Recently, I have purchased an updated dash camera for my car, to replace my Blackvue DR-400HD. While the Blackvue served me well for several years, it finally developed an issue where it simply reboots repeatedly. I tried replacing the battery, and reloading the firmware, but sadly I was unable to recover it.
As it turns out, dash cameras have come a long way since 2012 when I purchased the Blackvue. At the time, the Blackvue was the best camera available – 1080p Full HD recording with GPS and parking mode, in a compact package.
However, it did have some drawbacks. If you wanted to use the “parking mode” feature, it requires an additional box (the Power Magic Pro) to prevent the camera from draining your car battery. Also, it was designed with an internal battery; unfortunately over time and in extreme heat, the unit could overheat and produce corrupt video. Newer dash cameras tend to use a super-capacitor in place of a battery, which tolerates temperature extremes much better than a battery-based unit.
Enter the Qvia AR790WD: this camera was just released in late 2016, but has an impressive feature set. It has two cameras, front and rear, both of which are capable of Full HD 1080p recording at 30 frames per second. Both cameras use an excellent Sony Exmos sensor, which provide excellent day, and good night footage; the front camera uses the higher end Sony EXMOS IMX 322 sensor for unparalleled quality.
The AR790WD also provides Wifi, GPS, and ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System), and includes a full-featured parking mode with built-in battery protection. Like many dashcams, the AR790WD, also has g-shock sensors to detect if your car has been hit or in an accident – in these cases, special “event” video segments are saved on the cameras memory card so they cannot be accidentally deleted or overwritten.
The camera is fairly easy to install, the standard packaging includes a hardwiring cable, but I also added a cigarette adapter power cable to my order, so that I could fire it up right away. I’ve since installed the hardwire kit, tapping into two circuits in my cars fuse box – I used a couple Add-A-Fuses for this. This dashcam has battery voltage detection built in and will not drain your battery beyond a set point when hardwired, which is great for parking mode. Hardwiring requires connecting the camera to an always on fuse – I used the brake light fuse here – and a fuse that is only powered when the car is running, for this one I used the radio fuse. Once hardwired you can take advantage of parking mode, the camera will automatically switch between always recording and parking mode, which is very convenient. There is also a power switch on the camera itself, if you just want to turn it off..
I expect the biggest challenge most will have (and that’s not to say it is difficult work!), is either connecting the hardwire kit, or running the power and rear camera cable neatly though the cabin, tucked away cleanly. Mounting both front and rear cameras is straightforward, and it is easy to reposition the cameras if you didn’t get it stuck exactly where you wanted, as the adhesive is a removable 3M product that can be stuck and removed several times.
Physically, both the front and rear cameras are quite small, the front camera is largely hidden behind my mirror, and the rear camera does not negatively impact my view through the rear-view mirror, it is very small and is almost unnoticeable.
ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System)
The ADAS system includes three kinds of alerts – Lane Departure Warning, Front Collision Warning, and Forward Vehicle Start Alert.
Lane Departure Warning seems like a good idea, to notify you if you are drifting out of our lane. However, it is not 100% reliable, and also, without connecting the turn signal to the camera, I get alerts from this every time I change lanes.
Front Collision Warning alerts you if the car in front of you has stopped so that you will not rear-end them.
Forward Vehicle Start Alert seems like only a feature the distracted driver or compulsive txter would love – it notifies you, if you are stopped and the car in front of you starts moving.
I find all of these driving aids kind of annoying and will be turning them off now that I’ve experienced them.
GPS is used by the dashcam to overlay speed onto the video. I believe the GPS positioning data is also stored encoded in the video files themselves, as an additional subtitle track, but I haven’t tried to extract this data yet to verify. I did like how my old Blackvue would just save the GPS data alongside the video files, but we should be able to extract out the gps data from the MP4 file if we need it.
This dashcam provides a wifi connection that you can enable to manage the settings. Once enabled, you can connect to the wifi using an android or iOS device, run the Qvia App, and adjust all the camera settings as necessary.
I ran ffprobe on a video file from the front camera, and the rear camera, the details of which are as follows:
Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from 'alwa_20170201_163415_F.MP4': Metadata: major_brand : avc1 minor_version : 0 compatible_brands: avc1isom creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 Duration: 00:01:36.90, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 22508 kb/s Stream #0:0(eng): Video: h264 (Main) (avc1 / 0x31637661), yuv420p(tv, bt709), 1920x1080, 10986 kb/s, 29.97 fps, 29.97 tbr, 30k tbn, 59.94 tbc (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella AVC encoder : Ambarella AVC encoder Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le (sowt / 0x74776F73), 16000 Hz, 1 channels, s16, 256 kb/s (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella AAC Stream #0:2(eng): Subtitle: mov_text (text / 0x74786574), 12 kb/s (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella EXT Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from 'alwa_20170201_163415_R.MP4': Metadata: major_brand : avc1 minor_version : 0 compatible_brands: avc1isom creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 Duration: 00:01:36.90, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 16448 kb/s Stream #0:0(eng): Video: h264 (Main) (avc1 / 0x31637661), yuv420p(tv, bt709), 1920x1080, 7001 kb/s, 29.97 fps, 29.97 tbr, 30k tbn, 59.94 tbc (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella AVC encoder : Ambarella AVC encoder Stream #0:1(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le (sowt / 0x74776F73), 16000 Hz, 1 channels, s16, 256 kb/s (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella AAC Stream #0:2(eng): Subtitle: mov_text (text / 0x74786574), 12 kb/s (default) Metadata: creation_time : 2017-02-01 16:34:05 handler_name : Ambarella EXT
Video Test Footage
The footage produced by the Qvia is quite good, but I wouldn’t rate it as excellent. There are still some encoding artifacts in the recorded videos, and the rear camera nighttime recording are exceptionally dark, to the point they are probably not a lot of use. In bright sun, the rear camera also picks up a lot of interior reflections, I may have to try relocating the camera to see if I can mitigate this somewhat.
Click any of the thumbnails below to view the recorded video.
Overall I would rate the Qvia AR790WD as a great dashcam, if you are looking for a top quality, two channel dashcam with parking mode capabilities, this is definitely a camera to consider. The downside is the price – at $279USD, plus the cost of some microSD memory cards, this camera definitely comes at a premium. However, it is cheaper than the competition: a Thinkware F770 with an additional rear camera generally seems to cost more than that, as does a Blackvue DR650S, unless you can get it on Massdrop or another discount site.
Rating: 3.8 / 5 stars