VIOFO's A129 Duo

Harsh

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A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#1
05/01/2019

Six months on...

Video quality

Video quality has been good from day one, IMO video quality has looked better than the A119S since release.

Reliability

Parking Mode aside, no major issues to report, camera's been working as it should. Good to see reliable hardware and software from VIOFO.

New mount

Four points of contact work as intended, camera doesn’t jiggle or vibrate like with the A119 series mounts, still as snug as it was on day one.

New mount, new design...I think you guys got a little carried away. Not digging the mounting direction, should've left it like it's with the A119 series. LHD drivers can accidentally dislodge the camera from the mount while inserting the SD card and the same holds true for RHD drivers pulling on the rear camera cable. Happened to me twice while adjusting the cable for the rear camera, was on the road with the camera off as it had stopped making contact with the pins on the mount.

Ergonomics is a miss, very hard to mount the camera back at night if the mount is not visible, becomes quite a challenge to slot the camera back in. Touch and feel that works with the A119 series doesn’t fare as well here. Had to fire up the torch app on my phone a few times as it just wouldn’t slot in.

A129-2.png

New CPL

Fits and stays on better than the A119 series CPL. I use a finger tip to the CPL’s edge to raise or lower the lens, new CPL doesn’t unclip or slide accidentally while adjusting the angle. Still using the old version CPL for the rear.

A129-1.png

Parking Mode and hardwire kits

I’ve used a 2 wire (Vico-Power Plus) and the official 3 wire kit for Parking Mode. With the official 3 wire kit the camera uses ACC detection for switching to and from Parking Mode, with any 2 wire kit the camera relies on GPS and the G-sensor.

3rd party 2 wire kit

During the Beta stage there were some issues with switching to and from Parking Mode, camera would keep recording in Parking Mode even after the car moved. VIOFO took care of it by switching the 90 seconds duration it used to take for Parking Mode to kick in to 5 minutes. In my limited testing after the switch to 5 minutes, the '2 wire solution' works surprisingly well.

Official 3 wire kit

Contrary to what I expected, having a lot more issues with the 3 wire kit. Random bugs I've experienced since in use (been a month) -

1) Camera not powering up on starting the car or connecting the power cable.

2) Camera not powering up on starting the car if previously turned off via the Menu/Power button.

3) Camera turning off after recording for about a minute on reconnecting the power cable with the car off.

4) 30 seconds gap on switching from Parking Mode to normal recording as at times the camera reboots.

Not a bug but if you disconnect the power cable on exiting the car and then suddenly decide that Parking Mode should have been left on and go back and reconnect the cable, camera starts recording and keeps recording in normal mode, doesn't switch to Parking Mode. Looks like the 3 wire kit could also do with some help from the G-sensor and GPS.

First two directly affect general reliability, could end up driving around with the camera off, not good. Even with all the Beta testing, feels a little rushed. Also I'm getting a constant static whine in the audio with the 3 wire kit, quite noticeable in Parking Mode. For now at least, I'm switching back to the Vico-Power Plus.

Parking Mode options

Low-bitrate

Bitrate is 4Mbps.

For daytime use the lowered bitrate appears to be sufficient. Low-light not so much, loss of detail is quite evident. Advantage with low-bitrate is audio.

I suggest introducing a higher user selectable bitrate for low-bitrate mode, probably 8Mbps. I'm pretty fine with fitting only twice as much as when recording normally. Till then for night-time Parking Mode, at the expense of audio, my preference would be 5 or higher fps time-lapse.

Time-lapse

Tried 1 2 and 3fps briefly, gap between captured frames is a little too scattered for my liking, don't plan on using anything below 5fps. Bigger card and a higher fps setting would be a better approach.

Haven't tried Auto Event Detection and don't plan on doing so either. Uses motion-detection, which can lead to a lot of false positives and is proven to be unreliable.

App

Almost all settings available in the camera's menu are present in the app. All available settings in the iOS app work, including firmware upgrade. Couldn’t get firmware upgrade to work with my Moto G5S Plus, kept showing “Unable to connect to server, please disconnect the camera Wi-Fi connection and try again”, maybe not implemented yet. Overall the app works fine on both platforms.

