Vava VD009 Dash Cam review: Excellent features and video

The battery-powered surveillance is an especially nice bonus.

Credit: Vava

Vava’s VD009 dash cam takes some of the most detailed video we’ve seen—day and night, front and interior. We were slightly disappointed that it doesn’t feature Vava’s usual hockey-puck form factor, but given its features and performance—we’ll get over it. That’s a joke folks; it’s a very nice dash cam, even if it is a little pricey ($180 on Amazon).

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best dash cams. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Design and features

The VD009 has a cylindrical body housing a 2560x1600, 155-degree field-of-view front camera (Sony IMX33 sensor) and a 1920x1080, 126-degree FOV interior camera (Sony IMX307). The mount is a very effective suction type, however, part of its effectiveness is due to the very sticky material the cup is made of. Be careful to avoid schmutz (hair, fuzz, etc.) after you remove the protective film.

The interior camera is surrounded by four infrared lights for better night captures in the cabin. Interior captures have become increasingly important to ride givers (and passengers) for documenting behavior. YouTube has some fascinating examples of why this is a good idea. 

A 2-inch LCD faces the driver, with four buttons on the bottom of the camera for navigating the menus—a pretty standard arrangement. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the low-res text. The mini-USB power port and SD card slot are on the top of the camera, just above the display. The VD009 ships with a dual-port auxiliary USB adapter. (One of my least favorite things is a dash cam power adapter that hogs the auxiliary outlet.) 

The VD009 carries forward one of our favorite Vava innovations—24-hour parking surveillance without hardwiring. There’s a 320mAh battery inside that will run the camera in standby mode for a day or two, waking it by g-sensor and taking 15-second videos when necessary. I still recommend a OBD-II power cable, but the battery is fine for overnight parking. The large battery also allows for a lot of capture time after power is removed. Up to five minutes may be set, though the default is five seconds.

screenshot 20201020 115815 IDG

The Vava Dash Cam app makes it easier to adjust settings and capture video to your phone. 

GPS is integrated into the power cable, which eliminates the extra cable required with many cheaper units. An Android/iOS app is provided for adjusting settings more easily, as well as capturing video and images to your phone. The latter requires a Wi-Fi connection between the camera and the phone so you won’t be able to access the Internet via Wi-Fi while it’s in use. Some newer dash cams such as the Nexar Beam work around this by using Bluetooth.

Performance

There’s little to complain about with the VD009’s video. There’s a bit of moiré and ever-so-slight pixel flicker while the video is in motion, but this also translates into excellent detail, which you can see in the static captures below. While it might not be optimal for a travelogue, it’s exceedingly handy for legal purposes. And that’s what dash cams are for.

Beyond that, the color is rich and motion stabilization over bumps is pretty good. There’s hardly any fisheye either, which is hardly a given with a wide-FOV camera.

vd009 exterior day IDG

Yes, I was parked. But this is a good example of the level of detail you’ll get from all the captures.

I was parked for most of these captures, but the VD009 captures just as much detail when the car is moving. 

vd009 interior day IDG

Interior captures are detailed and bright. 

vd009 exterior night IDG

There’s plenty of detail directly ahead and to the sides in the VD009’s night captures. This appears far brighter than the same scene does to the naked eye.

As you can see from the night exterior capture above, the Sony sensor captures an extraordinary amount of detail, both directly ahead and in the surrounding area. This scene appears much brighter than it does to the naked eye. 

vd009 interior night IDG

Okay, I wound up with about 10 usable seconds of interior night capture. Keep in mind that there’s no back seat in my car so you’re not missing anything. Detail is quite good.

I must say that I didn’t do my best job taking interior video with the VD009. Regardless, given the lighting, there’s a lot of detail visible. This is a two-seater vehicle with a black interior. 

Good stuff

The 2K VD009 is a tad pricey, but there’s no arguing with the quality of camera or its video. It’s one of the better front/interior units we’ve tested.

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Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
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