Taxi / Uber Cameras - Viofo A129 IR and Blueskysea B2W Comparison

Nigel

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Taxi / Uber Cameras - Viofo A129 IR and Blueskysea B2W Comparison



Viofo and Blueskysea have both recently introduced new dashcams aimed at use in Taxi / Rideshare vehicles, although they can also be used in private vehicles as an alternative to dual front/rear cameras since they provide easier installation and provide more evidence since they cover the inside of the cabin and the view through the rear side windows as well as through the rear window.

Both cameras are dual channel and feature front facing and rear facing lenses designed for mounting at the front of the vehicle rather than on the rear window. As a result they can record the front view, driver, passengers, the view out of the rear and the view out of the rear side windows (when not blocked by a head) - a lot of evidence in the case of any disagreement. Of course there is less chance of successfully recording the number plate of the car behind than with a rear window mounted camera, the car behind needs to get quite close for that, plates can also be read through the side windows.

The lenses on the B2W can easily be rotated to point towards the driver's door to record conversations with police/customers/etc., while the A119 IR rear camera is a seperate unit so is far more flexible in it's positioning, it can even be mounted at the back of the car facing forwards to record the cabin from the rear, a long cable is provided for that purpose in addition to a short cable for mounting around the rear view mirror area.

The main features of these models are:

Viofo A119 IR
  • Channels: Dual channel video (Front + Cabin as seperate modules).
  • Resolution: 2K front + 2K cabin (1920x1080 FHD + 1920x1080 FHD).
  • Maximum Bitrate: 16+16 Mb/s.
  • Field of view: 140 degrees horizontal front, 160 degrees horizontal rear.
  • Horizontal lens adjustment: None, unless cabin unit is attached to rear view mirror or other adjustable mount.
  • Cabin Illumination: Infrared 850nm, with IR sensitive cabin camera.
  • IR-cut Filter: None.
  • Image Sensors: Sony IMX291 + Sony IMX291.
  • Parking Modes: Buffered Motion Detect, Timelapse, Low Bitrate.
  • WiFi: Yes.
  • Bluetooth Remote Control: Yes.
  • LCD Screen: 2"
  • GPS: Yes.
  • Hardwire Kit: Optional.
  • CPL Filter: Optional.
Blueskysea B2W
  • Channels: Dual channel video (Front and Cabin built into main unit).
  • Resolution: 2K front + 2K cabin (1920x1080 FHD + 1920x1080 FHD).
  • Maximum Bitrate: 16+8 Mb/s.
  • Field of view: 132 degrees horizontal.
  • Horizontal lens adjustment: Yes.
  • Cabin Illumination: Infrared 940nm, with IR sensitive cabin camera.
  • IR-cut Filter: Automatic|Manual
  • Image Sensors: Sony IMX307 + Sony IMX307.
  • Parking Modes: G-sensor triggered.
  • WiFi: Yes.
  • Bluetooth Remote Control: No.
  • LCD Screen: 2"
  • GPS: Optional.
  • Hardwire Kit: Optional.
  • CPL Filter: No
 
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Nigel

Nigel

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Cabin Camera
On the A129 IR, the second camera is a seperate unit on a short or long cable (both provided), this allows far more flexibility in the positioning of both the cabin lens and the main lens for a good view from each.

With the B2W, both lenses are attached to the main unit so the main unit needs to be positioned where it can see both forward and backwards. However installation is simpler, just one unit to stick to the glass, no need to run an extra cable or to find a mounting place for the rear camera. Since the lenses are mounted on the bottom of the main unit, the main unit can be hidden behind the rear view mirror if desired, with the lenses hanging just below the mirror so able to see underneath it, the small lenses are then not very visible. Alternatively it can be mounted to the passenger side of the rear view mirror in full view of the passengers as a warning that they are being recorded, it has a reasonably bright LCD screen to make that clear (can be turned off). You might also want to choose the position so that a lens can easily be rotated towards the driver's door to record conversations.

For those that are deciding between a cabin camera and a rear window camera, the advantages of the cabin camera over a rear camera are:

  • Can record the driver, giving proof that the driver was driving sensibly and not distracted by texting on a mobile phone etc.
  • Records the passengers, giving evidence of their behaviour.
  • Records through the windows what is happening behind and to the sides of the car (when not blocked by heads).
  • Easier installation - either integrated lenses, or just a short cable so that the camera can be stuck to the rear view mirror or other appropriate location.
The advantage of a rear camera is a much improved view out the back of the vehicle, allowing a greater chance of the number plates of the vehicle behind to be recorded, and possibly the face of the driver.

