Vava 4K Dash Cam | $180 | Amazon
Back in January, I first met with Vava as a media attendee at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. There I was introduced to their 4K dash cam, the company’s first to sport the Vava moniker, as opposed to TaoTronics, another brand in the same family of products you’ll find plastered across Amazon search results. Whether you know Vava for their cheap but surprisingly high quality headphones (TaoTronics) OR their cheap but surprisingly high quality battery packs (RAVPower), chances are you’ve encountered the brand at some point in your online shopping career.
The Vava 4K dash cam in particular is a unique product in a category full of indistinguishable clones. That’s not to say dash cams aren’t important; having one allows you to conveniently store, on a microSD card, hard evidence of any unfortunate automotive collision that comes crashing your way. But what if your dash cam also served as a lens into the unequivocal joys of driving. Whether you’re cruising around aimlessly or road tripping to a far-off destination, haven’t you ever wanted to capture, and later share, the picturesque views along the way?
I thought that’s what I’d be doing when Vava sent me their 4K dash cam earlier this year. Little did I know the road trips I used to take—say from NYC to Burlington, Vermont or down south to Asheville, North Carolina—would be shelved until the end of a global pandemic. But then I realized, while using my car to make essential grocery runs and take short hiking trips upstate, the roads are barren in the city that never sleeps, and the drivers are reckless. Many of the parking garages are now closed on weekends, leaving car owners to fend for themselves on the side of the street.
Never has there been a more critical time to keep a dash cam in your car, to insure it against other drivers on the road and the careless pedestrians roaming the streets. If ultra hi-def quality is a must, the Vava 4K dash cam is a solid option. Its companion app (iOS/Android), though limited, is intuitive and practical. With it, you can view your library of loops, or automatically recorded clips, emergency videos, and my personal favorite, “snapshots” taken with the included IR remote of the same name.
While I haven’t found a way to extend these videos beyond the default 20-second limit (even if I was able to increase the cap for automatic loops to a whole 3 minutes), the bite-size footage I did capture turned out to be the perfect length for social media sharing, which it turns out is central to the Vava 4K dash cam’s identity. Beyond the impressive capabilities of its Sony night vision sensors, the camera is the perfect vessel for drivers to share their experiences online, complete with an extensive selection of filters for the car influencer in the making.
Moreover, you can view travel logs in the Vava Dash app, with snapshots, loops, and emergencies tied to each location. It’s sort of like how the Photos app is curated on my phone. You have the choice to either sort images and videos in reverse chronological order or by location in the Travel Log menu. These travel logs can then be used to create driving journals containing the log, a title under 40 words, and an associated picture to remind you why you saved it.
One thing worth noting about the Vava 4K dash cam is that it doesn’t come with a memory card. After a relatively painless install process, save for replacing the shoddy adhesive strips with a more reliable cable management workaround, I realized I didn’t have a spare microSD card lying around, then I bought one and discovered I didn’t own the right CLASS of microSD card. Save yourself the trouble and pick up the U3-class 128GB Samsung EVO Select before you make the same mistake I did. Trust me, you’ll need the extra space shooting at 4K.
Although the minutiae of the Vava 4K dash cam’s features continue to elude me, overall I’m impressed. The snapshot remote, its killer app so to speak, provides a visual reference to my friends and family back home for the wild west that is NYC traffic amid shelter-in-place. On weekends, a 320mAh battery keeps it alive to ensure days of uninterrupted street parking surveillance. And someday, I hope, I’ll be able to use it as originally intended—for taking Instagram-worthy shots documenting scenic drives through rural and urban America and everything in between.