Our experience with these dash cams solidifies our recommendation that, in regards to high-spec dash cams, it’s best to stick with the industry’s established names.
On paper, dash cams such as these Vantrue models stack up reasonably well but as we found out, they just aren’t as nice to use or anywhere near as well made as those from Thinkware, Nextbase, or Garmin, for example.
The dash cam market is saturated and finding the right dash cam can be exhausting and frustrating. A dash cam is a tool, not a hobby or interest. Therefore, it’s not something most of us want to spend too much time researching before buying.
That being said, if it’s a feature-heavy dash can you’re after, some extra research is indeed worthwhile because the more features a dash cam has, the more complex to use and operate it can potentially become. This is where thoughtful and thorough product development earns its worth. Ease of use in the face of added complexity is something that few dash cams manage to achieve.
Spread throughout the dash cam market are known brands and unknown brands alike. Vantrue is one of the latter and its feature-packed dash cams aim to compete with the best out there and ask for a high-end price too. But as we found out, they don’t match the useability and quality of the established competition.
The dash cams
Here, these models are pretty conventional. Both come with rear cameras and involve a bit more cable threading but it’s not a difficult task. Positioning is easy, thanks to decent-sized screens that allow you to see what the camera is seeing.
The X4S is slightly easier to navigate because its buttons are next to the screen rather than on top like they are on the N4.
The X4S is compatible with Vantrue’s app, but the N4 is not. App connectivity is something that comes with many dash cams these days but it’s by no means essential for all of them. For some it is, but you can get along perfectly fine with the X4S without the app. It’s only for viewing footage and not as polished as Garmin’s Drive app or Nextbase’s MyNextbase app, for example.
Performance and quality
All installed, the X4S and N4 got off to a good start. However, in operating small niggles became obvious. On the X4S, the menu M button requires a couple of presses before responding; on the N4, the lack of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or GPS was disappointing for a dash cam costing north of £200.
Then we got to the big issue. When recording, the two dash cams seemed to work fine, but we were unable to view the files from either of them when we plugged the memory cards into a computer. It’s not something we’ve experienced with other dash cam tests and therefore, we can’t report on what the footage quality was like.
This experience is symptomatic of many product types, where there is a huge volume of models on offer but few that are worth your consideration. It also proves that in-depth research and development is worth paying for because it pays serious dividends when using the end product.
Particularly given that Nextbase, Garmin, Thinkware, Blackvue and other dash cam heavyweights offer proven high-end dash cams for similar money, it begs the question why seek alternative, unexplored routes? This isn’t the Age of Exploration we’re talking about, it’s dash cams.
Besides, we have explored the alternative routes and found the main road to still be the best option.