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The Vava Dash Cam may seem like a fancy accessory for car lovers, photography pros, or aspiring spies, but for a small investment, any driver can now film on the road. The world of car cameras is exploding and in some countries a high percentage of cars both drive and film. These cameras are small, produce great quality video, and have an array of features, apps, and modes. We compare four dash cams easy to find and simple to operate—starting with the Vava Dash Cam but including top brands such as Garmin, THINKWARE and BlackVue.
About the Vava Dash Cam
For the uninitiated, the dash camera business is likely to seem like an obscure subset of cameras. Growing out of popular Nanny Cams that have been optimized for home security, spying on the help, and watching elderly family members (and even pets) while away at work, the dash cam incorporates innovations in battery technology and design improvements that make widescreen, panoramic views standard. The Vava Dash Cam capitalizes on improved video quality, and some offer 360-degree rotation. Connectivity, easy installation, and compact sleekness come standard with Vava.
The Vava Dash Cam includes high-quality video from SONY, records continuously, and uses a G-sensor to activate recording when an incident occurs. The sensor is adjustable for the right sensitivity for your vehicle. The 155-degree view can be increased to 360 degrees if using the rotation feature. The Vava Dash Cam records high-quality images both day and night. Bluetooth connectivity for uploading images comes standard, and the company produces an app to work with the device. The impressive battery at 320mAH will provide backup in situations when the car is parked.
These cameras start at a little over $ and range up to a high of $$ for models with a wider array of features and better video quality.
[amazon box=”B07D7XBK4K,B06XG27N5L,B01HC6V82I,B01IAL2FWQ” template=”table”]
How It Compares
We picked a few similar dash cams available on the market to see how they compare with the Vava Dash Cam.
- Garmin Dash Cam 55
- THINKWARE F770
- BlackVue DR650S-2CH 32G Dash Cam
[amazon link=”B07D7XBK4K” title=”Vava Dash Cam”/]
At $$, the Vava Dash Cam isn’t the cheapest but still rates as affordable.
The camera uses a 32-GB micro SD card and loop recordings. A 12V charger and a plug-in USB cord (12″) are included, as well as 2,300mAH power bank. This camera has a built-in GPS, swivels 360 degrees for full interior shots, and installs through a suction-cup magnetic mounting system. The small size is easy to place under the rear-view mirror. The standby power mode will function for 30-days, so if parked, the camera will operate even without power to the car. A Snapshot button allows users to record short clips for later use. The mobile app is iOS and Android-compatible for sharing clips on social media.
A clear, sharp image is a must in a dash cam because driving conditions can impact visibility. The Vava Dash cam delivers in this area, and video quality is beyond adequate, even at night. The quality meets all minimum standards for video output, and the ease of using the video on multiple-platforms means a good quality video is readily downloadable. This isn’t the best video quality you will find, but it will be adequate for most users.
This design is user-friendly and improves on most dash cams on the market. The 360-degree swivel allows for easily filming at any angle, and the Bluetooth interface means the video is easy to capture and upload to a tablet, computer or smartphone. The Vava Dash cam looks like a hockey puck, but in the best way; its design doesn’t intrude on the field of vision, its eye isn’t glaring, and it is a great example of form following function. This dash cam looks like it was made to swivel. The body design allows for easy placement and mounting, and its USB port is easy to access once mounted.
For a dash cam that falls in the “budget” category, this battery life can’t be beaten. Vava has truly innovated by making the camera usable for long periods when the car ignition is off and the vehicle is sitting. If more battery power is desired, hard wiring the unit to a constant 12V source is an option—although we recommend know-how or a professional for this. The camera will last about three days powered only by the battery, which is longer than any other on our list.
- Great battery life
- 360-degree swivel
- User-friendly app
- Compact, cool design
- Decent video quality
- GPS built-in
- Can make travel videos
- Snapshot feature
- Some issues with mounting bolts
- Video quality isn’t top of the line
- Suction cup mount only
[amazon link=”B06XG27N5L” title=”Garmin Dash Cam 55″/]
Garmin is known as the leader in GPS technology, and they’ve done well in personal fitness trackers. Garmin makes a sturdy camera that takes advantage of every feature GPS can offer.
At $$, the Garmin is mid-range.
Garmin offers a good range of features. The viewing of 122 degrees and removable micro SD card make seeing and uploading video straightforward. Built-in GPS is top of the line, and the G-sensor works well. There is a voice-activated feature that makes this camera interactive. The polarizing filter option is a smart feature as it helps to adjust to light conditions. The GPS gives an automatic date and time stamp. The interface with the Garmin app isn’t the best as this app offers limited user control in uploading video.
We wish the 122-degree view were wider, but the quality of the video is excellent at 1440p video capture at 30p. Again, the polarizing filter is an option and for anyone experienced in photography, offers obvious advantages.
