Nexar Beam GPS Dash Cam Review

Dash cameras, better known as dash cameras, have become staples in many cars these days, either as a built-in feature or as a third-party add-on. Although many of them look almost identical, there are a wide variety of brands and products that offer different sets of features that can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially when you see the attached price tag. Nexar’s latest Beam GPS Dash Cam seems to go in the opposite direction of simplicity, but does it cut off too much and end up being unusable? We took it for a test drive to find out, totally intended pun.

Design

The Nexar Beam GPS Dash Cam is downright basic when it comes to appearances, and belies the abilities it hides in plain sight. As far as dash cameras are concerned, there is practically nothing on the camera or the suction mount that holds the GPS unit. There isn’t even a screen on the camera unit, so you’ll have to rely on your smartphone if you want a real-time view of what you see.

The camera has just one button for power and a microSD card slot underneath. There are LED lights that serve as status indicators and a port that connects to the GPS module, and that’s it. It’s as simple as it sounds, and you won’t have to search for buttons or get lost in options – more or less a plug-and-forget affair.

The suction mount is quite sturdy and inspires confidence that the camera won’t shake while driving. There is a quick release mechanism to easily remove the camera in case you need to hide it from view. However, the GPS unit is permanently attached to that bracket and is the bridge between the camera and the USB power cable. Nexar ships a car charger with the Beam GPS Dash Cam camera that has two USB ports, something that will actually be a critical feature when using the dash cam.

Video output

Unlike other dash cameras, the Nexar Beam GPS does one thing and it does it extremely well. Like its design, it doesn’t have any weird features to get in the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It has automatic parking mode and will start recording when it detects the slightest impact, as long as the camera remains plugged in, of course.

The camera records video at 1080p 30fps, which is acceptable for the price of the dash cam. The video quality definitely makes up for it, producing a crisp and clear output with little shake even on rough roads. That impressive video quality applies even to nighttime videos despite not having a dedicated night vision mode.

The Beam GPS Dash Cam camera supports recording to a microSD card, and Nexar even includes a 32GB card in the box. That, however, is actually just a kind of backup of video images, especially when the camera cannot be connected to a smartphone. The Beam GPS by default immediately sends the recording to a connected smartphone, and that’s where the dash cam’s greatest strengths and weaknesses lie.

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Smartphone integration

The Nexar Beam GPS setup requires connection with a smartphone, as the camera itself has no screen or other buttons. The pairing process should be simple enough if you follow the path of the ad hoc Wi-Fi access point. Connecting via Bluetooth turned out to be more difficult and unstable, with occasional disconnections while in use.

The smartphone is where all the action happens, rather than fiddling with the few settings the camera has to offer. In addition to acting as a real-time monitor for the screenless camera, the app also houses the recorded images which are also transferred to the phone in real time. The application automatically organizes the videos and viewing them in the application also shows a map of the trip. You can also trim or extract parts of the video directly within the app. Overall, the way the dash cam and smartphone work is completely transparent, almost making you forget what’s going on in the background.

However, there are a few pitfalls to this near-perfect setup. One of the most important is the depletion of the battery of the smartphone due to this communication in real time with the camera. That’s what makes the Dual USB Car Charger more than just a generous gesture, but a necessity.

Since the camera and the smartphone mainly communicate via Wi-Fi, unless you use a less reliable Bluetooth connection, it means that the smartphone cannot connect to any other platform that uses an ad hoc wireless access point. , like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. You can of course disconnect the phone from the dash cam, and the Nexar Beam GPS will record directly to the microSD card anyway. That, however, means that you lose direct control of all camera functions.

Final thoughts

The Nexar Beam GPS Dash Cam is a simple and straightforward utility for keeping a journal of your travels, either for posterity or as evidence. While it may seem like a downside, the simplicity and ease of use are breaths of fresh air in a market that is being congested with sophisticated dash cameras. The video quality definitely makes it worth the $ 139.95 price, even if it maxes out at 1080p30.

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However, your dependence on a smartphone is both a blessing and a nightmare. While it eliminates the need to manually transfer footage off camera, it ironically makes things more complicated for those who use IVI systems like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto extensively. However, if you do not meet those criteria, the Nexar Beam GPS Dash Cam it’s a solid and reliable alternative that won’t break your bank account just to get good quality images.

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