Dash cams have grown immensely in popularity over the last few years, not just in the public and commercial sectors but also among regular consumer drivers.
They do a lot more than just record the road ahead of you — they provide valuable footage that can come in useful in case of an accident, to help fight insurance fraud, get out of a ticket, or even keep an eye on your vehicle for you when it is unattended.
Viofo is a company that specializes in action and dash camera design and development. Having been a reliable name among dash cam users for a decade, the company quickly emerged as an industry leader by introducing the first supercapacitor dash cam.
This outstanding company known as Viofo now offers a wide variety of dash cam models across various price points, some of which we will be looking at today.
We will go into an in-depth comparison of the feature sets, usability, performance, and overall quality of each of the models to help interested buyers make a choice.
Viofo offers several models across multiple price ranges that sport a healthy assortment of features, with each model tailored to suit the needs of a particular type of customer.
There are models for basic use that only feature front recording. Higher-end models can be purchased in front and rear, front and interior, and three-channel combinations where all three areas are recorded simultaneously.
The cheapest of the Viofo cameras under review, the A119 V3, is a budget option with support for front recording. It is a simple device that occupies very little space, but still includes a lot of extra features that you might not find in similarly priced models of other brands.
The A129 Plus Duo is the next higher-priced model, featuring high-resolution front and rear cameras and other advanced features. It is an upgraded version of the older, popular A129 model from the Viofo stable.
The A129 Pro Duo is Viofo’s premium front-and-rear dash cam, with stunning high-definition front and rear cameras and advanced features. If you are looking for exceptional video quality and safety features with no budget constraints, this should be your go-to choice.
The A139 is an older generation of products from Viofo with solid reliability and excellent performance. It comes in two flavors, the two-channel model which records the front and rear, and the three-channel variant which has front, rear, and internal recording cameras. If you need to record all three areas while driving, the A139 three-channel model is your only option out of the four.
Camera and Display
The camera is the most important part of a dash cam without question.
Dash cam footage is the most useful when it is clear, detailed, and high-resolution.
Fortunately, all four Viofo cameras under review feature excellent optics and do a commendable job of providing steady, detailed, and crisp footage. This is clearly a focus for the brand, even when it comes to their most budget offering, the A119 V3.
While small and feature-limited in certain ways, the budget A119 V3 is extremely capable and is even the recipient of some reviewers’ Budget Dash Cam of the Year Awards.
The main sensor doing the heavy lifting is a 5MP Sony STARVIS IMX335 sensor, used in many other dash cams and security cameras. This is coupled with a seven-element glass lens with an F1.6 aperture for a 140-degree wide viewing angle and quad-HD 2560 X 1600 resolution videos. The camera also has a vibrant 2-inch HD LCD display in the front.
The A129 Plus Duo uses the same IMX335 sensor for the front and a 2MP STARVIS IMX307 sensor for the rear camera. Both cameras are equipped with F1.8 lenses for a total FOV of 140 degrees in the front and 160 degrees in the rear.
The camera supports 1080p video from the rear sensor and 1440p from the front sensor, with the frame rate capped at 30FPS. A 2-inch HD LCD display nicely rounds out the package.
The A129 Pro Duo uses an 8MP IMX317 sensor in the front and a 2.13MP IMX291 sensor at the rear, coupled with F1.8 and F1.6 lenses. This gives it a FOV of 130 degrees at the front and 140 degrees at the rear.
The rear camera records 1080p video at 30FPS while the front can record 1440p up to 60FPS and 2160p at 30FPS. The unit also features a high-resolution 2-inch TFT display panel.
The A139 models both use Sony Exmor STARVIS sensors in all cameras, with the special feature being Super Night Vision which provides clear, detailed video recordings even in low light situations. The A139 three-channel model also has an interior camera fitted with a 6-element IR LED lamp, allowing it to record interior video even in total darkness.
