If you have ever driven at night, you more than likely know the feeling that someone, or something, can jump out in front of your car at any moment. For those that live in rural areas, this could be animals running across the highway, and, of course, in heavily populated areas, it could be a pedestrian that you may not have been able to see. These situations unfortunately happen all too often, causing accidents that damage property or worse, inflict injuries.
Thankfully, there is a market of products aiming to remedy some of these scenarios. Some solutions come directly integrated into vehicles as optional upgrades, and others, like the Lanmodo Vast, are aftermarket accessories that you can just place on your dashboard and go. I recently had the chance to test out Lanmodo's unique camera system, and it was surprising just how effective it was at improving visibility in low light situations, which could indeed help those that travel frequently during the night.
Lanmodo Vast Car Night Vision Camera
Bottom line: The Lanmodo Vast improves visibility in dark or low light settings, potentially avoiding dangerous situations. However, its high price tag and average build quality keep it from being a must have for everyone.
- Night vision performance
- Easy installation
- Expansive 8.2 inch screen
- Average build quality
- Glare can be an issue on a busy street
Lanmodo Vast: The features
The Lanmodo Vast is an all-in-one solution that incorporates a night vision camera into a frame that also houses the display. The overall design of the unit resembles a standard rearview mirror, with an 8.2 inch IPS display running horizontally across pretty much the entire front of the device. The display is capable of 1080p HD video resolution, and it supports both color and black and white modes.
The camera on the Lanmodo Vast has a 36 degree field of view, and can capture images from up to 984 feet, or 300 meters away. The camera sits in the middle of the unit, on the backside, and its angle can adjust slightly by physically moving the lens. Lanmodo states that the lens consists of seven pieces of glass, and uses a Sony chip that enables what they call active infrared to produce its high resolution imagery. The camera itself does not capture video, and it is purely for displaying a live view of the road ahead. The camera also does not interface with any screens that you may have in your vehicle.
Powering the camera works by plugging it into an available 12v "cigarette lighter" port, or through the OBD port on modern vehicles. Both options come inside the box, and if you are really adventurous, an optional battery pack can make the entire thing portable which could be useful for camping trips. A rear view camera is also sold separately, and the Lanmodo Vast comes with a port inline for quick installation with the display.
Lanmodo Vast: What I like
Setting up the Lanmodo Vast was a quick and easy experience, one that anyone can accomplish in just five minutes or less. The camera comes with an anti-slip mat that rests on your dashboard, and a suction cup mount that attaches to your windshield. For my tests, I went strictly with the anti-slip mat, as suction cup solutions for other accessories, such as phone holders, always eventually fail (from my experience). The anti-slip mat kept the camera in place during my travels, which was surprising, considering that the unit just sat on top of the mat.
While I was able to capture a few images that show off some of its capabilities, seeing is believing, with its impact being more impressive in person.
Of course, night vision is the main attraction here, and the Lanmodo Vast backed up its claims of improving the ability to see in the dark admirably. For my tests, I took a drive with the camera on a busy highway, down residential roads, and on a completely unlit neighborhood that was under construction.
While I was able to capture a few images that show off some of its capabilities, seeing is believing, with its impact being more impressive in person. Whether it was an overpass in the distance, or a deer walking casually not too far out ahead (see the gallery below!), the camera displayed details that otherwise would have gone unnoticed until much closer.
The most dramatic experience was on the aforementioned unlit road, where I was able to pick up things such as slight variances of the ground height on the display, which was pretty much non-existent to me looking out of the windshield. Other things such as construction equipment and debris both on and off the road came into view much quicker, giving me a better sense of awareness in an unfamiliar place.
Lanmodo Vast: What I don't like
Before my test unit arrived, I was fully aware of the high price tag that accompanies the Lanmodo Vast, so I was expecting the best as far as build quality goes. While the Lanmodo Vast is not poorly built, it lacks a certain fit and finish that usually comes with "higher end" products. The housing of the camera is completely plastic, and extremely light in the hand, which makes it feel less substantial than you would expect for the price.
The anti-slip mat, which did keep the camera from sliding around my dash, had a design oddity that I couldn't quite figure out whether or not it was a defect. The mat has a groove that mimics the base of the camera, which would indicate that the camera is meant to nestle itself into, but the groove wasn't quite large enough for the base. This made the camera just sit right on top of the mat, which just felt and looked awkward. The instructions that came with the camera did not touch on this at all, so I am still not sure what the "proper" way is.
As far as actual operation goes, the display portion of the camera did seem to pick up quite a bit of glare from the headlights of oncoming vehicles. This means that when driving down a highway with lots of cars, your ability to see your surroundings takes a hit. When on a small side street where you pass directly alongside of an oncoming car, the display essentially becomes un-viewable for that short moment. The glare definitely makes the camera better suited for those backstreets or country roads where there isn't a lot of action, and I hope that there is some magical way that the company can address it in future revisions.
A highly useful product in specific situations
Lanmodo Vast: The Bottom Line
When it is all said and done, the Lanmodo Vast Car Night Vision Camera works as advertised, instantly improving your ability to see at night. This camera is easy to install, with either a suction cup mount or a mat directly on your dashboard, and it uses just one cord for power, preventing it from looking out of place. However, it's true value can only be determined by your specific needs.
If you drive a lot at night in unlit areas, then the Lanmodo Vast can certainly help with keeping you aware of your surroundings, giving you some extra peace of mind. If you don't though, it's a much tougher sell, especially considering it's price and some of its flaws. Regardless, I can't wait to see just how far this type of technology can go, and can envision a day where it comes standard in all vehicles for its potential impact on safety. But for now, we can have a little slice of the future today, with solutions like this clever camera.
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