Not everyone will need all the 422GW’s features but even if you don’t it’s still great value (but not in the US). And be prepared for a struggle to get Alexa working.
Price When Reviewed
Best Prices Today: Nextbase 422GW
For 2019 Nextbase has completely redesigned its dash cam range, with a new touchscreen interface, more compact mounting system and a brand new app. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a choice of rear cameras, built-in Amazon Alexa and an SOS mode which automatically calls the emergency services with your location if you’re badly injured in a collision.
We’re reviewing the 422GW here which sits just one step below the current flagship, the 522GW. There will be a 4K 622GW at some point, but at the moment it’s still in the works.
Price & availability
The new range completely replaces the old models, but prices remain the same, so the 422GW costs £129, just like the 412GW did. But as those old models are now discontinued, you’ll be able to pick them up at a discount while stocks last. However, with so many new features, it makes more sense to go for a model from the new range.
Nextbase has expanded to the US, where the 422GW costs a lot more: $229.99 from Best Buy.
For alternative choices, see our roundup of the best dash cams.
Features & design
The biggest change is the mounting system. The old Click&Go was good, but it was too tall and meant the dash cam hung a bit too low on the windscreen for a lot of cars. The new system sees the mounting point moved to the front of the camera, making the whole thing a lot more compact.
If there’s one negative, it’s that the magnets are so strong, it’s hard to remove the dash cam from the mount and if you’re using the suction cup rather than the sticky pad you’ll have to hold the cup to prevent it being pulled off the windscreen.
As before, the power cable attaches to the mount, so you can remove and replace the dash cam without worrying about wires. Unless, that is, you opt for the wired rear camera, which attaches to the mini HDMI socket on the side. More on this later.
The 422GW is noticeably smaller than the 412GW it replaces, being considerably narrower, but there’s still a good-sized screen. There are only two buttons: power and an emergency button (centred below the screen) which you can push to protect the video being recorded from being overwritten when the microSD card is full up.
Everything else is done via the 2.5in touchscreen. The new interface is simplified, with far fewer confusing icons on screen and presenting four main options when you tap on the settings cog. By default, the 422GW records at 1440p, the highest resolution, at 30fps. You can change to 1080p60, but it won’t auto switch to 30fps at night for a brighter image, so isn’t recommended.
The intelligent parking mode, which is off by default, runs from the 422GW’s internal battery. It uses the G-sensor to detect a bump at which point it will turn on and record a short clip, which will be put in the PROTECTED folder on the microSD card so it can’t be overwritten. It won’t necessarily show what triggered the recording, but it can prove valuable evidence if someone hits your car while it’s parked and then drives off in view of the dash cam.
One of the two new headline features is SOS. This works in conjunction with the new MyNextbase app on your phone. In the event of a serious crash, the dash cam will talk to the app and monitor for movement. The app will display a countdown on your phone and if the alert isn’t cancelled by the driver or a passenger, the emergency services will be notified about the incident, along with the GPS coordinates from your phone.
Nextbase is proud of this, as it’s the first aftermarket system of its type and only one of two apps that have been approved to contact the emergency services directly. The system works in other countries too, not just the UK.
You get a year’s free access, but after that it costs £2.99 per month. We’re told there will be discounts for buying an annual subscription and the option to only activate SOS for special trips, such as holidays.
In our early testing, there was a bug which meant the SOS became disabled in the app and we had to enable it each time we got into the car. This has now been fixed, but it is by no means the only bug in the app.
If you forget your phone, the dash cam will alert you and display a red screen to remind you that the feature can’t operate.
Alexa, save that recording.
The 422GW is the first dash cam to have Alexa built in. Although it works using your phone’s data connection, it enables hands-free Alexa while your phone is locked with the screen turned off, and the Nextbase Alexa skill adds some dash cam-specific functions. So you can say “Alexa, protect that recording” instead of pressing the button below the screen.
You can also get Alexa to start and stop recording, though these commands aren’t particularly useful given you probably want your dash cam to record continuously.
At the time of writing, two months after the 422GW went on sale, the Alexa skill wasn’t available so we couldn’t try out these functions, but we could enable Alexa from the MyNextbase Connect app and use her usual capabilities.
Microphones in the 422GW pick up your voice, and the dash cam uses Bluetooth to communicate with your phone. Alexa then responds via your phone’s speaker, but if you have a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo you can have your phone connected to that as well to hear Alexa through your car speakers. It’s quite a complicated set up, but it’s the best approach if you want to use Alexa to control music playback.
Initially we used a Huawei P30 Pro to test the MyNextbase app, but having failed to get Alexa working several times we contacted Nextbase about it and were told that the aggressive power saving measures of the phone meant it wouldn’t work. But we tried again with an iPhone and had a better experience.
The new app is better than the old one, but it feels a lot like beta software that needs finishing. The layout is intuitive for the most part, but there are two menus and both include ‘Dash Cam’ but do different things. In the pop-out menu for My Dash Cam you can change dash cam settings, but on the home screen the Dash Cam button takes you to videos stored on the microSD card. Library contains videos you’ve downloaded.
