I see more people using dash cams than ever before and not just in taxis. I’ve been testing a relatively inexpensive dash cam for the last couple of weeks and although you can get cheaper, the Viofo A119 offers a lot of high-end features in a small and relatively discreet package.
The single most important feature of any dash cam is the video quality — there’s no point in having a load of bells and whistles if you can’t make out registration numbers.
This is where the A119 V3 excels in both night and day time recording.
It can capture video in resolutions of 2560x1600p /2560 x 1400p at 30fps with a 140-degree field of view. You can also record video at resolutions of 1920x1080p at either 30fps or 60fps and 1280x720p at 120fps.
The unit I received came with a GPS module and a fixed mounting system instead of a suction cup design however, you can buy this as an option separately.
The mount sticks to the windscreen with special adhesive tape — you also get some spare tape in the box as well as a couple of non-GPS mounts. This mounting method allows for easy unplugging of the dash cam from the GPS module if required.
The menu system is very easy to use via the back/rec, menu, mic/forward buttons as well as a centre button that acts as an enter button.
I love the simplicity of the layout and ease of use. If you want to protect a video from being overwritten that’s currently being recorded, simply press the enter button.
The 2-inch non-touchscreen is more than adequate for checking video playback and audio files or for navigating the logical menu system and you can set it to automatically turn off the screen while driving. I found this is particularly useful when driving at night.
The A119 V3 uses an MP IMX355 Sony Starvis sensor and F1.6 7G lens that can only be moved vertically, but I didn’t have any problems getting a good viewing position.
Video quality is excellent overall and especially during the day. However, at night it can be impossible to see number plates of cars coming towards you because the lights blow out that part of the picture.
The high-resolution sensor produces a sharp, detailed video with good colour reproduction that makes it easy to read number plates as long as they’re not too far away.
The A119 V3 also features a parking mode function with three options available; Auto Event Detection, Time Lapse and Low Bitrate Recording.
When Auto Event Detection is selected, buffered parking mode function will work automatically when an event is detected to record video 15 seconds before the event and 30 seconds after the event.
The Time Lapse function can record from 1fps up to 10fps compressed into a long file in a low bit rate to save on storage space.
There is a catch though. Unless your car provides continuous power to the 12v socket or the car’s USB port, you’ll have to buy an optional HK3 ACC 3 wire hardwire cable (£12.99).
The A119 V3 uses a super capacitor meaning it can’t stay powered on its own. With the hardwire kit installed, Parking Mode can provide 24 hours surveillance on your parked vehicle.
Thanks to the GPS module, the captured videos have a real-time speed, time, date and GPS route in the video file, allowing compatible viewers to display the data on playback.
The G-sensor built into the A119 V3 can detect sudden forces like hard breaking, potholes and collisions. If any of these are detected, the system will mark the current video recording as protected, preventing it from being overwritten.
The A119 V3 doesn’t come with a microSD card, but it can take up a 256GB card. Videos can be recorded in up to 10-minute files and when the card is full, it will overwrite the oldest video to make space for new recordings.
The A119 V3 doesn’t come with wifi support or video playback software, but I didn’t have any problem in finding free dash cam software that displays the video along with GPS and G-sensor data.
Overall, the A119 V3 is feature-rich, really easy to use and captures excellent video quality at a higher rate than is typical for a dash cam in this price range.
The Viofo A119 V3 is available from Amazon for an RRP of £99.99 with free delivery.