If you’ve been driving for any period of time, you know how important it is to have a dash camera. But how do you know which one to choose without testing it out? Senior RSG contributor Will Preston tests out two of the heavyweights and shares his results below.
Can the VanTrue N2 Pro unseat the Falcon Zero F360 as the best dash camera (dash cam) for rideshare drivers? Like a lot of things, the answer is it depends on what you’re looking for. Here, I’ll explain the difference between the VanTrue N2 Pro and the Falcon Zero F360 and whether or not the VanTrue N2 Pro is really better than the Falcon Zero F360.
Do You Need a Dash Cam to Drive for Uber or Lyft?
While a dashcam is not required for rideshare driving, many people feel it should be so. I have personally found it very nice to have, even when I’m not rideshare driving. In the two years that I have owned mine as a rideshare driver, I have used the footage to prove a number of things:
- I wasn’t the one that strayed lanes and caused an accident
- Another driver was parked when they were hit (not by me)
- A passenger laid a lit cigarette in my car
- A passenger told me to drive to a certain spot out of the way, then denied it
In addition, every single time I had a reportable incident to Uber or Lyft, I was able to say “I have dashcam footage of this and have pulled it if you need it.” They rarely asked for the footage, but I had it just in case.
Check if you live in a two-party consent state
Using a dashcam with audio recording is a good way to get in trouble if you live in a two-party consent state like California, where every party to a conversation must be aware of the recording for it to be legal. There are currently 12 states listed with two-party consent laws.
California case law has said that a sign in a place of business is consent, so I have a “Video & Audio Surveillance in Progress” sign on each window. I got them from Amazon. If anyone ever makes a comment about the flashing light, I tell them to look to their left or right to see the sign.
Can’t buy a dash cam right now but still want to protect yourself with audio and image recording? Check out Seam, an app for your phone that can record audio and images, plus keep you safe by connecting you to your emergency contacts. Read more about Seam here.
The Falcon Zero F360
After reviews like this one, the F360 has been the preferred camera for a lot of rideshare drivers, since it has two cameras. One of the biggest things that people like about this camera is that it clamps to your rearview mirror. This makes it very unobtrusive, and it also makes your rearview mirror slightly larger. Interestingly enough, this is also a minor downside to this camera, as you lose the ability to flip your rearview mirror into night mode to minimize the glare of headlights behind you.
It does offer night time recording on the internal camera if you put it in night mode, which activates four IR LEDs on one of the cameras. (I’m absent minded and didn’t think I would remember to put it in night mode, so I just leave it that way. I am unsure if this will wear out the LEDs) But the reality is that the image isn’t helped that much by the IR lights. I’ve found night footage from this camera to be all but useless. Consider these two screen captures from the camera.
Day mode at night
It supports 720p on both cameras, each of which claim to have a 120’ viewing angle. But this claim does not appear to be true. My headrests are 28” from the camera. With a 120’ angle and 28” of distance, the camera should be able to view an image roughly 96” wide, according to this calculator. But as you can see from the image below, the image is only 24” wide. (It’s hard to see, but it goes from just under 24” to just under 60” on the tape measure.) Feeding that into the same calculator tells me the viewing angle is actually only about 53’! Even if my measurements are a little off, that’s a long way from 120’.
This is not enough to get the entire front seat in the shot. This means the shot can include only the passenger and not the driver. Notice also due to the mounting position directly in the camera, it’s view of the rear passenger seat (where most passengers sit) is limited.
Storage on the The Falcon Zero F360
A 32GB SD card is included, which holds about 8 hours of recordings at 720P, which is a little less than one night’s driving for me. It doesn’t officially support a 64GB card, but I’ve used one for over a year without a problem. A 64GB card can hold 16 hours, so I don’t have to think about pulling a clip during the night if something weird happens.
The camera puts the footage of both cameras into a single frame, which could be helpful if you’re trying to coordinate footage of something that happened outside with something that was happening inside at the same time. However, since most things you want to grab off your dashcam happen either inside or outside, this “feature” is usually a major annoyance. It also stores the video in an AVI format that is not playable via standard MacOS tools, although it is playable with VNC. I believe this is a space saver trick, as I’ll cover later.
