Nexar Beam dash cam review: image quality, features and price of compact dash cam rated

Ease of use and smart companion app are let down by mediocre footage from this HD recorder

(Photo: Nexar)(Photo: Nexar)
(Photo: Nexar)

Dash cams continue to be big business in the automotive accessory world, with a huge variety of brands - some major players, some relative unknowns - producing everything from basic £50 units to all-singing, all-dancing devices that cost north of £300. 

Among them, Nexar is a relatively small fish, producing just two dash cams as well as a comprehsive supporting app. We’ve previously tested the Nexar Pro, which includes an interior-facing camera, but the Beam is the brand’s entry-level single-lens option, priced from £135.

In the box along with the 6cmx5cmx2cm camera are the usual power cables, adaptor and fitting tools, along with a 32GB memory card, which can be upgraded to 64, 128 or even 256GB at considerable expense. 

Straight out of the box, the Beam is quite simply the easiest camera to install, connect and set up that we’ve tested. Unlike a lot of current dash cams, it comes with a suction cup mount that is easy to fit, remove and reposition. With tilt and twist adjustment, it’s a piece of cake to position and align perfectly - something that’s not always the case with other devices. 

Likewise, connecting the camera to the Nexar app is the matter of a minute, with clear instructions and an easy-to-use interface. Once connected, the app allows you to stream live footage from the camera - handy since there’s no viewing screen - and features tools that produce a drive map and associated video at the end of your drive. It also uploads any auto-detected incidents to a free cloud account and can help create an insurance report using all the footage and data captured by the device. 

Nexar Beam dash cam (Photo: Nexar)Nexar Beam dash cam (Photo: Nexar)
Nexar Beam dash cam (Photo: Nexar)

It’s a shame that the Beam’s brilliant user-friendliness isn’t matched by its image quality. In the right lighting conditions, the footage is acceptable and clear enough to use as evidence should you need it. But it never gets beyond acceptable, lacking the clarity and sharpness of other devices we’ve tested, even those with similar on-paper specifications or comparable prices. Very bright and very dark situations both catch it out. Overly sunny conditions leave it struggling with blown out footage which has a strangely disruptive effect on the clarity. A lack of light has the same effect, rendering night-time recording hit and miss when it comes to capturing important details. 

The Beam is undoubtedly one of the most straightforward and user-friendly dash cams we’ve tested, with a simple setup procedure and practical, adaptable mount. If you value that above ultimate image quality then it could be enough to make it a worthy choice. However, for similar money there are alternatives out there that might take longer to set up but will ultimately offer a better recording experience.