Did another transfer speed test using the latest firmware and app, phone was kept two feet away from the camera/tablet. Durations are for three 3 minute files downloaded in a row.

Android

Untitled-3.jpg

Moto G5S Plus

Firmware version 1.5, App version - 2.7

2.4GHz - Scrubbing forward and back works without any buffering, quite snappy.

Transfer time - 2:08, 2:16 and 2:03.

5GHz - Keeps pausing in between to buffer on direct playback from the SD card. Scrubbing forward doesn’t freeze the video but still keeps buffering in between.

Transfer time - 1:31, 1:29 and 1:30.

iOS

Untitled-1.jpg


iPhone 6s (12.1.2)

Firmware 1.5, App version - 1.7.5

2.4GHz - Keeps pausing in between to buffer on direct playback from the SD card. Better to download the file to your phone .

Transfer time - 3:36, 3:33 and 3:50.

5GHz - Plays fine if I press play and leave it alone, if I scrub forward, sometimes it buffers and starts playing but mostly playback freezes.

Transfer time - 1:31, 1:29 and 1:30.

iPad Air (12.1.1)

Firmware 1.5, App version - 1.7.5

2.4GHz - Just like the iPhone direct playback keeps pausing to buffer and scrubbing forward freezes playback.

Transfer time -5:46, 5:17 and 5:28

5GHz - Buffers intermittently and eventually freezes on direct playback, scrubbing forward also freezes playback.

Transfer time -1:28 and 1:29 and 1:35.

Going by the transfer times for 2.4GHz with a very old iPad I was expecting transfer times for 5GHz also to be almost double but surprisingly they're consistent with the 6s.

Reduced key fob range

Range for me drops to about 10 feet. I know it's related the how close the rear camera cable is to the key fob sensor's location but since I mostly use the request sensor on the door handle, not going to bother rerouting the cable.

-----

What I'd like to see going forward

A V2 mount that accommodates the 3 wire Parking Mode kit. Probably asking too much but while you're at it, change the mounting direction as well. Keep the 4 points of contact for a snugger fit but go back to a downward mounting action.

A V2 hardwire kit with a switch to turn off Parking Mode. Since VicoVation has exited the dashcam game, I suggest developing a Parking Mode kit similar to the Vico-Power Plus. In addition to the features on the Vico I'd like to see an option to display the realtime current draw.

New cameras with more processing power. Most of you may not know that leaving the A129's Wi-Fi on while driving cuts the normal recording bitrate in half, goes down to 8Mbps. Things like halving the bitrate and longer than ideal gaps during switching to and from Parking Mode beg for better hardware.
 
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Harsh

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Dash Cam
A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#2
30/06/2018

Received a retail sample of the A129 Duo.

Specifications
  • Image Sensor - Sony STRAVIS IMX291
  • Chipset - Novatek NT96663
  • Lens Aperture - f/1.6 (7 elements glass lens)
  • Video Resolution - Dual-channel: 1920x1080p 30fps, Single-channel: 1920x1080p 30fps & 60fps, 1280x720 30fps & 60fps
  • Measurements - Front: 84mm(L)×55mm(W)×40mm(H), Rear: 53mm(L) x 31mm(W) x 50mm(H)
  • LCD Display - 2.0 inch HD LCD display
  • Sensors - G-Sensor & Motion Detection
  • Video Loop Mode - 1 Minute / 3 Minutes / 5 Minutes/ 10 Minutes
  • Wi-Fi - Built-in (802.11n 2.4GHz / 802.11ac 5GHz Dual band)
  • Bluetooth - Emergency file lock remote (optional)
  • Operating Temperature - 10℃ - 65℃
  • Storage Temperature - 20℃ - 70℃
  • Power - Super-capacitor
  • Input - DC5.0V/3.1A via Mini-USB
  • Microphone & Speaker - Built-in
  • Storage - Micro-SD (up to 256GB supported)
  • Video Out - MP4

Back in January I'd received an email with pictures of a 3D printed A129 prototype. Unit looked good but keeping in mind the V1 mount and ribbon cable issues with the A119S, main concern put forward was reliability. Other concerns were excessive white noise levels in the audio and the relatively narrow FOV on the S. Was told that they had already upgraded the ribbon cable for the A129 and were in the process of doing the same for the A119 series. For audio I was told that the microphone had been upgraded.