For many people thinking of installing a rear camera, a cabin camera is a good alternative with much easier installation.

Horizontal Lens Adjustment
The lenses on the B2W rotate horizontally, rotating a lens to point at the driver's window to record an interaction with police/customer/etc is very easy.

The A129 IR does not have any horizontal adjustment, unless you mount it on something adjustable. The rear view mirror is a good place to mount it that can easily be adjusted. The standard mount is for sticking to a flat surface and has no adjustment other than vertical, but it can of course be stuck to an adjustable mount.

Cabin Illumination
Both cameras have 4 infrared LEDs surrounding the lens which provide adequate illumination of the cabin even in complete darkness. Neither produces enough light for a really sharp image, unless the car's cabin lighting is also on, but there is plenty of light to see what is happening.

The B2W uses 940nm IR LEDs which are truly invisible, the A129 IR uses 850nm IR LEDs which have a faint red glow in the dark, which I quite like, maybe a useful reminder to passengers that they should behave, once they have been pointed out and they know what they are. Neither can be seen from outside the car, you need to look directly at the LEDs to see the faint red glow on the A129 IR lamps. When parked, they are bright enough to illuminate the number plate of the car parked behind sufficiently to be read, if it is in view.

For a camera to be able to see the infrared light, the normal IR-cut filter must be removed from the lens. The A129 IR has no IR-cut filter so it always sees IR light. When not using an IR-cut filter, the video is normally recorded in monochrome (Black and White), however the A129 IR does give the option to record the colour view. The colours could potentially be useful evidence, however including the IR light turns a lot of things a pink colour, they no longer look correct to human eyes. The B2W has a mechanical IR-cut filter that can be removed manually or automatically at night, it can record in monochrome at night and in normal colour during daylight.

Video Quality
There is not much difference in image quality. They are both the same resolution and have similar dynamic range. The A129 has slightly more sensitive image sensors and tends to have a slightly brighter image giving a little more detail in the shadows, there is not much difference.

Both cameras can become a little pixelated when at speed under trees, especially on the road surface, the A129 being a little better, but again it is not a big difference.

Both cameras do a decent job at night since they both have Sony Starvis sensors on both exterior and interior lenses. In low light conditions the A129 IR normally has a cleaner and brighter image, although not always.

Only the A129 IR has a CPL filter option to remove windscreen reflections, worth considering if you drive a vehicle with bad windscreen reflections.

Audio Quality
There is decent audio from both cameras, and both do much better than was available on previous generations of dashcam. Both are perfectly adequate for recording conversations within the car, or close to an open window. Volume is little higher on the A129, it seems to pick up external sounds from greater distances and with greater clarity which may be an advantage if there is an argument about what somebody said. The B2W sounds slightly muffled by comparison. It is not a huge difference, but is noticeable.

Resolution
Both cameras have the same resolution - Full HD 1080P 30fps for all lenses, and since the field of view is also similar, number plate readability is approximately the same.

Both cameras can also do 60fps if used as a single channel camera (no rear camera). I'm not sure what this feature is intended for though, if I wanted a single channel camera, I wouldn't buy a dual channel camera!

Bitrate
The bitrate is the amount of image information that is stored on the memory card each second, a higher bitrate means that more information is being stored, file sizes will be larger, and less minutes of video can be stored on the memory card. All video recordings are compressed to save space, the lower the bitrate the more compression is necessary and the more information is thrown away in order to fit the recording into the available bitrate.

At the maximum bitrate setting, the A129 IR has 16Mb/s on both channels. Not enough for perfection, but a perfectly acceptable bitrate for a 1080 resolution dashcam.

The B2W gives a choice of recording at 12Mb/s Front + 12Mb/s Rear or 16Mb/s Front + 8Mb/s Rear. Since most of the view inside the cabin doesn't change much over time, the cabin view doesn't require as much bitrate as the front view so the 16+8 combination gives better detail overall and not far from the detail of the A129 IR.

Even at the 16+12 setting, the B2W does seem to suffer more than the A129 IR from compression artefacts like pixelation when moving quickly under trees, however as a dashcam rather than a movie camera, a bit of pixelation isn't a problem, using the saved bitrate to ensure readable number plates is sensible. When driving in the city, the compression artefacts are always hard to see on both cameras.

Codecs
Both cameras record H264 video stored in a seperate .mp4 file for each view and split into short files of eg. 3 minutes (configurable setting) by the loop recording. Front and cabin files are synchronised so that sections of video are more easily found.

