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Nestbase 612GW review

The best 4K video quality yet from any dash cam we’ve tested

Nextbase 612GW
(Image: © James Morris)

Our Verdict

The Nextbase 612GW dash cam boasts the best 4K video performance we’ve seen, so although it’s a pricey option, if you want to capture your journeys with top-of-the-range image quality it’s well worth considering.

For

  • Excellent 4K video quality
  • Built-in GPS
  • Easy to remove from car when not in use

Against

  • Few advanced dash cam features
  • Pricey option

The Nextbase 612GW is the company’s current top 4K dash cam, at least until a Series 2 model shooting this resolution arrives. There still aren’t many dashcams recording in UHD on the market, so the 612GW remains almost unique in having this feature, and it was the first on the market with this capability.

Higher-resolution video isn’t just a gimmick, either, because the more detail you have the better your dash cam is at recording driving incidents. However, this isn’t a cheap option at $299. So the 612GW really needs to live up to its 4K specification to be worth the money. Read on to find out how it fares.

Features

  • First dash cam to offer 4K UHD video shooting
  • Same sensor that Sony uses in high-end 4K camcorders
  • The 612GW supports looped recording

Nextbase beat the competition to market with the first dash cam to offer 4K UHD video shooting. There are now alternatives, such as the Rove R2-4K, but the majority of dash cams still offer lower resolutions such as 2.7K or Full HD. 

The 612GW also achieves its 4K shooting via a high-quality Sony EXMOR R sensor with 1/2.5-inch size and 8.57-megapixel resolution, which is what Sony uses in its high-end consumer 4K camcorders. So you’re getting top-end video capabilities.

The 4K video is recorded at the standard UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160 and 30 frames per second and 46Mbits/sec data rate, although there are also options to shoot 1440p or 1080p footage at 30 or 60 frames per second if you want to save space on your memory card. 

Key specifications

Resolution: 4K 3840 x 2160 maximum resolution
Screen: 3-inch touchscreen LCD display
GPS: built-in
Additional Safety Features: G-sensor for detecting incidents
Wireless: WiFi

It’s worth bearing in mind that the 4K footage chews up storage for breakfast, with an 8GB MicroSD card only enough for 23 minutes of footage. You will also need a Class 10 U3 MicroSD card or better, capable of 30MB/sec, to cope with the data rate.

However, like most dashcams, the 612GW supports looped recording (which is turned on by default). The video is captured in small files of a few minutes, and once the storage is full, the oldest files are overwritten by new ones, so the device never stops recording. But you will still probably want to use a 32GB or 64GB module with this dash cam, and Nextbase recommends the latter.

Aside from its 4K resolution, the 612GW also has a built-in GPS receiver, which means it can record location data along with its video. This can also be harnessed to allow the LCD screen to show your current speed as large green numbers that replace the video preview whilst you drive. There’s a G-sensor built-in, too, which detects when there has been a sharp change in speed (perhaps due to a collision or having to brake hard), then protects the current video clip from being overwritten, in case you need it as evidence.

The 612GW also sports a parking mode, where you leave the camera in standby whilst your car is unattended. It will then begin recording for 30 secs if it detects motion via its G sensor. Obviously, this only captures things happening at the front of your car but could be useful for getting evidence if someone bumps your vehicle when in the parking lot. Another option is time lapse, which can be for 3 or 30 minutes, producing a 30-second clip.

However, whilst lots of dash cams are now adding value with features like lane departure or forward collision warnings, Nextbase hasn’t gone down this route with the 612GW. We’re still a bit sceptical about how much you can rely on these features when they’re not built into your car, but you would still expect them to be included on a premium dash cam such as this.

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(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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(Image credit: James Morris)

Design and build

  • Features an attractive brushed metal finish
  • 3-inch touchscreen at the rear
  • WiFi built-in

Some dash cams can tend to look quite plasticky, particularly now the market has been deluged with cheap mass-produced options. The Nextbase 612GW, however, does not fall into this category. It looks a bit like a compact digital camera, with an attractive brushed metal and black appearance, and is quite sturdily built.

In the box you get a standard suction mount to attach the dash cam temporarily to your windscreen. The mount also has the power cable built into it, with electrical contacts in the bit of the 612GW that slides into the mount. So you don’t need to mess around with plugging in cables. This is great if you don’t like leaving your dash cam in the car to tempt thieves.

This facility makes particular sense with the second mounting option included in the box, which is intended to be more permanent and uses a rectangle of double-sided 3M adhesive to stick the mount to your windscreen. There is a second piece of 3M tape included, but you’re only going to use this if you sell one car and get another.

Unfortunately, one downside with the 612GW is that the power cable included has a captured cigarette lighter adapter on the end, rather than a USB plug and removable adapter. So if you were hoping to plug in a phone charger or power cable for a separate sat-nav, you won’t be able to do this at the same time as running the 612GW. But the cable is very long and can be routed around your windscreen out of sight, although you will need to source appropriate clips for this as none are included in the box.

The rear of the device is dominated by a 3-inch LCD display, which is quite large for a dash cam. Buttons are notable by their absence, because the screen is touch-enabled, making option selection straightforward. As already noted, there aren’t that many settings to configure beyond recording format, but you can vary exposure in five steps between +2 and -2 EV.

The 612GW also has WiFi built in, which you can connect to with your smartphone. There is a button for this, which you hold down for three seconds to enable WiFi. You then load the Cam Viewer app and can control recording as well as viewing files. The latter is perhaps the most useful facility, because you can also download files to your smartphone for sharing elsewhere.

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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)
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Nextbase 612GW

(Image credit: James Morris)

Performance

  • Excellent levels of detail captured
  • Secondary, lower resolution backup file captured
  • Touchscreen easy to use and operate

The good news is that the 612GW does live up to its 4K promise in the key area of image quality. The extra detail above most other dash cams is obvious, and very welcome. Nextbase has resisted the temptation to use too much compression, which would have softened the picture. The detail is a particularly useful aspect since a key function of a dash cam is picking out distinguishing features such as people’s faces or number plates. 

The Sony EXMOR R sensor shows its value with the contrast and color fidelity of the footage, too. There’s a reasonable amount of detail in bright areas, although dark areas can become a bit indistinct. This is still the best video quality we have seen from a dash cam.

Whatever resolution you are recording at, there is also a secondary backup file captured at a resolution of 768 x 432, which is a useful security feature to prevent data corruption. The touchscreen interface is easy to understand and operate, although most people don’t spend much time reconfiguring their dash cam after initial setup. They just plug them in and let them record, which in our testing the 612GW achieved without issue.

Verdict

The Nextbase 612GW has been on the market for over a year, and while other dash cams now also provide 4K shooting, it still offers the best image quality we have seen. The detail and fidelity are top of the heap.

The inclusion of a GPS for recording location alongside the footage will also aid the 612GW’s utility as a record of what happened in the case of an incident. This is further aided by the G-sensor that detects incidents so related footage can be protected, although most dash cams offer this.

Apart from parking mode and the time lapse function, however, there aren’t a lot of extra facilities. So if you’re looking to add functionality like lane departure to your car at the same time as the dash cam’s video recording, this is not the device for you.

Nevertheless, for most of us, video performance is the primary consideration. As this is the Nextbase 612GW’s biggest strength, if you want the best image quality from your dash cam, it should be at the top of your list, despite the premium price.