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One day, I received an Unprompted email from Vantrue, asking if I wanted to review their Element 1 model dash cam.
So of course I said yes.
A week or two later, the dash cam arrived in the mail and I took a look.
- Overview of the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam
- Setting Up the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam
- My Experience With This Camera
- Conclusion: Is the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam Worth It?
Overview of the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam
This particular model of dash cam is billed as a dash cam with an award-winning design, packed with enough features for even the most advanced users.
Some of those main features include:
You can control the dash camera using a little remote control that has a push-to-talk microphone.
This is one of the most noticeable and advertised features throughout the camera and it’s advertising materials.
24/7 Parking Mode
This dash cam has the ability to automatically record when installed in your vehicle, and the vehicle is parked.
It records immediately when you stop the car, so you can just get out and walk away – the camera will do the rest.
Built-in GPS and Speed Tracking
This unit will automatically track GPS coordinates and speed while driving.
This is a critical component of proving, or disproving, a case in an accident.
So, very helpful for insurance companies in the case of an accident.
- Chips: Novatek high-performance processor
- Resolution: 2592x1944P 30FPS; 2560x1440P(HDR) 30FPS etc
- Image Sensor: Sony CMOS Sensor
- WiFi: Built-in 2.4G
- Lens: 160° wide viewing angle; F/1. 8 wide aperture
- Audio: Built-in microphone and speaker
- Video File Format: MP4
When I first picked up the box, I knew the camera was going to be high quality.
The packaging was beautiful on the outside and inside – minimalistic yet well-done.
There weren’t many components other than the standard power cables and mounting stickers that you’d expect with most dash cams.
I liked this, as it made finding out which pieces went where super easy.
When I first opened this camera, I realized the level of quality that went into the design and production of the unit.
The camera is small and compact, yet has a beefy feel to it so that you know it is not made from cheap components.
You can tell why it won an award for its design – it is made so that you can install it on a windshield and it does not get in the way of your vision or stick out and become intrusive.
Aside from the quality though, a few things jumped out at me.
First, there was no memory card included.
While I do understand that these are an easy way for a company to make money by selling them separately, it would be nice to open a camera that comes with a memory card in the box.
** Shoutout to the Nexar Pro for including one.
Next, I noticed that there were 3m sticky pads that were included with the camera, but no suction cup mount.
If I install a dash cam, I like to move it around or take it from one vehicle to the other, such as if I am on a road trip and not taking my own car.
A suction cup mount is great for this, but a sticky mount is not.
While this camera might win an award in the design department, it loses a point from me for user experience.
Setting Up the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam
With such as streamlined design, I expected the setup of the dash cam to be simple.
I had just reviewed the Kingslim D4 camera before I did this review, so I expected a similar setup process as the D4 – simply plug and play.
Unfortunately, the Element 1 setup process was a bit more complicated than that.
I installed the SD card into the camera and then tried to turn it on by plugging it into my computer.
Instead of going through an initial boot sequence, the camera went into a “view” mode, and locked me out of actually messing with the settings.
I then walked out to my car and plugged it into my Jeep’s USB power supply.
Again, it went into “view” mode instead of setup mode.
I then switched power cables and ran the long USB-C cable from my 12V power supply to the camera, and then it finally allowed me to set the camera up.
After the setup screen popped up, I learned that the camera did not have a touchscreen, unlike other cameras that I have previously reviewed.
Instead, you have to manually select options using the buttons on the side of the camera.
At this point, my camera was unresponsive and kept defaulting back to this screen, regardless of what buttons I pressed on the camera.
There is also apparently a to set up the camera using the smartphone app, so I tried setting up the camera that way instead.
However, I was not able to figure out how to set that up.
To connect the app to the camera, a connection must be made.
The app prompted me to press the wifi button on the side of the camera, but as you can tell from the picture above, that button clearly doesn’t exist on the camera.
I tried a few times, but finally gave up on the connection to the app.
By then though, the camera had for some reason moved past the language selection screen and appeared ready for use.
It is worth noting that there are TONS of different features that you can enable.
The camera is one of the least “plug-and-play” units that I have used, which is not great for beginners.
On the other end of the spectrum though, this is great for advanced users who want to tweak the settings exactly to their liking.
