James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

If you're of the opinion that small is beautiful, you may wish to consider the compact and discreet Cobra CDR 820 dashcam – but read our review first!

Overview

Cameras recording activity on the city street, in the fuel station, motorway services and in our shops are a fact of life. But, contrary to popular belief, they are not everywhere. Out in the countryside you'll be hard pushed to find cameras. So the chances are that if someone drives into you in your motorhome there will be no witnesses, digital or otherwise.

Fortunately we now have the technology to provide ourselves with a perfect eye-witness that will provide a scrupulously fair and accurate account of any incident. We are talking, of course, about dashcams. So popular have these little video recorders become, that there's a dazzling array of dashcams for sale in the UK now. Prices start from around £60, going up to £300, and the quality and capabilities vary, along with the prices. 

We've assembled a batch of dashcams on the Practical Motorhome test bench and tried them out to see which are the best for motorhomes. We have tested the Transcend DrivePro 220, at £129.99, also the Cobra Drive HD CDR900, at £139.99. We tried the Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe, costing £124.99, and the RAC 05, costing £149.99. We considered the Snooper DVR-4HD, at £149.99, the Next Base iN-Car Cam 521G, at £179.99, the Cobra CDR 820, at just £64.99, the combined camera and sat-nav Garmin nuiCam LMT-D at £299, and the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH (with its front and rear cameras) at £289.99. 

In this review we're shining the spotlight on the cheapest and smallest dashcam in our test, the Cobra CDR 820, which is on sale for a very affordable price – just £64.99.

While it’s tempting to whinge about the pokey 40mm rear screen, it couldn’t be made any bigger because it pretty much takes up the whole back of the unit. This really is a tiny dashcam and it’s frankly staggering that it can produce video in HD format, let alone very passable footage. But despite the respected Amberella chipset making the most of the optics, the unit’s small size has, inevitably, narrowed the angle of view – and this is purely a camera, with no GPS facilities for logging your location.

On the bright side, it’s easy to hook up to large screens, thanks to its HDMI socket. So you might want to use it for holiday videos and to remember the special moment when you drove over a hill and caught sight of a mountain – or the spectacular road looping down to the sea. You can also use the Cobra CDR 820 to take still photos if you need to capture something in detail. 

Technical specs

G-SensorDetects and protects crucial footage of incidents
Picture quality1080P Full HD Video
IncludedCigarette lighter power lead
Included:Windscreen suction cup with locking lever
HDMI socketFor connection to larger screen on TV, computer, etc
USB connectorFor charging and connecting to PC
Rear screen40mm

Verdict

If all you need is a simple and basic dashcam at an affordable price, consider the Cobra CDR 820. It's unobtrusive and easy to use, but is completely outgunned by the specification-rich dashcams on the market. We have awarded it a three-star rating.

If you really want a good eye-witness sitting beside you in the cab, we'd recommend you look at alternative dashcams with inbuilt GPS data recording. These devices may be twice the price, but if you do have an insurance claim to pursue, they'll earn their keep!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Small rear screen
  • HDMI socket

Cons

  • Narrow angle of view
  • No GPS to log your location, speed, direction and date
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