I’ve been interested in these in-car dash cameras for a while, having had a fair amount of fun with action cameras, like a GoPro or the ContourHD; the Vantrue OnDash camera, however, is different. This isn’t meant to be an action camera at all; it’s more about insurance and capturing a full drive instead of just a few seconds or minutes of action. The R2 camera has a small battery, but is made to draw its power from your car’s power ports. Once set up, it will record in 5-minute chunks and save those to a, removable, microSD card. So let’s look at what this camera does – and if it’s right for you.
In our unboxing video we briefly hit on the specs associated with this camera, and we quickly mentioned that this is a Super HD camera. But what does that really mean? Well, HD is defined as 1080p with a resolution of 1920×1080 – which the OnDash R2 allows you to shoot in for smaller file size – but this camera is capable of shooting at 2560×1080 at 30fps (frames per second) and 2304×1296 at 30fps. These are not considered 4K, but instead Super HD, because the resolution is considerably higher than standard HD. The point, of course, is you’ll enjoy better quality video. There is one mode that can record at 60fps, which has a resolution of 1280X720.
This camera also shoots at a 170-degree angle, giving you a wider field of vision to capture more than a normal, non-wide angle, camera would.
The OnDash R2 is pretty solid. The housing is a mix of lightweight metal and plastic. The R2 weighs in at 2.9 ounces (much lighter than your iPhone), and is constructed so that it won’t get too hot sitting on your windshield.
We’ve already talked about the Super HD sensor giving you great video quality, but let’s look at a few of the other specs. The camera is also equipped with a G-sensor, which should sound familiar to automotive enthusiasts. This can sense the motion of the vehicle to know things like whether you’re moving or not, or even if you’ve just been in a wreck. If the camera does sense a wreck it will take 30-seconds of footage – 10 seconds before and 20 seconds after impact – and save it to a special folder on the memory card called Events. This way you don’t have to go hunting through a ton of footage to find that moment. The R2 can take up to a 64GB microSD card which is a great upgrade for more file storage. Depending on your resolution selected you should be able to get anywhere from 6 to 8 full hours of recording on a single 64GB card.
On the back of the camera you get a 2.7-inch (non-touch) screen. This can be controlled by the buttons on either side of the screen, and is a great place for rolling through all of the menu options. The screen also works for playback if you want to quickly look at some video you’ve recorded. When the camera first powers on you’ll see the video it’s recording so you know you have the perfect angle. After about three minutes the screen automatically turns off, a setting which can be adjusted in the menu to turn off as quickly as thirty seconds. This is a question we received on Twitter as one of our followers was worried about the legality of having an always-on screen while driving. This camera is not only legal, but is recommended.
One of the great things about this dash camera is its ease of use. Simply snap it onto your windshield using the suction cup mount provided with the camera, and then plug it in. The cord from the power adapter to the camera is sufficiently long to run it, stealthily, along your panels. And a side note: when you plug the adapter into your (cigarette lighter) power port the adapter also has a USB plug within it, so you can use the same adapter to charge your phone or plug in another USB accessory. As soon as you plug the camera in it turns on and begins to record video. You can adjust the angle based on the video being displayed on the screen – and then you can forget about it. The screen automatically turns off and it’s easy to just forget the camera is even setup. Once you get to your destination you can unplug the camera, store it somewhere safe, and go about your day. When you want to view the video you’ve recorded you just take your microSD card – and depending on your computer or how you’re syncing the SD card to your computer (you may need a special adapter ) – and view the files on your computer. The format is compatible with both Mac and Windows and the video files are stored in a straightforward way.
That’s it. Hook up the camera, record your drive, view your drive, and repeat. If something happens while you’re driving, whether it be to you or somewhere in front of you, then you’ve got it on video.
When I heard about the Parking Mode and saw the option in the menu I was confused as to what this was and how this camera could help you in any parking situation. Obviously, reading the user manual cleared it up. Parking Mode is essentially telling the camera that you’re parked so it’s not recording while you’re sitting still in a parking lot. You can engage the mode by holding down the Parking Mode switch for 3 seconds, or you can turn on the new feature that will use the camera’s built-in motion sensor to automatically stop recording when you’re parked.
Just last week we had a news story here in Dallas of a wreck on a major highway involving a drunk driver. A man behind that driver had a dash camera and caught the whole event. The footage was not just shared all over local media, but was also used by the police to help determine exactly what happened. This, and catching video of accidents you may be involved in, is exactly the use case for these dash cameras. Overall, I’m really happy with the ease of use and quality of the OnDash R2, and would easily recommend it if you’ve been thinking about getting something similar.