The model supports 2K video for the front camera and full HD for the rear and interior cameras, with viewing angles of 140 degrees for the front, 170 degrees for the rear, and 170 degrees for the interior camera.
For improved, glare-free video recordings, all four models support CPL filters which are sold as an optional extra except for the A139 three-channel model, where the CPL filters are included.
Camera/Display Winner: A129 Pro Duo wins for the 4K video, but the A139 (3 channel version) wins if you need interior video as well
Power and Battery
The Viofo A129 Plus Duo, A129 Pro Duo, A119 v3, and A139 all use a supercapacitor instead of a battery.
Not only does this help remarkably reduce the size and weight of the dash cam and make it more discreet, but it also withstands overheating better than a lithium-ion battery would. Supercapacitors also have a longer life cycle and shorter charging time compared to regular batteries, boosting the durability and overall convenience of your dash cam.
While the cameras only record when they receive power from the car battery, they also support parking mode where you can record and use features like motion detection even when the car engine is off. To facilitate this, Viofo has ACC hardwire kits and fuse taps for sale as optional extras for all four models.
Power/Battery Winner: Tie (all have supercapacitors, which is a positive, but actual user feedback is lukewarm); each model requires a hardwire kit in order to record while the car is off.
All four camera models work with class 10 microSD cards, with a maximum supported capacity of 256GB.
However, the memory does not come included with the products. Customers can buy them straight from Viofo or use their favorite brands.
- Because these cameras all record in high resolution (1440p & 4K), a microSD card will fill up quickly. 4K cameras are quite demanding when it comes to storage. For our guide to the best micro SD cards for 4K recording, see here. (Remember that 256 GB is the largest card that is supported by Vantrue dash cams).
- The write-then-delete storage cycle of dash cams is very destructive to SD cards, so you want to purchase a high quality, “Endurance” micro SD. See here for our guide to the best micro SD cards for dash cams.
The A129 Plus Duo, A129 Pro Duo, and A139 models also come with integrated Wi-FI. You can use this along with the Viofo app on your phone not only to remote control your camera, but also to get a live view of the camera feed and even record and play back footage. This expands the storage capabilities significantly.
Storage Winner: Tie between A129 Plus Duo, Pro Duo, & A139 (A119 V3 doesn’t have WiFi); the A129 Pro Duo and A139 support 5.0GHz WiFi as well, but this shouldn’t make a big difference to most users.
All four Viofo cameras come with a bevy of convenient features that can really extend the functionality of the products.
The most significant among these is the parking mode. This provides added security while the vehicle is parked and the engine is turned off. Coupled with ACC kits that are sold separately, you can configure these cameras to record footage on impact detection or presence detection.
The cameras can also be set to capture timelapse images while being parked, or to switch to a low-resolution low-bitrate recording mode automatically to save on storage space.
Apart from the A119 V3, all other models can also support a Bluetooth remote control that can be used to operate the camera functions. This is an optional extra and sold separately.
Similarly, GPS functionality can be a crucial feature for dash cams. All four models have support for GPS logging and come with GPS mounts in the box. With the A119 V3, the A129 Plus Duo, and the A129 Pro Duo, the GPS module itself is sold separately as an optional extra. In the A139 models, the GPS module comes included in the box.
Audio recording is also integrated expertly into all four cameras. In relation to this, with the A139 models, customers have the option of recording clearer audio from a strategic location with the help of an external lavalier microphone which is sold separately. The A139 models also provide voice notifications, which can be instrumental in achieving hands-free use of the device.
While the A119 V3 and the A129 Plus Duo come integrated with single-channel Wi-Fi, the A129 Pro Duo and the A139 models feature dual-band Wi-Fi for better speed. The A139 also comes with an added convenient feature—a 300-degree rotatable lens for the front camera that gives you a range of options in terms of mounting points while being able to maintain an optimal viewing angle.
All four models also come with excellent mounting hardware and static stickers that help reduce vibration in the recordings while leaving no residue on the windshield when removed.