And compared to the A119 series, I do see a lot of improvements. Audio quality has improved, negligible white noise. Four points of contact for the mount provide a firmer fit. Shows VIOFO is listening and continually upgrading the design and components where necessary. Also the FOV is 5 degrees wider, which for my car provides a more symmetrical view.

Like
  • Video Quality - Good video quality, both day and night. Very good low-light performance.
  • Form factor - At the risk of sounding repetitive, love the wedge shaped design! Very discreet fitment behind the dotted frit, with just the lens peeking through clear glass below, camera is hardly visible from the outside.
  • Design - Nice job with the new design! Plastic quality is decent, no rough or unfinished edges, good finishing, looks and feels more than satisfactory for a budget dual-channel offering.
  • FOV - Field of view is just right, at least for my car. Covers exactly from where the A-pillars end, no wasted angle as experienced with wider lenses. The additional 5° makes a huge difference in getting symmetrical coverage in comparison to the A119S (V1).
  • Super-capacitor - Even though not mentioned on their product boxes anymore, living in Delhi where it's hot to superhot 9 out of 12 months, for me it's a pre-requisite.
  • Better shielding of components - Had a look inside, compared to the A119S (V1) and my A119 (V2), saw a lot more shielding tape on internal components and a shield box over the processor.
  • Audio - Not as loud as the A119 series but loud enough and clear. White noise is audible only if I have the volume on 100% and put my ear to the laptop's speaker. Good stuff!
  • Redesigned GPS mount - Four points of contact hold the camera firmly in place, no more jiggle or squeaks on nudging the camera while it's mounted.

Don't like
  • No dedicated power button/wake button - Even though the firmware version 1.11 addresses this by mapping the Menu button to turn the camera on or off...pressing the Menu button takes a photo, pressing 'Rec' stops an ongoing recording, pressing the emergency lock button (triangle) locks the ongoing recording, 'Mic' turns the microphone on/off and the PIP button changes the viewing mode, no option to simply wake the screen. Would've preferred a dedicated power/wake button.
  • LED indicator positioning - Should have been a little lower or above the screen. Can't see them by glancing over or under the IRVM, they're almost midway. How about a recording indicator LED on the rear camera that's visible in the rearview mirror?
  • Lens adjustment mechanism - Tightness of clicks varies on the tension of the spring inside and it can vary considerably from unit to unit. Maybe a stiffer spring(?) or something holding the lens + sensor assembly on the right, IDK, desperately needs an upgrade though.
 
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Harsh

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A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#3
Unboxing


Wi-Fi + App support




A129box-ed2.png

A129box-ed4.png

A129box-ed1.png

A129box-ed3.png

A129box-ed5.png

A129box-ed6.png

A129box-ed7.png

A129box-ed8.png

Package contents:
  1. Front camera
  2. Rear camera
  3. GPS mount (optional)
  4. Rear camera mount
  5. Rear camera cable (6 metres)
  6. Mini-USB power cable (4 metres)
  7. Dual USB car charger (3.1A)
  8. Short Mini-USB cable (30cm)
  9. Spare 3M adhesive tape for the mounts (2X)
  10. Cable management clips with 3M adhesive tape
  11. Pry tool
  12. User manual
 
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Harsh

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A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#4
Front camera (main unit)

A129-10243.png

Menu button, Record button, Emergency lock button, Microphone ON/OFF button and PIP view change button.

No Power button. Camera can be powered ON/OFF by long pressing the Menu button.

A129-10247.png

A129-10248.png

Mini USB (power), AV-out, Rear camera port.

A129-10246.png

Reset button, Micro-SD card slot, holes for the microphone.

