A119 Mini 2 Test & Review PP

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Dash Cam
2024 Minimum Requirements: STARVIS 2 & HDR
How about a round of applause for @viofo? It looks like they’ve done it again. I started reviewing dash cams for Viofo June 14, 2022. In the past 11 months they’ve released the original A119 Mini, A229 Duo, A139 Pro, WM1, and now the A119 Mini 2. All of them in my opinion are “class leaders”, (except for the WM1 needs STARVIS 2, HDR, 60fps option, 5GHz Wi-Fi, and a stiffer mount / hinge). None the less 5 new models in 11 months sounds like a lot. Is this normal?

When I first learned of the Mini 2 I was excited to see if Viofo “fixed” my complaints & criticism of the original Mini. Audio volume level too low, heat dissipation issues, and lack of voice commands. Well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, and we even got a new STARTVIS 2 IMX675 image sensor all with a price increase of only $10. I received the Mini 2 5/5/23 so I’ve only been playing with it for a week. But so far I really like this thing. I like it better than my A139 Pro. So far the only negative issue I’ve found is it has the same audio volume level of the original mini, it’s just too darn low / quiet more on that later.

I don’t have the full specifications yet but compared to my original Mini, the Mini 2 has replaced the STARVIS 1 IMX335 with a STARVIS 2 IMX675, added voice commands, and installed a bigger heatsink for improved heat dissipation, more on that later with my fancy thermal imaging camera. The voice commands are a great improvement, especially for activating the Emergency Lock Button. I never liked the optional $20 Bluetooth Remote, mainly because of the added extra cost, but more importantly because of the added preventative maintenance like making sure it had a good battery at all times, and periodically testing it to make sure it hasn’t lost bluetooth connection. Now consumers can just bark; “LOCK VIDEO” and it works like magic.

I’ll be testing, and comparing the image quality against my original A119 Mini, and the A139 Pro because @Vortex Radar would say; “Why not?” lol
Here’s some photos of my test rig I slapped together with some leftover pieces of wood to get some preliminary test footage, (Mini 2 is in the middle).

Test Rig 1 .jpg
Test Rig 2 .jpg
Test Rig 3 .jpg
 
The first test I performed was to check the operating temperature of the Mini 2, and how it compared to my original Mini. I prepared the cameras by letting them get to normal operating temperature by running them in normal recording mode for 8 hours in my filming studio with an ambient temperature of 67℉ (20℃) and relative humidity at 55%. I used identical camera settings;
2560 x 1440 60fps
Bitrate: High
Normal Recording
Screen: Off
Wi-Fi: Off

It looks like the Mini 2 operates 19℉ (11℃) cooler than the original Mini. I think this is a big improvement in heat dissipation. It’s possible Viofo have tweaked the software to “under-drive” the camera to lower operating temperature by reducing bitrate, or some other trick. But based on my power consumption testing, and other observations like file size I’m going to say this is not the case, and we are still getting the “full performance” of the processor / camera. But, don’t take my word for it. I’m hoping @rcg530 has more insight on this subject. Here are two photos from my TOPDON TC004 Thermal Imaging Camera, and a slideshow I put together showing all four sides of the camera’s temperature measurements.

Original Mini
A119M Right .jpg
Mini 2
A119M 2 Right .jpg


A119 Mini Front: 132℉ / 55℃
A119 Mini 2 Front: 123℉ / 50℃

A119 Mini Right: 164℉ / 73℃
A119 Mini 2 Right: 145℉ / 62℃

A119 Mini Left: 141℉ / 60℃
A119 Mini 2 Left: 131℉ / 55℃

A119 Mini Back: 120℉ / 49℃
A119 Mini 2 Back: 108℉ / 42℃
 
I wanted to check lens focus, and FOV of the Mini 2. All three cameras, (Mini, Mini 2, and A139 Pro) have a listed specification FOV of 140° degrees. However I’m seeing they are all different with the Mini being the narrowest, the A139 Pro being the widest, and the Mini 2 somewhere in the middle. I haven't found a way to easily measure dash cam FOV yet. Ben Stein: “Anyone, Anyone?”

Based on these screenshots the Mini 2 & A139 Pro are in focus. However my original Mini has a “soft focus” issue on the left portion of the screen. You can really see the difference of the FOV of the 3 cameras on the outdoor screenshots.

