VIOFO A129: first impressions, questions and suggestions for the future

Astrogator7

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mini-0803, mini-0805, viofo-a129
Hello everybody! For some reason formatting does not work, so i'll have to use **s ;)

I've read and followed DashCamTalk for 5+ years now. Purchased Mini-0803 based on DCT's review. Then upgraded to Mini-0805 and was quite happy for a long time.
A few months back 0805 started recording high-pitched whine over any audio, and while video is still acceptable, i was forced to look for a new dashcam solution.
I read a lot of articles and forum discussions about benefits of using supercaps instead of batteries for this particular application, so my mind was set: next one will use those!
So finally i bit the bullet and bought VIOFO A129 with GPS, and set it up on my windshield.

Now, i already had a 12-to-5V 3A power converter hardwired in the map-lights box in the roof, with a sticking out Micro-USB cable for 0803/0805. Was a bit suprised to find **a Mini-USB socket on A129, isn't that a step back**? But luckily enough since i soldered a standard USB Type A plug to the output of the converter, all i had to change is the OTG cable. Ok, that was easy.

Since i never intended to use Wi-Fi capabilities (*really, who watches dashcam videos on their phones*?? .. **while driving**???), my desired and used-to operation is to remove the TF card when needed (after a trip to be saved), copy files to a PC, and then put the card back..
It turns out (as i read DCT) Wi-Fi also eats up CPU, lowering bitrates, and adds a lot of heat.. Certainly not smth i'll be enabling for myself. Gotta believe that i'm not the only one, so **would it be possible to have a [cheaper?!] variant without Wi-Fi at all**?

I wanted to position the cam in the middle of the windshield (same as i had the Minis), so that captured video is symmetrical left-to-right. But the rear view mirror mount pushes A129 too far down, so i'm forced to put it on the side of the mount as close as possible to the middle. That leaves the only option - on the left, otherwise there will be no way to remove the TF card from the camera..
Ok, i picked the spot, stuck the base plate to the windshield, a little away from the mirror mount, so that camera may be removed..

Next i want to do a test drive. So i go get a TF card, pop it in .. and YELL and SWEAR!! Because *pushing the card in (against the internal spring) pops the dashcam off the base, and it falls down*! REALLY, @viofo ? Guys, how could you have missed **that**?!
If you are going to change one and only thing, **address mounting direction, so that dashcam slides and locks into the base vertically (forward) down**! Then TF card will be easy to pop in and out, and same for the cables on the other side..

Also even with the dashcam off its base it is quite a feat to pop the card out (and i don't have huge fingers), i'm forced to use fingernails. **How hard would it be to mount the TF socket in such a way that the card in 'inserted' position is sticking out 1-1.5mm from the case**?

Next are surprises with configuration.
Coming from battery-powered Minis there may be things that are harder to achieve on supercaps, like a *shutdown sound*. It doesn't need to be long, **it is nice to have a confirmation that dashcam was working during entire trip**! Startup sound also can be shortened, both can be just 3 notes in succession: going up on start and down on power off.

Boot delay, hmm.. I'm used to Minis *starting right away*. I read in https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/consensus-on-basic-settings-bitrate-loop-recording-wdr-exposure-g-sensor-etc.38412/ that it may be needed while power stabilizes, but *shouldn't the included power supply/ converter (which plugs into cig lighter 12V socket) do that*? Next, in latest Firmware (v.1.8, wow Viofo has just updated the page from "v.1.5", finally! :)) boot delay choices are: Off, 5sec, 10sec. So, i'm very surprised that when 'Off' is selected it still takes ~10 seconds from turning ignition key on to hearing the startup sound.. **How do i minimize that delay absolutely?**

I see a lot of threads going on about recording when the car is parked. I am specifically interested in capturing video and audio *while driving*. Therefore a lot of parking mode and time-lapse tuning is of no use to me.
Bitrate selection seems more to the point. But irrelevant of what i choose, High or Low, the recorded files have the same value - 20000 kb/s. Huh?
Next i'm expecting 60fps to produce files roughly twice as big as 30 fps, but that does not happen either.. *Confused*.
Proper date/time is picked up via GPS, but why should i set TZ (*esp. if DST is not automatic*)? Minis don't have a TZ setting, but always had correct time.. But GPS lock is acquired in 15 sec now (vs. 45 to a minute on Minis) - that's good!


