What I Like:
- Good daylight video and very good night video
- Great mounting hardware included
- Micro USB cable plugs into windshield mount for ease of installation
- Easy to use UI
- Motion sensitive parking mode
- Solid build quality
What I Don’t Like:
- Some video quality is lost in compression artifacts especially in high resolution modes
- Still images render incorrectly in 4:3 instead of 16:9
- Shiny silver makes the camera visible from outside the car
Summary: The Vantrue R2 is a well-built dash cam with decent quality video in both day and night.
Where to Buy
The camera itself very well made. It is matte black with silver highlights and about the size of a G1W. The rear is dominated by a screen and four buttons. The screen is built in such a way that it’s easy to wipe off any fingerprints and smudges – far better than the recessed screens of other dash cams I’ve tested. The user interface is extremely straightforward and probably the best I’ve used so far because all the buttons make sense and the menus are easy to understand. The cameras build itself is fantastic and my favorite part of this package is the included mounting hardware. I really like how the power cable has an additional USB charging port for a phone or another device. A twist lock sticks the mount firmly to the windshield and the USB cable can plug directly into the mount so it is easier to hide. Overall this mounting hardware feels much stronger than the dash cams that just slip onto the mount and the camera wiggles less while driving as a result.
Video quality, daytime:
During the day time video quality is pretty good. Details are clear and colours are bright. White balance is en point. Everything is sharp and in focus. The Vantrue offers up to 2k resolution, but after comparing footage from the various options I found myself preferring the 1080p mode – and I think that is because the 2k mode is too compressed. At 18000 KBPS, there are artifacts blurring fine details and it is somewhat distracting to see the road go blocky as footage is being played back. In 1080p mode this effect is not as pronounced, but I still do notice that there’s an unpleasant ‘sparkling’ effect of details on the pavement immediately in front of the vehicle as details come into focus from the distance compression. That’s not to say the Vantrue has bad video quality – far from it in fact – but if you look at these screen shots comparing an AR0330 camera with the Vantrue the cheap AR camera has more fine details especially on distant objects like the trees and the buildings on the horizon but as you can see the Vantrue has better colour balance. In 2K mode the Vantrue has a little more detail than the AR, but it still has that “sparkle” to it that detracts from the overall quality. Between the two cameras, I find myself unable to decide which I like more. The Vantrue has significantly better colour representation but the AR is just a little sharper and smoother.
Video quality, night:
Night video quality with this camera is very good. When reviewing city footage, I was able to read license plates and street signs easier than with the other cameras I tested and out in the country the camera is able to pick up a good amount of light using just the headlights. Please ignore the smudging around the lights here – that is not a result of any camera error, just a dirty wind shield. Compared to the AR, the Vantrue manages more detail in darker situations, and this is probably the best night footage I’ve had from a camera so far.
Audio quality is about average for a camera like this. I found the sound muffled and heavily weighted towards bass tones. It will pick up talking inside of a vehicle just fine, but don’t expect to hear anyone outside of the vehicle unless they are really speaking loudly. Here’s a sample: […]
The Vantrue has a 4MP sensor and it attempts to upscale to 12 megapixels. Unfortunately when doing this it also incorrectly squishes images to a 4:3 ratio when they should be 16:9. Resizing the photos does fix it, and after they are sized to their proper ratio and resolution they look quite good in most lighting situations. But in a modern camera this should not be an issue and is something that Vantrue needs to fix.
The battery in this camera lasts a good little while – but not enough to be relied on while in parking mode. I found the battery lasts about 30 minutes in parking mode, so it’s best to get it hard wired to the car battery. As a result I didn’t get to test the parking mode extensively but it seems to work. The camera seems to have GPS options, but I couldn’t get them to work so it must not be built in.
The design of the R2 is really where Vantrue hit home. I particularly like the included power cable that has its own USB port, the suction mount design and the button layout. The video quality is good during the day and great at night. I wish that this camera was a little more covert when installed and that the video quality didn’t have that artifact ‘sparkle’ to it in the higher definition modes, but it’s hard to see the difference in video quality unless it is being directly compared to other cameras. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the extra $100 over the G1W series but if build quality is any indication of reliability I feel like the Vantrue will last longer than a g1w.