Vantrue R1 Pro dash cam review

Capture the good and bad of your journey in perfect HD with Vantrue's R1 Pro Dash Cam

The Vantrue R1 Pro captures clear, wide-angle HD footage at a low price.
The Vantrue R1 Pro captures clear, wide-angle HD footage at a low price.
The Vantrue R1 Pro captures clear, wide-angle HD footage at a low price.

Highs

  • 2K video resolution
  • Extremely affordable
  • Sleek metal body and quality construction
  • Clear recordings in low-light situations
  • Wide 170-degree viewing angle

Lows

  • MicroSD not included
  • Internal battery is rather small

The dash cam has been a popular automotive accessory in other countries and has now found its way into the American market. For times when you need to record accidents, scenic trips, or simply track down who had been keying your car – there is no better solution. For instance, I recently had an accident where the other driver wasn’t insured and a dash cam could have helped spot the license plate, giving a clear indication of what happened to the insurance company. After my incident I turned to Vantrue to get a look at their latest R1 Pro dash cam and see if they could help keep a more watchful eye on my commute.

What’s included?

Out of the box, the Vantrue R1 Pro includes the camera unit, a 11.8ft micro USB cord, 12-volt charger, and suction mount. Unlike many other competitors, the R1 Pro does not come with a microSD card so you will need to purchase one separately from the $120 dash cam package. The Vantrue camera supports up to a 64GB microSD card but I tested with a 8GB card and there was plenty of room for nearly an hour of footage with the highest quality video settings.

Vantrue-R1-Pro_1573
Nolan Browning/Digital Trends
Nolan Browning/Digital Trends

The R1 Pro camera itself has great build quality with a metal exterior in a silver/black finish. The only downside of the metal body was the high temperatures the camera reached on warmer days. The 2.7-inch TFT screen has great viewing angles and the six-button layout around the screen is easy to use to navigate. The bottom of the camera features the power button, a slot for the MicroSD card, micro USB charger port, and a micro HDMI output.

Features

On paper the Vanture R1 Pro has some impressive statistics as the camera boasts a 170-degree viewing angle and up to 16 megapixels. Most dash cameras on the market have somewhere between 120- and 140-degree viewing angles, and can cut off some of the lanes next to your vehicle. The camera settings allow for a wide range of video resolution including: 2,560 x 1080 (2K) at 30fps, 1080p at 45fps, 720p at 60fps, and an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode for increased clarity. These numbers are fantastic for a dash cam as they match or exceed older action cameras like the GoPro Hero 2.

The standard options for a dash camera are included, and the device has a G-sensor with sensibility controls to lock video on impact, audio recording on/off, options to power on and record when the engine is started, a parking monitor that senses movement up to 30 ft away, and a manual lock feature to save important video so that it cannot be overwritten. The Vantrue also includes a popular feature on dash cameras outside the US that lets you input a Driver ID with license plate number or driver name to allow you to stamp the video with that information.

Plug in and go

Installing the dash camera in any car is simple as you suction the mount to the windshield around the rear-view mirror and plug in the USB power source to a 12-volt outlet. I installed the 8GB SD card and changed the R1 Pro to the 2K video setting with HDR enabled. In this format I could store around 50 minutes of footage before it started recording over the older clips. There is a setting to choose how long you want the individual .MOV video files to be : 1 minute, 3, minutes, or 5 minutes. I chose longer 5-minute clips, and you can even turn looping off so that it records one long clip until the card is full. The battery within the camera is only 250mAh, so the camera must be plugged in to record longer sessions. It has just enough power to record when the motion detector senses movement in parking mode. I was able to capture several folks passing by the car while it was in a parking garage at the office using this feature.

Video quality

For any dash camera, the pass or fail boils down to the quality in which it records your drive. Thankfully, the Vantrue passes with flying colors. There may be other cameras with features like compatible mobile applications and standard GPS location (there’s an optional input for GPS on the R1 Pro) but the Vanture beats everything I have seen in the $120 price range in pure video quality. There were no choppy clips, and the clarity made it much easier to read license plates and capture details that are often lost with some of the lower priced dash cameras. Quality in dark parking garages or at night were fantastic, and the R1 Pro has two LEDs near the lens to help illuminate and capture images in low light. The only video issues came from glare off the windshield and dashboard, which is simply unavoidable in brighter conditions.

Conclusion

Often, budget dash cameras sacrifice all the wrong things, and you end up with poor video quality and faulty camera software. The Vantrue R1 Pro only sacrifices “nice-to-have” premium features like larger battery size, cloud storage, and a Bluetooth phone connection. What’s left is an affordable camera that excels at exactly what it was made for – capturing your drive in the best way possible.

Highs

  • 2K video resolution
  • Extremely affordable
  • Sleek metal body and quality construction
  • Clear recordings in low-light situations
  • Wide 170-degree viewing angle

Lows

  • MicroSD not included
  • Internal battery is rather small

Available from: AmazonAmazon

Product Review

Fewer pixels, better camera? The Nikon Z6 shows the beauty of restraint

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Emerging Tech

DJI Mavic 2 Pro vs Mavic 2 Zoom: What’s the real difference?

DJI's Mavic 2 series drones are ready to fly -- but which one is right for you? The Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are nearly identical save for their cameras. Here's what you need to know about these powerful new UAVs.
Computing

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Photography

Full frame or 4K for less than $1K? These 4 older cameras still have a lot to offer

Looking for a great camera deal? Sometimes, you might be better off buying one that's a few years -- last generation's professional models may not cost much more than today's entry-level models.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

Out of juice? Learn how to jump-start a car with this quick guide

Jumping a car is a simple procedure, but not everyone knows how to properly do so. To make things easier, we've put together a quick-hit guide on how to fire up your vehicle using jumper cables and a second power source.
Cars

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Cars

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Cars

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.
Cars

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?