For almost a year now, I have been running the Viofo A119 V2 dash cam in our car. It’s been pretty flawless since the initial setup. Recently, Viofo reached out and asked if I would do a quick review of their most recent dash cam, the A119 Pro. Received the unit about 2 weeks ago and I finally had some time to put together a quick comparison video. The A119 Pro is running Firmware 1.2 (FW 1.2). With the older 1.0 Firmware, videos were overly sharpened. With 1.2, Viofo engineers lightened up on sharpness and/or contrast and the videos look much more natural. FW 1.2 also yielded less pixelation and a more pleasing picture (at least to me). It’s still a little too sharp but that is only my preference (I really dislike pixelation). It’s only been a few weeks since the A119 pro was launched and Viofo has already released a new firmware that increased video quality. This has been happening regularly with other models from Viofo. The A119 V2 is the most seasoned of their units and picture quality has come a long way since the original firmware. The A119 V2 with latest firmware is rock solid and picture quality is fairly good. Note, don’t expect super high definition when it comes to dash cam video quality. Not even the most expensive dash cams out there will give you the kind of video quality you can get from a good smartphone these days. As long as dash cam videos are clear and captures the scene in question, that’s what counts. But I must say, it is nice to see both the A119 V2 and A119 Pro units yielding fairly high quality videos.
Watch this video first then read the detailed notes below.
Video Sharpness and Clarity
Video from the A119 Pro with FW 1.2 looks almost as good or slightly better (depending on conditions and what’s important to you) than the A119 V2. Quality of videos also depends on the unit you receive. I have seen good to bad quality videos posted by users; with a $100 dash cam, quality control may not always be at 100%. Do note that the A119 V2 actually has very good video quality after many firmware revisions. Some users say this is Viofo’s best quality video dash cam. We can hope that Viofo engineers continue to tweak the A119 Pro firmware and squeeze out even more video quality in the months to come. I have not had a chance to test night time footage yet for the A119 Pro on FW 1.2. With 1.0, the image was overly sharpened and/or too high in contrast for my taste; there was quite a bit of pixelation and grain. Do a search for the A119 Pro with the original FW 1.0 and you will see many disappointed reviews (with both day and night footage). Given that FW 1.2 softened up the image, I would expect night videos to get better as well. Night footage from the A119 V2 is almost as good as you can get (the A119S V2 may be better but this can be argued either way) for a dash cam in this price range. But even with such good quality, 95% of the time, you will have a hard time capturing license plates during your night driving. If you pause the above comparison video and try and read signs on the side of the road, most of the time the A119 Pro yields more readable signs then the A119 V2. This is very promising indeed. My A119 V2 is from the first batch of production and may not be as sharp as other units out there. I do remember there were many returns when V2 the A119 V2 launched due to focusing and soft image issues.
The comparison video was recorded on a cloudy / overcast day. Licence plates and road signs were a little difficult to read. Having said that, here is the A119 Pro having the edge with road signs. Click to enlarge.
Below is a screen grab to compare captured licence plates while driving at a relatively low speed. What I noticed while studying these screen captures was that the A119 Pro displayed licence plates and road signs that were more readable even all the way to the edge of the video footage as compared to the A119 V2. This is probably due to the fact that the A119 Pro has a smaller field of view so perhaps less lens distortion gives a more readable letters in general. Can you see the difference? Click to enlarge.
Videos from the A119 V2 have slightly muted colours and is more on the cool side (blue) whereas the A119 Pro videos are more on the warm side (orange). Both are acceptable and unless you compare them side-by-side, I doubt many people will care about the white balance (or can even tell them apart) given that this is a dash cam and not a camera to shoot movies.
The A119 V2 has clear audio. The A119 Pro’s audio is also clear but at a much lower volume. Hear the differences in the video. You will see in the video the significant volume differences between the two units. In my opinion, audio is not as important as having good quality video so this may not be a determining factor for choosing one over the other. There were a few pops and clicks in the final video. Not sure if this is from the original recording or if these were introduced during editing. While editing in Premiere Pro, the pops and clicks were intermittent and did not always happen in the same spot. It obviously wasn’t important enough for me to track this down.
On a side note, the A119 V2 has a mic that can record lower frequencies. If you have a subwoofer, turn up the volume to see hear how low the mic was able to capture from the original music playing inside the vehicle. My guess is that the recorded audio went as low as 40-50Hz (maybe even lower in some sections). That is impressive for a $100 electronic that is meant to record video! If you have the capability to measure the frequency of the low bass notes in the video, please comment below and let me know if I was right.
