— Dual channel dash cam
— Max. resolution: front 4K, rear 1080p
— Price: Amazon US / CA / UK / DE / FR – eBay US / UK / AU – AliExpress – more vendors
— Optional GPS in mount
— Wi-Fi (2.4 or 5 GHz)
— 2″ Screen
— Video format: MP4
— Supports up to 256 GB MicroSD card
— Novatek 96685 processor
— Time and date stamp on video
— Loop recording, auto on/off, G-Sensor, motion detection
— Parking modes: Buffered, time-lapse, low bit rate
— Lock file button
— Optional CPL filter
— Optional Bluetooth remote lock file button
— Operating temperature: from -10°C to 65°C (14°F to 149°F)
— Storage temperature: from -20°C to 70°C (-4°F to 158°F)
— Apps for Android / iOS
— Overheat protection
— Internal capacitor instead of battery
— Internal microphone and speaker
— Adhesive mount
— Max. resolution: 4K (3840×2160 pixels) @ 30fps
— Bit rate: 15-50 Mbps
— Size: 84mm x 55mm x 40mm
— 8.29MP Sony Exmor R sensor (IMX317)
— Aperture: f/1.8
— Angle of view: 130° diagonal
Rear Camera (Optional):
— Max. resolution: 1080p (1920×1080 pixels) @ 30fps
— Bit rate: 15 Mbps
— Size: 53mm x 50mm x 31mm
— 2MP Sony Starvis sensor
— Aperture: f/1.6
— Angle of view: 140° diagonal
Viofo A129 Pro Duo 4K Review
Viofo are a Chinese manufacturer of dash cams, who make highly reliable dash cams for affordable prices. In late 2019, Viofo released their first 4K dash cam. 4K resolution means 3840×2160 pixels, and is sometimes also referred to as UHD (Ultra High Density).
The A129 Pro has an optional rear camera, which records at 1080p (which is 1920×1080 pixels).
Both the front and rear camera operate at 30 frames per second (fps).
Never Change A Winning Design
The Viofo A129 Pro Duo looks similar to Viofo’s previous cameras. When compared to its predecessor, the highly successful A129 Duo, the Pro version is a bit bigger (a few mm more on each side). It’s also heavier, due to the built-in cooling system. A cooling system is necessary because processing 4K video uses more processor power than 1080p, and generates more heat.
Viofo are sticking with their successful design, so like the previous Viofo’s dash cams, this camera is wedge shaped and highly discreet. It has a 2″ screen, so you can review videos on the spot. Underneath the screen, there’s Viofo’s typical array of 5 buttons. A large round lock file button is set in the center, and smaller rectangular buttons for navigating the camera’s menu are situated on either side.
The A129 Pro is currently the only 4K dash cam that can record at bit rates as high as 60 Mbps. Other 4K dash cams compress their video streams to 25-30 Mbps, which saves storage space, but also sacrifices image quality.
The front camera’s video quality during the day is nothing short of excellent. It’s easy to read other car’s license plates while driving by, and even the foliage of trees looks awesome. Just compare how trees and clouds look on the A129 Pro’s video with the video of any other dash cam:
Day time front video quality is excellent. License plates of other cars are easily readable, despite the small letters. All details look super sharp and crisp, even foliage and clouds are recorded in impressive detail.
Rear video at day time is of good quality: You should be able to read most license plates of other cars by pausing the video. At night, both the front and rear cameras record only fair quality: You’ll be able to see what’s going on, but it will be hard to read license plates except when you are very close.
Rear video quality at day is good. You can read most license plates by pausing the video.
On Bit Rates And File Sizes
Of course, recording at 60Mbps has one drawback: Your video clips become huge, and your memory card will fill up a lot quicker than usual.
For those who’d like their memory cards to last longer, the A129 Pro lets you choose the bit rate of the front camera. It’s worth to play around with this setting, and see which bit rate is best for your taste. The difference in video quality between the individual settings isn’t terribly big.
Here’s an overview of how many megabytes of memory a one-minute video clip will occupy, for each of the bit rate settings:
Low (15 Mbps) — 109 MB/min
Medium (30 Mbps) — 216 MB/min
High (43 Mbs) — 303 MB/min
Max (60 Mbps) — 431 MB/min
If you have the front and rear version, the rear camera will add another 15 Mbps, resulting in an extra 109 MB per minute.
