A dash cam is a great gadget to add-on to your vehicle to protect you by recording video evidence in case of accidents, traffic tickets, insurance fraud, vandalism and more. Choosing the right one at the right price can be challenging. To help you see if the popular VIOFO A129 Plus Duo is right for you, let us take a look and see what’s to like and what could be improved.
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A quick disclosure before I get started. This is not a paid or sponsored review, however, BlackBoxMyCar did send me this refurbished unit for free to review. I do get to keep the dash cam after, but I am not otherwise compensated for my work on this video and have been told to provide an honest review. If you are looking for a dash cam, I will provide our affiliate links with a discount to this and several other quality dash cams along with DIY installation resources at the end of this post.
Let’s get started. The VIOFO A129 Plus duo is a dual dash cam with the front camera at 2K resolution and the rear camera at full HD. Both cameras using different versions of the Sony Exmor R Starvis sensor for capturing good video. It also supports Parking mode too, which is a great feature used to capture footage for when your vehicle is turned off and parked. Aside from all the specs you can read about, let us look deeper and start by taking a look at what’s to like about the A129 Plus Duo.
What’s to like?
#1 Image quality
Everyone likes to quote image quality as an important feature to have. Though it can be, it isn’t the only thing a good dash cam should have. Things like usability, reliability and support are other important features too. We will get into these 3 later in this video.
That said, the image quality of the A129 Plus is pretty good. The front camera is able to capture sharp video for a 2K camera. Note that when comparing dash cams just looking at the spec for the resolution does not tell you everything. For example, the VIOFO allows you to set the bitrate. By using the Low bitrate setting, you can store more footage at lower image quality. Alternatively, by using the High bitrate setting you can have higher image quality, but at the cost of larger file sizes.
Cheap dash cams can cut costs with lower end video processors while claiming high resolutions but use lower bit rates. The good thing with the A129 Plus is that you can choose which bitrate that suits you. But also note that the video quality is also affected by things like lighting, camera angle, the compression algorithm used and more, so the results will vary.
Just a quick note to point out. If you are wondering why the top corners of the video are blacked out, it isn’t because of the dash cam. This is from the sun protection I put on the windshield to help keep the dash cam cooler under the sun. I used some vinyl wrap cut to size to achieve this. The dash cam could be positioned better to avoid this if you do the same.
As for the Rear camera, it’s pretty decent at Full HD resolution. It won’t win any prizes but will do the job of recording footage from the rear, which can be just as important as capturing video from the front. If you don’t need 4K or 2K video of the rear, then FHD is the lowest to go.
The A129 plus is quite easy to use. The LCD screen is quite useful for quickly making changes to the settings. You won’t have to enable the WIFI, wait for it to startup, then connect to it on the app, which can take some time. The UI for the menu is easy to get used to and intuitive to use. You can also use the screen to quickly review footage but it can be difficult and time consuming if you have to find specific footage from the whole listing. As you can imagine, it’s a little hard to review footage on such a small LCD screen, so the app makes a lot of sense. It is great to have both options.
Compared with the A119, VIOFO added support for WIFI and a phone app to the A129. This makes it easy for you to change settings, perform firmware updates and view and download footage. The app is relatively fast at listing the video files and playback is fairly quick with the ability to seek the time bar easily during playback. Download speed is ok, but you can’t expect too much from the 2 GHz WIFI. The download time will also depend on the file size, which is heavily affected by what you set for the looping interval, resolution and bitrate.
Cheap quality dash cams are notorious for having badly made UIs, are unreliable and have slow WIFI, so stick with the quality brands for a better user experience.
One thing to keep in mind is that the quality of any WIFI is dependant on the number of competing WIFI signals in your area. The more there are around, the more interference there is, which could cause the WIFI to behave slower than typical.
I initially had issues with this A129 plus duo dash cam I was given to review. It would randomly and continually disconnect and connect to the rear camera. After researching on Reddit, I see that others have had this issue with several different ways of resolving it. Some had issues with the main unit, others had issues with the rear camera or rear camera USB cable, while others had issues with the GPS module and the remaining had issues with the cigarette power adapter or hardwiring kit.
