VAVA Dash Cam Review - 1080p Video On A Swivel

Dash Cams may not typically be a device that most people have in their vehicles, but they’ve become so much easier to get a hold of and most are really easy to install and set up. More so dash cams are fairly capable devices these days too, able to deliver images and video loops that are pretty decent in terms of quality. For the past week or so we’ve been able to spend some time with the dash cam from VAVA, which made for a really decent option to having video and pictures in the car. Let’s take a closer look at the VAVA dash cam and see how it holds up.

Specs

When it comes to the specs the VAVA dash cam was designed to offer more than other dash cams. It comes with a camera that’s capable of recording video and snapping photos at 1080p at 60 frames per second. It also has an f/2.0 aperture which helps for letting in more light during darker situations so that the camera can still see what’s in front of the sensor.

It has a built-in G sensor which was integrated to help the camera detect when a crash is about to happen and start recording so it captures the accident, which according to VAVA will happen about five seconds before the crash. Thankfully this isn’t a feature that we were able to test out. It also has an all-around 360-degree view thanks to the mount it sits on which will swivel around to point wherever you want it to. It also has integrated GPS, a built-in Parking Mode, a wide-angle lens that is able to capture up to five car lanes, and loop recording. The camera does have a built-in 320mAh battery but it will need to be plugged into the car charger via the included micro USB cable to operate and power on. It doesn’t have any built-in storage but it does have a microSD card slot where you can insert a memory card, which you’ll need to store media. There’s a built-in microphone too, which is used to record the audio side of the footage captured by the camera, which is using a Sony IMX921 CMOS Sensor.

In The Box

There’s actually quite a few things in the box to help you set things up. You’ll find the camera itself, the car mount which has a suction cup to keep it fixed to the windshield, a snapshot button, the car charger, a micro USB cable that has an integrated GPS sensor, a small plastic crowbar to help you stuff the cable behind the car’s interior seams, five cable clips, one battery cell, an SD card ejector, and a little adhesive sticker for the snapshot button just in case you want to stick it to something. Other than that you’ll just have the quick installation guide and the full instructions.

Hardware & Design

Design-wise the VAVA dash cam is one of the better-looking cameras for in-car recording that we’ve seen. It looks sort of like a hockey puck as it’s round and has a similar thickness to it, with holes on either side of the unit for the microphone. On the front you’ll find the camera sensor while on the back you’ll have the compartment where the microSD card sits.

There’s also a reset button here just in case you need to reset the camera for any reason. On the bottom there’s a VAVA logo, and on the top there’s the micro USB charging port where you plug in the car charger to keep the camera powered on, as well as the inset area for attaching the camera to the car mount. This in particular is one of the best parts of the design, as it’s magnetic which made it pretty easy to attach to the mount. The magnet is also pretty strong as I found it a little bit challenging to remove from the mount, though not so challenging that it wasn’t possible, it’s simply strong enough to ensure that it won’t fall off at any point.

The App

Once you have the camera connected to the app you have full access to all of the features. The one downside is that if the camera isn’t connected to the app on your phone nothing is really visible, meaning you only have access to the features of the app while you’re in the car. Because of this you generally won’t be able to use the app unless you’re parked as you shouldn’t be messing around with it while you’re driving. All that aside the app has a handful of features, such as a video intro and an installation guide on the main home page. Using the navigation bar at the bottom you can move between the different pages, with one for the camera so you can see what the camera sees while it’s connected, a page for viewing all of the snapshots you’ve taken using the snapshot button as well as your looping footage and any emergency-related footage, and then there’s a page for your profile which actually has quite a few things you can access.

For instance there is a travel log on this page, and this is where you can see your trips in the car thanks to the GPS sensor that’s attached to the charging cable you plug into the camera. You can also see your connected dash cam here, and there’s a Driving Journal feature here where you can add your travel logs and media to make for little entries to showcase your trips, which you can end up sharing on social media if you want others to see them. There’s even a built-in media gallery where all of your snapshots and footage would be stored, and in the media gallery you can add filters to the photos if you want to jazz them up a little bit. Some of these features may be more useful than others and it will probably vary from user to user, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that for any of these the camera will need to be connected, including for the driving journal and travel logs.

Setup & Installation

Getting the VAVA dash cam set up properly was both easy and a little bit of a challenge. While the steps to get things done were actually really easy to follow, getting the camera set up requires connecting it to your phone within the dash cam companion app, and part of that is connecting the phone to the camera’s internal Wi-Fi network. This was the challenging part as I found it wouldn’t connect very easily. It took quite a few tries to get the connection to happen, but once it was connected it stayed connected and didn’t seem to have any issues from that point on. The app also recently had an update which not only gave the user interface a new design but it also got rid of the connection problem. As far as the rest of the installation, sticking the mount to the windshield was easy with the suction cup, and once you have it stuck to the windshield there’s a little push tab on the mount that locks the suction cup in place. Once thing worth noting is that the cable that plugs into the camera is fairly long, and it wasn’t very easy to tuck into the seams of the interior that run along the windshield. The cable clips also don’t stick very well to the windshield or the underside of the glove compartment. This was more of an annoyance though and a personal preference to wanting the cable to be hidden away.

Camera

For the most part the camera seemed to be just fine, capturing clear picture quality for video footage. Even during the night time when it was darker, video seemed to be decent thanks to the f/2.0 aperture. Photos likely come out better looking than the video, but I could never get the snapshot button to work so I’m not quite sure exactly how good the images are. The wide-angle lens does seem to capture a lot of area just like VAVA says it would, which is nice as you can actually see the full scope of the road in front of you whether it’s a two-lane or four-lane road or a five-lane highway. Overall this is a good quality camera and well worth the money you’d spend to pick it up, which is about $120.

Wrap Up

Dash cams aren’t exactly hard to get a hold of now, and you’ll find plenty of options on Amazon. As far as dash cams go the VAVA dash cam seems to be a pretty good one and now that the connection issue seems to have been fixed, you should have no problem getting things to work immediately.

Should you buy the VAVA dash cam?

Installation may take a good five to ten minutes to get the camera rigged up in your vehicle but once this is done removing the camera is easy as you don’t have to remove the dash mount, you can just detach the camera and thanks to its magnetic connector this process is simple and quick. With a handful of nice features and a swivel hinge that lets you face the camera in whatever direction you like, the VAVA dash cam is a great option which isn’t too expensive. At retail, the camera normally goes for $149.99 and is currently on sale for $119.99, but you can take an extra $10 off the price if you enter the code CARDVR05 at checkout.

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About the Author
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Justin Diaz

Head Editor
Lover of food, craft beer, movies, travel, and all things tech. Video games have always been a passion of his due to their ability to tell incredible stories, and home automation tech is the next big interest, in large part because of the Philips Hue integration with Razer Chroma. Current Device: Google Pixel.
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