Garmin isn’t known for its design innovation, offering practical gadgets that get the job done. This camera isn’t a blight on your car, but neither does it declare itself as stylish; it looks like a black camera, is camera-shaped (rectangular) and says “Garmin.” For functionality, the design is fine, but it doesn’t win any beauty contests. It is simple to mount and its buttons are easily accessible. The one design flaw in this camera is the battery life, which doesn’t support the use of the camera as we would like. However, a device called “Power Magic Pro” can be purchased to boost the battery for better parked recording.
This is the feature where Garmin suffers a bit. The battery is adequate at best, and this dash cam is best used when the car is running. The lack of battery power causes the device to turn off frequently to save power.
- Easy to install
- Nice GPS features
- Excellent video quality
- Uses voice commands
- Great quality night video
- Ability to purchase a wireless rear camera
- Optional battery boost available
- Turns off frequently
- Doesn’t perform well in high temperatures
- Boxy design
[amazon link=”B01HC6V82I” title=”THINKWARE F770″/]
This THINKWARE Dash Cam is on a lot of top ten lists for good reason—they’ve done some thinking to develop a product with amazing quality footage and a good, wide view of the landscape.
At $$$, this dash cam tops our list regarding price.
Features of this dash cam include Dual Save, super-wide recording angle, full HD recording for front and back cameras, time-lapse recording, and Super Night Vision mode.
The 2.19MP Sony Exmor Sensor creates excellent, sharp images both day and night. Instead of a screen for viewing, the THINKWARE easily links to a smartphone to convey images. The smartphone images are easier to upload than any other dash cam we’ve encountered, so if quickly sending a video is a requirement, THINKWARE F770 prevails. Using the menu and settings, however, requires another step. The parked vehicle can get CCTV-like footage because of the time lapse feature, and a “super night vision” element puts this dash cam ahead of the pack for filming after dark.
This camera looks like a tiny LCD projector, which may remind some users of work. This is the least appealing design we’ve found. There aren’t many exterior buttons and they are somewhat difficult to use. The CCTV footage is a nice option, but it requires additional hardwiring rather than just using the car’s lighter. GPS and traffic signal warnings are helpful, and this dash cam includes all the features we like.
A decent battery, but doesn’t compete with the Vava Dash Cam. This battery life tops Garmin and is as good as most dash cams on the market. The optional hardwiring helps boost battery life as it does with the Garmin camera.
- Sharp, clear video
- Outstanding night time filming
- Uses smartphone interface
- Easy to upload images
- Traffic warning signal
- G-sensor for incidents
- Simple mounting kit
- Turns off frequently
- Appearance is nothing special
- No external viewing screen
[amazon link=”B01IAL2FWQ” title=”BlackVue DR650S-2CH 32G Dash Cam”/]
The BlackVue delivers on quality and bills itself as “the choice of professional drivers.” At around $$$, the image quality rivals THINKWARE, but this expensive camera offers unique features that show up the competition.
Prices vary, but the BlackVue can be found for around $$$ at Walmart.
The standout feature BlackVue delivers is hassle-free front and rear filming—using incident detection technology for both cameras. The front camera has 1080p and the rear 720p, and with a 2MP sensor and 129-degree view, this is the best coverage of all the dash cams we have on our list. The iCloud interface means it’s possible to check your footage whether the car is running or parked via smartphone—another feature only found in BlackVue—and hard-wiring to get the most out of the BlackVue features is much easier than with other dash cams because of its OBD II port converter.
Image sharpness is nearly as good as THINKWARE although doesn’t meet the night view standards. Overall the video quality of this dash cam is among the best we’ve reviewed. Like THINKWARE, BlackVue doesn’t use a screen for viewing but hooks up to the user’s smartphone. This makes using images easier, but the menu and settings take a little more work to use on the phone than they would on a dash cam screen. The 2K and 1080p full HD video is top quality and beats out Vava Dash Cam and Garmin.
This camera has two design problems. First, it looks like a camera hanging from the dashboard. Many users won’t mind, but the design is unoriginal, and it doesn’t hide well (at least at the front of the car). Second, the set-up of this camera is more difficult than most. For a user willing to pay upwards of $$$ for front and rear filming and high-quality video, the tricky set-up process may be a minor issue.
Hardwiring to the car’s power source is the best option, which is why BlackVue includes the OBD II port. The battery is sufficient, but why buy an expensive, feature-loaded camera and not use all its features?
- OBD II port for easy hardwiring
- Front and rear incident filming
- Excellent video quality
- Smartphone connectivity
- Widescreen view at 129 degrees
- iCloud interface
- Requires hardwiring to optimize
- Somewhat difficult to set up
- Uninspired design
Dash cams are selling like hotcakes and impressing consumers with their ease of use. Less pricey models are worth the investment, even for average drivers. When comparing dash cam features, video sharpness and a multi-day battery supply should be fundamental, while the ability to upload images using a smartphone or iCloud is also expected. Extras include rear filming, ease of hardwiring, expanded GPS capability, and super-crisp images.
For most drivers, any G-sensor, widescreen, easy-to-install dash cam with quality battery is a good bet. For the price, we prefer the Vava Dash Cam for its impressive battery life. We give the Vava Dash Cam an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of five.