The entry level dash cam market is one of the biggest markets as the products can offer an incredible value proposition if they can help the user avoid an at-fault insurance claim. These dash cams are less than a fraction of most insurance deductibles and can curb insurance fraud as well as prevent unfair hikes to a driver's premiums. That being said, there are a number of infamous products on the market that have poor quality control and cheap unknown components. VIOFO is not one of these manufacturers and have a solid track record of build quality and use of proven components in their dash cams. We've been carrying their products for a number of months now and the reliability has truly blown us away. In our opinion, VIOFO's flagship dash cams, the A119 and A119S, are easily the best non-parking mode dash cams under $150 on the market right now.
For a side-by-side comparison of the A119 and A119s, check out our blog post here
The design of the A119 and A119S builds upon the successful A118's sleek wedge shaped design. The new camera has a more premium feel to it and the buttons are clearer with a nicer click to them. The screen is also slightly larger at 2" while still keeping the device size fairly small. The two models look virtually identical but you can distinguish them by looking at the lens housing. The non-S model can be adjusted left and right while the S model can only be rotated up and down. In addition to the great design of the camera, the packaging on both the A119 and A119S also sets them apart from other Chinese dash cams. Like the camera, the box is compact and attractively designed. VIOFO also includes a number of useful accessories like mounting clips and extra mounting tape, a dual USB cigarette adapter, and a short USB for PC data transfer.
The internal components of the A119 dash cams are what really separates them from other dash cams in this price range. Both models use a super capacitor based power supply and won't have issues running in hotter climates that we've seen in other entry level cameras. The A119 and A119S are using the same Novatek 96660 processor which allows them to record 1080P video at 60 frames per second with an impressive bitrate of around 20 Megabits per second. The non-S A119 model can also record at a 1440P Quad HD resolution thanks to the Omnivision sensor. The A119S maxes out at 1080P, the latest Sony IMX291 sensor more than makes up for it by offering some of the best low-light visibility and dynamic range we've seen. When paired with the 60 FPS frame rate, both cameras offer very smooth video even at night.
Both cameras offer great video quality but on very dark streets we can see that the A119S (top) offers more detail
The cameras are also differentiated by the lenses used. The standard A119 uses a wider 160° lens with an F/1.8 while the A119S uses a narrower 130° with a F/1.6 aperture. The A119 lens will capture a slightly wider field of view while the A119S will have slightly better night time performance. Both cameras support an optional CPL filter that clips nicely into place over the lens housing. This CPL filter helps to reduce glare and reflections on the windshield, similar to driving with polarized sunglasses. While CPL filters can sometimes make videos too dark at night, we found no issues running it on the powerful A119 and A119S. We did notice however, that when paired with the thinner non-GPS mount, the CPL filter makes it difficult to aim the camera as there isn't enough clearance for the lens to rotate upwards. When fitted with the thicker GPS mount, there is no issue with the CPL filter. At the time of this review, the A119S came with a thicker and thinner non-GPS mount but the A119 only came with the thinner mount which is incompatible with the CPL.
VIOFO A119S Shown with CPL Filter Attached
Another available accessory for these cameras is the Mini USB hardwire kit which can be used to hide the wires in your car. This kit is meant to hook up to an ignition switched fuse and will allow your camera to turn on and off with the car. We really like VIOFO's mini USB hardwire kit as it comes with the C-shaped grounding terminal already attached while other kits we've tested came with no terminal. When paired with the correct add-a-fuse for your vehicle, this kit makes for a very clean and sleek setup which is perfectly matched to the A119's low-profile design.
These two models from A119 really raise the bar of what we expect from an entry level camera under $150. They check all the boxes for what we look for in a great dashcam: great video quality, great build quality, capacitor based power supply, sleek design, and 128GB Micro SD support. In our opinion, most users will be impressed and happy with the video quality from the A119. Those that simply want the best video quality, or live in rural areas with not a lot of street lighting should definitely consider the A119S for that extra bit of low-light sensitivity.
What we like
- Amazing video quality despite low price point
- Reliablity track record from VIOFO
- Optional factory CPL filter
What we don't
- Thinner non-GPS mount limits lens adjustment range
- Lack of true pre-buffered parking mode by motion detection
If you have any questions about choosing between these two devices, be sure to contact us with some details of your commuting style, familiarity with hardwire installs, vehicle model and any other information that may be relevant, and we can help you make a decision.