I initially though my unit had a defective rear camera cable, but the issue came back even after replacing it. It currently seems to be a heat related issue with the unit. This issue has started happening again after the vehicle was parked out in the sunlight for some time and was heat soaked. Again, note that I am reviewing a refurbished unit. I am guessing that new units will not typically experience this or else the A129 series would not be able to be so popular if this issue is that common. Note that I did get a replacement unit that isn’t experiencing this issue, so far.
Aside from this issue, I found the dash cam to be quite reliable without any other major issues. I reviewed a lot of the footage captured by both the A129 plus duo units and they do record very well. They also work well in recording parking mode videos. There is an interesting issue I did discovered while testing the dash cam in parking mode, though. I will talk about that in the “What to improve” section of this post so watch out for that upcoming.
For any dash cam you get, you want to have a manufacturer that supports it whether it is through warranty or firmware updates and more. You can actually find a lot of additional info on the A129 on the VIOFO website. I believe the A129 Plus Duo was released sometime in late 2020 and VIOFO has still been providing it with recent firmware updates. The latest is from July of 2022 for the front cameras and February of 2023 for the rear, which is good to see.
Another point to make is that out of the box you get 1 year manufacturer’s warranty on the dash cam body and can extend it another 6 months if you register your dash cam with VIOFO.
Don’t forget to checkout their website for more info on the dash cam including commonly asked questions and answers that aren’t found in the printed manual. Here is a quick bonus tip. If you want to know how large a memory card you should get, VIOFO provides data on estimated recording times for the A129 dash cam series using different capacity cards. Quite useful as a reference.
I like that the VIOFO gives you so many settings to choose from. Some dash cams have much less configurability and though it is good for simplicity, does not let you fine tune your dash cam to how you may want to use it. Here are the notable settings.
For example, the A129 Plus allows you to configure the recording resolution. You can go higher or lower and even have an option for 60 frames per second. Here is a quick comparison of videos at different settings. Make sure to set your YouTube settings to highest resolution to get the full effect.
As I already mentioned before, another useful option is being able to set the bitrate. If you want better image quality, go for higher resolution and higher bitrates.
There is an HDR setting for the dash cam which allows you to capture better balanced video that isn’t washed out. This is great for night time video or dark settings and you can use the timer feature which allows you to set the start and end times for the feature too.
#6 Form factor
I like the form factor of the front camera. This is a very compact design for a dash cam. It is very sleek and looking from the front of the vehicle, the dash cam is very stealthy. On the other hand, I am not as fond of the rear camera form factor, which I will talk about in the “What to improve” section.
#7 Parking mode
I think if it fits your budget, get a good dash cam with parking mode and install it using a hardwiring kit with fuse taps. This allows you to have recordings for when you park your vehicle.
Indeed, the A129 Plus does come with support for parking mode capabilities, but you will also need to purchase the Mini USB HK3 hardwiring kit to be able to use it. When installed with this kit, you can enable your A129 plus to record footage using one of 3 modes, while your vehicle is parked. Auto event detection, Time Lapse or Low bitrate. This is quite nice because you have several options to choose from to suit your needs.
Use Auto event detection when you want recordings to be made when motion is detected. Use Time Lapse for interval recording at a low frame rate without audio. Lastly, use Low bitrate to continuously record with audio at a lower frame rate.
The A129 Plus duo will detect motion from both the front and rear cameras when in parking mode. Some cheap quality dash cams will only trigger motion recordings from the front camera.
Note that the vehicle battery protection feature of this setup is controlled by the hardwiring kit instead of in the dash cam itself like in some other dash cams. This protection feature will prevent your vehicle battery from being fully drained when the dash cam is running in parking mode. Note that if you are going to use Parking Mode, I also suggest picking up a larger memory card as well to ensure you can store enough hours of footage.
Next, let us take a look at where the A129 plus duo can improve.
What to Improve?
1# Rear camera form factor
Remember how I mentioned that I liked the front camera form factor. I can’t say the same for the rear camera. I found that because the shell is quite deep and the cable connects to the rear of the camera, when installed on the rear windshield, it protrudes out quite a lot. I suppose that is one reason why newer models from VIOFO address this with a bullet style form factor and the cable connecting to the side of the unit. If you have the budget and a need for a 2K front and rear camera with 5 GHz WIFI, then choose the VIOFO A229 Duo. I’ll include a link with a discount in the video description below.
In the end, the form factor of the rear camera may not be too big of an issue since it doesn’t cover too much of the rear windshield to affect your view. Other things like rear seat headrests are a bigger issue if your vehicle has them.
