Do You Need a 4K UHD Dashcam? VAVA Thinks So, And They’re Right
With a wide-angle lens, the 4K is vital for spotting vehicle registrations and other details obscured by lower resolutions. The choice of frame rates and quality of the night vision contribute to make the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam perhaps the most advanced dashcam we've reviewed. It lacks a rear camera, but otherwise this is a dashcam to consider.
If you’re looking for a new dashcam you might have very specific requirements. For example, you might want 4K quality video, or a dashcam that you can easily access using your phone without needing to pull out the SD card.
The VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam Car Dashboard Camera does both. Is this the future of dashcams, or is a Wi-Fi-connected dashboard camera more trouble than it’s worth?
To find out, we hooked one up in a family MPV and took it out on the road.
What’s in the Box With the VAVA Dashcam?
The compact VAVA-branded box sensibly compartmentalizes the dashcam kit, separating it so you only need to unpack what you need for installation.
For example, the single VAVA dashcam is in its own box; the mount and car charge adapter in another. Also in the box is a USB charging cable, plastic “crowbar” and adhesive cable clips, and the snapshot button. This is a remote control that makes it easier than ever to record what has just happened on the road.
There’s also a user guide to help you through the setup and provide tips for syncing the camera with your phone.
Sadly, the dashcam does not include an SD card. You’ll need to supply your own—the faster, the better.
The VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam can be purchased for $200, but if you use the discount code 20VYSQT5FY you’ll get $38 off for a limited time!
It’s Also a Wi-Fi Dashcam
The unique selling point of the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam isn’t the resolution or the remote control, though both are certainly impressive. It’s the Wi-Fi.
The benefit this offers over other dashcams is the ease with which you can review footage. It also means there is no temptation to switch the camera’s display on—there is no display.
Instead, all interaction with the dashcam is via your phone. So, no distraction when you’re driving; the dashcam operates almost anonymously, save for a power up and power down chime. Of course, this brings fresh challenges regarding how you use the dashcam.
VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam Specs
This is a quite impressive dashcam. As well as support for 4K UHD (at various framerates: (3840×2160 @30fps, 2560×1440 @30fps, 1920×1080 @60fps, and 1920×1080 @30fps HDR) the camera features a built-in G-sensor for automatic recording.
A 155-degree wide-angle lens captures everything in front of your car, while “super night vision” recording and WDR ensure clarity after dark.
This is all possible thanks to Sony IMX317 sensors and Ambarella H22 chipset.
Video is recorded (in MP4 format; photos as JPG) on a loop, to the capacity of the SD card. Up to 256GB storage is supported; the dashcam will inform you if the inserted card is inadequate. We used a 128GB SanDisk Extreme microSD card.
Installing the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam
As with any dashcam, installation is a learning curve. There’s a certain amount of messing around with interior panels and upholstery to power the device.
If you’re familiar with dashcam installation, you’ll know how to route the cable. While the VAVA manual outlines the path the cable should take, it’s not something that translates easily between car models. As such, you could end up removing a carpet to safely run the cable from the socket to the dashcam.
Whatever happens, you have the plastic crowbar to help move interior panels and furnishings. Adhesive clips are provided for you to attach the cable to the windscreen. Meanwhile, there’s a rectangle junction midway along the USB cable, also equipped with adhesive for attaching to the windscreen.
The power supply is your car’s battery, routed through the USB power cable from the car’s standard charger port. (Formerly known as the “cigarette lighter”.) VAVA’s power adaptor features a useful LED ring that indicates when it is receiving power.
Central to the installation is, of course, the mount and the camera itself. A magnet connects the two devices, while the USB cable clips to the mount; this then plugs into the camera.
The mount is angled to fit on the windscreen, with a tacky suction cup that locks securely into place. Meanwhile, a pivoting ball joint provides the dashcam’s mounting surface.
Setting Up the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam on Wi-Fi
To set up the dashcam you’ll need your smartphone to hand. The VAVA app is available for Android and iOS and will detect the dashcam when the ignition is on.
Set up is straightforward. You’ll need to ensure Wi-Fi is enabled on your phone, which will create an ad hoc network with the dashcam. If you use a VPN, this will need to be disabled as it will block access to the dashcam.
Once set up, your interaction with the dashcam (except for positioning and changing the SD card) is via the app.
Remotely Record an Incident
As with any dashcam, the footage is recorded on a loop and stored on the SD card. Two main folders are in use, for standard recordings and those initiated in an emergency. Swerves, impacts, and motion detection when in parking mode all initiate a recording saved as an emergency.
A third folder is created when recording is initiated from your mobile device. This should be done by a passenger rather than the driver, however, for road safety purposes.
Video is stored in two resolutions. Standard definition footage is for review purposes on your phone. This helps you find and select the appropriate file to download in 4K. This approach saves time, effort, storage on your phone, and battery.
What if you need to save something for viewing later? On standard dashcams, there’s a button to press. That’s not the case with the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam, however. Instead, a remote button ships with the camera. This can be mounted in the car, perhaps on an air vent, or on your keyring.
Whenever an event you want to check later occurs, press the button to save it for review.
Check VAVA 4K Dash Cam Footage on Your Mobile
The mobile app is easy to use. Simply ensure your phone has Wi-Fi enabled, then launch the app. It should automatically connect after the initial setup is complete.
In the app, you’ll find four main screens. Home summarizes recent events, shows new VAVA products, your latest travel log, and help files.
The Dash Cam screen is intended to manage the connection to the device. The Gallery screen is split into Snapshots, Loop, and Emergency. It’s here that you’ll find everything that has been recorded on the camera.
Finally, the Profile screen provides Settings access, as well as detailed storage information, a Travel Log of every journey, and a Driving Journal where journeys are added. GPS information is collated as you drive, useful for providing information to insurance companies in the event of an incident. Google Maps is used for this, complete with distance and journey time data.
Video from the camera can be downloaded to your phone for easy distribution. Alternatively, remove the microSD card from the dashcam when powered off and copy the video to your PC.
Day to Day Driving With the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam
Some dashcams are somewhat frustrating to use. In 2019 I reviewed the Z-Edge Z3D dual dashcam, with front and rear cameras. It was a real pain to set up and install and while the results from it are good, the annoying chime when it switches on and off tends to annoy. It also features a tricky user interface, which isn’t ideal when you’re looking for an incident on the SD card.
In short, the VAVA dashcam succeeds where the Z3D failed. But both are good cameras, as you can see from the comparison below. Here’s the Z3D image of a roundabout:
Everything is clear and bright. Here’s the view from the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam at the same point:
Although darker, the lines are even clearer. Notice the treetops, arrows, shadows, and the lamppost on the left. With 4K, the definition is stronger.
Do You Need the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam?
Bottom line: everyone should have a dashcam. It can reduce insurance premiums and is vital in proving the facts in a claim. But should everyone have the VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam?
Well, if not, it should be at the top of your shopping list. Its inconspicuous presence in your car (surprising given the contemporary design) means this is a dashcam that you won’t feel tempted to interact with.
The Wi-Fi means that you’ll never need to touch the device while driving. Footage can be reviewed on your phone while you’re not driving, or by a passenger, and immediately saved or even shared online. For road safety purposes, this is vital.
The VAVA 4K UHD Dash Cam is unobtrusive, recording footage largely silently and anonymously. It silently does the job—you check the footage when required. If you’re looking for a dashcam, this should be your first choice (but don’t wait too long, the discount code 20VYSQT5FY for $38 off will only be valid for a short time).