REVIEW OF THE VIOFO A129 PRO DUO: TWO-CHANNEL 4K UHD GOODNESS
Viof’s A129 Pro Duo has to perform a certain level of optical and video processing, because this combined combined front / rear ($ 250 on Amazon) is almost perfect. As the 4K UHD is an upgrade with the Viofo A129 Duo (currently $ 169.90 on Amazon), the front video shows enough detail that I might think that the extra storage space that needs 4K UHD (four times 1080p) might really be worth it. The last video is one of the best 1080p I’ve seen. Throw away the integrated GPS, and this is probably the best clean combo combo front / rear we’ve tested yet. Let’s compare to the Nektbase 422GV or larger price-competitive brothers than the 322GV, which offer basically the same set of features. The main A129 Pro camera is also available separately (currently) $ 179.90 on Amazon .
This review is part of our ongoing review of the best dashes. Go there for information on competing products and how we test them.
DESIGN AND FEATURES
Viofo A129 Pro Duo consists of a main visible 4K UHD camera of 130 degrees (FOV) using Sony EXMOR IMKS317 sensor, and a rear camera of 140 degrees FOV 1080p (Sony EXMOR IMKS291) which is connected via a long and slightly thick cable. Both are adjustable only in the vertical plane, so careful alignment during installation is necessary for best results.
Which brings me to my only real and small problem with the A129 Pro Duo: The cameras don’t detach from their semi-permanent adhesive mounts. This is good for most users, but it’s a no-no in a convertible, like mine. Move, grab, and your top is destroyed and the moving strips disappear.
The main unit has a two-inch color screen with five navigation buttons below, including one for video recording in an emergency. The buttons are marked, and the menu is nicely organized and easy to navigate. On the right side of the main unit are the A / V output, USB power port and rear camera connector. On the left are the microphone, reset button and SD card slot.
The specified operating temperature range for the A120 Pro Duo is from +14 degrees to +140 degrees Fahrenheit. The capacitor will power the unit for approximately 5 seconds after removing the 12-volt. Since I’m paranoid, I’d rather last 10 to 15 seconds, but 5 will probably cover the most important actions after a stroke.
There is GPS in the vehicle, and unlike some other dashes I have seen recently, it will automatically set the date and time. Current date and time is a GPS feature and I’m not sure why some sellers don’t use it.
I’m pretty stupid with the whole 4K UHD cash cam concept, mainly because 2160p video requires almost 1GB of storage space every three minutes of video. That’s four times the 1080p requirement. You can shoot through a 32GB SD card in less than two hours at that speed, and under constant use, you can use up the SD card faster. Not only that, but a first look at 2160p videos from other dash cameras revealed only a minor detail for that 400 percent increase in memory needs.
Then I saw the front images of the A129 Pro Duo and thought about them. His shots show a large increase in detail without the use of a sharpening filter. Look at the license plate first and you’ll see what I mean. I still think most users would be better off with 1080p for everyday use, but for professionals who want to capture the small details, this camera is the real deal and 4K UHD is probably worth the extra cost.
The front shots of the A129 Duo Pro are very sharp and detailed, much more so than most 1080p models. This comes at the cost of a fourfold increase in storage needs.
As you can see above and below, the daily shots from both the front and rear cameras are superb. Note the details on the license plates.
In the last days of filming the A129, nothing can be ridiculed. 1080p and nice processing contribute to a better video from a front camera.
The night shots were also good, if not nearly as pretty as the daytime ones. There was a pronounced tendency for the throwers to block the details, as you can see in the front camera footage below. The license plate was easy to read with the naked eye.
Alas, turning on the headlights blew the details on the car license plates in front of me. The board was easy to read with the naked eye. Easy.
If the headlights are off, more details have been recorded, although this still does not meet the standards of today’s video. Alas, running with the headlights off is not part of the recipe for safe driving or legal.
Tweaking the headlights didn’t help that much with the license plate numbers in this situation in low light, though the overall details in the surrounding area are pretty good. The license plate was easily readable to the naked eye.
The last night shot looks better, but the flash is still visible in the street light, which was not nearly as bright as it seems. This is obviously the price you pay for capturing so much detail in darker areas, and a feature of the Sony EXMOR sensor.
In this particular case, the rear camera actually captured more detail of the license plate than the front camera. Street lighting that wasn’t in the center helped a bit. In general, you should relate to usable images from any camera when there is a decent amount of ambient light that is not a dead center in the frame.
Despite the problems with the torch, the night shots of the A129 Pro Duo are generally pretty good, especially for surveillance using the parking mode in the waking motion. Parking mode requires proper wiring or the use of an OBD-II power source.
DO YOU NEED TO BUY A VIOFO A129 PRO DUO?
The Viofo A129 Pro Duo is a 4K point camera that is easily recommended. You just won’t get more detailed daily videos from the front / rear combine harvester. Add integrated GPS, nice attention to the overall user experience, acceptable 12 volt uptime and that’s the whole package.
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