Dash cam

The Nexar Beam GPS on-board camera is simple and discreet

Dash cameras have become an important part of automobiles these days, but there are so many to choose from. I tested the Nexar Beam dash cam which uses a unique method to transfer your video files from the Beam to your smartphone or computer.

Nexar Beam GPS on-board camera. Photo Nexar

The Nexar Beam has a minimalist design that features a large protruding camera on the front and no buttons barring the power button on the side. There’s also no display which might seem odd, but there’s no need due to the way the Nexar app combines with the dash cam to view and store footage. There’s no onboard storage, but it does come with a 32GB microSD card that fits into a slot on the same side as the power button (64GB, 128GB, or 256GB cards available at point of purchase). On top of that, there’s a vent on the side, a few status lights on the back, a few status lights on the front, a reset pinhole on the bottom, and then a mini-port. USB for power and a special slot where the camera connects to the suction cup mount.

The mount also includes GPS electronics that connect to the main camera via a short, built-in mini USB cable. The stand includes a mini-USB socket where power comes from a long cable with mini-USB on one side and standard USB-A on the other. A 12V dual USB-A plug adapter is also included for power.

Features

Nexar Beam has a parking mode.  Photo Nexar
Nexar Beam has a parking mode. Photo Nexar

Since there is no display or buttons to control the dash cam, you need to install the free Nexam app. When you first open the app, it will walk you through the steps to connect your phone to the Beam using direct WiFi. I was impressed with how Nexar uses simple instructions to make the process easy.

There is also a parking mode that triggers when the vehicle is turned off but the camera is still connected to power. This stops the camera recording, but it will start recording again if an incident is detected. This is an essential feature that will register someone hitting your vehicle while it is parked and get their registration number.

Nexar Beam comes with free and unlimited cloud storage.
Nexar Beam comes with free and unlimited cloud storage.

For those with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, it’s worth noting that you won’t be able to connect to your car and use the Beam at the same time. However, like most other dash cams, you can still record to the microSD card. Video footage can then be transferred to your phone or copied to a computer or tablet. One hour of video will take up to 1TB of storage on your phone.

You can allow the Nexar app to use 20%, 50% or 70% of your phone’s available storage and Nexar provides unlimited free cloud storage for images taken by its dash cam which is a nice bonus not offered by other brands of dash cams.

I did all my testing on an iPhone and the app also offers support for Siri Shortcuts where you can ask Siri to “start a drive” or “where did I park”.

Once set up and linked to your phone, each time you start your vehicle, Nexar will activate a notification on your phone that says “Tap to drive there with Nexar”. This will then launch the app and display a live view of the camera video along with a map view. You can use it to navigate to a specific location. So rather than a small, low-res dash cam screen, you get a large, high-res smartphone screen with live view and map navigation. The screen will also show your ETA, remaining distance to go and elapsed time.

Nexar Beam has Full HD resolution.
Nexar Beam has Full HD resolution.

If you don’t want to stream video to your phone, you can turn it off, then the footage will be saved to the microSD card. When steam streaming is enabled, images are temporarily saved to the card and then transferred to the phone memory in the background. Again, Nexar simplifies all of these tasks to make them as seamless and easy as possible.

Video quality

Nexar Beam can record your rides in a time-lapse video clip.
Nexar Beam can record your rides in a time-lapse video clip.

The Nexar shoots in Full HD 1080p resolution and 30fps and while you can buy dash cams with up to 4K video, including an upcoming offering from Nexar, the Beam captures images with balanced exposure and good details. Audio recording is optional and is disabled by default.

Potential hits are automatically kept separate from recorded video, which can be edited and saved in portions. When the dash cam identifies a collision or hard braking, these are recorded.

A really cool feature is the ability to save recorded video of a trip as a timelapse movie.

Verdict

The Nexar Beam is an incredibly simple system. You get a simple, unobtrusive dash cam that connects seamlessly to your smartphone and automatically saves footage for easy access. The video quality is quite good and the pros and features far outweigh the cons.

At the price of 139 € (recommended retail price) at Nexar