Vantrue N2 Dash Cam Review
Front Camera - Day8/10
Front Camera - Night9/10
Rear Camera - Day7/10
Rear Camera - Night2/10
Ease of Use9/10
What I Like
- Solid design that looks good in the car
- Sharp daylight video (1080p front, 720p rear)
- Bright night video with main camera
- Good audio quality
- Easy to read screen
- Rear camera rotates to the correct angle
- One button click to lock recording
What I Don\'t Like
- Battery based camera will not work reliably if kept in the car in sub-zero temperatures
- Bitrate for front facing camera in dual cam mode is low
- No infrared lights on inside facing camera means that it doesn't illuminate interior at night
Summary: The N2 is a dual lens setup made for viewing the road and passengers at the same time. If you’re looking for the type of camera to view in front of and behind the car you will either need two separate cameras or a unit that has a secondary camera on a wire and hangs from the rear window. This kind of camera is more for taxis or Uber drivers who need to keep an eye on their passengers.
Build Quality & Appearance
In terms of design, this camera is a looker. I’m fond of the angular body. It looks modern and rugged. The all black plastic feels solid and hides quite well among the windscreen despite the size of this camera but in order to take advantage of the dual camera features this cam cannot be positioned in front of the rear view mirror. The buttons and user interface are standard for Vantrue, so I won’t go too far into detail here, but it’s more or less that same as most other dash cams. The rear camera rotates 90 degrees so it will be the right angle for viewing passengers.
Video Quality – Daylight
Front Camera: Daylight video from the main camera has a decent amount of detail. In dual recording mode, the front facing camera records in an odd size: 1440×1080, likely so that the processor can handle the second stream of video. The difference between this resolution and 1920×1080 isn’t immediately visible unless you put them side-by-side, where the higher resolution has a slight edge to reading license plates. Where the real difference between the two modes comes into play is in compression. In dual camera mode, the video produced by the camera is far lower bitrate than in single camera mode and that occasionally results in things blocking up. As you can see when I round this corner with a lot of detail in it, the details are lost, which happens pretty regularly. In single camera mode this isn’t an issue though. Color is great is all lighting types and there and details are sharp. Take a look at this scene for example: I am driving in the snow with the sun head on, reflected off of a wet road. This is one of the hardest scenes for a camera like this to film and the N2 does it superbly. Detail is maintained on the sides of the roads and the license plates of oncoming cars are still visible.
Rear Camera: As I mentioned earlier in the video, the rear camera is designed to get video of the driver and passengers, and not the surrounding road. That means that the inside of the car will be properly exposed and chances are the exterior of the car will not be visible. If the camera is centered it gets a good view of both driver and passenger, but since the camera does not turn from side to side, you have to adjust the entire body to get it to line up.
Video Quality – Night
Front Camera: Night video is brighter than most cameras I have tested. I was surprised by how bright it is because it looks very close to what I am see visually. Take for example this scene driving down the highway with only my headlights on. Most cameras I have used before are unable to illuminate this much. In the city video quality pretty good too, apart from the occasional bumper of the car being too bright. Street signs are readable and details are visible on the sides of roads. Please ignore the streaks coming from the lights – that is a reflection from my windshield, not the camera.
Rear Camera: At night, the rear cam doesn’t really work. I’m surprised Vantrue didn’t position the infrared lights on the rear facing camera. To get the best inside shot of the cabin I actually had the camera set up backwards, with the main cam facing inward since it has LEDs and the rear cam facing outward.
Audio from this camera is some of the best I’ve ever heard. I’d suggest watching the video for a sample of the audio. It is clear despite engine and road noise and can pick up both drivers and passengers.
There is a parking mode included that works quite well, but this camera does stand out due to its size and inability to hide it behind the rear view mirror, so it might not be as useful if you are in an area where leaving the camera inside the car will result in break and enters. Also, to take full advantage of this feature, you will need to hardwire the cam or use a USB battery bank since the built in battery is small.
This camera is made to serve a specialized purpose for taxi and Uber but it does have function for regular drivers as well, and in my opinion if Vantrue were to place the IR Leds facing the inside this camera would be a real winner. The video quality is above average in all lighting conditions despite the lower bitrate. It is worth noting that if you live in a place that regularly goes below freezing you will have to take the camera inside when not in use as battery based cameras don’t work as reliably in the cold.