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Thinkware F790 dash cam review: Unobtrusive road guardian with excellent video quality

Have peace of mind when you are driving: Monitor your surroundings with the Thinkware F790 dash cam.
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Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor on

The impressive Thinkware F790 dash cam is the latest dash cam to be released in the US, and it launches this week. There are so many extra features in the F790 that you will wonder how you ever managed without one.

I really love trying out the range of Thinkware's dash cams as the onboard features of the cameras beat almost all of the other dash cam brands I have tried so far. 

The F790 has two parts to the camera. It has a mounting cradle that attaches to the windscreen with a USB Type-C charger, and the camera itself. Slide the unlock mechanism and pull the camera out of the cradle.

The connection is incredibly snug. I had to use my letter opener to assist the disconnection from the Type-C slot – it was too stiff for my broken fingernails – even though the slider was unlocked.

However, once mounted, there are no trailing charging cables and the camera is unobtrusive to use.

As soon as you connect the camera to the car's electrical power supply, you will get a voice prompt saying that continuous recording has started, and to connect to the Wi-Fi.

Pros
  • Lane departure warning alerts
  • Traffic camera alerts
  • Close approach alerts
Cons
  • Removing camera from housing is fiddly

You need to insert a memory card to connect to the Wi-Fi. Download the Thinkware dash cam link app from the app store and follow the instructions to connect the dash cam to the smartphone.

There are useful guidelines on the live camera view so that you can align the camera correctly with the front of the car to get the best image.

You need to activate the Wi-Fi on the camera by clicking the button on the F790, connect to the Thinkware Wi-Fi, and wait until the camera connects. Connection is fairly fast and easy. Download any firmware updates and configure the settings you need.

Inside the F790, there is an Ambrarella quad core Cortex-A53 CPU running at up to 1GHz and commonly used in drones and sports cameras. The built-in GPS quickly announces when it has located your vehicle.

It has front and rear cameras with full HD, both of which are included in the box, a high dynamic range to capture as much detail as possible, and night vision capability.

Videos are encoded using HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). This has a higher compression rate than AVC and will use less memory space.

The F790 also has 'dewarping' video technology. This means that the camera tunes the incoming video frames to show minimal distortion and reduce the lensing effect often displayed on other dash cams.

The F790 will work on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi and specify which video is recorded. You can tweak the sensitivity, specify which mode to use the night vision (continuous, parking, disabled, or both) and set privacy recording levels.

You can also set impact sensitivity and motion detection sensitivity. Other settings you can tweak include incident recording in continuous mode, motion detection and incident recording in parking mode, and manual recording. You can set the brightness of the front and rear cameras,

The F790 can detect impacts when the car is parked. Hardwired into your car battery means that the camera can be on standby for up to 17.5 days. If an impact is detected, the F790 will wake up and start recording the next 20 seconds after the impact.

The camera also uses time-lapse mode which records at 2 frames per second to reduce the size of the video file.

When the F790 is installed and configured, it truly acts as your eyes on the road. It will warn you if you drift into another lane, and will beep if you get too close to the vehicle in front.

It will also warn you if the car in front moves away from you from a stoplight. It warns you in good time when there are fixed safety cameras and pings when it is next to them. It tells you of any red light cameras, and where there are average speed camera zones.

All in all for under $200 (or $280 if you add the rear camera) the Thinkware F790 is a superb dash cam that will quietly monitor the road, and alert you if you lose concentration when you drive.

Install it, forget about it, and thank your lucky stars you have it if there is an impact or other issue.

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