All slightly confusing, but more importantly the new app is much better for reviewing video directly from the dash cam. This is largely thanks to its ability to play a low-res version of each video clip. But it’s also handy that you can see your position on a map as the video plays, or the telemetry data.
You can’t download a clip to your phone when viewing: you have to go back to the list of videos, tap a hamburger-style icon which puts it into select mode. You can then select a number of clips, download them, delete them or protect or unprotect them. There’s no secondary check, so any unprotected videos will be deleted immediately, but not if they’re protected: those clips can’t be deleted.
The full-resolution versions of clips are downloaded which can be up to 220MB in size, but there’s still no way to trim a clip before downloading the part you need: you have to have a minimum of a one-minute clip. Still, transfer speeds aren’t too bad and it only takes a couple of minutes to download one.
There’s another new feature called AutoSync which transmits the low-res videos to your phone and uploads them to the new Nextbase Cloud where they are kept for 30 days. There’s no charge for this, and Nextbase says there will never be. Unfortunately, there’s very little help in the app an no explanation of how to enable AutoSync or how to access these videos in the cloud.
The 422GW, just like the 322 and 522, supports the new range of three rear cameras. One is a traditional wired unit which attaches to your rear window.
The second is a unit which plugs into the right side of the dash cam and uses a zoom lens to record the view out of the rear (Rear View). Finally there’s the Cabin View camera which is very similar but has a wide-angle lens and so records everything inside the car, but you can’t really see what’s happening out the rear window.
All are the same price, £50 in the UK and $99.99 in the US
The problem with the plug-in cameras is that the connector is on the ‘wrong’ side for UK drivers. Most people place them to the left of the rear-view mirror or behind it entirely. But so the rear-facing cameras aren’t blocked by the mirror you either have to mount the dash cam much further to the left (where it will likely be in the way of the sunvisor) or much lower, where it takes up more windscreen space.
We had a problem with the rear view camera, too, which caused the 422GW to lock up and refuse to record – seemingly stuck at one second – and occasionally had to reformat the SD card because of errors.
Video quality is largely the same as before. Nextbase says there are improvements, but they’re hard to see when you put the 412GW and 422GW’s footage side by side. However, that’s not a bad thing: quality is very good, and crucially, registration plates are almost always clear and readable when you pause a video.
Unlike the 522GW there’s no polarising filter, but you can buy one for a rather exorbitant £20 from Halfords which fits the whole Series 2 range.
There’s no fancy stuff going on to improve quality at night, so more often than not, you’ll find footage quite grainy and details such as number plates impossible to make out. But that’s par for the course with dash cams.
There is a new GPS system which runs at 10Hz, so it means your position is recorded 10 times per second. It leads to a much more accurate measure of where you were on the road at any given time, so it could come in handy if you have to prove your innocence should an insurance claim be made against you, for example.
It also means the GPS speed display (which is now shown in blue, not yellow as on the older models) is much more accurate and updates instantly.
Rear camera quality is best from the Rear Window camera, which is wired. The Rear View is a lot easier to install, and a more convenient choice if you own a convertible, but quality isn’t nearly as good. In our test car we saw a lot of video wobble – often called the jello effect – and the zoom lens compresses the perspective so it can be tricky to tell exactly how far away things are.
Here’s a 720p clip from the zoom rear view camera:
Our other gripe is that there are far too many different notification sounds, few of which have any on-screen indication of what they mean. And the more features you enable, the more beeps and tones you’ll hear. We still haven’t worked out what they all mean… and they can get pretty annoying.
Finally, there’s new desktop software that works much like the old version. It’s disappointing that the files are listed as they appear on the SD card, so there’s no way to play back front and rear cameras simultaneously, and it doesn’t filter out the low-res clips which are only intended for playback in the mobile app. This means you have four videos for each recorded minute: two for the front camera and two for rear.
MyNextbase Player does allow you to edit clips, remove sound, add annotations to each france and even remove the data displayed at the bottom. But even that part won’t allow you to put front and rear footage together, either side by side or overlaid. The only option is to join videos so they play one after another. Or you can use alternative video editing software, of course.
Overall the 422GW is a good dash cam, and it’s admirable that Nextbase has managed to implement the Emergency SOS feature.
Alexa integration is great if you can get it working, but our experience was less than smooth, and you’re out of luck currently if you have a Huawei phone.
It’s also good to have the choice of rear cameras, but a shame that – in the UK at least – they don’t connect on the left-hand side.
Hopefully Nextbase will fix the software issues and improve the app: it’s still disappointing you can’t select just a few seconds from a clip and download it to your phone.
Nextbase 422GW: Specs
- Display Size: 2.5in touchscreen
- 140° wide-angle lens
- GPS Logging: 10x per second
- Speed Camera Alert: No
- Micro SD Included: No
- Built-in Alexa, Emergency SOS
- Intelligent parking mode
- Compatible with rear camera modules
- Polarising filter: compatible
- Accessories supplied: 4m car charger, suction mount, adhesive mount, mini USB cable