James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Practical Motorhome's dashcams test winner is the RAC 05 – read our review to discover all the features that make this the best dashcam in Britain

Overview

There's been a quiet revolution on the road, with drivers and even cyclists choosing to get technology on their side, just in case of accidents. Putting a dashcam in your cab windscreen is like having the perfect eye witness on board. And this one never sleeps.

In normal trouble-free conditions, the camera will fill up its memory card with videos of all your road trips, then automatically overwrite them when the card is full, in a continuous loop. Of course you can save any good sections that you want to keep, uploading them to a computer.

The best dashcams on the market in Britain today link up with GPS technology. This means that they not only record the road ahead as you drive along, but in the event of an accident they will save the footage and overlay the location, speed, time and date onto a map. 

So good are they, that more and more vehicle insurance companies are offering discounts to those driving with dashcams. It's easier than ever before to work out who is to blame for an accident.

Motion sensors are built in, so dashcams can usually detect unusual movements and incidents. Some of them have batteries and 'parking mode' so that if somebody drives into your 'van in a car park, the dashcam will jolt into life and start recording the culprit.

Other dashcam features are designed to keep you safe every time you drive. So you'll get an alert if you stray out of the lane you're in (a common thing when drivers are getting a bit sleepy on a long drive at night). It will also warn you if it spots that you may be about to collide with something ahead, which could be handy if the vehicle in front brakes suddenly. Perhaps best of all, you'll get an alert if there's a speed camera, so you can check your speed.

Night vision, high resolution images, wide-angled lenses and the option to take still photos make these devices better than ever. 

We've tested a wide selection of dashcams in Practical Motorhome, including the budget Cobra CDR 820 and the more fully-featured Cobra Drive HD CDR900, the Transcend DrivePro 220, Snooper DVR-4HD, the excellent Mio MiVue 538 Deluxe, the Next Base iN-Car Cam 521G and the Garmin nuviCam LMT-D. Finally, we tested the Blackvue DR650GW-2CH, which offers both a cab and rear-view camera. You can read our dashcam reviews here.

In this review we focus on the RAC 05, priced at £149.99.

The very best products tend to be brilliant at what they do, and are feature-laden and well priced. All of which applies to the RAC’s newly launched 05 dashcam. Most importantly, the RAC 05 is a star performer optically: the video footage is clear, covers an impressively wide area (150°) and the night time performance is especially good.

But it’s the model’s many extra functions that really make it stand out. Thanks to integral GPS, the RAC 05 will warn you when you’re approaching a speed camera, if you accidentally veer out of your lane, or if the vehicle in front has slowed and you’re approaching its rear end a little too quickly.

It won't take up too much space, being 10cm x 3cm x 5cm, and it only weighs 0.196kg. There's a 2.7-inch LCD screen so that you can review recent footage on the spot. And if the supplied 8GB microSD camera card seems a bit small, you can always buy extra cards, choosing the larger 16GB, 32GB and everything up to 64GB microSD cards. 

Turning the ignition on will set your dashcam recording your scene from the cab, and you can plug it into the cigarette lighter socket. There are also batteries on board that will help it kick into life and start recording again for up to 20 minutes if anyone crashes into the 'van while you're parked. With this on board, the car park hit-and-run could be a thing of the past.

Technical specs

Discount£30 off RAC insurance
Size10cm x 3cm x 5cm
Weight196g
BatteryLasts 20 mins
Screen2.7 inch LCD (960 x 240)
Lens angle150°
GPSYes
Speed camera warningsYes
Video picture quality2340 x 1296 Super HD
Included8GB microSD memory card
Parking modeDetects and records incidents while you're away
Enhanced night visionYes
Photo modeFor stills
Image resolution16 megapixels
Video formatH.264
AlertsForward collision, lane departure, speed cameras
Extras availableMicroSD cards up to 64GB
Distortion correctionReal time de-warp feature
LensFull 6G + 1IR lens
G-SensorYes

Verdict

The RAC 05 gets our vote as the top dashcam in the UK today, and it only costs £149. Considering the level of sophistication and technological wizardry, we think this represents fantastic value for money. 

We've awarded the RAC 05 dashcam a five-star rating.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Clear footage
  • Wide angle
  • Great picture even at night
  • GPS integration
  • Speed camera warnings
  • Insurance discount from its parent company
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • The only thing it can't do is put the kettle on
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