Single channel audio from the internal microphone is recorded in both front and cabin .mp4 files using an AAC codec.

This should make the video files viewable on almost any device, for example - phone | tablet | computer | TV, and at 1080 resolution and 16Mb/s maximum bitrate, it should not need a particularly fast device to play smoothly.

Field of View
The bigger the field of view, the more that can be seen, but also the less detail that can be see in individual objects. A number plate can be read further away with a narrow field of view, but only if it hasn't fallen off the side of the image because of the narrower field of view.

The specifications say: B2W front and cabin = 132°, A129 IR front = 140° and cabin = 160°.

However, that is the field of view of the lenses, not the image, and since they have different sensors the figures are not directly comparable. In reality there is not much difference between them, the rear camera on the A129 IR has a slightly wider field of view than the B2W rear camera, but a small change in positioning of the camera will have a bigger effect on what it can see, and the A129 IR rear camera is more flexible in its positioning since it is seperate to the main camera. The Front cameras have very similar field of view.

Bluetooth
The A129 has an optional Bluetooth remote control which can be mounted in a convenient location on your dashboard or steering wheel, and which locks the current video file and takes a snapshot when pressed.

Both cameras have buttons on the camera for locking the current file, however reaching up behind the rear view mirror to press buttons while driving is not very safe, with the remote control button you can keep your eyes on the road. There is no remote for the B2W, the lock button on the main camera is quite large and easy to find through feel though.
 
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Nigel

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WiFi
Used to connect to a mobile phone / tablet app. Allows for viewing recorded video, downloading video for archiving and sharing, viewing live video for camera alignment during setup, and provides access to configuration settings on a relatively large and easy to see screen.
Both cameras have WiFi and apps available that work well. The Viofo A129 IR uses Viofo's own app while the B2W uses the third party "Roadcam" app, both can perform all the important tasks.
Parking Mode
The A129 IR has a range of parking modes available, including Buffered Event Detection, Time-Lapse and Low Bitrate, with visual motion event detection and g-sensor available for locking of files on impact.
  • Buffered Event Detection: Records continuously to a buffer, writes the last N seconds and next N seconds to memory card when a motion or g-sensor event is detected.
    Good for using very little space on the memory card, but risks not detecting important events not heavy enough to trigger the g-sensor, such as keying of the paintwork.
  • Time-Lapse: Records continuously to memory card, but does so at a low frame rate, eg. 3fps, to fit many hours/days of video onto the memory card.
    Good for when you can't trust the event detection and want a continuous recording, however it may miss a number plate if the frame rate is too low.
  • Low Bitrate: Records continuously to memory card at normal frame rate but a low bitrate to fit many hours/days of video onto the memory card.
    Useful in a car park where not much is moving so little bitrate is required, not so good parked on a street with a lot of movement.
The B2W has a low power parking mode where it is in a sleep state until triggered by the g-sensor, it then wakes up and starts recording, although it will miss the first few seconds while it is waking up. This mode uses significantly less power than the A129 IR parking modes which avoids the car battery being emptied after a couple of days, however there is no guarantee that events will actually be recorded, or that it will wake up in time to catch the action.
For parking mode to work on the B2W requires the use of its hardwire kit to supply power from the car fuse box rather than using the accessory socket plug. The A129 IR parking modes operate with either power source, although switching parking mode on/off is a little quicker when using the hardwire kit since it switches when the ignition is turned on rather than when it detects sustained movement of the car.
Memory Card
Peak bitrate on the B2W using the highest bitrate setting is around 25 Mb/s (3.2MByte/s), a class 10 or U1 card is sufficient.
Peak bitrate on the A129 IR using the highest bitrate setting is around 36 Mb/s (4.5MByte/s), a class 10 or U1 card is sufficient.
For the A129 IR, I've been using the Viofo 128GB U3 MLC microSD card. MLC means high endurance and should have around 3x the lifetime of cheap memory cards.
Using H2testw for a speed test showed it running rock solid (very little speed variation) at:
Writing speed: 44.8 MByte/s
Reading speed: 80.6 MByte/s
H2testw v1.4



For the B2W, Blueskysea recommend: "using a Samsung Pro Endurance, Samsung Evo, or SanDisk Ultra A1 memory card.", these should all work well in either camera, I've been testing using a Samsung Evo U1 card with zero problems.
Power
Both cameras come with a 12V accessory socket plug, and can be used with an optional hardwire kit which allows the use of parking mode.
Power consumption when using optional hardwire kits:
B2W
  • 2.67W - Recording (screen off).
  • 0.20W - Parking mode.
  • 0.14W - Low voltage cut off.
A129 IR
  • 3.27W - Recording (screen off). Also buffered event detection and low bitrate parking modes.
  • 2.73W - Parking mode (Timelapse 3fps).
  • 0.18W - Parking mode (Off).
  • 0.00W - Low voltage cut off.
Only things to note in that list are that the B2W parking mode uses less than a 10th of the power of the A129 parking modes, but is also significantly less reliable at capturing useful video, and the low voltage cut off on the B2W does still use some power, though not a significant amount unless you are parking the vehicle up for the winter.
 
