The common dash cam is slowly making its way in the mainstream world of acceptance and legality. Dash cams are now a commonplace not only in Russia, where 90% of cars are outfitted with a camera, but also on US and European roads. It's relatively easy to understand why: dash cams are fairly cheap, easy to use and their benefits are immediately clear. More and more brands offer cameras with improved video and audio quality, and more importantly, dash cam footage is now accepted and regularly used by both the police and court rooms across the world to prove the true nature of a traffic incident or fine. Add this to the fact that insurers are starting to pay attention, and the incentive has not only been born but also grown up to an extent that it is time to look into a decent camera at a favorable price tag.
To explain the VAVA Dash Cam story, we first need to open and read the VAVA website and the Kickstarter page covering VAVA's intention of developing a dash cam that should be the most versatile car dash camera yet. Built from the result of hundreds of conversations with drivers, the Americans decided to design a product that offers the everyday driver the ability to do and see more on the road – all while providing greater safety and ease of use.
To see what the result is, I decided to test and review a unit which I received at the end of last year. I took the dash cam out on the road to see how it performs. Drove a demanding route that included minor and major roads, plenty of junctions and a variety of traffic hazards both in town and on the highway. I had a closer look at the footage quality, including how clear and bright it is, and whether important details, such as number plates and street signs, can be read easily. Additionally, I looked into the ease of use of the camera, its accessories, the installation and the instruction manual is. You can read my findings below!
The VAVA dash cam landed on my desk without much expectation other than a decent interest of trying a brand new product and fitting a dash cam inside one of our Shmee150 test vehicles that pass our radar every month. This time it was a current Audi TT-RS that offered me the ability to test and review the new camera. The first step of the process was the installation of the camera and the unboxing of the package.
The VAVA dash cam comes in a black Apple-like box, which only includes the things you highly need. Once you remove the cover you are greeted by a little envelope nicely folded and holding the instruction manual. The manual provides all the explanation you require, although VAVA could have mentioned more clearly that a memory card is not included in the box. After removing the little envelope, you are presented by three little boxes nicely placed inside the package. Each of the boxes has a clear indication of what is in it.
The package includes a mount, camera, USB adapter, USB cable, and the Bluetooth remote button that takes snapshots. There is also a spudger tool in the box used for the installation of the cable and a number of sticky cable ties to fit the USB cable nicely behind the interior trim components. The installation in the car follows with ease. The mount and its suction cup are pretty decent and if you have a USB port you can charge the camera directly without using the USB adapter.
The Wi-Fi connection with the application, which you need to install on your smartphone proved to be a bit harder, but this was mostly because of a misalignment of software installed on the camera and the version of the Android application. Future models will not have this issue anymore. The app itself offers you the option to tweak specific settings, make photos and videos, or check the GPS trail recorded by the GPS incorporated in the USB cable.
The camera itself looks and feels like a thick hockey puck. The build quality of the camera is pretty decent and it is attached to the mount via a magnetic-coupling offering 360-degree rotation. The hardware set up includes a Sony IMX291 STARVIS CMOS sensor, enough battery power on board to capture in parking mode and a MicroSD on the rear which is placed behind a rubber cover that pops off. Two small little status lights are placed next to the slot. The red light indicates incident recording and things like a full memory card or an error, and the blue one shows that the camera is switched on and in normal operation.
The daily operation of the camera is quite straight-forward. The camera records continuously on a memory card larger than 16GB. It will overwrite older footage if you do not download the videos onto your phone or laptop in time. It will of course save videos you create manually in another folder on the card. You can start a video or make a photo using the Bluetooth remote or the smartphone app. The on-board G-sensor will initiate a recording if it detects a harsh movement like a crash, sudden braking or an unexpected impact to the car. You can alter the sensitivity of the G-sensor in the settings of the camera.
The video quality of the camera is excellent, especially if you look at the price tag at which it is being offered in the market. The video is recorded in 1080p HD at 60 FPS and with a 140-degree field of vision which covers five lanes. The daytime picture is a bit dark and sharp, but the details are clear and easily readable. At night time, the camera has an extremely clear picture as long as there is enough light near the car. On pitch black highways, the camera seems to struggle at getting a clear picture. Overall, the video and photos are on point and surprisingly good.
Two additional features which come in really handy are the strong 320mAh built-in battery, which allows the G-sensor to activate recordings in parking mode. The parking mode works for up to 30 days and offers you the option to record incidents when you as owner aren't near the car. Secondly, you can use the camera not only as a dash cam but also as a camera that records video or takes photos of you and your passengers on a road trip. Turn the camera 180 degrees and use the Bluetooth remote to make photos or 20 second videos of your friends.
In the space of a week of using the camera on-board the TT-RS, the camera became an essential tool in documenting my road travels across Europe. The camera proved to be a wonderful tool to record specific experiences on the road and look back at them a few hours later behind a laptop screen. The Vava Dash Cam is an absolute keeper, one that is a wonderful piece of kit that offers you, as a customer an excellent first step into world of dash cams and an easy-to-use expansion to your standard kit inside the cabin of a car. At a price tag of 129,99 USD, it is an absolute no-brainer when you need a dash cam.
For those of you interested, use this code: CARDVR24 for a discount and you only pay $95.99 on Amazon. VAVA shared that this promotion runs between 02/05/2018 8:00 AM PST and 03/05/2018 11:59 PM PST.
VAVA Dash Cam