Finally, the camera comes with a 3.5” LCD screen that is usually off, but can be easily activated if you want to show people inside the car that there is a camera recording their activities. (I usually do it as a subtle hint to chill out.) The LCD screen can also be used to play back footage, such as showing something to a police officer, although the screen is really small for any decent viewing.
The Falcon Zero F360 is $149.95 at Amazon, including a 32GB SD card and everything you need to mount it in your car. That includes a USB cable sufficiently long enough to go all the way around your windshield, some little tabs to help secure it around the windshield, and a 3-port USB adapter for your cigarette lighter. I personally found the included windshield hooks insufficient, and ended up buying a pack of these, which were much better.
Vantrue N2 Pro
I’ve been looking for a replacement that would offer better nighttime coverage than the Falcon F360 After seeing a few online comments about the Vantrue N2 Pro, I decided to give it a try.
Vantrue has a number of dashcams, but they only have two dual-camera models. The N2 Dual Camera and the N2 Pro. They are alike in every respect, except the N2 Pro offers 1080P on the rear camera. As of this writing, the Dual Camera is $169.95 and the N2 Pro is only $149.98! (Normally, the n2 Pro is $199.). I purchased and reviewed the N2 Pro. The difference between them is the Pro supports 1080P on both cameras, where the N2 Dual Dash supports 720P.
After finding out the F360 had only a 53’ viewing angle, I wanted to test this camera’s actual viewing angle. As you can see in the screencap below, it had a 66” wide image at 24”. (I had to move the tape measure forward a bit to measure that wide.) This calculates to a 108” viewing angle. While this still seems short of the advertised 170’ angle, it is over twice the width of the F360 image. It is also clearly wide enough to get the whole car. Also note it gives a much better image of the rear passenger seat.
The following two images show the significant difference in the external camera as well.
Vantrue N2 Pro
The internal camera has four LEDs on it (like the F360), but these appear to be much stronger. Here is a screencap from the same time as the F360 screencap was taken.
You can see a significant difference between this image and the one from the F360.
The other thing I really like about this camera is how it automatically goes into night mode. I like that much better than having to remember to put it in night mode, or leave it in night mode all the time.
The camera comes with a suction cup mount designed to go on your windshield. I found myself missing the unobtrusive mount of the F360 on my dash, but I really liked the ability to mount it exactly where I would get the best coverage. For me, that was immediately to the left of the rearview mirror, which gives a much better view into the back seat passenger side than where the F360 gets, and (once I got used to it) doesn’t really obstruct my view of anything important.
One cool feature of this mount is that you can plug the power supply into the mount instead of the camera, which allows for easy mounting and dismounting of the camera without having to worry about plugging it in.
Like the F360, it automatically turns on when you turn your car on, and automatically turns off (after a delay) when you turn the car off. You can set that delay for up to five minutes. There is also an interesting motion activated parking function that automatically records if it detects motion in front of your car. For that to work, you have to connect it to a power source that is always on, which negates the previous feature of turning on the camera when you turn on the car.
It supports loop recording (like the F360), so older footage is automatically erased to make room for newer footage. But here’s where we have what some would consider a problem. The higher resolution on both cameras comes at a cost: a 64GB card only holds about seven hours of footage. (A 128GB card is not officially supported, but does work.) If I was a day-only driver, this would be a deal-breaker for me. As a mostly-night driver, I find myself choosing between 16 hours of essentially audio-only footage and 7-hours of footage I can actually see.
Storage on the Vantrue N2 Pro
One of the best thing I really like about this camera is that it stores each video as a separate file, meaning the front camera records to one file and the rear camera records to another file.It makes the videos so much easier to use.
In addition, it stores its videos in MP4 format, which has no problems playing on Mac or Windows. But since both use H.264 compression, I can’t figure out why one camera uses close to 3 times the space the other camera does. Going from 720P to 1080P should add about 30%-50% more, not 200% more. Now I’m curious about the 720P version; I wonder how big its files are, since it’s the same resolution as the F360.
There is another feature that is enabled by default that shortens your total recording time even more: a gravity sensor. If it detects what it considers to be an excessive G-Force event, it moves the current recording to an EVENT folder and locks it. While that might sound like a good idea, the default sensitivity setting is way too low, as it decided that I had 14 events in a single night of driving.
