If you look at how the Navman MiVue 698 scored in our latest dashboard camera test — you could be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t sound that great. Overall, it managed a middling 62% and its image quality was OK at best (in daylight) and poor at worst (in low light). However, it was still one of the best dashcams we tested.
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In our test, we use similar image quality standards for dashcams, action cams and digital cameras. Despite the OK daylight score, I found the recordings and still images from the MiVue 698’s front and rear HD cameras clear and detailed — nearby road signs and registration plates were legible. For a camera mounted inside a car and continually recording road incidents, it’s not bad image quality.
So if, in case of an accident, you needed evidence to convince your insurance company the other guy swerved into you, the Navman would do that. And that’s the main purpose of a dashcam (though some may argue it’s more about posting bad driving to YouTube).
Apart from OK image quality, what else does the Navman offer to justify its $499 price tag (it was the most expensive stand-alone dashcam in our test)?
The Mivue 698 comes with “impact detection”. The device records video split into files and saved on a loop — when its microSD card fills up, the oldest recordings get overwritten. However, when its built-in accelerometers record “incidents”, those recordings don’t get wiped. The impact sensitivity can be adjusted. I trialled this with a few emergency braking events and it worked well (though on the most sensitive setting, files were saved after only moderately heavy braking). Supplied software allows you to view the videos on a PC and was easy to install and use. Images are recorded with extra information such as GPS speed and location, G-forces, dates and times.
Self-installing the cameras was straightforward, but I was left with a mess of cables connecting the front and rear cameras and linking to a 12V power outlet. Navman supplies adhesive cable clips for glass mounting, but not for running the cable along the interior trim. Paying a car electronics installer to hide the cables and hardwire the device for power would tidy it up, free up the power outlet for your phone charger, and enable parking mode.
In “parking mode”, the cameras keep recording after the engine is turned off, also making use of impact detection to save recordings. You need to hardwire the device to your car electrics so it receives power when the ignition is off.
Its final “sweetener” is a suite of “Advance Driver Assistance Systems”. More usually found on a GPS navigator, the MiVue 698 can be set up to alert you to upcoming safety cameras and warn about forward collisions, lane departures and driver fatigue.
However, I found the usefulness of these extra features to be more miss than hit. While I was driving on narrow, winding Wellington streets, the device frequently cried wolf — warning me of impending forward collisions as I passed parked cars. On the motorway the device warned me about leaving my lane, but got confused by less-than-clear markings. The driver fatigue alert was just a timer. So I turned those features off.
However, the safety camera alerts worked well. Many existing cameras were included in the database, and others could be added manually. But you have to add them “live” when passing the camera — not convenient and not always safe. Unlike a GPS navigator, the MiVue 698 doesn’t have a map to allow them to be added offline.
Overall, the quality of the video is good enough to help you out in an insurance jam, but the camera is pricey and, ultimately I can’t recall ever wishing I’d recorded an on-road incident.
If you drive a lot and can see value in a dashcam, the Navman MiVue 698 would be one to consider with all the features you need. But don’t be swayed by the extra bells and whistles, and I’d recommend factoring in the cost of an install if you want to make the most of your peace-of-mind investment.
First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Our lab-based tests offer truly objective product comparisons.
By Paul Smith
Head of Testing
Cars, phones, infomercial products and anything else that takes our fancy — First Looks are trials of new or interesting products from the perspective of our product experts. Check out our latest.