Who Is The Nexar Beam GPS-Enabled 1080p Dash Cam For?

  • The Nexar Beam dash cam is easy to set up and use
  • The Nexar Beam can save video clips to the cloud automatically in case of an accident
  • Clips from the Nexar Beam can be saved on the cloud for free, on a phone or on the dash cam itself
The Nexar Beam dash cam is easy to use and works fine, but its app could use some improvements

We've covered plenty of security cameras here at International Business Times, but they all have focused on providing security for either the inside or outside of a home or business. But what about security for other places, like a car? That's where dash cams come in, which can provide video footage of in front, behind or even inside of a car. Today we're looking at the Nexar Beam dash cam, which is all about providing footage of the road while driving.

WiFi-Heavy Setup Process

Setting up the Nexar Beam dash cam is a very straightforward process, though connecting the camera to a smartphone is a little more complicated. As far as the camera goes, all that's really needed is to attach the camera to the included suction cup mount, connect the power cable to the camera and the car, and mount the camera on a windshield. It's all very simple stuff, and Nexar even includes a USB car adapter for those who don't have built-in USB ports. The included power cable is also very long, making it easy to put the camera anywhere in a car.

The Nexar Beam, all hooked up and ready to go

As far as pairing the Nexar Beam with a phone, this involves WiFi. The Nexar Beam generates a very low WiFi connection that is used to link the camera to a smartphone. It took me a few minutes to get the camera linked to my phone, but once that connection was established, there weren't any other issues.

Once the Nexar Beam has been paired with a phone and mounted on a windshield, that's pretty much it for the actual device. Almost all of the Nexar Beam's usability comes from the Nexar app. The Beam dash cam can be turned on and off with the button on the side of the camera, and has an SD card slot on the side (with an included SD card, which is a nice touch), but that's basically it. The Beam camera itself is on the simpler side of things, but that is more than OK here. There's no need for complicated devices when those devices are used while driving.

The Beam dash cam is small enough to easily fit in my hand

This also means that the Nexar Beam is more or less useless without a paired smartphone. If someone doesn't have a phone they can't access the video feed from the camera, defeating the entire purpose of a dash cam. The phone also requires some hard drive space to be able to save clips.

App Highs And Lows

There are tons of features included in the Nexar app, but some are more important and useful than others. The most obvious is the large "Start drive" button, which is replaced by an "End drive" button once a drive has started. This begins the recording process.

A look at the Nexar app in action

Once a drive has started, there are dashes that can be found at the bottom of the video feed. These dashes aren't the most intuitive UI feature, but make sense once their purpose is revealed. If a user clicks on the dashes in front of the center circle, the Nexar app will make a clip based on the coming 40 seconds of video. If a user clicks the dashes behind the circle, the app creates a clip from the 40 seconds of video that were just recorded. It's a smart idea and makes perfect sense, but I wish the UI was a little more clear and the buttons were a little easier to push.

Thanks to the GPS features of the Nexar Beam, the app will create a whole slew of information based on a recently completed drive. This includes a map that traced where the drive went, the speed throughout the drive, and more. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to create an insurance report with the push of one button. This provides tons of information for insurance companies or police, including the location of an accident and a video clip of the time around the accident.

It's pretty cool to get so much data from your drives

Unfortunately, the Nexar app is a bit of a resource hog. To be able to upload clips to the cloud while driving, users need to allow for the use of their mobile data. All those clips getting uploaded is going to take a toll on a data plan, so those who don't have unlimited data may need to turn that feature off. This means clips aren't uploaded to the cloud until the user is back on a WiFi signal.

It's possible to run apps alongside the Nexar app, like a navigation or music streaming app. That said, even just running the Nexar app on a phone drains the battery pretty quickly. Using the Nexar app all but requires people to use a phone mount that can fit a charge cable, otherwise there would be no easy way to interact with the phone and it would run out of charge before a drive has finished. To make this a little easier, the included car adapter includes two USB ports so one can be used to power the Beam camera and the other can be used to keep the paired phone charged.

Clips include the video, time and location from where the video was taken

Needs Better Android Support

Unfortunately, I couldn't test out all of the features of the Nexar app. This is because many features are only available on iPhones, and I don't have access to one. While it is fairly standard for apps to have different features for iOS and Android versions, it feels like the Nexar app has locked away many more helpful features from Android devices than normal. For example, the Nexar app has turn-by-turn directions, and even includes images of the road ahead, but not for Android users. The Nexar website says this feature is coming soon, but didn't give any further details.

The Nexar app can immediately text emergency contacts in your phone if it detects there was an accident. Well, it will if you have an iPhone. Similarly, there is a group feature on the Nexar app that allows users to share their travel information with others, but only iPhone owners. Need assistance when remembering where you parked? The Nexar app can help there too, but again, not for those with Android phones. What's worse is that these features don't include the "coming soon to Android" text like the navigation feature. It's likely Android users will never get these benefits from Nexar, which is a bummer.

Does it really need to be that complicated for Android users?

Even the features that are included with the Nexar app on Android aren't exactly equal to the iOS version. Deleting saved video clips on iOS involves selecting the clip, then deleting it. It's all very straightforward. However, Android users cannot delete individual clips for some reason. Instead, Android users need to delete the entire drive that the clips were taken from, which removes all clips of the drive. There may be technical reasons that I'm not aware of as to why the iOS app seems to be so much more intuitive than the Android version, but it just seems odd.

Video Quality

All of these features mean nothing if the Nexar Beam's video feed is a mess, but thankfully the camera creates mostly high-resolution videos that are clear enough to be comprehensible. The camera feed did glitch out on me a few times across a relatively short drive, but these glitches only last for a second or two before the video clears back up.

A screenshot of the Nexar app when the video is looking good

The camera on the Nexar Beam also uses a wide-angle lens. This lens captures images at a whopping 135 degrees, making it easy for the camera to include the entire road in front of it. That does mean the sides of the video feed from the Nexar Beam are a little warped, but this doesn't impact image quality too much.

The image quality does glitch, but it fixes itself quickly enough

Interestingly, the Nexar Beam also records audio. However, since the camera is mounted inside of a car, the audio it captures is from inside the car as well. I'm not too sure how helpful audio from inside a car is when looking at footage of a crash, but the audio that was recorded was fairly quiet, so it isn't too much of an annoyance.

Final Thoughts

The Nexar Beam dash cam itself is easy to set up and use. The camera is pretty small and can easily be tucked behind a rearview mirror to get a good view of the road without distracting a driver. The included accessories, from the car adapter to power cable to SD card, are also very nice touches that help the Beam be even easier to get going.

The Nexar app, on the other hand, isn't quite as impressive. It's a bit of a resource hog and those with Android phones are left out on some of the cooler features. The good news here is that the Nexar app has the ability to improve with future updates, so hopefully Nexar can smooth out some of those rough edges.

The Nexar Beam is available right now on Amazon.