James StanburySee other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury
If you only read one of Practical Caravan's new dashcam reviews, make it this one, because the brilliant RAC 05 dashcam is our overall winner
All-singing and dancing dashcams have burst into the car accessory market and quickly become a 'must-have' for many drivers. Not only does a pertinent video clip with sharp imagery offer superb evidence in case of an accident, but they also give you a chance to record events, great sunsets and just about any action you come across on your travels. Whereas your mobile phone may struggle to take a shot in the dark and provide a readable numberplate, the best dashcams have especially enhanced night vision.
We tested a good selection of dashcams, including the RAC 05, at £149.99, the Garmin Dashcam 20, at £129, and the Mio MiVue 658 WIFI, at £142.96, the Tsumara G3, at £139.99, and the Transcend DrivePro 100, at the low price of £64. We tested the Cobra Drive HD CDR 840, at £99.99 and the RAC 04, costing just £59.99. Then we compared the Next Base IN-Car Cam Duo, at £199.99 and the Trackvue DV300, at £99.
In this review we're concentrating on the RAC 05 dashcam, which costs £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, it’s a star performer optically: the footage is clear, it covers an impressively wide area 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 its integral GPS, the RAC 05 will warn you when you’re approaching a speed camera, sound an alert to wake you up if you accidentally veer out of your lane, and also alert you if the vehicle in front has slowed and you’re approaching its rear end a little too quickly. With this dashcam on board, your passengers can relax and fall asleep on a long drive. This could be handy if you're taking it in turns to drive different sections of a long motorway drive at night.
Talking of night-driving, the camera has enhancements for night filming, so you're more likely to see other vehicles' numberplates with this than with your own eyes in poor light. For those who like more technical detail, the picture quality is 2340 x 1296 Super HD (high definition) and resolution is 16 megapiels. The video format is H.264 and there's distortion correction that should prevent blurred images caused by the motion of the car. In the case of a crash, you can put the dashcam into 'Photo mode' in order to take still pictures of the scene from every angle around the vehicles.
If you leave it in 'Parking mode' its motion sensors will detect any impact and start recording the view automatically, even when you're away from the car. There's a battery in the device, so that it can record for up to 20 minutes when the ignition is switched off. At least with a 150° angle of view you're quite likely to have the numberplate recorded and possibly footage of the driver inspecting the damage. If they see your camera recording they're more likely to leave their contact details under your wipers, rather than looking around and quickly driving off.
When you're playing back the footage you can view it on the 2.7 inch LCD screen at the back of the dashcam, or transfer it to a computer or other device.
As a final bonus, the RAC is offering £30 off its car insurance if you buy the RAC 05 dashcam.
|Dimensions||10cm x 3cm x 5cm|
|Battery life||20 mins|
|Wide angle lens||150°|
|Speed camera alerts||Yes|
|Lane departure alerts||Yes|
|Screen||2.7 inch LCD (960 x 240)|
|Image quality||16 megapixels|
|Memory||8GB microSD card included|
|Extras available||8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB microSD camera memory cards|
|GPS||Location, direction, speed data saved on your footage|
|G-Motion Sensor||Detects and protects footage of incidents from being overwritten|
|Photo mode||Use dashcam as a camera for stills|
|Lens||Full 6G + 1lR lens|
|Distortion correction||'De-warp feature' corrects motion blur in real time|
You might think you have to spend a fortune to get the best dashcam on the market, but in fact the RAC 05 is in the middle of the price range, costing just £149.99. We think this represents excellent value for money and have no hesitation in recommending it. The RAC 05 dashcam gets five-star billing from us.
- 150° wide-angle lens
- 20-minute battery life
- Clear night vision and numberplate recognition
- Parking mode
- All the alerts
- RAC insurance discount
- Twice the price of a basic dashcam (and three times as good)
- Only 8GB microSD card included