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Nigel

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Design / Style
These are two very different designs, the A129 fits into the car and is not very noticeable, easy to hide. Whereas the B2W is maybe more stylish and certainly more noticeable. It is obviously there to record.


Blueskysea B2W.


Viofo A129 IR Main Camera, and a strawberry for scale.


Viofo A129 IR Cabin Camera.

GPS
On the A129 IR, the GPS receiver is built into the windscreen mount, on the B2W it is an optional separate module with a cable to plug in to the main camera.

On both cameras the GPS receiver will record the speed, location, and accurate time on the video as an overlay and also as a GPS track within the file for display by dashcam viewer applications.

CPL Filter
For the A129 IR, there is an optional CPL filter available, there is no CPL filter available for the B2W.

The CPL filter removes windscreen reflections which can destroy the image quality. On some cars it is more beneficial than on others, for example my car has aluminium air vents which can cause bright reflections over the number plate of the car in front. The negative is that it removes half the light and so tends to double motion blur.

Hardwire Kit
Both cameras have an optional 3-wire hardwire kit available to provide power from the car fuse box instead of using the accessory socket and which enables use of parking mode.

Both will also cut off power if the car battery voltage gets below a set voltage, with a multi-position switch to set the cut-off voltage. There is a small difference in functionality - the B2W hardwire kit turns the power back on when the voltage returns to a good condition, the A129 IR hardwire kit turns the power back on when you turn the car ignition on.

Adhesive Mount
Both cameras come with an adhesive mount. The A129 IR mount is vibration free, contains the GPS receiver and is very easy for removal/replacement of the camera. The B2W mount is not as easy to mount the camera but still seems to work well.

Suction Cup Mount
The B2W comes with a suction cup for windscreen mounting in addition to the normal adhesive mount. So far mine has been reliable, hasn't fallen off and is reasonably easy to use. Like all suction cup mounts it does cause a little vibration in the image which can blur number plates a little. It also takes up some space and results in the camera being further from the windscreen, it is unlikely to fit behind the rear view mirror if mounted on the suction cup mount.

There is no suction cup mount available for the A129 IR, although its adhesive mount can be stuck to some 3rd party suction cup mounts.
 
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Nigel

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Frame Grabs
I'm using frame grabs to show image quality rather than video becasue it is much more likely that the images will be seen in full detail, without YouTube compression or incorrect decoding by the video player.

In the following images, the top half of the image is from the Viofo A129 IR and the bottom half from the Blueskysea B2W.

Most of these images are full (original) resolution but with only half the vertical height from each camera so that the two cameras can be easily compared on a normal sized monitor.

Note that in some of these images, the A129 IR is fitted with the optional CPL filter, which filters out windscreen reflections, but also removes half the light putting the A129 IR at a disadvantage for motion blur, especially in the dark.

Bright sunny conditions, stationary, train doing around 80 MPH. Not much difference between the cameras, except the B2W has used a bit more sharpening:

A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Bright conditions, moving 23 MPH, driving into the sunshine. Again not much difference, A129 IR appears to have less compression (see the field on the right which has more details). Both cameras suffering on the left from windscreen reflections of the dashboard, not a camera issue but would be helped with a CPL filter which neither had:

A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Bright conditions, under trees, moving 18 MPH. Again, not much difference. That was the best frame for number plate readability from both cameras, they are both struggling with the amount of detail with all the tree leaves, exposure is good from both:

A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Cloudy conditions and low light in early evening. The license plate on the far car is readable on both, with the A129 slightly more readable, on the near car the A129 IR has suffered from motion blur, not helped by the CPL filter which has removed all dashboard reflections from the A129 image. The A129 IR has a brighter image, allowing it to get more detail in the dark areas (look at the back of the door mirror on the right car) while also increasing motion blur, while the B2W has more detail in the bright areas (see the clouds in the distance). Note that both cameras caught the plate of both cars in a previous frame:

