Dash cams have come on a long way over the last year or two, going from a fairly niche product to a much more common site across Britain’s roads – and with good reason. Motorists are clearly beginning to see the benefits of having an ultra reliable “always on” witness in the car should the worst happen. Insurance companies love them too, with many now even offering a discount should you have one fitted to your vehicle.
Nextbase have been one of the UK’s market leading dash cam manufacturers for a while now, and you’re sure to have seen seen one of their stands in pride of place if you’ve visited your local Halfords recently. The company has had great success in the market too, thanks to a host of well equipped models such as the excellent 402G and later the 512G with polarised lens.
March 2016 has seen a pair of new models from Nextbase – the 212 Lite that we’re taking a look at today and also the new Nextbase 312GW which we’ll be taking a look at soon. The Nextbase 212 Lite takes the company’s “In-Car Cam” range in a new design direction when compared to the likes of the 402G and 512G, and I must say I rather like it. Both the 212 Lite and its 312GW sibling feature the company’s new “click and go” magnetic powered mount, and the new design is much more compact and neat, making it that bit easier to tuck away behind your rear view mirror.
The “click and go” mount is superb, and a much simpler way of removing the dash cam from the mounting, whether to retrieve footage or to stow away for security reasons. This time, the power leads simply plugs into the mount itself, rather than directly into the camera, meaning you can use the new magnetic mount to simply snap the dash cam in and out without first having to unplug it – much more convenient.
With an RRP of £69, the 212 Lite is clearly aimed straight at the middle of the company’s dash cam range, but even with such a keen price tag, the dash cam doesn’t skimp on features. It still records at full HD 1080p with 30 FPS and 140 degree viewing angle. There’s also an inbuilt motion sensor to automatically save files in the event of an impact, and a parking mode too. Clearly some features had to be left out for the dash cam to come in at such a competitive price – there’s no GPS data/speed logging for example, but in all fairness for this price it’s a nice bit of kit and you aren’t missing out on too much.
In terms of pure image quality, it’s important to remember that it’s not all about resolution – e.g. just because two dash cams record at 1080p doesn’t mean the image will be the same quality. While having a good resolution is certainly important and usually means a sharp clear image, the lens and sensor are very important too. Thankfully, the Nextbase 212 Lite performs really well, especially considering its competitive price tag. Day time shots are nice and clear with number plates clearly visible on surrounding and passing cars. To put it simply, you’re not going to miss out on any of the action whilst using one of these devices. Sure, it doesn’t quite have the quality of the top of the range 512G – for instance you can see some reflection from the dashboard and the lens doesn’t appear to let as much light in, but it’s not as far apart as you might think given the price. The camera also features “enhanced night vision” too, ensuring you still retain reasonable image quality to see what’s going on at night time. Check out a sample we recorded using the Nextbase 212 Lite below:
Set up was also very simple and was essentially just a case of plugging it in and formatting the memory card. Once up and running the dash cam does the rest – automatically turning itself on to start recording from the moment you turn the key. You can either use the supplied 12v power adapter, or the better option is to hardwire the camera into your car, neatly hiding all of the wiring behind the car’s dash and interior trim. If you’re not too confident when it comes to this, Halfords offer an all inclusive “WeFit” service for £30 including the wiring kit – well worth it if you’re planning on keeping the dash cam as a permanent fixture in your car. The menus on the 212 Lite are also nice and easy to navigate, with a sensible button layout (no awkwardly placed buttons on the top of the unit this time) and there’s a simple exclamation mark button that locks a recording for you to stop it being overwritten too.
The Nextbase 212 Lite is a really great little dash cam for the money. The compact design and unique “click and go” magnetic powered mount is a real winner, making the device really neat to install and simple to take off and retrieve your footage. The image quality is really good too, especially considering the camera’s competitive mid range RRP of just £69. It does miss out on a couple of features such as GPS, but this is easily forgiven in this price bracket. Ultimately, if you’re in the market for a sensibly priced priced dash cam then the Nextbase 212 Lite should definitely be a contender.
The Nextbase 212 Lite is out now and available from Halfords (exclusively at the time of writing) for £69.99.
Click the links below for more full dash cam reviews: