Review: Viofo A129 Plus Duo Dash Cam

If you drive a car, you need a dash cam. I say that because I have first hand experience as to how valuable they are. In 2018 I was hit from behind on the Gardner Expressway in Toronto at highway speed. And the dash cam that I had installed at the time which did have front and rear recording not only captured the accident, but it also captured that the woman who hit me from behind was texting on her cell phone when she hit me. She denied this to the police but the video that I handed over to the police showed otherwise. Thus she was charged with dangerous driving and eventually pled guilty to careless driving in a plea deal. Thus when I needed to replace that dash cam as it was starting to become flaky, I wanted to upgrade my setup to something that produced even clearer video than what I had before. What I settled on was the Viofo A129 Plus Duo Dash Cam. Which comes with all of this:

In short, you get the front and rear cameras, all the cables, a lot of 3M tape to mount the cameras along with clips to route cables, a pry tool to help with the install, a USB to 12V plug to power the setup, and even a microSD card reader with an extra USB cable. The one thing that I will note about all the cables that come with this camera are Mini USB. While I would have liked to see USB-C everything rather than Mini USB everything, I get it. Mini USB is cheap and proven.

Setting this up does require some planning. Starting with mounting the cameras and figuring out where to run the cables so that they are out of sight. I’ll get to the camera part in a second. But In my case, I was able to run them between interior trim pieces and weatherstripping to get them out of sight. And what few cables that I did have to run in plain sight, I used black duct tape to cover them up on black trim pieces as duct tape solves all problems, or ran them in a way that was neat and tidy if they were on lighter colour trim pieces. The result was a pretty clean install that took about two hours.

Now about mounting the cameras. I did some test mounting of the front camera and found that to get the right angle to read license plates. I originally mounted that camera just slightly right of centre and just behind the drivers side mirror as that seemed to produce the best results, but as you will see in some of the test footage that I captured, there is a black silkscreen that is on the windshield of my SUV (presumably to cut down on glare) that obscured the top left side of the image. Thus I later moved the front camera to a slightly lower location to get better visibility. The back camera was a total non issue.

Let’s walk through the system now that I hooked everything up:

The front camera attaches to the windshield via 3M tape which isn’t going to come off easily. Though it does come with two strips of static film for a less semi-permanent solution if that’s your use case. Regardless, you should make sure that you have it in the right place before putting it on the windshield. Otherwise moving it will be a bit of a challenge as I discovered. It has a 2″ LCD screen that you can leave on, or have it turn off after a pre-determined amount of time. I chose the former. There are also buttons to control the camera’s functions. The camera is pretty small and will likely not attract any attention.

The rear camera is also attached via 3M tape. So my advice for the front camera applies here as well. One thing to note is that both cameras have the ability to tilt so you can get the exact view that you want. This camera is also small and won’t attract any attention.

Both cameras are powered from this 12V to USB adapter which happens to have a second USB port so that you can charge a phone if you need to. It has a green glow around it when it’s getting power.

Now let’s talk about specs:

  • Front camera: Maximum resolution of 1440P 60fps (though it defaults to 1440P 30fps) from a Sony 5MP Sensor
  • Rear camera: Maximum resolution of 1080P 30fps from a Sony STARVIS IMX291 image sensor
  • Both cameras have a 140° field of vision
  • Both cameras are capable of high dynamic range video recordings
  • You can connect the camera to the Viofo app for iOS and Android as the camera has built in WiFi
  • The camera supports up to a 256 GB microSD card for storage which is NOT included. I used this 128 GB SD card that the company recommends.
  • The camera has GPS so that you can show your speed, co-ordinates or both in the video (It defaults to speed).
  • Built in “super capacitor” that allows the parking mode functions to work by storing a small amount of power like a battery. There’s a hard wiring kit that you can get if you want to stretch that out as it wires the camera to the electrical system of the car.
  • The camera has 3 parking modes:
    • Auto Event Detection will automatically start recording once any event is detected. As in someone hitting you in a parking lot for example. This is how I have it set up.
    • Time Lapse continuously records a video at low frames like 1/2/3/5/10/15 fps.
    • Low Bitrate keeps recording continuously in mini file size, reduce a little video quality will help to save card space and can record longer time in parking mode.
  • The camera will record interior audio
  • It supports a Bluetooth remote control to allow you to quickly lock video from being erased.
  • The camera can be updated via firmware updates from Viofo