A119 Mini - Indoor Focus & FOV Check .png
A119 Mini 2 - Indoor Focus & FOV Check .png
A139 Pro - Indoor Focus & FOV Check .png
A119 Mini - Outdoor Focus & FOV Check .png
A119 Mini 2 - Outdoor Focus & FOV Check .png
A139 Pro - Outdoor Focus & FOV Check .png
 
Next I wanted to compare low light capabilities of the Mini, Mini 2, and A139 Pro.
I do this with 4 brightness levels of lights.
1.) Six 4-foot shop lights on the ceiling of my 20’ x 20’ garage.
2.) Flashlight on HIGH setting.
3.) Flashlight on MEDIUM setting.
4.) Flashlight on LOW setting.
Here’s screenshots of each camera on the LOW flashlight setting. The Mini 2 has much better low light performance than the original Mini, and under these test conditions it even out performs the A139 Pro.

Mini .png
Mini 2 .png
A139 Pro .png

Here’s the video of me performing the test;
 
Here’s my silly HDR test with a flashlight.
It looks like the original Mini does the best at reading the license plate because it has the narrowest FOV, but the Mini 2 can also read the plate, and does a better job resolving the dark areas not illuminated by the flashlight. The Mini 2 also looks better than the A139 Pro under these test conditions.
 
Pretty much every dash cam I’ve ever tested looks good during the day. It’s the dark of night that “separates the men from the boys”. I wanted to check the readability of illuminated signs at night. This should also give a comparison of how well the HDR works on these three cameras.

In this screenshot the original Mini does the best at reading the words; “Wienershnitzel & tastee freez” however everything else that’s not illuminated appears very dark. The Mini 2 & A139 Pro do a much better overall job of resolving the dark areas. And the Mini 2 does the best at reading the window sign that says 5 Schnitzengruben for $8.95. Also take note of the FOV difference again.

Wiener Store 1 .png
Wiener Store 2 .png
Wiener Store 3 .png
 
OK, now what the heck is going on here? This is way above my pay grade, I don’t even know how to describe this. Calling all HDR experts. All I can say is this sign is hurting the A139 Pro the most. Lol

 
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A train crossing interrupted my moon gazing.
Also check out the file sizes of the three videos.
The original Mini is only 47.5 MB while the Mini 2 is maxed out at 216.7, and the A139 Pro is maxed out at 437 MB.
What gives?
File Size .png
 
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Here’s an audio test with the A229, A119 Mini 2, A119 Mini, WM1, and A139 Pro. The A229 by far has the best audio quality of any dash cam I’ve ever tested. Not only is it loud, but also clear. There is no static, or audio hiss. Both Mini’s have very, very low volume level, and it’s also accompanied with static & hiss. Even the WM1 sounds better. All cameras are using the built-in microphones, (the A229 & A139 Pro are not using the optional external mic).
 
The next four posts will be of these Gas Station price signs. Whenever I pass them in my car the recorded footage is always challenging to read so I wanted to see what they look like standing still. The reason I think they are challenging is because each numerical digit is made up of individual LED’s and they are super intense / bright. Whenever I post images of California gasoline price signs I always get State bashing comments, and rightly so. So if that’s you, I will give you my standard reply; “The reason gas is so expensive in California, is because all we all have jobs that pay $250K a year”. Just kidding. lol

The original Mini does the best at reading individual digits, but everything else not illuminated is very dark. You can’t even see the road in the background. The Mini 2 looks pretty darn good. And the A139 pro is overall the brightest, but looks a bit hazy.

Chevron Sign 1 .png
Chevron Sign 2 .png
Chevron Sign 3 .png
 
In this one the original Mini falls apart on anything not illuminated. The Mini 2 does a much better job overall. And the A139 Pro looks really bright.
76 1 .png
76 2 .png
76 3 .png
 
This is a traditional price sign that the station employee has to walk out, and change the price manually. The digits are much easier to read on all three cameras, but the original Mini is having a tough time with the road, and car in the background. The car almost looks black.

Arco Sign 1 .png
Arco Sign 2 .png
Arco Sign 3 .png
 
OK, now this one is interesting. The original Mini can only resolve the sign, and the gas pumps. The Mini 2 does a much better job, and the A139 Pro looks amazing.

Plaza 1 .png
Plaza 2 .png
Plaza 3 .png
 
For my last stationary screenshot I really like this one because it obviously shows the different FOV's of each camera, even though they all have a listed specification of
140° degrees. Original Mini is the narrowest, A139 Pro is the widest, Mini 2 is somewhere in between.

Chevron 1 .png
Chevron 2 .png
Chevron 3 .png
 
The winers,,,,, store front not that much difference between mini 1 and mini 2, but on the moon shot it is indeed night and day.

To me it look a little as if the A139pro are allowed to run a bit higher ISO and so a bit more noise in the image, as i recall ( dont put money on this ) the 4K sensor and the 1440p sensor, they have same pixel size, the 1080p starvis 2 only a couple micron larger.
 
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