Hands-on review: MioFive 4K UHD dash cam
Image credit: Miofive
A successful Kickstarter dash cam comes to the UK.
We've looked at a number of dash cams lately and you'd be forgiven for thinking that there can only be so much variation in the basic shape and styling of these all-streaming, all-recording driving companions.
Yet with the MioFive, the grandly named, Chinese-owned company Cruise Cloud Technology Corporation has come up with quite a neat refinement to the look and feel of these omnipresent, watchful black boxes.
With the understanding that virtually every dash cam is typically installed in front of (or rather, behind) the rear-view mirror, keeping it well out of the driver's eyeline, the MioFive adopts the size and shape of a standard rear-view mirror. Seems logical: is.
Its slim body, with a crisply contoured edge, dark mirrored surface, laser-engraved LED light and carbon-fibre texture give the MioFive a thoroughly modern industrial design look and feel.
Not that this is crucial, given that once installed the MioFive becomes almost invisible - unless you actually want to look up and check the 2.2" IPS screen. This is nice and neat. We liked the Vantrue E1 for much the same inconspicuous reason, but the MioFive takes this low-profile styling concept a step further.
Installed via its sticky pad (not a rubber suction cup; both approaches have their pros and cons), the MioFive is an AI-enabled, 5G Wi-Fi, 4K UHD dash cam with 64Gb of built-in eMMC storage.
Other headline features are its 'True 4K' Sony IMX 415 image sensor, the aforementioned 2.2" vivid full-colour screen, a 'Stop and Go' artificial intelligence function, and built-in GPS.
The primary role of any dash cam is to capture crisp, clear footage of what's happening, in real time, around your vehicle. Any product worth buying today will do a decent job of this: there are very few truly terrible dash cams on the market.
Where the MioFive takes a step up in this regard is with its use of the Sony IMX 415 sensor, capable of capturing footage in 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) resolution footage at 3840 x 2160P at 30fps.
This equates to approximately four times more detail than non-4K cams, moving the footage considerably closer to a 'human eye' experience. The lens array in the MioFive is particularly interesting, with a set of seven glass lenses and F1.8 aperture to capture footage in vivid high definition.
Sony's Starvis Night Vision technology, as part of the IMX sensor, enables the MioFive to capture high-resolution footage in any light conditions, day or night. It also adapts well to changing light and weather conditions over the course of a long journey, as we found driving north to south and back again, passing through five different English counties in the process, during the course of our testing.
While 4K cams could still reasonably be considered overkill for dash cam footage - non-HD cams can be considerably cheaper - the MioFive's fair price positions this cam in the vanguard of new products bringing UHD capabilities to a more accessible price point.
The MioFive's camera has a wide angle view of around 140°, which should be enough to capture the world around more or less as the driver sees it. There are dash cams with a wider view on the market, so this aspect may require a deeper spec sheet comparison if you're looking to refine your dash cam shortlist.
Intriguingly, the MioFive's screen actually displays an ultra-wide vertical viewing angle of 160°, so you can see more than the cam is capturing. It's a lovely-looking screen, with strong, bright colour and good contrast, rendering the images more consistently visible in changing light conditions. It's not a touchscreen, though, so you have to make control adjustments via the buttons at the side, which are a little on the minimalist side.
The Starvis technology can also enable the cam to be used as a vehicle surveillance system to detect and capture bumps or other physical movement, recorded by the Time Lapse and G-sensor, although this does require the unit to be hardwired to your vehicle's fuse box in order to supply continuous power. The easiest way to use the MioFive, as with most dash cams, is simply to plug it into your car's 12V (cigarette lighter) outlet.
The adapter supplied for this only has one USB port, though, which some might consider a wasted opportunity. With the dash cam running, you've lost the use of that socket for any other devices or recharging potential. The MioFive's cable is also micro-USB, which frankly we shouldn't be seeing in new products in 2022.
As well as capturing live driving footage, the MioFive can also be set up with a time-lapse function to record continuously at 1fps for a period of 8, 16 or 24 hours. If you want to monitor your vehicle, and it is suitably powered, the MioFive can do this.
Like other cams, the MioFive's built-in GPS technology records your route, displaying real-time trip data including time, speed (km/h, mph) and GPS coordinates. This can also help pinpoint the exact location of an accident or breakdown.
The AI algorithm in the unit monitors the 'Stop and Go' function, which automatically activates when your vehicle is stopped behind another vehicle for longer than five seconds at a red light. When the car in front moves off at the green light, the MioFive announces this in a voice message, advising the driver to follow. This can be useful, although it can also become mildly annoying when you have a journey with a lot of stop/start traffic signals, so it's a relief that this feature can be easily turned on and off.
All journey footage and associated data are recorded to the unit's 64GB eMMC storage, which is convenient. It's also fast, with read/write speeds of around 50MB/s. Journey details are also recorded in the MioFive app (iOS and Android versions available), from where you can view and download video footage as and when required, via the unit's 5G Wi-Fi.
Bear in mind that older footage will be overwritten once the 64Gb memory becomes full. Shooting 4K video makes for large files, so 64Gb won't last as long as you might hope: a few days of continuous filming will do it. To save videos permanently, you can transfer them directly to your phone and then move them to wherever you need for safe storage.
It's also worth noting that the camera is filming constantly - you can't manually stop and start it - and the videos captured are a rolling series of one-minute 'bursts'. This does help to keep the file sizes down, which makes for easier transfer, although it also means a thick wodge of files saved to the memory. If you need to find a specific recording, you'll have to do a little digital archaeology.
All in all, the MioFive is a great dash cam. It holds real appeal as a single front-facing dash cam unit, with excellent video capture functionality, although it also has a few quirks, which may or may not prove to be dealbreakers.
The AI 'safe driving' voice advice can become a bit of a backseat-driver nag (as if we need another one of those in our lives…) and the only way to shut it up is to turn all audio prompts off. The 64Gb capacity is fixed, with no provision or facility to expand this. There's also no front/rear two-camera version - yet - although it would be possible to use two MioFives and simply point them in opposite directions. Perhaps the company chose to keep things simple for its first dash cam.
Minor quibbles aside, the MioFive seems to be the positive product of thoughtful design and consideration of users' primary needs and real-world use, essentially building on all the pros and cons exhibited by (other companies') past dash cam products. A very welcome evolution.
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