That is a pretty good suite of features. But how does it perform? Here’s a bunch of test footage that you can review. I’ll start with this clip from highway 401 just east of Toronto where the camera captured two idiots in high performance cars racing each other. I used iMovie to edit the rear and front videos together to illustrate the situation that my wife and I found ourselves in. I also deleted the audio as there was some language that was not suitable for all audiences:

If you slow the video down, it is possible to find frames where you can see the plate numbers of these two douchebags. Though I will note that it’s more difficult to do this at the edges of the field of view. But fortunately for me, I didn’t have to go through that exercise as a few kilometres down the road, the Ontario Provincial Police pulled over the grey Mercedes Benz in this video. And I am guessing that he will be charged with Stunt Driving which has a mandatory license suspension, mandatory roadside car seizure, and up to a $10,000 fine that comes with the charge.

Sucks to be him.

The one thing that you will notice from the front video is that there is a fair amount of glare and reflection. To address that, I got the polarizing lens from Viofo which works like a pair of polarizing sunglasses. Here’s the net result. And I included the audio this time so that you can hear how well the camera captures the audio:

While it wasn’t a super sunny day like the first example, there was a whole lot less glare. I can get a polarizing lens for the rear camera as well, but I am going to see what the quality of the video is like over a longer term before I make the call on that. You’ll also note that when I drove by the scene of an accident which was on the left hand side of the video, I said “wow” and you could clearly hear every bump and all the road noise. Finally, you can see the speed that I was doing at the bottom of the video. I did some testing and it matched my speedometer perfectly.

I did another test to see what the colours that the camera could capture as I had high dynamic range turned on.

The quality of the colours is great as far as I am concerned.

Finally, I did a night test to see what the front and rear cameras saw. I stitched together the front and rear camera to give you this video:

While there was a reflection from my head unit, the quality is good and you can clearly see everything. The rear camera also has no issues except for the fact that the glass is dirty.

If you ever get into an accident, you can hit the button with the triangle and exclamation mark to lock the video that is currently being recorded from being erased. It also will auto lock the currently recording video if the G-Sensor that the camera has detect an impact. I point this out because the camera is designed to erase the oldest recordings that are not locked to ensure that it is always able to record. That’s the main reason why I went with a 128 GB microSD card as that will allow me to have enough space in the event that I record something interesting without knowing it at the time, and I need to go back and (hopefully) find it.

The camera has the ability to connect to it via WiFi using their app so that you can download video, do live monitoring, and set options. And you can leave WiFi on or turn it on and off as needed. I am using the latter use case as I set up the camera and haven’t touched it since. Not to mention that it’s way easier for me to pop out a microSD card to get footage off of it than to do it over WiFi. Especially since Viofo gives you an microSD card reader in the box, which in my case is sitting in the glove box of my car should I need it. And it also helps that I keep a spare microSD card in the car should the need arise to hand over some footage and I don’t have a computer handy to copy the footage onto.

Pro Tip: You should instantly update the camera to version 1.8 of their firmware before you install it. It makes the camera perfectly usable as it came out of the box with version 1.5 which was made the camera borderline unusable as the camera did all sorts of weird things when buttons were pressed.

Gripes? The main one that I have is the fact that it takes up to 15 seconds to power up after you start up your car. So if you want to make sure you capture everything, you have to sit there until the camera is live. That’s a tad bit annoying. Another annoyance is that you have to monkey with the time zone to make sure that you have accurate time as this camera does not take daylight saving time into account. I have seen competing cameras do that without issue. Thus that’s a bit of a #fail as well.

So, what did this set up cost me? Here’s the list and all the pricing is from Amazon and is in Canadian dollars:

  • Viofo A129 Plus Duo Dash Cam: $229.95
  • Viofo Circular Polarizing Lens: $29.90
  • Sandisk 128GB High Endurance microSD Card: $23.49

The Viofo A129 Plus Duo Dash Cam is a great camera for someone who wants front and rear recording capabilities. The quality is good in the conditions that I tested it in, which gives me confidence in being able to recommend it to you as I believe that everybody who drives a car should have a dash cam to protect themselves. Just plan out your install and you should be good to go.

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