Here is a dedicated post to troubleshooting the low audio recording on the A119 Pro. Check it out if you have low volume recording as well.
- Video quality from the A119 V2 is very good for a dash cam in this price range; one of the better ones actually. The A119 Pro is catching up / caught up. Video quality on the A119 Pro has gotten significantly better with Firmware 1.2. Sharpness has been tweaked and results show a good quality video.
- Colour balance is slightly more natural with the A119 Pro but the A119 V2 is acceptable as well.
- The A119 Pro has a smaller field of view so this means you see a less-wide image. Smaller field of view dash cams tend to be better at recording licence plates and road signs.
- The A119 Pro was mounted on a suction cup that came with the product. That’s why footage from this unit was less stable and had more vibration from bumps on the road as well as the sound system.
- Between 1:30 and 2:00 in the video, if you pause to try and read licence plates, the A119 Pro clearly has the edge. Not sure how YouTube will compress the final video but final video exported from Premiere Pro show the A119 pro definitely edging out the A119 V2 for reading licence plates and road signs. This was evident on a 24 inch monitor and even more so on a large screen TV. See screen captures below.
- The A119 V2, A119S V2 and A119 Pro all use the same (newer) GPS mount. GPS mounts allow your video files to have your location embedded; this is an optional add-on although retailers sell bundled units with a GPS module.
- Really like the audio warning on Viofo products when the dash cams are either missing an SD card or, the SD card is not recording properly. This continuous beep warning was a main feature that made me choose the A119 V2 to begin with. There has been countless reports from owners that when they needed a clip, it was only then that they found out their dash cam was not recording properly or they had completely forgotten to re-insert their SD card after removing to download videos. Many Viofo dash cams has a function to continuously beep you if something goes wrong with the recording.
Which One Should I Buy? A119 V2 or A119 Pro?
Given the history of how good Viofo is at listening to customers and rolling out enhanced firmware frequently, it is a good bet that the A119 Pro will get better with time. All other Viofo models like the A119 and A119S are now selling into a Version 2; and, new versions of firmware are still being released for these units as of this blog post.
Just a few weeks ago when the A119 Pro was running FW 1.0, the edge clearly went to the A119 V2. Given the latest current FW 1.2, the A119 Pro has closed the gap as far as video quality. If history is any indication and Viofo continues their proactive after sales support, the A119 Pro (given it has newer hardware) has a serious chance of out performing the A119 V2 with future releases of new firmware.
If I had to choose one and if the prices were similar, I would purchase the A119 Pro today. In fact, I am so impressed with the video quality of the A119 Pro, I am going to move my A119 V2 to the rear of the vehicle and have the A119 Pro record the front. The best thing is, they both fit on my V2 GPS logger that is already sticky mounted to the front windshield. And the A119 V2 with the bi-directional lens movement may be more suited for the rear as I may have to mount it on the side window and the multi-directional lens will come in handy.
I say this as someone who sees first hand the support Viofo and their distributors provide on popular dash cam forums like Dashcam Talk. It’s rare that a manufacturer can provide this type of service. It’s even more unheard of that their distributors are also super active and helpful on this forum. Anyone can easily ask a question or reach out to them for advice.
Nope. I won’t do an unboxing or discuss the form factor between the A119 V2 and A119 Pro. There are many reviews out there discussing this in detail. Andrew over at Car Cam Central gives great advice on choosing dash cams. In fact, he just released an updated video with lots of good info about Viofo dash cams. Go check it out.
Just know that one main difference between the two units I am comparing today is that the Pro version does not have a left-to-right panning lens and only has vertical lens tilting. The A119 V2 has both horizontal panning and vertical tilting lens adjustments. This may be important if you plan to use the dash cam at the rear of your vehicle and you may need the flexibility to be able to freely point your lens to capture the best angle.
Where Can I Buy These Dash Cams?
- I purchased my A119 V2 with GPS from OCD Tronics on Amazon.ca. Had great service and would recommend them if you are in Canada.
- Here is their slightly lower A119 V2 if you do not want the GPS logger
- As for the A119 Pro, this is the link for OCD Tronics
- If you want to purchase from Amazon.com, here is a link to all OCD Tronics products