Examples of features that can be tweaked:
- Switching between a handful of video resolutions
- Selecting various preferences for looping recording
- G-Sensor shock levels
- Tweaking exposure settings
- Enable-disable watermark
- Various parking rate modes: collision detection/motion detection/low bitrate recording/low framerate mode
- Time Lapse: choose to enable 1, 5, 10, or 15 FPS
- In addition, you can also modify settings such as wifi, language, display settings, voice assistant, and much, much more.
As you can see, this is not a simple plug-and-play unit, but instead a robust unit that can be extensively customized.
I didn’t take the time to tweak all the settings, as I am somebody who just wants to plug my camera in and go, but I can see the appeal for more advanced users who have more time to learn.
As I assumed, the camera was able to be installed with little issue.
I removed the cover from the sticky pad and then firmly pressed the unit onto my window.
I then plugged one side of the power cable into the camera and another into the 12V power supply in my vehicle.
The unit powered on and seemed to be ready to go.
I have tested quite a few cameras, and from an installation perspective, this one was one of the least intrusive.
It is small and out of the way.
It also looks pretty nice in the windshield.
It is a great talking point, as it looks more expensive than it actually is.
My suggestion would be to mount the unit “semi-permanently” by running the power cord under the panels alongside the windshield.
This ensures that the cord is out of the way and doesn’t interfere while driving, as it is very long and can bunch up if you don’t tuck it away.
My Experience With This Camera
It took me roughly an hour to get set up, but once I did, I drove around to test the camera out.
While I was driving, the camera appeared to be recording.
It sort of just did its thing, so I expected to be able to pull the memory card and view the footage upon my return.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to view the footage initially when I plugged the camera’s card into the computer.
When I inserted the camera’s card into my computer, the computer saw the files but when I went to play them, they only played the sound, not the video.
After reaching out to support, it appeared that I needed to download the Vantrue video player, which I did.
I was then able to view the footage.
Viewing the Footage
There are two ways to view the footage on the camera’s memory card:
- Within the Vantrue app for iOS or Android.
- Using a computer – either plugging in the camera with the included USB-C cable, or inserting the memory card.
I did not take the time to sync the app to the camera, so I chose the computer-viewing route.
Viewing the footage is as simple as plugging the camera or memory card into your computer, and then clicking on the files. This does come with one caveat, however.
When I first plugged the camera into my computer, I was unable to play the video from the footage due to a codec error.
My copy of Windows 11 did not have the proper mp4 codec installed, meaning I had to either download the free Vantrue media player, or pay $0.99 for a codec that Windows sold within their store.
I chose the Vantrue media player, although I would much rather prefer being able to view the files without a program.
Once I downloaded that program, viewing the footage was simple:
I took the camera on a test drive around the city, as I would on a normal day of driving.
I wanted to highlight two key videos from that drive, both of which show just high of quality video that this camera records.
First, a drive through a neighborhood:
Aside from the very high-quality video, notice how the camera automatically adjusts from sun to shade.
Even when the sun is shining directly into the camera, the video is viewable.
Then you really notice a difference when I steer my car away from the sun and the camera re-adjusts itself.
The video quality on this camera is unbelievable – and this resolution was only shot in 1080p.
Next, I take the camera out on the open road.
Once again, the sun is in our way, but you can see how the camera compensates for that.
The camera has no trouble keeping up, despite my speed, the sun, or other motion around it.
While this camera was a bit of a pain to set up, the quality and consistency of the video more than makes up for the time it took to get me to this point.
I also like the watermarks that show GPS coordinates, the date and time, and speed.
This data is very important ton insurance adjusters in the case of an accident.
The other feature I made sure to test was the parking mode.
While the car was parked, the camera continued to diligently record, acting as a sentry while I was away from the vehicle.
As you can see by the video, even at night, the video is still clear.
If somebody would have been trying to break into my car, or bumped into the vehicle while trying to park in front of me, is becomes clear that everything would be captured in great detail.
Once again, in this regard, the camera definitely exceeded what I expected, especially at night.
Conclusion: Is the Vantrue Element 1 Dash Cam Worth It?
Overall, I do recommend this camera.
It is very high quality and the features included are quite a bit above what I would expect from a camera at this price point.
If you are an advanced user that has a knack for tweaking settings, this camera is a no-brainer.
But if you’re a novice user who is looking for a simple plug-and-play solution, I might evaluate the options.
However, if you do have the patience to get it set up and play around with the settings, this camera earned a solid “Buy” from me.