Dash cams have grown enormously in popularity over the past few years. They are useful for a number of reasons, including giving you peace of mind that you’ll capture all the evidence you need should you become involved in a road traffic incident. There are also those that might want to use them for capturing adventures and vlogging, too.
There’s different types of dash cams to meet a variety of needs, ranging from basic offerings to more extensive / advanced models such as the Vantrue N4, which features a front-facing camera, an interior camera and a rear-view camera all in one package.
Ideal for ordinary users looking to capture potential incidents, this type of camera is also useful for professional drivers such as taxi drivers and delivery riders, as it can capture the interior of your vehicle too (hence this type often being called Uber dash cams).
Vantrue N4 specifications
Sensor: Sony Starvis CMOS sensor
Video resolution: 4K (front), 1080p HD (cabin / rear)
Field of view: 155 degrees (front)
Frame rate: 30fps max
Digital zoom: No
Inbuilt microphone: Yes
GPS included: No
Considering the Venture N4 has a fairly high price tag, we’d expect it to be packing lots of features. Top of the list is of course the fact that you’ve got three channel recording, covering not only the front, but also in the interior and the rear-view from your vehicle.
4K recording is available, but only if you switch off both the interior and rear-view camera, otherwise you’re served with 2160p + 1080p if you opt for dual-channel recording, or 1440p + 1080p + 1080p if you want to switch on all three.
Other features include a full-colour 2.45-inch screen (though it isn’t touch-sensitive) and USB-C connectivity for powering up the camera. The camera is compatible with MicroSD cards, though for some reason, VanTrue doesn’t want you to use Transcend or SanDisk cards (we did, and it recorded just fine, so we’re not sure why). It’s worth noting that a MicroSD card is not included in the box, so you’ll have to factor that it into your budget, too.
As well as thinking about the features that the VanTrue N4 does have, it’s worth contemplating what it doesn’t - there’s no inbuilt GPS (though you can buy a separate unit) and there’s no Wi-Fi connectivity for either storing your videos to the cloud or quickly grabbing them from a connected smartphone app - both of these feel like fairly big omissions for a modern dash cam, especially one at this price.
Build and handling
The VanTrue N4 is a very simple and straightforward to set up for the first time, meaning you can unpack it and be ready to drive away in a matter of minutes, especially if you don’t intend to hard wire the camera into the car, or hide away the cables from view (which you can do if you prefer for neatness, a tool is supplied in the box).
When you first take the dash cam out of the box, you’ll need to insert a microSD card. As previously mentioned, VanTrue advises against the use of Transcend or SanDisk memory cards, instead suggesting its own brand. We only had a Transcend available at the time of writing this review, and all seemed to be fine. If the memory card has been used before, you’ll want to format it in the camera when it is switched on for the first time.
Supplied in the box is a power cable and adapter which you can plug directly into your car’s auxiliary power outlet. This plugs either directly into the side of the camera, or into the windshield mount that comes in the box. Plugging into the windshield mount is recommended since you’ll need the power socket to attach the rear-view camera (if using it).
The rear view camera is attached to the rear window via a sticky pad, but the front view camera can be quickly attached and removed via a twisting mechanism on the mount’s sucker pad. This makes it quick and easy to remove if you don’t want to leave the dash cam on display. The interior (cabin view) camera is attached to the main front-facing camera, so there’s nothing extra to plug in here. It can also be rotated up and down to ensure you get the best view of the scene.
A menu system is accessed and operated via the buttons on the top of the camera. Press the M button to bring up the menu, then use the other buttons to move up and down the menu items and make selections. Options here include the chosen resolution, how long you record clips for, and so on. It’s worth spending a few minutes familiarising yourself with everything in the menu the first time you use the camera.
The buttons also have other functions, including quickly switching the microphone on or off and switching between displaying the different cameras. A full instruction manual is included in the box to help you get to grips with everything the camera does, but it is mostly self-explanatory.
It’s worth noting the parking mode which can be switched on if the camera is hard-wired into the car (as it will need to draw power from the battery). This can be used to automatically detect and record motion and bumps, but it’s not something we’ve been able to test.
4K video sample from front camera
1080p video sample from rear camera
1080p video sample from cabin camera
Footage directly from the VanTrue N4 is very good, especially if your main purpose is to use it for recording driving and traffic incidents.
Although 4K resolution is only available when using the front-facing camera only, even if you switch on the other cameras (and therefore use lower resolutions) there’s generally enough detail to see important details - such as numberplates. For that reason we’d generally recommend using all three to give you the maximum coverage possible, but at the very least the front facing and rear facing camera.
Overall, the footage is generally very steady with little in the way of jumping or jolting, even when driving in slightly patchy environments. Exposure is well-balanced while colours are generally accurate - or at least as accurate as you might want them to be for the intended purpose here.
Although you might want to use a camera like this for vlogging as it can capture the interior view, the sound quality is passable for an insurance claim and the like, but will likely be disappointing to anyone with even a passing interest in audio. For that type of user, a dedicated action camera is probably a better alternative.
VanTrue N4: Verdict
Although you pay quite a high price for the VanTrue N4, the fact that you get three different cameras makes it a good investment for those who need all-round coverage.
All three of the cameras produce good quality footage for the intended purpose, and while 4K is only available in certain circumstances, we think it’s better to use all three channels if you can.
The camera being easy to set up and use is another bonus, with straightforward menus and buttons that are pretty self-explanatory and don’t take too much time to familiarise yourself with.
However, there are some downsides here. GPS not being built-in is a fairly big one, as well as the lack of any Wi-Fi or compatibility with a smartphone app. That means you’ll need to remove the card from the device and trawl through footage on your computer - not the greatest problem in the world, but faff that other models have eliminated.
Overall, the VanTrue N4 is a decent performer which is well-suited to those who want the flexibility of three different angles of view and comes recommended.