Review after a month with A129 Duo

nav2004

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May 13, 2019
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My setup is using the 3 wire hardwire kit. I did everything according to instructions and have it on my first car and was going to see the experience before decided to buy one more kit to install in my second car.

Summary verdict, not happy. All the reviews that I saw before deciding to buy from reputed reviewers like Andrew from Carcam central miss the point of issues with long term use.

First thing with any dash cam is reliability. After checking what footage was recorded yesterday, I noticed that it had not recorded at all for last 2 days, even though all 3 LEDs under the screen were lit solid, indicating, Recording was ON, Wifi was ON.
I could not connect to Wifi at all even though it was ON. And this is not the first time. I had to remove the power plug and plug it back in to restart to even connect to Wifi.
Second, once you connect to wifi, 9 out of 10 times, once it shows the preview and you stop recording (I have parking mode ON with Auto event detection) and try to get into the footage listing via the button on lower left, it always shows Error, timeout. You have to retry and hopefully it enters.
Third, Parking mode is a boon and a bane. Even with Auto event detection, it keeps recording all night while the car is in my garage, because rear camera detects street light and sunlight changes from dusk and dawn. That fills up memory card in a day or two.

And final thing is support. This being a china located manufacturer, support is non-existent. Even though they have a forum here to get live feedback on software enhancements, there is no response from them. I sent them an email with a question, 3 weeks back, no reply. I registered my product for getting the extra six month warranty on website, form just said submitted and no further emails confirming the same.

So based on this, I am not going to buy another one of these, but am stuck with the one I have as I put in the effort to research it, install it.
 

Capture Your Action

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I believe app is a work in progress. There are so many different phones out there that it's still buggy with some of them. I know a lot of users bought this camera because it has WiFi and can use an app with it, but I wouldn't consider this feature a critical part of why someone should buy this or any dash camera. Just my opinion.
You should always leave WiFi off when not in use. WiFi will cut the bitrate in half, affecting image quality. Some users have experienced some interference with other components in their car as well. Your camera could be freezing up due to interference. Turn off WiFi and retest. If that does not help, try disconnecting the rear camera for testing.
Sensitivity with motion detection in Auto Event parking mode will vary for each user. If your rear camera is picking up light changes, then that will be an issue. The beta firmware that is out has settings for sensitivity on the motion detection in parking mode. I personally still prefer low bitrate parking mode. I simply manually shut down the camera when parked in my garage.
If your experiencing issues or have questions, I recommend always contacting your seller first (assuming you didn't buy direct from Viofo). They should be able to help out.
 

nav2004

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May 13, 2019
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Honestly, Wifi and 2-channel was the biggest feature for me to choose it. If they advertise it, then it cannot work half the time. Reason I leave it ON is for convenience and to conform it is recording. It is a hassle to dismount, extract the SD card, take it to computer. As I could not visually see the difference between the high and low bit rate, I left it on.
I have switched the Parking model to low bit rate, but have not hit the record ON button after existing the settings via the App, so to be seen what kind of files it will generate. I am assuming compared to Auto Event, it will constantly keep recording in Parking mode.
My car is used by my wife, so it is not going to work if I ask her to pull the wire each time we park in garage.
I really wish they implement a simple time based schedule for Parking mode recording. Dashcam has date in it, so it should be easy to implement.
All the issues I have are with manufacturing/design, so did not want to contact the reseller Blackboxmycar who are good by the way, the one time I contacted for installation tech support. I will hang onto this cam for now, simply because of the hassle to now uninstall and find a new one.
 

Capture Your Action

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No need to dismount to make sure it's recording. Can always look at the lcd screen to make sure the red recording dot is blinking. If you need to actually check the files, simply turn on WiFi. Press and hold the far right button on the camera will turn WiFi on and off. Should turn on and off in about 5 seconds.
Normal recording is about 16Mbps with WiFi off and 8Mbps with WiFi on. Differences will be most noticeable during heavy foliage scenes.
In low bitrate parking mode, it will create constant files at 4Mbps with audio. So files will be about 1/4 the size of normal recording files (assuming WiFi is off).
I use low bitrate on my wife's as well and she has yet to remember to turn the camera off manually. Someday she'll get in the habit I hope. I don't worry too much about it as the kit will shut it down when/if it reaches the voltage cutoff point.
A timer in parking mode my be something they implement in a firmware update. I know others have asked about it, so hopefully it will happen. In the meantime, you can try the beta firmware with the motion detection sensitivity settings. See link below to the beta version.

Beta link is from this thread on DashCamTalk - https://dashcamtalk.com/forum/threads/buffered-parking-mode.38637/page-6

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1H2TVS-amjpImmrbPuFLG2ASU2Trks3_w
 

nav2004

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May 13, 2019
Messages
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Points
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I lost confidence in those LEDs when 2 days back it showed all 3 ON, yet when I tried to connect to Wifi and it could not connect. I had to power recycle and then when I saw recordings, it was missing 2-3 days. I have now turned on all sounds, so that I get audible alerts, but now have to explain to my wife what it means when she already is asking why I put a dashcam :).
Putting it behind the rear view mirror and to the right makes it difficult to see these LEDs. I followed the position described in manual. Now it is too late to move as the wires are all tucked in with little slack, but if I had to do over, I would put to the left of the rear view mount.

I will retry leaving the Wifi OFF setting and see if it will turn on quickly when I need to, in the past, I left it ON as it gave me ability to turn Parking Off mode when in my own garage, from inside the house and when I remembered.

Do you typically use another SD card and format it as FAT32, load it up the firmware .bin file and put that in the dashcam and follow the firmware upgrade instructions ?

One more question, when I stop the recording from the App over wifi, so that I can view the list of recordings. This is with Parking mode ON in Auto Event detection. When I exit the app, will it re-start the recording when an event is detected and also in normal driving ? I suspect if that was the cause it did not record for 2-3 days. I would have thought that once ignition is turned ON and vehicle started, it would revert back to recording clips.
 

Capture Your Action

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The red recording light I was referring to was the one on the LCD screen, not the light on the REC button. It can be tough to see when it's mounted behind the mirror as that's where mine is as well (right side on both cars). I do try to get in the habit off checking from time to time tough for peace of mind.
I usually use whichever card I have handy next to my computer. To ensure a successful update though, I would format the card in the camera, then load the .bin file to the root directory of the card (not in any folders), then put it back in the camera and start it up. Camera will update automatically, the reboot and delete the .bin file. I have successfully updated via the app with my iPhone 7 Plus, but copying the .bin file to the card via a computer is always the safest best for a successful update.
When you exit the app, you need to start recording again. I'm not sure if the camera/parking mode would reset when it receives the signal from the accessory wire. I'd have to test that. Might need a complete loss of power for that, not sure.
 
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