The Vantrue N4 is one of the most competitive, affordable 3-channel dash cams available today. With three cameras included as standard, including one for the passenger cabin, you have an almost 360-degree record of whatever might happen in traffic.
For relatively little extra, you can also add GPS functionality so you’ll be able to view your speed, location, and routes traveled using the included Vantrue video player.
Its optical performance is nothing to be shy about, either, while it records sounds inside the car perfectly clearly.
The main weakness of the N4 is that it does not work wirelessly with your smartphone, so if you want to export or view recorded footage on a larger screen you’ll have to either remove the microSD card or connect the dash cam to a TV or computer.
Keep Track of Things, Inside and Out
Aside from situations where you’re transporting strangers inside your vehicle (for which we recommend the Toguard CE41Dual Dash Cam), it’s often a good idea to be able to prove what was going on inside your vehicle at the time an incident occurred.
Were you taking a phone call, or perhaps distracted by your offspring’s backseat antics? Allegations like these are easy to make; with an interior camera, they’re also easy to disprove.
The cabin camera is equipped with infrared lamps for good visibility even in total darkness. The rear-facing camera attaches to the back window and records in 1080p. The star of the show, however, is the main, front camera: capable of 1440p, 30 fps recording (or 1520p if the other cameras are switched off), it uses a WDR Sony Starvis sensor. This is currently a kind of industry standard and highly prized for its reliable performance in all kinds of lighting.
A Watchman for Your Car
This array of cameras is combined with a very useful technology: video motion detection. Aside from the impact sensor, which measures shock and acceleration, this dash cam’s parking mode will trigger a recording whenever it detects a significant change in image within the field of view of any camera.
By contrast with the GPS module, this will mean a bit of DIY on your part (the GPS add-on resides in a replacement mount and requires no skill to get working).
Since this particular dash cam uses a supercapacitor rather than an internal battery, you’ll need to connect some wires to your car’s fuse box rather than relying on the normal 12V outlet (as these generally switch off when the key is removed from the ignition). This kit is neither expensive nor difficult to install, but may be too much of a hassle if you’re looking for a truly plug-and-play solution.
The stated reason for replacing the battery with a supercap is that these are less sensitive to temperature. This isn’t really reflected in this dash cam’s rated operating temperature range (14°F to 158°F compared to -22°F to 176°F for the Rove MyDash R2-4K).
On the other hand, it’s worth remembering that even modern lithium batteries degrade over the course of months, especially at extreme temperatures.
If you’re not planning to buy another dash cam soon, this is worth keeping in mind, as is the 18-month warranty and prompt tech support Vantrue offers.
The Roses and Thorns of the Vantrue N4
The N4 gives you some flexibility in terms of what you want to record: you can turn off audio recording, the interior camera, and the rear view. You can also select a time lapse mode (which is useful for recording a trip, either to show your employer that you weren’t wasting time or to supplement your ordinary holiday snapshots) and adjust the sensitivity of the impact sensor.
Depending on the configuration of your vehicle, you can also choose to tilt the rear-facing interior camera at the front up and down through 60 degrees, or mount the rear camera reversed to give a more detailed overview of the passenger compartment.
The screen size is comparable to most dash cams, though you won’t be able to see much when displaying all three channels at once (this is the default operating mode when all cameras are being recorded). The same 3-picture display isn’t available on your phone or computer: the Vantrue Player doesn’t give you the option of synchronizing the three feeds.
A bigger problem is that you also can’t adjust the brightness – falling between two chairs, it’s a little distracting at night and a little difficult to make out when it’s bright outside (you can judge for yourself if you watch the video a little further down).
Since you can’t connect the Vantrue N4 via WiFi, you have to remove the front dash cam unit and connect it to a computer to export videos, or play them directly on a television using the micro-HD output. Alternatively, you can yank out the memory card and read it using the included microSD to USB converter.
Thanks to an impressive 256 gigabytes of storage, however, you get about 16 hours of recordings when all three channels are in use. This way, if you just delete the footage of trips where nothing happened, you won’t have to export or view it elsewhere very often.
Finally, to give you a better idea of the quality of the footage, you can have a look at this:
- Cheaply upgraded with GPS capability
- Nearly all-round view
- Good nighttime views inside and in front of car
- Have to install hardwire kit to use parking mode
- Cumbersome to export video footage
- Somewhat expensive, even with its 3 cameras