sec­tion of a long video. This would make it faster all round: quicker to up­load, quicker for the re­cip­i­ent to down­load and quicker to see the in­ci­dent it­self.

You can take a screen­shot (as you can in any app), so you’ve got a still of an in­ci­dent, which is then easy share, but the dated-look­ing app could be so much bet­ter.

You en­able Wi-Fi through the 312GW’s menu, and the screen dis­plays the net­work name and the 12345678 pass­word. Be­fore you con­nect, you’ll have to in­stall the free Nextbase Cam Viewer app (for iOS and An­droid).

When con­nected, you’ll see a live view on your phone’s screen along with ugly fold­ers, which you can tap to see ei­ther videos on the cam­era or those stored on your phone. To down­load a video, tap the down­load but­ton, then se­lect the video you want and tap Done. Se­lect­ing more than one at a time is un­wise: a sin­gle 187MB file (one two-minute loop) took two min­utes and 44 sec­onds to down­load to our iPhone 6s.

When con­nect­ing the cam­era to a PC, the same trans­fer took less than 20 sec­onds, and it’s then much eas­ier to take screen­grabs or up­load the video to YouTube or a file-shar­ing ser­vice such as Drop­box that al­lows you to give oth­ers a down­load link.

Per­for­mance

While it doesn’t have a wide dy­namic range op­tion like the Reco Clas­sic, im­age qual­ity from the 312GW is very good. It uses the same six­ele­ment lens as the more ex­pen­sive Nextbase 512G, but lacks the po­lar­is­ing fil­ter. In many sit­u­a­tions though, the 312GW equals the 512G’s qual­ity, par­tic­u­larly in day­light.

Whether sunny or rain­ing, you can al­most al­ways make out the num­ber plates of cars parked at the side of the road, or those on cars driv­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. The 140-de­gree lens means you don’t have to be as close to the car in front to read its plate as some com­peti­tors with wider lenses, but you’re still not go­ing to be able to read them at mo­tor­way cruis­ing dis­tances. The top qual­ity is 1920x1080 at 30fps and – in com­mon with most dash cams – it’s recorded at roughly 12Mb/s

At night, the qual­ity is markedly re­duced and you’ll be lucky to make out any regis­tra­tions at all. But the same goes for all dash cams, in­clud­ing the 512G and Reco Clas­sic.

Au­dio record­ing isn’t quite as clear as on the Asus, but un­less you need to hear your own breath­ing, it isn’t a rea­son to de­mote the 312GW on your short­list.

Ver­dict

De­spite the medi­ocre app and slow Wi-Fi trans­fer times, the 312GW is an ex­cel­lent all-round dash cam. It of­fers great-qual­ity footage dur­ing the day, is easy to use and has a con­ve­nient mag­netic mount that lets you quickly re­move and re­place the cam­era with­out un­plug­ging ca­bles. As long as you don’t want your video recorded at 60 frames per sec­ond, it’s an ex­cel­lent choice at this price. Jim Martin

You can take a screen­shot, so you’ve got a still of an in­ci­dent, which is then easy share, but the dated-look­ing app could be so much bet­ter

Cam Viewer app

Day­time im­age

Night-time im­age

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