Nextbase 522GW — How Good Is It?

Nextbase 522GW dash cam

Technical Specifications

– Max. resolution: 1440p @ 30fps, 1080p @ 60fps
– Price: ~£140 Amazon US / UKeBay US / CA / UK / AUmore vendors
– Aperture: f/1.3
– 3″ touch screen
– GPS (10Hz)
– Wi-Fi
– Bluetooth 4.2
– Size: 94mm x 53mm x 45mm
– Weight: 125g
– Ambarella chipset
– Sony Starvis sensor
– Angle of view: 140° diagonal
– Operating temperature: from -20°C to 45°C (-4°F to 113°F)
– Recommended long-term storage temperature: from 0°C to 25°C (32°F to 77°F)
– Video format: MP4
– Supports up to 128GB U3 MicroSD cards
– Time, date, GPS, and speed stamps on video (can be toggled on or off individually)
– Loop recording, auto on/off, G-Sensor
– Simple parking mode
– Lock file button
– CPL filter built-in
– Player software for Windows and Mac
– Apps for Android and iOS
– Internal battery (3.7V/320mAh)
– Internal microphone and speaker
– Suction or adhesive mount
– Emergency SOS feature
– Alexa support
– Optional rear window camera
– Optional cabin view camera

Nextbase 522GW Review

With their new Series 2 cameras, Nextbase are adding a bunch of features to the dash cam world that we haven’t seen anywhere else so far. Notably, support for Alexa (allowing voice control), and an Emergency SOS function designed to send emergency services your way in case of an accident.

Other highlights of the 522GW include a built-in CPL filter, and three different rear-view camera modules that let you upgrade your device to a dual-channel or taxi cam.

The Nextbase 522GW is the most sophisticated of the Series 2 models, with a maximum resolution of 1440p at 30 frames per second (fps), or 1080p at 60fps. We recommend the latter (1080p @60fps), because the camera is more light sensitive at 1080p. Also, 60fps allow for smoother video and a higher chance of capturing license plates should the need arise.

If you add one of the various rear camera modules, you can run either of these resolutions paired with a 720p rear view feed (recommended for a cabin camera), or you can run both the front and the rear cameras at 1080p with 30fps (our preferred setting in a front and rear camera setup).

Video quality is good during the day time, and fair during the night. Check out the sample videos below to see what you can expect. 1440p records the best image quality at day, while 1080p has a higher light sensitivity and is ideal for recording at night.

Basic Features

As the GW in its name indicates, this camera comes with GPS and Wi-Fi. At 10Hz, the GPS antenna is twice as fast as usual, resulting in much more accurate location and speed stamps than the usual 5-times-per-second refresh rate. A 3″ touch screen allows for easy setup and operation, even if you don’t have a smart phone or don’t want to connect it to the camera for whatever reason.

Nextbase 522GW as seen from the inside of the car

Below the display, there is a large lock file button, marked with a Nextbase logo and a thick red line. Press this button to save the previous 10 and the upcoming 20 seconds of footage to a protected folder on the memory card, so it doesn’t become overwritten when loop recording kicks in. Along with the power button, these are the only two physical keys on the camera.

Nextbase’s Series 2 cameras combine Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2 to make connecting to your smart phone easier and more efficient (a feature they call AutoSync). Just install the MyNextbase Connect app on your Android or iPhone, and follow the instructions on screen. Using Bluetooth, the camera then automatically connects to your phone whenever you enter your car.

The app isn’t strictly necessary to use the dash cam. You can always configure the camera using its display, and/or pop the memory card into a computer to review your videos on a bigger screen. However, advanced features like Emergency SOS and Alexa require a smart phone connection.

To protect your car from hit-and-runs or vandalism while parked, the 522GW supports a simple parking mode that will make it start recording for a short while if an incident is detected by the G-sensor (i.e., if someone bumps into your car).

Physically, the 522GW is about 35% smaller than the previous model (512GW), but nevertheless not very discreet due to the noticeable black and silver designs. It doesn’t necessarily look unattractive, but plain black designs draw less attention.

Optional Rear Camera Modules

Rear window camera for Nextbase Series 2A brilliant feature of the Nextbase 522GW is the option to add 3 different types of rear camera modules. All of these cost about £50 in the UK, and around $100 in the US.

One rear-view camera module is the NBDVRS2RWC (what a name! We’re guessing this stands for “Nextbase Digital Video Recorder Series 2 Rear Window Camera”).

The NBDVRS2RWC is a little ball-shaped camera that you affix to your rear window with an adhesive. This camera cannot function on its own. It connects to the main camera with a 6m (19.6ft) long cable.

The two other modules are rear-facing cameras that clip onto the main camera itself. There’s a connector slot on the right-hand side of the main unit (the 522GW). You can choose between a module that records the passenger cabin (ideal for taxi and Uber drivers to keep an eye on their customers), and a module that zoom-records out of the rear window. Both of these look quite similar.

Nextbase Series 2 Rear Camera Module

The zoom camera records a similar to the one in your rear view mirror. The cabin camera records the passengers in your car. As much as we like the idea of a cabin camera module, there’s one major drawback: Unlike dedicated taxi cameras like the Vantrue N2 Pro, Nextbase’s cabin camera doesn’t have infrared, so at night you won’t get great video quality if it’s dark inside your car (and driving with the cabin lights on is obviously not recommended for security reasons).

