Kenwood DRV-A301W full review
Kenwood is a well-known brand in the UK that you might associate with car audio, camcorders or even food mixers. Dash cams are a relatively new direction for the company and the DRV-A301W is one of the latest models.
The entire range has been designed with a focus on the essentials and Kenwood says it avoided adding superfluous features on purpose. The models therefore doesn’t include any of the ‘frills’ which you might find on other dash cams such as lane-departure warnings.
Instead, you get everything you need in the box to get up and running, including a high-quality microSD card that will record video reliably.
Features & design
The A301W is a mid-range model which records at 1080p at up to 30fps, has GPS and Wi-Fi and a choice of suction and adhesive mounts, which work in a similar way to Nextbase’s second-gen models. Strong magnets hold the dash cam to the mount, but it makes it quick to remove the device from your windscreen as and when you need to.
You could install one mount in two cars and swap the camera between them, although note that you don’t get two quick-release mechanisms and you’d need to buy a second power cable or Kenwood’s CA-DR150 hard-wire kit.
The latter is required if you want to use the parking mode feature. This provides power to the dash cam even when the ignition is turned off and uses the G sensor to monitor for any vibrations and movement, such as when someone reverses into your car.
It records a few seconds leading up to the impact as well as afterwards, so you see what happened, not just someone driving off.
There’s a companion app Kenwood Dash Cam Manager which allows you to review and download recorded clips via Wi-Fi. It also lets you change any of the dash cam’s settings, which can be easier than using the buttons and 2.7in screen on the device itself.
The default settings are fine for most people, and thanks to GPS you don’t need to set the time and date as this information is synced with the satellites.
I was able to review videos with no issues, but I did run into problems trying to download clips to my Huawei P30 Pro, as the option was greyed out. If you don’t need to urgently download and share clips, a better approach is to connect the dash cam to a laptop or PC (or remove the microSD card and insert it into a card reader) and use Kenwood’s Video Player software to review videos. The GPS data shows your location on a map and you can see speed and G-sensor data too.
The bundled 16GB SanDisk microSD can be replaced with a higher-capacity card if you want more than 2.5 hours of footage, but remember that old clips are automatically overwritten: recording doesn’t stop when the card is full. Any significant bumps will cause a clip to be put in the ‘PROTECTED’ folder and so will be preserved and not overwritten.
While the front of the A301W doesn’t give anything away, the rear looked familiar: it is identical to Nextbase’s 312GW. It turns out that the A301W is a developed version of that dash cam with no internal battery and a higher tolerance for extreme temperatures, which should lead to much better reliability.
Despite being Full HD, don’t expect too much from the A301W’s videos. Quality is best described as adequate: it does the job of showing what happened in an incident.
There’s not a great deal in the way of fine detail, so number plates aren’t always readable. It really depends whether the plate in question is close to the camera or not.
As an example, this car was less than 20m away in front of me in good light, yet it’s not possible to make out the whole registration. The image has been cropped: the car was much smaller in the full image due to the wide-angle lens.
Here’s a full image grabbed from a video clip so you can see the angle the A301W captures, and the detail it’s possible to read from surrounding vehicles.
At night, the A301W struggles to capture detail and there’s only a chance of identifying registration plates when there’s bright street lighting. That’s true of all lower-priced dash cams, and even some expensive ones.
Price & availability
There’s also a bundle on Kenwood’s website where you get the hard-wire kit effectively free as it’s also £109.99.
You can read in-depth buying advice and see the other models we recommend in our best dash cam roundup.
The DRV-A301W is a decent package for the price. It offers adequate video quality along with features including GPS, Wi-Fi, a buffered parking mode (when used with the hard-wire kit) and comes with a 16GB microSD card that can store about 2.5 hours of video.
If you don’t care about having Wi-Fi and would prefer higher video quality, check out the Viofo A119 v3. It records at 2560x1440 and offers sharper, more detailed footage. It’s only a little more expensive than the Kenwood, but doesn’t come with a microSD card.
Kenwood DRV-A301W: Specs
- Display Size: 2.7in
- 140° wide-angle lens
- GPS Logging: Yes
- Speed Camera Alert: No
- Micro SD Included: Yes - 16GB
- 16GB SD card recording time - 2.5 hours
- 92 x 47 x 37 mm
- Accessories: 4m car charger, suction mount, adhesive mount, mini USB cable
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