Memory Card Sizes & Storage Time
The A129 Pro supports a maximum memory card size of 256GB. Depending on your bit rate setting, and whether you have the single or dual channel version, here are a few examples of how much footage will fit on a 256GB card before the loop recording kicks in and overwrites the oldest files:
Low bit rate, no rear camera (= 15 Mbps): over 37 hours
Low bit rate, with rear cam (= 30 Mbps): over 18 hours
Max bit rate, no rear cam (= 60 Mbps): over 9 hours
Max bit rate, with rear cam (= 75 Mbps): over 7 hours
Remember to always use high endurance SD cards with your dash cam (here’s why).
Night time front video quality is fair. While the footage is relatively clear, it’s hard to make out other cars’ license plates.
When installed with a hard-wiring kit, the A129 Pro supports three different kinds of parking mode:
Buffered: records from 15 sec before to 30 sec after an event is detected by the G-sensor
Time-lapse: records continuously at a low frame rate
Low bit rate: records at 30fps, but at a low bit rate to save memory (not recommended, as you might not be able to make out license plates in case of a hit-and-run)
The A129 Pro supports Wi-Fi, so you can control the camera with your phone. Free apps are available for Android and iOS phones.
It also has an in-built overheat protection, so if the temperature of the chip set ever rises above the maximum operating temperature of 65°C (149°F), it will shut down automatically to avoid heat damage.
Optional accessories include an external GPS antenna, a CPL filter to reduce windshield reflections in the sunlight, and a remote lock file button that you can place in a convenient place on your dash.
Rear footage at night is of fair quality. On a brightly lit road you’ll see all the details, but you can only read license plates when you are very close.
As of November 2019, the Viofo A129 Pro is not only the cheapest true 4K dash cam on the market, it’s also the one with the best video quality during the day. Night video quality is average to fair, comparable to the BlackVue DR900S. If you want better night video, and/or cloud connectivity, check out the Thinkware U1000 (which is roughly twice the price, though).
With GPS, Wi-Fi, buffered and time-lapse parking mode, and many optional extras, the Viofo A129 Pro Duo is by far the best value 4K dash cam currently out there. What’s more, Viofo are a trustworthy brand, and have been known to produce reliable, top-selling dash cams for many years now.
If you’re looking for a true 4K dash cam below $300, the A129 Pro is the one to go for.
Compare Prices And Buy Online Today
At the time of this writing, the front-camera only version of the A129 Pro is available solely on Aliexpress.
The Viofo A129 Pro Duo 4K (dual channel version) is available for sale from the following vendors:
4K dash cams, or Ultra High Density (UHD) dash cams, are the latest hype right now. And yes, they can produce outstanding video footage, especially when recording during the day time. But 4K dash cams are still a relatively new technology, and there are some drawbacks you may want to consider before you decide what to buy.
This article is called “4K Dash Cams: The Good, The Bad, And The Fake” because we’ll start by showing you three great dash cams that record good video at true 4K resolution (“The Good”).
Next, as an intermezzo of sorts, we’ll have quick a look at the pros and cons of 4k technology in dash cams, and why it can still be tricky to implement in car cameras. We’ll also throw in some alternatives that cost less money and still produce high quality video.
Then, we’ll present dash cams that are true 4k, but we recommend you stay away from anyway (“The Bad”). And finally, we want you to be aware that many cheaper dash cams labelled “4K” are actually fakes, and can’t record 4K resolution at all! We’ll show you the fake 4K dash cams that we’re aware of at the end of this article (“The Fake”).
The Three Best 4K Dash Cams In 2019
So far, we’ve only seen three true 4K dashboard cameras that we’re recommending right now. One of them is the well-known BlackVue DR900S, which has been around for over a year already. The other two are brand new: Thinkware’s cutting-edge U1000, and Viofo’s somewhat more budget-friendly A129 Pro.
Here’s a table to give you an idea how they compare in terms of prices and video quality:
You need at least “good” video quality to be able to read license plates. As you can see, the Thinkware U1000 is the only 4K camera that records good video at night with its front camera.
The Viofo A129 Pro records the best video during the day, due to its high bit rates. It doesn’t support cloud connectivity though, and of course higher bit rates use up more storage space, and consume more power.
All three of these are high-end dashboard cameras, with excellent build qualities. They all come with GPS, Wi-Fi, overheat protection, a capacitor instead of a battery, a lock file button, and one or more parking modes.
Rear cameras are optional for all three. You always have the option of buying the forward camera stand-alone if you prefer.