I may not have all my ducks in a row; and since the cam has to be removed for changing settings (it sits behind the mirror with pretty much no way to access controls) i may mix up some expectations. I'd like to *set it and forget it*.

Original firmware (v.1.3) produced gaps in audio every 5.5 seconds, though video was flowing continuously. Flashed the official "v.1.5" (as it was labeled till yesterday), found that it actually is v.1.8 (yay! :)), discovered an "Off" choice for Boot delay - picked that (didn't help). But 1.8 does seam to resolve audio issue - thank you, @viofo !

Video quality is good, but so far i only have a few samples and of them only 1 or 2 in the evening (not at night yet). I flashed 'MOD-2Wi' (Med Sharpness) by @BCHobbyist , but have not had a chance to compare the results with official v.1.8 yet.

Noticed a hiccup with GPS Info: 'All' was chosen to be captured, but *none were present* in the first samples. I changed to 'Lat-Long only' - that worked. Back to 'All' - i think that did it, but need to double check.

I will continue adding more details as i learn A129; on many levels it seems to be a properly designed product that needs some fine tuning. I see a lot of potential in it and would love the opportunity to help improving it.
If anyone has answers to my puzzles, your replies are welcome! :)
 

SawMaster

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Welcome to DCT @Astrogator7 :)


I can't help much but wifi has become a near-necessity to sell new cam designs so it's going to be in almost all of them. It would cost more to market versions both ways. In the A129 wifi on reduces the recording bitrate so it's meant to be used with the wifi normally off anyway- use it only for downloading a clip or two if you wish.

I tend to agree on the SD cards in dashcams- having them flush with the case or lower makes it hard to manipulate them but everyone does it that way :( Also with you on having mounts made to hold when pushing on the card to insert or remove it. There are a few things like this where all cams might be improved but nobody is doing it- yet.

Phil
 

viofo

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Thanks for your details suggestion.

1. Mini USB is more popular on dash cams, most of dash cam still use MINI USB cable.
2. Wi-Fi is good for settings and downloading the video to the phone if you want to share. Most of the dash cams have low Wi-Fi speed. Our coming A129 Pro 4K version will have very fast download speed.
3. The 10seconds for power on the camera is due to need take some times for charging the supercapacitor. Different cameras have different power-on time, the A119 V3 is litter faster.
4. The low bitratre recording in parking mode is recording at 4Mb/s bitrate
5. We learned minor fault of pushing the mount while inserted the cards, no such issue in future new model.
 

RavenManiac

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Next i want to do a test drive. So i go get a TF card, pop it in .. and YELL and SWEAR!! Because *pushing the card in (against the internal spring) pops the dashcam off the base, and it falls down*! REALLY, @viofo ? Guys, how could you have missed **that**?!
If you are going to change one and only thing, **address mounting direction, so that dashcam slides and locks into the base vertically (forward) down**! Then TF card will be easy to pop in and out, and same for the cables on the other side..
Yes, I agree. This is dumb. The same thing almost happened to me.
 

Airborne

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A129
Thanks for your details suggestion.

1. Mini USB is more popular on dash cams, most of dash cam still use MINI USB cable.
2. Wi-Fi is good for settings and downloading the video to the phone if you want to share. Most of the dash cams have low Wi-Fi speed. Our coming A129 Pro 4K version will have very fast download speed.
3. The 10seconds for power on the camera is due to need take some times for charging the supercapacitor. Different cameras have different power-on time, the A119 V3 is litter faster.
4. The low bitratre recording in parking mode is recording at 4Mb/s bitrate
5. We learned minor fault of pushing the mount while inserted the cards, no such issue in future new model.
Is there a date set for the 4 K to come out?. This could be my first dashcam. I am reading tons of info and asking many questions, and the people on this forum have been great with me and one does appreciate this
 
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