A129-10245.png

A129-10244.png

A129-10249.png

A129-102410.png
 
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Harsh

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A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#7
Mounts

Front camera GPS mount and rear camera mount

A129-102451.png

A129-102431.png

A new contact mechanism to connect the GPS mount to the camera. Fixed prongs feel a lot sturdier than both the Pogo pins (V1) and the Spring action (V2) designs.The way the camera is held by the mount has also changed. The single T-shaped mounting slot seen on A119 series cameras has been replaced by four smaller L-shaped slots. Front camera slides into the mount sideways (right to left).

A129-102432.png

A129-102433.png

A129-102437.png

A129-102434.png

A129-102435.png

A129-102423.png

A129-102447.png

V1, V2 mounts for the A119/A119S and the new A129 mount

A129-102461.png
 
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Harsh

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#11
Audio test


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1jSr2yi2KSlNSj1fXiid8uRXEpbQcGsJw

Powered using a hardwire kit, car was off. Micro SD card in use - Samsung EVO Plus U3 128GB.

Similar to my SG9665GC V2, very little white noise. Audible only if I put my ear to the laptop's speaker with the volume at 100%.

Vibration test

Front


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qcwf8POozctmNFSS7maLnsnmoUMLaS8d

Rear


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Xx-KmTqlJ72LZXK020sPLBFTRabnihZS

Very little vibration with the volume up and the subwoofer on, noticeable when the car is stationary. Will try the EVA foam pad from the A119 series in the centre and see if it helps.

-----

Videos - WDR-Off

Bitrate - 16.48 Mbit/s (CBR) for both front and rear.

br-fr.png
br-r.png

list.png

With the current firmware, file sequence is buggy. Normally the front camera's file comes first (as it should) but sometimes the order gets reversed. For example, file numbers 145-148.
-----

Videos posted may suffer from artefacts/macro-blocking/pixelation due to Youtube's encoding. Download the RAW files linked below each video to view the original video quality.

F.W V. 1.11 - 1080p @ 30fps, Bitrate - High, WDR - Off, CPL - No.

Afternoon

Sunny

Front


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1SGiTz4DPtyEd5l4449LiXKED1HvBak3d

Rear


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ESf22rlvPHTBJV7mmgRAM2WNpKdH1Cef

Combined



Sun & clouds

Front


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-YBqiDrzMwrxFB6IgZBSSZbp1A64Y0bM

Rear


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1mjytatHGg0OMzlKAnz0isWPeoO1yX1o-

Combined

 
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Harsh

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Harsh

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Harsh

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A129 Duo, A119, Mobius, Mobius 2, Mobius Maxi
#16
Night

Streetlights

Front


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IQkoTtxkngSl7mKBd11oaxFkm6WA0IGc

Rear


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1noSenPmfewExKAS4CMYrWMdGLOdAx5VG

Combined



Market

Front


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1D1mTzOL-SoguKzI7N4d2pBLbaGKDWQ9B

Rear


https://drive.google.com/open?id=19NDJ9mxvEjDFOCv0asK15XeaORaSwPYF

Combined


Looks a little overexposed at night with WDR turned on, especially the image from the rear camera, needs tuning. Also there's a purple colour-cast in dark areas. That said if one uses Parking Mode at night, I'd keep it turned on (see below).

WDR - On and Off (Parked)

Front


Off - https://drive.google.com/open?id=112kXBODLZOfR-w1xjxi2w1_OLDJhBSOS

On - https://drive.google.com/open?id=12S6TXkECIxlC9Rl48kYE27JJFvhdgixz


Rear


Off - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gLWkFTnL--cIPyxAioaKmWP6zHiowG3h

On - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1dJ9aWFSblYcaucNEgCvZXPznNwDCY-4b
 
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kamkar1

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Lukas LK-7500G / Innovv C3 / mobius / G1W / SG9665GC & more
#18
I already found your unboxing video, the guy here that got his lukas stolen i have recommended to get a A 129
 

TonyM

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#19
@Harsh you have been very busy!

Thanks for assembling such a broad range of location and lighting in your sample videos, as usual.
 

Agie

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Too many to list here (psst, Viofo, Chupad, Xiaomi, Mini )
#20
great review, thinking about getting this model as an upgrade to the A119. anyone think its worth it? you go down in resolution but perhaps up in night-time video quality?
 
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