Nextbase 512GW review

Nextbase’s dash cams, aside from the entry-level 112, all share basically the same design. The new 512GW is very similar to the 412GW, reviewed, despite sounding a lot like the older 512G.

However, Nextbase has taken the best of both those models and put them together to make what is currently the flagship in the range.

This means a 1440p sensor (now upgraded to a Sony Exmor R), a decent lens and a circular polariser to cut down on annoying reflections from your windscreen.

The GW suffix means it also has GPS and Wi-Fi – the latter was a feature missing from the original 512G.

You can buy the 512GW for £149.99 from Halfords which makes it £20 more expensive than the 412GW.

See also our roundup of the best dash cams.

Nextbase 512GW: Features and design

Like the 412GW, the 512 has a 3in screen with a resolution of 960x240 and uses touch-sensitive rather than physical buttons. Although they work well enough, we still prefer the 312GW’s buttons that are easier to use.

Nextbase 512GW review

You won’t have to use them much as Nextbase recommends you don’t change the out-of-box settings, and the time and date are set automatically by GPS.

As with all of the current range the 512GW gets the Click & Go mount. It’s a quick-release system that holds the camera in place with magnets, and also supplies power so you don’t have to unplug a USB cable if you prefer to remove your dash cam from view when you park.

In the box are both adhesive and suction mounts. I prefer the former as it’s smaller and means the camera sits closer to the windscreen. The disadvantage is that it doesn't allow for quite as much movement and so the angle shown in the video and images below is the lowest it's possible to tilt the lens.

Rubber covers protect the USB and mini HDMI ports, and there's a new connector: R-CAM. This is so you can plug in a rear camera and record both front and rear views. Right now this can't be used since Nextbase doesn't sell a rear camera, but as and when that changes, I'll update this review.

Nextbase 512GW review

There’s one other small but significant upgrade from the 412GW: microSD cards up to 128GB are supported so you’re not limited to storing only a couple of hours’ worth of video before it starts getting overwritten.

At the default settings, each three-minute loop uses just over 600MB, and a low-res clip is also stored that takes up 70MB. This fills up a 32GB card in around 2 hours, 15 minutes.

A 128GB card will therefore hold around nine hours of video. See our roundup of the best microSD cards.

There’s also an auto-dimming feature which lowers the screen brightness at night (or in low light) and another new one: time-lapse. You should only use this for special trips, not normal driving, and there’s a choice of either three minutes or two hours, with a three-minute duration creating a 30 second video.

While driving, the screen displays your current speed, which is less distracting and more useful than the video being recorded.

Most cars cut power to the accessory socket when you turn off the ignition, so you’ll likely need to buy a hard-wire kit if you want to use the smart parking mode as this needs constant power.

After five minutes of inactivity, it auto-switches to sleep mode and uses the built-in G-sensor to detect, for example, when your car is knocked or bumped and starts recording a two-minute video at that point.

It won’t allow your battery to run flat, as it will turn off if it detects a certain voltage. Nextbase says it uses so little power in sleep mode that it will work even if you leave you car parked for several weeks.

Nextbase 512GW: Performance

In general, video quality is very good. You’ll get the best quality if you set the circular polariser to minimise reflections of your dashboard, but its effectiveness will depend on the angle of the sun - you can’t continually rotate the filter as you drive of course.

The polariser certainly helps to make skies nice and blue, but doesn’t affect how much detail is captured. And on that score, the 512GW is roughly on a par with the 412GW, despite the upgrade to a Sony Exmor R sensor. Colours, as you can seen from the video and screengrab below, are superb.

In daylight, you should be able to make out number plates and signs with no problems, unless they’re simply too far away.

Nextbase 512GW review

Come dusk or night and - as with all dash cams - detail levels drop and things become much less sharp. As demonstrated by the grab below, you might be able to read a plate in low light when you’re close to the vehicle in front, but passing cars tend to be quite blurry.

Nextbase 512GW review

It’s potentially a drawback of the polariser, which slightly reduces the amount of light entering the lens. It isn’t removable for night use, sadly.

The app has had a recent facelift, while the addition of those low-resolution files means it’s a lot quicker to download videos to your phone while in the car.

However, I’d like to see Nextbase adopt the same approach as DDPai where you can download a video while it plays on screen and stop once you’ve captured everything you need, rather than being forced to wait for a full three-minute clip to transfer.

The reliability of downloading seems to have been improved a lot, though.

You can also install Nextbase’s Replay 3 program on your laptop or PC (or Mac). This allows you to see the video along with all the other recorded GPS and G-sensor data, plus your location on the map. It works well, and can provide extra evidence, if needed, about a collision.

Nextbase 512GW: Specs

  • Display Size: 3.0in
  • 140° wide-angle lens
  • GPS Logging: Yes
  • Speed Camera Alert: No
  • Micro SD Included: No
  • 32GB SD card recording time - 2.25 hours
  • 109 x 56 x 37 mm
  • Accessories: 4m car charger, suction mount, adhesive mount, mini USB cable
  • Display Size: 3.0in
  • 140° wide-angle lens
  • GPS Logging: Yes
  • Speed Camera Alert: No
  • Micro SD Included: No
  • 32GB SD card recording time - 2.25 hours
  • 109 x 56 x 37 mm
  • Accessories: 4m car charger, suction mount, adhesive mount, mini USB cable

OUR VERDICT

The 512GW is an excellent dash cam that’s easy to install and use. Video quality is good and it’s possible to download clips to your phone for sharing, though you'll need to use a computer if you want the hi-res version. It has some nifty features such as the automatic parking mode, plus the auto-dimming screen and the polariser which improves clarity in sunny conditions.