Nextbase 422GW dash cam review: Superior video and versatile design, lacking only infrared

This modular camera marries cabin view, a unique telescopic rear view, and traditional rear view cameras as well as Alexa.

Credit: Nextbase

Nextbase’s new GW modular series, including the $230 422GW reviewed here, have raised the bar for dual-channel dash cams. They’re pricey, but feature an HDMI port that, besides outputting video, accepts any one of three $100 rear cameras: a cabin view (interior) module, a traditional rear-window mounted unit, and a unique telephoto rear module that captures what’s behind you without the hassle of wiring, or obscuring your view.

Beyond that, there’s phone connectivity, Alexa, GPS, and a touchscreen. If it weren’t for the lack of infrared lighting for interior night captures, the 422GW would be hands-down the best dash cam I’ve ever tested. For my purposes it still is, but if you’re driving a taxi or patrol car at night, the unit’s interior captures aren’t going to cut it. 

Design and features

As you can see by the cover photo, the 422GW is a handsome product with a long-necked lens body. There’s a 2.5-inch display, and because it’s touch-enabled, only two buttons: on/off and protect (from overwriting). The latter button has the Nextbase logo on it and is centered on the edge of the camera just below the display. I didn’t recognize it as a button until I read the documentation (reading about a product up-front is a no-no when trying to judge ease of use). The on-screen interface is top-notch, well-organized and easy to navigate.

The 422GW couples magnetically to a mount that offers snap-on adhesive tape and suction options. It’s a pretty slick design, but it was more difficult to remove the camera from the mount than it should be—Nextbase might have been just a tad enthusiastic with the strength of the magnet. On the other hand, I had zero fear of the camera’s falling off. Choices.

Given all the innovation elsewhere, I was surprised that Nextbase opted for mundane mini-USB rather than Type-C connectors, as well as auxiliary/cigarette power rather than always-on OBD-II. On the other hand, mini-USB is more common than Type-C in the dash cam world, and cables are easier to replace. There is a standard hardwiring kit available from Nextbase, but not an OBD-II kit. You can grab one of the latter online for $10 to $15.

422gw 15 Nextbase

With a touchscreen and only two buttons (the logo is a button), the 422GW offers an attractive streamlined look.

The 422GW’s 140-degree field-of-view front camera is capable of capturing 1440p video at 30 frames per second, as well as 1080p at both 60 fps and 30 fps. All three rear camera modules capture at 720p. The 422GW also saves lower-resolution 864x480 videos for viewing on board without employing extraordinary processing power.

The 422GW doesn’t miss a trick with the GPS, which is both watermarked and embedded into the video. Embedded GPS allows you to retrace your travels with the MyNextbase player shown below, which you can download from the company’s site.

untitled IDG

Nextbase provides viewing software that uses embedded GPS info to show where you were at any given time during a video.

Nextbase also provides a cloud service where you may upload your videos, should you survive the accident you want to document. Kidding. I hope. You can also upload videos to the service via the MyNextbase player app.

There’s no bad-driver tech on board the 422GW, but that’s hardly a bad thing from my point of view. Anyone who needs lane departure, collision avoidance, or red light camera warnings shouldn’t be on the road anyway. Additionally, such alerts could distract you when you most need to stay focused.

There is a backup function for the rear-view cameras (not cabin view), and there’s also SOS Emergency support (if available and you’re signed up) if you get into an accident and need help.

screenshot 20190624 080527 IDG

he Nextbase Connect app is used for configuration, viewing videos, and setting up Alexa.

The 422GW supports Alexa, although at the time of this review Amazon had yet to qualify the Nextbase “skills,” so I couldn’t control the camera with it. Normal Alexa commands worked, but you can do that with your phone. When the skills are implemented you’ll be able to say such things as, “Alexa, turn off Nextbase.” I prefer swearing at other drivers, but to each their own.

The view behind you

As I noted at the beginning of the article, the Nextbase 2 series cameras have a mini-HDMI port to accommodate any of three additional cameras: a 140-degree interior view module, a 30-degree telephoto module which attaches directly to the 422GW to capture events behind you, and a 140 degree rear-windshield camera which connects via a cable that gives you a more panoramic view out the back. 

422gw 9 Nextbase

This little port may not seem like much, but it can couple with any one of three separate rear cameras: cabin view, telephoto rear view, and a traditional rear camera that mounts on the rear window. 