If you opt for any of the rear view modules, you’ll have the choice between the following video resolutions:

  • Front cam: 1440p @30fps, rear cam: 720p @30fps
  • Front cam: 1080p @60fps, rear cam: 720p @30fps (recommended for taxi cam setup)
  • Front cam: 1080p @30fps, rear cam: 1080p @30fps (recommended for front and rear window setup)

Alexa Integration

To use Alexa, you need to install the corresponding app on your phone. This is totally optional. If you’re privacy conscious or just don’t feel the need to have Alexa in your car, the Nextbase 522GW will work just fine without it.

If enabled, the camera then serves as an intermediary, which you can talk to just like an Amazon Echo device. This allows you to access features such as making calls, asking for directions, finding somewhere to park, or playing music through your car’s speakers.

In the future, you will also be able to control the dash cam itself with voice commands (e.g. “Take a picture”, “Lock this video” and so on). This feature is still work in progress though, and hasn’t been rolled out yet by the manufacturers (you’ll need to upgrade the camera’s firmware to use this feature when it becomes available — here’s how).

Of course, the Alexa application essentially runs on your phone. Having the dash cam act as an intermediary is a plus for security though, as it eliminates the need handle your smart phone while driving. Also, the dash cam’s dual noise-cancelling microphones are much more suited to pick up voice commands than a mobile phone that may be sitting in a bag or pocket somewhere.

Emergency SOS

Another feature that’s a first in the dash cam world is Nextbase’s new Emergency SOS system. If the 522GW detects a collision while driving, the camera will perform a series of checks to make sure that this is actually an emergency, including calling the owner’s cell phone.

If neither the driver nor the owner are responsive, the camera will then alert emergency services and send them your GPS location. It can also sen your medical data such as blood type, allergies and so on, so make sure to save these on the camera just in case.

You can also set the camera up so that the current video clip will be locked and sent to your smart phone in case of an accident (this is called the “Incident Aware” setting).

Insurance Discount (United Kingdom Only)

If you’re in Great Britain and own a Nextbase dash cam, some insurance providers will give you a discount on your policy. Currently, SureThing offer a discount of 25% for the first year, AXA offer a 10% discount plus 10% discount on the camera, and Swiftcover will give you 12.5%.

So depending on how high your premium is, this discount could potentially even cover the costs of the dash cam itself.

Installation

The Nextbase 522GW comes with a solidly designed mount that you can attach to the windscreen either with a suction cup or an adhesive. The camera itself affixes to the mount magnetically.

The dash cam’s power cable goes into the mount instead of plugging into the camera itself. This makes it easy to remove the 522GW and take it with you (e.g. to connect it to your computer, to put it into another car, to show someone your footage, or just for safekeeping). No need to unplug anything, just detach the camera from the magnet mount and that’s it.

If you own an older Nextbase unit, you’ll be happy to know that the 522GW uses the same power cable as the 512 and 612 models. So if you already have the power lead installed, you can reuse it with this camera.

Miscellaneous

Nextbase offer a cloud service that lets you upload video and share it with friends, social media, insurers, or law enforcement. Videos will be deleted automatically after 30 days. It’s not possible to live stream video from your car to a remote location though (only BlackVue dash cams currently support this).

Having an internal battery, the 522GW has a lower heat tolerance than capacitor based cameras. With a maximum operating temperature of only 45°C (113°F), you don’t want to let the camera sit in your car when parking in the sun on a hot day. This camera’s parking mode won’t be very useful to you if you are in a hot region. If you’re in the UK or Canada though, you should be fine.

The Nextbase 522GW has two microphones specifically optimized to pick up speech, and records excellent sound quality.

The camera’s user manual is comprehensive and well written. You can download it here.

Last but not least, Nextbase are well known to have an excellent customer support team that will help you out quickly and efficiently should you have any issues or questions.

Conclusion

Nextbase are the UK’s number one dash cam brand. They sell highly reliable cameras, for a reasonable price, and they offer excellent customer support.

Being the most sophisticated of the new Series 2 cameras, the 522GW comes with an interesting range of new features. We especially like the option to add various kinds of rear view modules, allowing you to turn the device into a dual or taxi cam, as needed.

Emergency SOS is a great security feature to have. Even if 99% of users will hopefully never need it, this feature can actually save lives. Alexa integration is more of a gimmick, but can be a cool extra for those who’d enjoy using the digital assistant in their car.

Downsides include the low maximum temperature, and missing IR lights on the cabin view module. Also, video quality could be a tad better at this price (it doesn’t come close to the Street Guardian SGGCX2PRO in this regard).

If you’re in the UK, this camera is an excellent choice at its current price, especially if you take advantage of one of the insurance discounts. For the US, we feel the price is a bit on the high side: at $200, you could get a SGGCX2PRO for the same money — unless of course you really love some or all of the Nextbase 522GW’s unique features.

Nextbase 522GW Video Samples

For full original video quality, make sure to watch on full screen and select maximum video resolution (use the cog icon in lower right corner). You may have to rewind the video after changing the resolution.

Day Time Video Sample

Day time video quality is good. License plates are readable if you pause the the video.

Night Time Video Sample

Night time video quality is fair. While you can see everything that’s going on on the street, you won’t be able to read most license plates unless very close.

Where To Buy

The Nextbase 522GW is available for sale from the following vendors:

Amazon US / UK / DE / FR / ES / IT

eBay US / CA / UK / AU