Forward video quality: Very good at day, good at night
Rear video quality: Fair (day and night)
Reliability: To be determined (new release)
Memory capacity: 128GB
Parking modes: Simple and time-lapse. Buffered with radar module (see below)
Other features: Remote view over cloud, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection, CPL filter (optional)
The U1000 is Thinkware’s first dash camera to support remote view over the cloud. The U1000 also supports Thinkware’s other cloud functions, such as localizing your vehicle, geo-fencing, and impact alerts to your phone.
Of course you need a Wi-Fi access point in your car for cloud connectivity to work (more info here).
The most exciting feature of the U1000 is the video quality of its front camera. It records very good video during the day, and even at night, video quality is good. As we’ve stated above, the U1000 actually has the best night video quality of all 4K dash cams we’ve tested.
Its rear camera is a bit disappointing though: Even though it records at 1440p, its video quality is only fair, both at day and at night. So it’s a good thing that the rear camera is optional — you can save about $100 if you get the front unit only.
The U1000 supports simple, time-lapse, and buffered parking modes. As with almost all dash cameras, parking mode needs a hard-wiring kit or battery pack to supply the camera with power when the engine is off.
For buffered parking mode to work, you also need Thinkware’s radar module (~$80 extra). The radar module detects nearby cars, and helps to reduce energy consumption. Simple and time-lapse parking modes work out-of-the-box, and don’t need the radar.
The Viofo A129 Pro Duo is the most affordable 4K dash cam to date. Nevertheless it is still a high quality dash cam, and Viofo have a reputation for excellent reliability.
During the day, the A129 Pro’s forward video quality is nothing short of excellent. At night, it is only fair. The (optional) rear camera’s video is good at day, and fair at night.
The reason why the Viofo camera records the best day time video of the three cameras featured here is that it’s the only 4K dash cam that allows you to record at bit rates as high as 50 Mbps. The U1000 and DR900S both operate at much lower bit rates, to save processor power and memory card space.
Of course, the A129 Pro will also allow you to select lower bit rates, trading in video quality for more memory capacity. Play around with this setting to see which bit rate works best for you.
Unlike Thinkware and BlackVue, the Viofo supports 256GB memory cards rather than 128GB. Furthermore, it’s the only one of the three that comes with a 2″ screen, thus making it easier to set up and operate. Of course, it also supports Wi-Fi, should you prefer to operate your dash cam via smart phone app.
This camera comes with three different types of parking mode: Buffered, time-lapse, and low-bit rate recording. It doesn’t support any type of cloud connectivity.
Forward video quality: Very good at day, fair at night
Rear video quality: Good at day, fair at night
Memory capacity: 128GB
Parking modes: Buffered and time-lapse
Other features: Remote view over cloud, buffered and time-lapse parking modes, integrated GPS, Wi-Fi, capacitor, lock file button, overheat protection
The BlackVue DR900S (-1CH and -2CH) is the oldest, and most time-proven 4K dash cam of the three. It’s been around since mid-2018, so we know what to expect with this camera. It’s video quality isn’t the greatest: BlackVue tend to compress their video files a lot, and some of the 4K quality gets lost in the process. Both the U1000 and the A129 Pro record noticeably better video
That being said, video quality of the the DR900S is still very good during the day, but only fair at night. Rear video is good at day, and fair at night.
BlackVue’s black cylinder casing is a trademark of the company, and while it looks very elegant, it does seem to make cooling a bit difficult. The camera won’t get fried, thankfully, as it comes with built-in overheat protection. However, the DR900S has been known to shut down occasionally when it got too hot in the summer.
All BlackVue dash cams support remote view over the cloud, and the DR900S is no exception to this. Just like the U1000, it needs a Wi-Fi access point your car to be able to connect to the cloud.
Highest video resolution available to date in dash cams
Impressive picture quality, especially during the day
Great for producing road videos
Wow-factor of high-end, cutting edge technology
On screens with lower than 4K resolution, you can zoom in to see details such as license plates
Night video quality can be reduced
Higher processor load: Consumes more power and generates more heat
Larger file sizes: Memory cards fill up quicker
The reason why night video is often reduced for 4K cameras is because 4K cameras have a lot more pixels than, for example, 1080p cameras.The majority of dash cams currently are 1080p.
More pixels mean that each individual pixel is smaller (unless you increase sensor size, which isn’t practical for a dash cam). Smaller pixels are less light sensitive, and that’s why higher resolution cameras often have more difficulty recording at night.
If video quality at night is important for you, you may be better off with a high-end 1080p camera such as the SG9663DCPRO or the SGGCX2PRO (both by Street Guardian).
That being said, Thinkware’s recently released U1000 has raised the bar considerably. The U1000 is probably the first 4K dash cam that records good video at night with the front camera. Its rear camera still isn’t as good as the SG9663DCPRO’s though.