A129 IR + CPL filter top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Night time motion blur without CPL filters. These frames show that the motion blur on the two cameras at night time is almost identical.
Note that the A129 IR had entered low bitrate parking mode due to sitting still for some time, and not using the hardwire kit. This may have reduced image quality slightly, although it is hard to see. It does not affect the motion blur:

A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Night time under city lighting. These frames seem very similar in detail, except that the B2W has more windscreen reflections due to the CPL filter on the A129 IR, the B2W has given a darker image but with similar levels of detail, and the B2W has a bit more noise. Motion blur is about the same, even with the CPL filter on the A129 IR:

A129 IR + CPL filter top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Night time under city lighting. No CPL this time, less motion blur on the A129 IR, but not enough to make the number plate readable, the plate needs to be straight ahead to have low enough motion blur at night:
A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Rear cameras in daylight, note that the A129 IR camera is mounted further back in the car than the B2W, on the light cluster vs the windscreen, thus the B2W can see more of the front seats, while the A129 IR has a better view of the two rear seats, not blocked by the front seat headrest, and also a better view out of the rear side windows:


A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Rear cameras at night time, in the city, both in IR mode. The A129IR appears darker, but that means less risk of overexposure on bright areas, such as faces or number plates, the brightness is perfectly adequate. The A129 IR seems better focused for close items inside the cabin (see the stitching on the seats), while maintaining reasonable focus for the distance:



A129 IR top, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.

Rear cameras at night time, in proper countryside darkness, both in IR mode:


A129 IR, B2W bottom. Click to enlarge.
 
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Nigel

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Conclusion
These are both good dash cameras, image, audio and build quality is decent on both with the A129 IR slightly ahead, but the choice is going to come down to which features you prefer, and since many of the advantages are also disadvantages, depending on your preference, it is hard to decide which is best.

My choice would depend on if I wanted a camera that could easily be transferred between vehicles (B2W), or a permanent install (A129)

Advantages A129 IR
  1. Cabin camera separate - more flexible positioning.
  2. Choice of parking modes, including low bitrate and buffered.
  3. Slightly better video quality.
  4. Noticeably better audio quality.
  5. Wider field of view on cabin camera.
  6. Optional Bluetooth remote event button.
  7. More discrete (less obvious).
  8. Red glow from IR illumination LEDs.
Disadvantages A129 IR
  1. Separate cabin camera with extra wiring.
  2. No IR cut filter on cabin lens, resulting in either monochrome or incorrect colours
Advantages B2W
  1. Both cameras integrated into a single housing - easy instalation and trasfer between vehicles.
  2. Low power parking mode.
  3. More obvious - passengers will know they are being recorded.
  4. Invisible IR illumination.
  5. Automatic IR filter on cabin lens, resulting in correct daytime colour.
  6. Lenses have easy horizontal adjustment.
Disadvantages B2W
  1. Parking mode only starts recording several seconds after the event, and only if the g-sensor detects the event.
  2. Audio is not as clear.
Acknowledgements
Cameras supplied for review by Viofo (A129 IR) and Blueskysea (B2W).
All photos taken on a Gitup F1 Action Camera supplied by Gitup.
 

TonyM

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Design / Style
These are two very different designs, the A129 fits into the car and is not very noticeable, easy to hide. Whereas the B2W is maybe more stylish and certainly more noticeable. It is obviously there to record.
Instead of comparing the B2W to a cloud and the A129 to a strawberry, you could just show them side by side:

 

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@Nigel
Do you have WDR enabled on either or both cameras? I found WDR to be more useful on the B2W than the A129. I'll try to get a direct comparison to share later.

One thing I have not checked - is WDR applied to the interior camera too?
 
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@Nigel
Do you have WDR enabled on either or both cameras? I found WDR to be more useful on the B2W than the A129. I'll try to get a direct comparison to share later.

One thing I have not checked - is WDR applied to the interior camera too?
I used the defaults, WDR On for B2W and WDR Off for A129 IR.

WDR on the A129 has never been great, although that might change with new firmware. The Off setting seems to be close to the B2W's On setting anyway.
On the B2W WDR works well, and I prefer it to the high contrast you get with it off. Some people will prefer off though, maybe depending on their monitor contrast.

Not sure about the interior camera, it uses different exposure to the exterior so that the view through the windows is not always overexposed, I've not noticed a difference with WDR On/Off, I suspect it uses a stronger WDR setting than the exterior and is always set to strong.
 
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I'll try to get a direct comparison to share later.
If you are posting on this thread, let's keep it to frame grabs rather than video, easier to compare the detail, plenty of videos elsewhere.
 
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