Here’s another tip. Even though the cable has a little sticker that indicates the straight plug is for the rear camera, you can interchange the ends and use the 90-degree angle plug for the rear camera. It works better for my scenario and may work better for you too.
#2 No computer app
For me, this is a minor complaint. VIOFO does not provide software for you to use on your computer. It may not be a big issue for most since it is very easy to access the files from any file explorer that comes with your computer. Though, having to load each video to review footage after footage to find a specific incident can be slower and more time consuming. Typical dash cam computer apps will also continuously and smoothly play from one clip to the next and allow easy switching of camera views making it much more user friendly. You can also more easily access the GPS data, if needed.
VIOFO’s website does point users to a third-party Dash Cam Viewer app for Windows and Mac but it isn’t free. The free version has a limit of loading 2 videos at a time and several other limitations. Since it isn’t made by VIOFO, I won’t be reviewing it here.
That said, it is not very often you will need to access your recordings and GPS data for legal or other important reasons, so it’s not the biggest issue. If you do end up needing the GPS data, you can still access it through the phone app, but you will need to download the video from the dash cam to your phone first. Then access the downloaded video and play it.
#3 Parking mode
While parking mode won’t catch everything, it can be a good feature to have. The typical parking mode operation is that the dash cam stops recording continuously in parking mode and only starts recording when either motion or and impact is detected. With the A129 Plus duo, I originally thought that I found a defect because I couldn’t get the impact detection to trigger independently while in parking mode. The only way I could trigger it was to first trigger a motion detection.
I have since verified with VIOFO that this is the way it is supposed to work for their dash cam. However, I do think that having the motion and impact detections being able to trigger a recording independently, is a better way to implement parking mode. I have used and tested other dash cams that function this way and would prefer this method of operation.
With parking mode, you can end up with a lot of motion capture videos that aren’t useful. I suppose the way that VIOFO has implemented this feature, it will help you to filter out motion videos and motion videos with impacts since the latter will be locked and stored in a different folder for easy retrieval.
In the end, this may not be too big of an issue for you and the A129 Plus duo does offer 2 other parking modes that will continuously record video as I showed earlier.
A second issue I have with the A129 Plus duo’s parking mode is that it does not support buffered recordings. With buffered recordings, when a motion or impact event is detected, a recording will be made that will contain footage before the event and after so that you can see how the scene leading up to the event unfolded. Without buffered recordings, you may even miss some important parts of the action. This is because the recording starts after the event. As per VIOFO, the A129 plus does not support buffered parking mode due to hardware limitations. It’s too bad because a lot of the other VIOFO dash cams in their lineup do support it.
If you will mainly use the dash cam for driving recordings, you won’t need buffered parking mode and this won’t be an issue for you. The A129 Plus duo is still a good dash cam with all its other features.
What’s in the box?
You get a lot in the box including the dash cam, rear camera, GPS module, a long rear camera cable at 6 m, a long power cable of 4 m with a quality 12 V USB adapter, a short mini-USB cable for use to connect to your computer, a pretty good USB microSD card reader that I did get to use quite a lot, cable clips, quite a few additional adhesive mount stickers, reusable static plastic sheets for easy transfer of dash cam between vehicles, a trim tool and user manual.
Where to buy?
If you are looking to purchase this dash cam or other quality dash cams, here are the links. Our final thought on the VIOFO A129 Plus Duo below!
Out of the box you have everything you need to get the dash cam up and running, minus the memory card, which you will have to add to your purchase. You won’t have parking mode capabilities unless you purchase and use the hardwiring kit and fuse tap kits. So, make sure to pick those up too if you need them. Links in the video description, below!
Aside from the issues I encountered while reviewing the A129 plus duo, it has been quite reliable for the time I have been using it. It is likely that the reliability issues are due to the fact that the unit I received was refurbished. Hard for me to say otherwise, without a new unit to test.
The A129 Plus Duo is a good dash cam with a solid build quality that captures really good videos front and rear. From the resolution and bitrate settings that allow you to control the video quality, to the customizability of all the other settings, plus parking mode support, you get an all-around quality dash cam that does what a dash cam should do.
Record video front and rear with GPS data, while you drive and front and rear with motion and impact detection, while your vehicle is parked. Nothing less, nothing more.
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