Bad 4K Dash Cams
Nextbase are a renowned manufacturer of dash cams especially in the UK. Their first attempt at producing a 4K camera hasn’t been a success though. Unfortunately, the 612GW comes with an internal battery, making it more prone to heat failure than a camera with a capacitor.
At 4K resolution, the camera’s CPU has to process four times more data than at 1080p. This in turn generates a lot of heat, which — in combination with a battery — can be fatal.
Some users have reported having no issues with the 612GW, but usually these are drivers who live in places that rarely get warmer than 20°C. Maybe that’s why Nextbase’s camera are so successful in the UK, but not in countries with hotter climates.
For a full review of the Nextbase 612GW, click here.
Fake 4K Dash Cams
Many manufacturers just stick a 4K label on a dash cam which can’t actually record true 4K. A true 4K dash cam should be able to record 3840×2160 pixels at 30 frames per second (fps), without resorting to interpolation.
For easy reference, we’re compiling a list of fakes here that buyers may want to be aware of.
Many fake 4K dash cams come with a sensor that can’t actually record 4K resolution.
A 4K camera needs at least an 8 megapixel (MP) sensor. Let’s do the math: 4K means 3840×2160 pixels. My calculator says 3840 * 2160 is 8,294,400. That’s over 8 million, or 8MP in short.
A 1080p camera has 1920×1080 pixels. 1920 * 1080 is 2,073,600 pixels, or 2 megapixels.
A 1440p camera would have 2560 * 1440 = 3,686,400 pixels, so it needs a 4MP sensor.
Here’s a few that use the Omnivison OV4689 sensor (not a bad sensor by any means, but it only has 4MP):
Acekool 4K: OV4689 sensor → fake 4K
Azdome GS63H: OV4689 sensor → fake 4K
Rexing V1 4K UHD: OV4689 sensor → fake 4K
Rove R2-4K: OV4689 sensor → fake 4K
Other fake 4K dash cams:
Aukey 4K dash cam DR02 J: Aptina AR0521 sensor with just 5MP → fake 4K
Toguard Dash Cam 4K: 4K video is interpolated. (Also the fact that it can’t handle memory cards over 32GB should alert you. 32GB is very little for a 4K camera) → fake 4K
If you find out about other fake 4K dash cams, or have any dash cams claiming to be 4K that you are doubtful about, please let us know and we’ll be happy to update this list if necessary.
The QooCam 8K is the first ever consumer 8K 360 camera; this is a huge upgrade from previous 360 cameras which so far have only managed 5.7K resolution at most. While resolution isn’t everything, such a large image size results in very sharp and clear video. The QooCam also features 1/1.7“ sensors which is around 50% larger than the lenses used in most other 360 cameras, this allows the QooCam 8K to work well in low light conditions. Let’s take a look at the full technical specifications of what looks set to be the most feature packed 360 camera ever!
High Resolution Video: At 8K the QooCam 8K features the highest resolution video of any 360 camera by quite some margin.
4K Reframed Video: Most people use 360 cameras to create re-framed video but have been limited to 1080p. The QooCam 8K will allow for 4K reframed video at truly high definition.
Slow Motion Video: Qoocam 8K can shoot 120fps slow motion 360 video at 3840 x 1920. No other 360 camera can shoot at such high resolution and frame rate so this is the first 360 camera with true slow motion.
High Quality Photos: The camera has the ability to shoot high resolution 360 photos at 7680 x 3840 which is among the highest of any 360 camera out right now. The QooCam will also feature 12-Bit DNG RAW as a photo option, allowing you to capture a huge amount of image data for post processing.
3.5mm Audio Jack: While the camera itself doesn’t feature stellar audio hardware it does allow for external microphones to be attached via a standard audio jack.
Large Battery: The 3500 mAh battery is among the largest of any 360 camera, however it will need all this power for the arduous process of shooting 8K video.
Built in Memory: Enjoy up to 64GB of internal memory as well as a microSD card slot. When shooting 8K video you’ll need all the memory you can get!
Livestream: 4K 360 livestream is available over 5G
Panoramas: Automatically shoot stitch line free panoramas in 12 Bit RAW format.
Charge while recording. Need to shoot an extra long video? The high resolution recording is likely to be a big drain on the battery; thankfully the QooCam 8K will allow you to charge while recording so you can get those extra long shots for a timelapse.