Features Winner: A129 Pro Duo, which has almost every feature you could ask for; the A139 also has some unique strengths
Installation & Set-Up
While the functionality, features, and performance of a dash cam are the critical deciding factors, it’s also essential to consider the installation process. A high-tech dash cam won’t do you much good if it’s too complicated to install and set up. Let’s delve into the installation and set-up process for these Viofo dash cam models.
Viofo dash cams come with clear instructions, and most users find the installation straightforward. A couple of considerations can make the process smoother:
- Decide on Placement: Before you start the installation, plan where you’ll place the dash cam. The front camera should ideally be placed in the middle of the windshield for the best field of view. For models with rear and interior cameras, like the A129 Plus Duo, A129 Pro Duo, and A139, you’ll also need to decide where to place these additional cameras for the best vantage points.
- Cable Management: These models come with long cables to power the cameras and connect them to each other. You’ll need to plan out your cable management, usually routing cables around the edges of your windshield and along your vehicle’s interior trim to keep things tidy and unobtrusive.
In terms of setup, all four models come with intuitive menu systems that guide you through the initial settings and preferences. You can adjust elements such as video resolution, recording length, date and time, and enable features like motion detection or parking mode.
Durability & Longevity
Given the investment in a dash cam, you would ideally want it to last as long as possible. In terms of durability and longevity, Viofo dash cams score high. They are designed to withstand a wide range of temperatures, making them suitable for use in almost any climate.
A significant factor contributing to their durability is the use of supercapacitors instead of traditional lithium-ion batteries. As explained earlier in the article, supercapacitors handle heat better, which is important as dash cams are often exposed to high temperatures, especially in summer months.
However, like any electronic device, the longevity of your dash cam will largely depend on how you treat it. Proper care can significantly extend its lifespan:
- Protect from Extreme Temperatures: While the dash cams are designed to withstand heat, it’s still recommended to protect them from extreme temperatures as much as possible. In hot climates, consider removing the dash cam when not in use or parking in the shade.
- Regular Maintenance: This includes regularly cleaning the lens for optimal video quality and updating the firmware as needed for better performance and new features.
- Use High-Quality SD Cards: Low-quality or incompatible SD cards can cause recording errors and may even damage the camera over time. Always opt for high-quality, class 10 microSD cards.
- Best SD Cards for Dash Cams
- Top Garmin Dash Cams
- Top Vantrue Dash Cams
- Garmin vs. Nextbase: Brand Comparison
- Garmin vs. Nexar: Brand Comparison
Viofo does an exceptional job at providing premium feature sets and quality at reasonable price points.
Each of the above dash cam models have something different to offer for unique use case scenarios. When choosing one for your vehicle, be sure to take an in-depth look at what each of these dash cams has to offer to ensure that you get maximum value out of your purchase.
When it comes to Viofo models, the biggest considerations should be the number/position of cameras, as well as the video resolution and budget-friendliness.
Do Viofo dash cameras drain car battery?
Viofo dash cams are designed to prevent battery drain, but some amount of battery drain is inevitable. When the engine is turned off, the dash cam enters parking mode and uses very little power. For extended parking mode use, you may want to consider using an external battery pack or hardwiring kit to avoid any risk of draining your car battery.
Can I view Viofo dash cam footage on my phone?
Yes, the A129 Plus Duo, A129 Pro Duo, and A139 models come with integrated Wi-Fi. You can use this along with the Viofo app on your phone to view live footage and play back recorded clips.
Can the Viofo dash cams record audio?
Yes, all four models support audio recording. This feature can be switched on or off according to your preference.
Are the Viofo dash cams compatible with all cars?
Yes, Viofo dash cams are compatible with virtually all cars. However, the length of the power and connection cables and the placement of the cameras may vary depending on your car’s size and design.
Can the Viofo dash cams record when the car is off?
Yes, all four models support parking mode which allows the dash cams to record and use features like motion detection even when the car engine is off. However, this requires a hardwire kit, sold separately.