Vantrue N2S Review: Not Just For Uber Drivers
BY JAMES BRUCE PUBLISHED FEB 16, 2021
With an internal cabin view that could prove very useful if the worst were to happen, as well as GPS and gyroscopic data, the N2S is great value.
The Vantrue N2S doesn't just record the road: it records you, too. But while it also features built-in GPS and gyroscopic data, it lacks smartphone connectivity or any AI smarts. It' so discreet and unobtrusive that you'll barely know it's there. And that's a good thing.
The Vantrue N2S ticks all the boxes as basic, but great dashcam—and at an entirely affordable price point of around $200. If you want something with great image quality that'll record the road and cabin too, and not much else—leaving you to concentrate on driving—it's a sensible choice. Review video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69REExco2t4 Installation
Inside the box, you won't find a lot of fancy accessories. It's just a barebones main camera body, which is quite small, a suction mount with GPS antenna, a long USB car port cable, and USB-C data cable.
Should you wish to hide the cabling, it's ample enough to be tucked in around the trim.
The camera itself is very discreet, with the classic Vantrue N series design of a hexagonal profiled cylinder. On the right-hand side sits the internal camera, which can be angled up or down appropriately. The main camera position is fixed at the center-front.
The entire camera body is clipped onto the GPS suction mount via a proprietary clip, which means it can be easily removed to extract footage. The suction mount also features a ball joint for repositioning and is simple to secure leaving no trace of sticky residue. The only thing to be careful of is that a large GPS antenna protrudes from the base of the mount, and this must be rotated clockwise in order to lock the suction pad. If you place it too close to your rearview mirror, you won't be able to lock it.
Setting up the device is simple enough, thanks to an easy menu system and four buttons to navigate. There's also an illuminated emergency button on the left of the viewscreen, which you can press to lock footage. A G-sensor should also lock footage if a collision is detected, though I'd quite like my car to remain intact, so I didn't get to test this.
Vantrue insists that you don't use a Transcend or Sandisk branded card, for some inexplicable reason. Conveniently, Vantrue sells its own brand of suitable microSD cards, but one is not included in the package and must be purchased separately.
For what it's worth, I tested exclusively with a class 10 Sandisk card, and haven't had any issues yet (after a few weeks). That said, I haven't driven enough to fill the disk yet either. Like most dashcams, the Vantrue N2S records in five-minutes chunks and deletes old footage as the drive fills up, unless it's been specifically marked for saving (which are moved to a separate folder). It could be that I'll run into problems once the card fills up.
No Battery, Optional Parking Mode
Although the Vantrue N2S can record parking events, either triggered by the shock sensor or motion detection, it's worth noting that there is no internal battery. The carport adaptor supplied in the package will lose power when your car is off, and the supercapacitors inside the N2S hold just enough charge to shut down the camera and save the footage.
Therefore, if you want to record events while parked, you'll need to either power the N2s via a separate battery pack, or purchase the optional OBD2 port hardwire kit (for around $20). Any standard USB battery should suffice, but none the less this is an extra step that you might not want to be bothered with. After all, the best dashcam is one you can forget about entirely. If parked recordings are important to you, the optional hardwire kit is essential.
The upshot however of using supercapacitors rather than a battery is greater resistance to cold and heat. Even in moderate climates like the UK, where temperatures above 85°F are basically a national emergency, the inside of a car is enough to explode lithium-ion batteries. You should be wary of any dashcam that has an internal battery. Vanture claims the N2S can operate safely in temperatures from 14 to 158°F.
Recording the Road, and You
With the Vantrue OnDash N2S you can opt to either record 4K 25fps front only, or dual 1440p 30fps. Those are saved as separate files rather than automatically overlaid on top of each other.
The front camera uses a Sony IMX335 sensor, producing crisp video with number plates that are easy to read. It also has a wide dynamic range (WDR) color profile to avoid over or underexposure, resulting in clear video regardless of the time of day.
If the sample video grabs look a little drab, I apologize on behalf of England. I assure you this is, in fact, a color camera, but it's the grey season at the moment and I haven't seen the sun in months.
I didn't test the N2S using front-only 4K camera mode, for the simple reason that if you're going to specifically purchase a dual-camera dashcam, intentionally disabling one of those cameras is wasteful. If you don't want to use the cabin camera, other devices would be more suitable for you.
The night-time shot from the front camera example doesn't initially seem all that impressive, but bear in mind this was using only the low beam headlights in a protected dark sky area around Bodmin Moor. The areas that are illuminated have good detail. In a built-up city environment, you would have no issues with the visibility of recordings.
The internal camera, utilizing an f1.8 lens and Sony Starvis sensor, also features 4 infra-red LEDs. This allows it to clearly record the cabin at night, too. Both the front and back sensors are wide-angle: 165-degrees internally, and 155-degrees on the front.
While this kind of dual-camera system can offer safety benefits to those running a private taxi service, it's not without use for the rest of us regular drivers, too. And I don't just mean for carpool karaoke videos.
During an insurance claim, the more evidence you have that you weren't at fault, the better.
It's common for the other driver to claim you were distracted—looking at your phone, or not checking before you turned. Without that internal footage, it's your word against theirs. The internal footage can also offer some insight into events that don't happen directly in front of you, like side collisions or rear bumps.
Viewing the Footage
This is perhaps one area that will be a deal-breaker for heavy road users: there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, nor there is a smartphone app to view and upload footage to social platforms. If you're the sort of person that likes to expose bad drivers quickly to YouTube or the local Facebook group, this isn't the camera for you.
To view the footage, you'll need to remove the microSD card and read it in a suitable adaptor, or unclip the main camera body and use the supplied USB-C data cable.
That said, Vantrue does offer a desktop app called Dashcam Player that gives a comprehensive overview of all the recorded data. After loading the footage, you can view all recorded angles at once (including the optional rear camera), a map of the route, as well as speed and accelerometer/gyroscopic measurements. This allows you to quickly pinpoint the incident, and crucially records how erratically you were driving at the time leading up to it.
Is the Vantrue OnDash N2s Right for You?
A dashcam should not be vying for your attention with advanced AI features and warning systems. It should sit there, record the road, and be quiet about it. The Vantrue N2s does that, then throws in cabin recording and GPS data too.
What it doesn't have is a mobile app. If that's essential to you, then you should look elsewhere. Also factor in the cost of a hardwiring kit, if you want to use the parking features.
But for most people, the Vantrue OnDash N2S represents good value for money, an internal cabin view that could prove very useful if the worst were to happen, great image quality, and a surprising amount of recorded data with an impressive desktop app to view it.
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