8K Video and Super Slow Motion
The defining feature of the new QooCam is of course 8K video resolution. Various tech companies have been vying for the highest resolution camera for the past few years. First 4K was considered the top feature, then 5.7K cameras came along and now Kandao has become the first to introduce an 8K 360 camera for consumers. This is a really huge resolution and should go a long way to fixing the relatively low quality we find when shooting in 360.
Up until now if you wanted 8K 360 video you needed to invest thousands in a pro level camera. I didn’t think an 8K camera was on the horizon for the consumer market for at least a few yeas, but here it is! What’s also astounding in the extremely high bit rate than Kandao claims the QooCam 8K can shoot in, up to 200mbps! This should result in very sharp and crisp looking video but will also take up a huge amount of memory space. It’s for this reason that the QooCam 8K features internal memory of 64GB as well as a microSD card slot to expand that memory.
The QooCam 8K can also shoot 4K video at 120fps which is a higher frame rate than any other 4K 360 camera. This is actually a more exciting feature for me personally as I have always thought that 360 video and slow motion make an excellent combination. Previous cameras have only been able to shoot high frame rate 360 video at low resolutions but the QooCam may be able to deliver decide quality slow motion.
This is the most impressive video shot with the QooCam 8K that I’ve seen. It features 10 bit 8K hyperlapse video re-framed and the result is pretty amazing. The quality of the video is beyond any other 360 camera under $1000 and certainly better than all the consumer cameras out now. Notice the lack of pixelization, vibrant colors and details even in the distance. Also notice the maximum video resolution of this re-framed video is 4K, much larger than the max 1080p possible with cameras like the GoPro Max and Insta360 One X.
The QooCam 8K is the first consumer 360 camera to shoot 10-bit video which allows for greater control of color and exposure in post production. 10-Bit video, when edited correctly, can result in much higher quality video – just what users of 360 cameras have been asking for. To put it into even greater perspective, the QooCam 8K will be able to capture 1 billion possible colors, 64 times more than the 16.7 million colors than 8-bit video used by other consumer 360 cameras.
This short video shot at the maximum 8K shows the potential of the QooCam 8K as a VR camera, The 8K video (if you can load it) looks crisp and detailed, even around the edges where 360 video scan sometimes appear blurry. The quality of the video is on par with some professional 360 cameras which cost thousands of dollars. The colors also appear natural and not washed out. There does appear to be some stitching artefacts, particularly when the man holding the child walks through the stitching line, but this could be improved with software updates. This video shows how the QooCam 8K is likely to be to go to 360 camera for creating 360 virtual tours.
This night time footage shows that the QooCam 8K can work well in difficult lighting conditions and again it performs better than all other consumer 360 cameras. The lack of noise in the shadows and glare in the lighter areas makes for a really stunning video. The excellent performance in low light is no doubt due to the larger sensors in the dual lenses.
If you want to use your 360 camera as an action camera, stabilization is extremely important. Thankfully many companies have developed software which can completely stabilise 360 video even in the most extreme circumstances. The QooCam 8K will feature such stabilization as demonstrated in their launch video.
While people tend to focus on resolution to determine how good a cameras video will look it’s actually the size and quality of the image sensors that makes the most difference. The QooCam 8K seems to beat the competition in this department too, featuring two 1/1.7“ Sensors which are over 50% larger than those found in most other consumer 360 cameras. Only the Ricoh Theta Z1 has a larger sensor but this is mostly a photography camera. The larger sensors will allow for greater dynamic range accurate color and improved performance in low light conditions. The QooCam will be hard to beat when it comes to video quality.
16 Bit RAW Photos
The previous Kandao camera, the first QooCam, didn’t have a huge amount going for it. One thing it could do better than many other 360 cameras was shoot RAW DNG photos, often with excellent results. The QooCam 8K retains this feature and allows you to shoot the maximum quality photos possible.
The QooCam 8K is accompanied by a desktop editing software for Mac and Windows as well as an App for both iOS and Android. The desktop software allows you to batch process your video and photo files and render them at the highest quality. The new QooCam app lets you reframe your 360 files into 1080p flat videos as well as change speed, add filters and export in 360.
Pros and Cons
8K Resolution Video
Large Sensor Size
External Audio Mic
30 Megapixel RAW Photos
Slow Motion 360 Photos
Internal and Expandable Memory
Huge File Sizes
Not Waterproof without Case
No Lens Protection
The recommended retail price of the QooCam 8K is $599. Considering the fact that all other 8K 360 cameras have cost at least $2000 in the past this represents a pretty good deal. The QooCam 8K is a market disruptor and may represent the start of a new generation of 8K 360 cameras.