I was happily surprised at the effectiveness of the telephoto rear view camera. It shows a lot more of the road than I expected—pretty much what you’ll see in the rear view mirror. Obviously, it can’t cover as much as a camera attached to the rear window, but then again, it doesn’t obstruct your live view as those do.  

The cabin view module is suitable for professionals who want to track what’s happening in the interior of their vehicle, unless they work at night—there’s no infrared lighting to compensate for low-light conditions. Nextbase said it was aware of the shortcoming and suggested an infrared cabin view camera module might well show up in the near future. 

Performance

The Nextbase 422GW’s day captures video are very, very good, and as I said, the telescopic rear camera was a very pleasant surprise. I have a very small back window on my convertible, and the rear view camera still captured quite a lot of information, as you can see below. 

422gw rear view camera  IDG

The telephoto rear view module doesn’t cover as much area as a rear-mounted camera, but keep in mind that this is the rear window of a Miata convertible. Most rear windows are quite a bit larger. Also note that this is very good quality video for 720p.

The 422GW’s day captures are detailed, colorful, and not prone to moire or other defects. Motion compensation is quite good as well, though there is a bit of fish-eye. 

422gw front view camera day  IDG

There’s a bit of fish-eye from the 140-degree FOV front camera, but by and large ithe 422GW’s captures are top-notch. 

The unaltered night capture shown below shows a lot of detail to the front, and handles headlight flare much better than most.

422gw front view camera night IDG

he 422GW’s night captures are quite good, with little headlight flare. More detail in the immediate vicinity can be revealed by increasing the brightness and contrast in editors. 

The image below shows how details in the surrounding area start showing up when you increase the brightness and contrast in your player. This is not the case with all cameras. In other words, details are being captured, but not displayed with the default brightness curve.

422gw front view camera night brightened IDG

ar more detail is captured than is apparent if you leave your player at its default brightness setting.

As you can see in the capture below, the interior captures without infrared lighting are lacking in usable detail at playback default settings. 

422gw interior view camera  IDG

Without infrared lighting, the 422GW’s interior night captures don’t cut it. There is, however, more detail than is readily apparent if you twiddle the brightness and contrast sliders in a video or photo editor.

You can see below that interior night captures do offer more detail than you’ll see if you simply play them using your video player at its default brightness. But it’s still not what you’d get with infrared, so I can’t recommend the 422GW for night-driving pros.

422gw interior view camera brightened IDG

dding brightness in post-processing does reveal some detail from the interior camera’s night captures, but it’s not nearly what you’ll see from camera’s with infrared lights.

I was so enamored by the 422GW otherwise that I spent some time online looking for IR light sources. I didn’t find any, but you’re welcome to try. Let me know if you locate one. Otherwise, night drivers should wait for the hinted-at infrared interior module to arrive.

Climate, battery, and caveats

Battery life with the 422GW (15 minutes max) isn’t enough to sustain parking mode by itself, but it provides more than enough run time to capture incidents that may disrupt your car’s 12-volt system. The 422GW is rated for use from 14 to 120 degrees, which is good enough for most climates. The unit runs warm to the touch, and a bit warmer still when connected to the phone. However, the thermals are not worrisome, and given the overall build quality, I’d expect the dash cam to outlive the one-year warranty. 

There’s one notable caveat. While it’s generally a bad idea to remove or insert an SD card with most dash cams while they’re powered up, in the 422GW’s case, it’s a bad idea to swap out anything. The 422GW froze when switching the rear modules, requiring a long press on the tiny reset button on the bottom of the unit to bring it back to life. Removing the GPS mount, the camera became stuck with a green screen, but power-cycling fixed that. Bottom line, power off the 422GW (and any dash cam) before changing its physical configuration in any way.

Other models, options

The 422GW is one of three Nextbase cameras that accept the rear-view modules. The next step up is the 522, which adds a larger 3-inch display and integrated polarizing filter for $270. There’s an optional polarizing filter for the 422GW, but I didn’t have it to test.

One step down you’ll find the 322GW, which is only $170 if you’re willing to forgo Alexa and 1440 video (1080p is fine for most users), as well as deal with a slightly smaller (less light) f1.6 aperture. This might negatively affect detail in low light, but without the camera to test, I can’t say how much. 

The best thing going

Because of the lack of infrared, the 422GW is not the best system for taxi, Uber, Lyft, police, bus drivers, and other use cases that involve working at night. For everyone else, the 422GW, along with its 322GW and 522GW cousins, are at the top of the dash cam food chain at the moment. The telephoto rear module is a stroke of genius—give that person a raise.

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Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
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