Available in black, red, and blue, the Vantrue E1 is a compact dash cam that features a 2.5K resolution Sony Starvis sensor, voice commands, and an included remote control for manually recording footage. If you're looking for a good-value car camera that has built-in GPS smarts and a magnetic mount, it's one of the best dash cams around.
The E1's magnetic windscreen mount sticks to your screen in the normal way, but then connects to the E1 with a magnet that also carries a data and power connection. That way, the mount is plugged into your car’s 12v socket (or with the optional hardwiring kit), and the camera can easily be removed – handy for taking the E1 into the house to transfer footage, or hiding it if you’re concerned about it being stolen.
The magnetic mount works really well and serves as a secure but convenient way to attach and detach the dash cam. We do wonder, though, if the camera would stay in place after a heavy rear impact.
There’s a second USB-C port on the camera itself. This isn’t for power and is instead for transferring footage to a computer. It’s great that Vantrue is using USB-C, as all too often we find dash cam companies use microUSB or even the aged mini USB connection, making video transfer a pain if you misplace the included cable.
On the rear, there’s a tiny, 1.54-in display and the Vantrue E1's interface is navigated via three buttons on the bottom panel. The screen is just about large enough to help with installing the E1 in the right place, but after that, it serves as a distraction. Instead, you’re best going into the settings page of the Vantrue smartphone app, which connects to the camera via Wi-Fi and switching the display off. The same goes for a blinking green light that shows the E1 is recording.
There’s also an app for PC and Mac that shows precise locational and speed data captured with every video recording, thanks to the E1 having GPS. The app smartly shows exactly where you were on a map during each recording, along with movement on the X, Y, and Z axis of the E1’s G sensor.
One thing to note with Vantrue’s Mac application is how we had to disable our Mac’s security to install the app, as it couldn’t be checked for malicious software. A Vantrue spokesperson said the company is arranging for its app to be available from Apple’s Mac App Store, but couldn’t offer a timeline for this.
Unusually, the Vantrue E1 comes bundled with a wireless remote control, which can be stuck to your dashboard and has two buttons for manually saving the most recent recording and turning the microphone on or off. Most drivers won’t need this, but if you drive a van or other vehicle with a tall windscreen, where the dash cam and its own buttons might be out of reach, the remote could be useful. Of course, the E1 also automatically saves recordings when it detects a collision.
By default, video is recorded in 2.5K, also known as 2592×1944. It can also record 2560×1440 with HDR, but both of these resolutions are limited to 30 frames per second. We preferred to use 1920×1080 because that is recorded at a smoother 60 frames per second, which retains more detail when paused or viewed slowly – in other words, when working out what caused a collision and who was at fault.
Detailed footage is recorded day and night, with accurate colors and acceptable levels of noise when recording in low light. The E1 would surely benefit from the polarizing filter offered by Vantrue as an optional extra; this screws onto the 160-degree lens and should remove most of the dashboard reflections that partially obscured recordings made on a sunny day.
The voice recognition system is convenient for taking photos, saving footage, and controlling the Wi-Fi and microphone without pressing buttons or reaching for your phone. This currently works in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.