The manual says it will delete older files in the EVENT folder once it reaches 30% of the card’s capacity, but that means my card’s “real” recording time was about three hours instead of five. The best I can tell from reviewing the event clips is that it considered a few bumps in the road to be G-Force events, as there were no excessive stops or starts. I would therefore recommend changing the default setting from “Medium” to “Low,” or disabling this feature altogether, as it aggravates the biggest downside of this camera – lack of space.
There is an optional feature that I enabled by buying the $20 GPS attachment. It replaces the standard mount with a one with a small GPS device that then stores your GPS position and speed on all videos. This could be very useful to prove that you weren’t speeding, in case you got into an accident or were given a ticket. It would also show that you actually stopped at a stop sign, since the speed sensor would say 0 MPH. Here’s a screencap of what that looks like.
Yes, I know I forgot to set the date on the camera. Let that be a lesson to you.
Besides the space problem already mentioned, there are some things I didn’t like about this camera. The first is that the included LCD screen is 1.5”, which is considerably smaller than the 3.5” screen on the F360. Since the main thing I use it for is “hey, you’re being recorded,” it just doesn’t have the same impact as the 3.5” screen on the F360. It can also be used to playback footage, but the size of the screen makes it much less useful. But honestly, that’s just a nit.
It does not come with an SD card, and a decent 64GB SD card on Amazon is at least $20, so you need to add that to the price of the camera when comparing it to the F360. Having said that, the first thing I did with the F360 was buy a bigger card, so some may consider this a non-point.
Another thing I didn’t like about the camera is that the power supply that comes with the camera is hardwired into a cigarette lighter adapter. In addition, it is a 1 Amp port, which is not enough power to keep an iPhone charged while constantly using Uber, GPS and Spotify.
This means that you need to either buy a cigarette lighter[a] splitter, or buy a 2, 3, or 4-port USB adapter, plus a 10-ft Mini USB cable. (Yes, Mini USB, not Micro USB, for some reason.) So that will add another $10-$20 to the purchase price as well. It also doesn’t come with any clips to run the cable around the windshield, so the picture hanger tabs that are optional for the F360 are required for this camera.
Side-by-Side Comparison of the Falcon F360 and the VanTrue N2 Pro
Here’s all of these features in a table:
|Falcon F360||VanTrue N2 Pro|
|Add’l req’d items||$20 64GB SD Card
$10 4-port USB splitter
$10 10-ft Mini USB Cable
$12 (cable mgmt tabs)
|Optional accessories||$20 (64GB SD card)
$12 (cable mgmt tabs)
|$20 GPS Mount|
|Video Files||One file w/both videos||Each video separate file|
|Hours of Footage w/64 GB
w/64 GB card
|16||7 (disable EVENTS feature)|
|Viewing Angle||Clamed: 120’
|170’ (front camera)
Claimed: 140’ (rear camera)
|View of Rear Passenger||Limited||Good|
|Mount||Rear View Mirror||Suction Cup on Windshield|
|GPS & Speed on video||No||Yes, w/$20 option|
I’m very frustrated. The footage from the VanTrue N2 Pro camera is much nicer than the footage from the F360. Most importantly, it fits the entire interior of the car in the shot, and its automatic IR night mode actually helps. Conversely, the F360 shows only a portion of the front seat, and the rear passenger seat is partially blocked – and night footage is unusable. I also really like the GPS position and speed information that the N2 Dual Dash & N2 Pro puts on the recording if you buy the $20 GPS attachment. I could see it coming in very handy.
But only storing 7 hours of footage on a 64GB card is unacceptable, and I don’t know why it uses so much space. I’m wishing I had bought the N2 Dual Cam instead of the N2 Pro. Then I could compare apples to apples. Perhaps another article?
Drivers, what do you think about the Falcon vs. the VanTrue? What dash camera do you use? Do you enjoy reading dash cam reviews? Let us know in the comments!
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-Will @ RSG
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- Battle of the Dash Cams: VanTrue N2 Pro vs Falcon Zero F360 - May 7, 2018