Price (RRP): $from 539.95 plus read camera and fitting
You may not know much about Thinkware, but GadgetGuy understands it is a leading brand of dash cams. The Thinkware F800Pro is a premium model.
Established in 1997, it is a frequent winner of innovation and design awards. And it has an Australian office, support and real people to help. Website here. We took the Thinkware F800Pro and optional rear camera for a spin.
Available via retailers including Ryda, Autobarn, Supercheap, AutoPro, Car Audio Masters, Elite Electronics, Carbon Car Systems and more.
Product range (Prices from Ryda – there are packages with dual cameras and larger microSD cards)
Price (with GB card)
|Camera||Wired Rear Camera input||GPS/Safety camera alerts||Screen||Storage microSD||
[email protected], 2.12MP|
|Option $79||No||Up to 64GB||No/No||No|
|Same as F100||
|No||Up to 64GB||Yes/yes||No|
Same as F100|
|No||Up to 64GB||No/No||No|
Super Night Vision
|Option 1K F77RA||Yes/Yes||No||Up to 64GB||Yes/Yes||Lane Departure and Forward collision|
Sony Exmor R IMX291 H.264
Super Night Vision
|Yes/Yes||No||Up to 128GB||Yes/Yes||As above plus Forward departure|
Super Night Vision
|Up to 64GB||No/No||As above|
H.264 Super Night Vision
|As above||Up to 64GB||No/No||??|
Please note – we take all all care in putting this information together, but prices and model inclusions may vary from store to store.
Now if you are confused at the range don’t worry.
You really should pop down to your auto accessory retailer (note I did not mention your electronics mass retailer as this is specialist stuff) and decide what is right for you. Our strongest advice is that you really need the GPS option if you ever want to use dashcam footage as ‘evidence’.
Apart from the above, all use a supercapacitor for backup power; thermal protection for hot Aussie climate; PC/Mac viewer; Android/iOS app (if Wi-Fi equipped); autonomous recording modes; dual save (on microSD and system memory as a backup); and Australian 2-year warranty and support.
Review: Thinkware F800Pro (website here)
Don’t let the website images fool you – this is a very small dashcam at 107 (wide) x 60.5 (high) x 32.5mm deep.
The review unit comes with a 16GB UHS 1 microSD card and SD adapter. It also has a microSD to USB-A reader.
Power is via a 12V utility socket (cigarette lighter) plug to a round pin plug on a 2m cable. Three cable clips help route the cable.
A full manual is here
You attach it to a windscreen using a 3M sticky pad with four key-notches on the camera facing side. Once it is stuck on, the 3M pad is there to stay – although a spare 3M adhesive pad comes as well.
Mount it as high on the windscreen and as close to the centre of the screen as possible. We found you could be slightly off centre, but there is no left/right adjustment. The camera head swivels through 90° to align to car bonnet line. You need to check the angle via the smartphone app or PC viewer as it has no LCD view screen.
The buttons on the back of the camera are not necessary for everyday use. Thinkware says, “A good Dash Cam must be a device that drivers need not worry about on their daily commute. Our Thinkware Dash Cam is easy to install, highly autonomous, safe, durable, and discreet. All you need to do is just simply get in your car and go for a drive.”
The buttons are to initiate Wi-Fi connection, manual (emergency) recording, power (auto on/off) voice recording (on/off). A microSD slot is on the top.
Also, make sure that you place the mounting pad where it allows enough room to slide the camera off as you will need to access the microSD card at times.
Our only gripe is the black power (4m) cable, and the rear camera cable hangs down from the camera. Professional installation would be the best option to hide this.
The optional rear camera uses a micro-USB video/power cable (6m) from the Video-in port on the main dashcam. Again, consider professional installation.
Types of recording
Files are named YYY_MM_DD_HH_MM_SS and F or R (front or rear). Separate folders store the images
- Continuous – 1-minute segments – always recording
- Continuous incident – 10 seconds before, 20 seconds during and 10 seconds
- Manual record – 10 seconds before and 50 seconds after transferred to this folder
- Motion detect – 10 seconds before and 10 seconds during
- Parking incident – 10 seconds before and 10 seconds during
Video stream is 10Mbps. Each continuous 60-second clip is about 82MB. Each 20-second motion detect is a 27MB slice. You cannot take a still shot, but you can screen clip from a video.
In an hour you would generate about 5GB (exclusive of incident slices), so a large microSD card is best. While Thinkware recommends its cards, mwave has 64/128GB at approx. $20/26 and they work well.
Thinkware Cloud app (iOS or Android) requires you to download and install it. With the Thinkware
We did not test geofencing, impact notifications and locate my car because of the need to use a companion smartphone. During the test, we had some minor issues with loss of Wi-Fi signal even though the companion phone is a Samsung Galaxy Note9 with one of the strongest reception strengths we have ever seen.
You can also download the PC/Mac viewer and view images from the microSD card or hook up to its Wi-Fi SSD for real-time images. It can overlay these on Google Maps.
The app and viewer have no editing function, so if you need this, you can purchase MP4 editor software. I suspect this is to stop tampering with footage or altering evidence.
Firmware and speed cam updates – manual
Place a firmware update on the root directory of the microSD card. Update time is 10-15 minutes.
Place a speed camera smartguidepoint.dx2 file into the ‘driveinfo’ folder.
First, an apology to Thinkware. Our tests were on a microSD that disappeared in transit – yes, they are very small. We will rerun these later, but for the moment we are using photos from its website.
We were impressed with the image clarity and low light capability as well as the sound from the integrated microphone – it is certainly able to pick up conversations in the car, and we disabled the mic.
Picture quality is due to the Sony Exmor R STAVIS IMX291LQR image sensor that captures quality images and is effective for low light and night video recordings.
It has ultra large 2.9um pixels (that’s over twice the 1.4um found on better smartphones). While big pixels make sense, they do induce a little more ‘noise’ into a video that you see as fine grain. Still, in a dashcam, I would rather have a wider dynamic range than perfect colour.
The rear camera uses the same Sony IMX291 sensor and produces great images in most conditions.
You can view actual video uploads here (as most models use a similar sensor this is typical of Thinkware dashcam footage).
And if you permanently wire the Thinkware F800Pro into your car system, you can access Parking Mode with energy saving features and time-lapse photography.
ADAS – audible alerts
Advanced driver assistance worked reasonably well although the test Lexus NX-300 has these as well.
High Speed/Urban Forward Collision Warning System (FCWS/uFCWS) – calculates the distance between your vehicle and the one ahead taking into account speed limits.
Front Vehicle Departure Warning (FVDW) – never sit at a green light again!
Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS) – works over 50kmph to let you know if you are wandering out of your lane (depends on seeing white lines)
Safety Camera Alerts – we are unsure of the data pedigree, but it seems OK. I suspect it uses datasets provided by the various state governments so it is accurate for fixed cameras and indicate typical mobile speed camera zones.
GadgetGuys take: The Thinkware F800Pro is very good
Buy it for its low light capabilities alone. For a 1K camera, it does a very good job – better than most we have seen. The competition is moving to 2K and 4K – we note Thinkware has a Q800 4K coming too.
We are not going to comment on value – that is a matter for users to decide. We are going to comment on quality and reliability, and I think that is where Thinkware shines.