Tom's Guide Verdict
It’s by no means class-leading, but the Vantrue S1 offers a decent front and rear dash cam system for slightly less. But had it been bundled with a few more features, it could have better set itself apart from its rivals.
4K front recording
Good daytime recording
Cheaper dual camera systems available
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Field of view: 170° front, 160° rear
Resolution: 1080p front and rear or 4K front only
Display: 2” LCD
The Vantrue S1 represents a neat little bundle, with separate camera units, GPS, 4K recording and dual adjustable cameras.
Despite some dodgy night recording, the S1 is a reasonable effort from Vantrue. However, if it had more even features, it’d be a lot more competitive with its class-leading peers for its price.
Vantrue S1 dash cam review: Price and availability
You can purchase the Vantrue S1 from Vantrue, Amazon and other major electronics retailers for $179.99.
Vantrue S1 dash cam review: Design & features
Pick up the Vantrue S1 and you might find its chunky build distracting. Indeed, its large, slanted design can seem intrusive, especially in smaller vehicles.
Fortunately, Vantrue’s build quality has taken an upturn for the S1. While it’s not going to compete with the likes of Garmin and Nextbase, the S1 features better-grade plastic and a clearly labeled button system.
Functionality-wise, there’s some good news. This mid-range system packs a few big features, including 4K recording when you’re using the front cam by itself (it’s 1080p with both cams recording), GPS, and a Sony Starvis sensor — something that reportedly offers clear recording no matter what the conditions. More on this later.
Another welcome sight is its adjustable camera, which operates on a pivot, opening up options on where you want the device on your windshield.
Of course, the S1 is also kitted out with all the standard dash cam features, such as an incident detection system and parking guard, both of which start recording following a collision or incident. As usual, the 24/7 parking guard requires a hardwire connection. There’s also a timelapse mode to offer a speedy highlight reel of your road trips, but I’d wager this won’t be in frequent use.
At its price tag, the S1 sits just under like-for-like branded cams. However, I feel its case could be stronger if it included more ease-of-use functions, such as WiFi connectivity, voice control, or a companion app.
Vantrue S1 dash cam review: Setup
The Vantrue S1’s “lazy L”- shaped unit is designed to be mounted in parallel to the windshield using a slide fixture on a sticky mount. However, there’s no suction cup option — once the adhesive goes on, that’s it.
That “L” shape is also not ideal, angling the screen away from the driver. I sometimes had to crane my neck awkwardly forward to check on it. The design is also not going to work for those with vertical windshields, such as in buses or trucks.
Its wiring system is also flawed. The sockets of the rear camera and power cable rub against each other when connected to the unit, making them fiddly to insert. This might also cause additional wear and tear on the wires and connectors.
Fortunately, the S1’s menu system was a pleasant surprise, with a simple rolling menu and context-sensitive buttons labeled throughout. My only real gripe is that it's white text on an orange backdrop, which is challenging to read, especially with the screen’s sharp angle.
Vantrue S1 dash cam review: Video and audio quality
During the day, the S1’s rear and front cameras yield good results. Footage is often clear, sharp and detailed, with the right saturation of colors.
You also get a good view of the road with its wide angle lenses. Occasionally, contrast can become an issue, with sunlight amping up in the haziness in the image.
At night, things get predictably fuzzier, especially with the rear camera, which can struggle to provide clear, well-lit pictures without other sources of light. Streetlights can also pose an issue, creating great significant lens flares in the front.
Plus at certain angles, headlights can interfere with seeing a vehicle’s tags clearly. However, while many low-to-mid-range dash cams struggle at night, this is a commendable effort..
Sound is also generally solid, though voices and playback come out slightly tinnier than they do in reality.
Vantrue S1 dash cam review: Verdict
It’s by no means class-leading, but the Vantrue S1 offers a decent front and rear dash cam system for slightly less.
Had it been bundled with a few more features, it could have set it apart from its rivals and earned itself another half-star on this rating in the process. However, as it stands, with generally sharp and clear image quality, the S1 is a decent mid-range contender.