James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

The Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe stood out from the crowd in our group test of dashcams, so read our review for the pros and cons of one of the best on test

Overview

Many of us are considering buying dashcams for our motorhomes, mostly because they offer an inexpensive way of resolving any insurance claims if someone drives into you. As an added bonus, wouldn't it be fantastic to have a short video clip of some of your most scenic and memorable drives? 

If you have an accident in your 'van but there are no witnesses, in the past there would have been a knock-for-knock insurance settlement, with ‘both drivers at fault’. Now, if you have a dashcam, your video can help resolve the dispute fairly.

Some car insurance companies even offer discounts to drivers who invest in a dashcam and then use it constantly when they're in motion. We're hoping that motorhome insurers may do the same if more owners buy dashcams. With luck, the cost of the dashcam will be covered by the discount you gain on your insurance premium. But even if that doesn't happen, it will certainly save you money and protect your no-claims bonus if you have clear evidence that the accident was not your fault, such as a film of someone driving into you.

If you haven't used any dashcams, you may be wondering what they do and how easy they are to use. As you might guess, dashcams are small video and sound recorders that you can fix to your windscreen with a suction cup device. They detect motion and start recording automatically if they feel the vehicle moving. They record continuously until you switch off the motorhome engine, whereupon the power supply from the cigarette lighter stops. It will also stop recording if it detects that the vehicle has been stationary for a set period of time. 

Videoing the road ahead all the time that you're driving, means your dashcam is going to record any accident as it happens. Some of them have an extra feature that detects sudden braking or acceleration and will then protect the footage recording that incident. It's pretty smart. This feature is needed because dashcams run out of space on the SD memory card, in the same way as any camera does. To get round this, all dashcams use ‘loop’ recording, overwriting the older footage of journeys. 

You can retrieve videos of your routes by plugging the dashcam into a computer or putting the card into a card reader.

To find out which are the best dashcams available in the UK for motorhomes, we've tested the Cobra Drive HD CDR900, costing £139.99, the Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe, costing £124.99, and the RAC 05, which costs £149.99. There are some big names getting into dashcams, and we've also tested the Snooper DVR-4HD, at £149.99 and the Garmin Dashcam 20, which costs £129, the Cobra CDR 820, at just £64.99, the Next Base IN-Car Cam 521G, at £179.99 and the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH at £289.99.

Our Practical Motorhome camping accessory reviews cover a wide range of outdoor equipment. As with so many other product group tests, with the dashcams we've particularly looked for well made products that are easy to operate, that are strong enough to withstand the rough and tumble of bumpy roads, and that do what we'd expect for a fair price. In other words, we want good value for money outdoor gear, rather than the cheapest of the cheap.

So, what's our verdict on the £124.99 Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe, compared to all the rest? 

This is a very close runner-up to our group test's overall winner, the RAC 05, which shares many of the same advanced features. Integral GPS, mixed in with the unit’s view of the world, allows the internal processor to alert drivers of impending speed cameras (alerts are free for the life of the unit) and other safety issues, such as forward collisions and accidental lane drift.

Optically the Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe is very good, but there are pros and cons when it’s compared with the winning RAC 05; the RAC model definitely has a wider field of view, but the 538 dashcam is better in low light and night-time conditions. 

Technical specs

GPSFree unlimited updates for life
Memory card8GB
Lens filterAnti-flash
Revolving mounting cradleFor optimum positioning
GPS tracks routeRecords image, direction, speed, google map co-ordinates
Optional extra32GB card £34.95
Camera130 degree wide angle lens
3-axis G-Ssensor Records sudden movements
MiVueAutomatically records someone parking near your stationary vehicle
BatterySo you can take it out of the vehicle to record more outside
ChargerPowered by cigarette lighter socket

Verdict

The Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe is an excellent dashcam to buy, especially if you do a lot of night driving. It's the runner-up in our group test of dashcams and we've awarded it four stars.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Excellent picture quality
  • Fair price
  • GPS built in
  • Better than the winner for night driving

Cons

  • The rival RAC dashcam has a wider angle of view
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