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Thinkware F70 dash cam hands-on: Compact, unobtrusive, and simple to use

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  • Editors' rating
    8.2 Excellent
  • $109.99

Pros

  • Compact size -- unobtrusive
  • Easy to configure
  • Simple manual recording feature

Cons

  • Need laptop to position camera correctly

The F70 dash cam from Thinkware is just the device for people who hate cluttered windshields but want a high-performing dash cam.

It is the smallest dash cam I have tried so far -- much smaller and lighter than its stable mate, the Thinkware F800.

It is tubular in shape, with dimensions of 3.07 x 1.4 x 1.24 inches, and it weighs under two ounces (42.4g). Packed into this small space is a full HD 2.12-megapixel camera recording at up to 30fps with a 140-degree viewing angle and wide dynamic range.

Unsurprisingly, for its $110 price, there is only a front camera on this model. You would need to buy the F200, F770, or the F800Pro for the extra camera.

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It also has thermal protection in case your car suffers extreme temperatures and has no rechargeable batteries that could explode in the heat. Thinkware instead opted for large capacitors to hold the charge and carry on saving files in case of a sudden power cut.

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The F70 also has collision detection to record any incidents that happen to your car whilst you are away from the vehicle. It can also detect motion around the car.

It has FVDW (Front Vehicle Departure Warning) that will alert the driver when, in traffic, the car ahead starts to move off from a stationary position.

One thing I loved about the F800 is available on the F70 as an optional extra: With the purchase of an optional GPS antenna, the dash cam can alert you where there are upcoming safety cameras -- a must in the camera-heavy UK.

Cleverly, the camera goes to sleep, waking up instantly if an impact is recorded. It will then store footage of the next 20 seconds.

The camera is really easy to install: Insert the MicroSD card (up to 64GB capacity) into the slot at the bottom of the dash cam, stick the mount to the front screen, and slide the dash cam into the mount slot.

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But the only way to check that the camera is pointing at the road and not into the sky or the hood of the car is to take the SD card out and put it into your PC to check the video. This is the only way you can configure settings, too. I found that a bit of a pain.

I took my laptop into the car with me and configured everything I wanted to whilst sitting in the car. I would rather have to do this than have a huge dash cam and screen.

The cable with the dash cam goes into the cigarette lighter. There is an optional cable to hardwire the camera, which must be fitted by a trained auto mechanic.

Hands on with the Thinkware F70 dash cam: Compact and unobtrusive and simple to use ZDNet
(Image: Eileen Brown)

Videos are recorded in one minute loops. If an impact is detected, the camera saves 10 seconds before impact to 10 seconds after impact. This is stored in a separate folder. If you want to record manually, there is a red REC button on the left hand end of the camera.

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The SD card has a setup to install the PC viewer software on to your PC. This has a variety of features. You can open a file, rename videos, and show videos in full screen. The video playback shows the car's speed at the time of the recording and the G sensor value at the time of the recording.

The video quality is good, and the sound pick up is excellent -- recording conversation and background radio even at low levels. There is little to dislike on the F70, and for around $100, it gives you the peace of mind you need to capture what is going on around you, just in case.

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Specifications

Video Input
Type Dashboard camera

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Where To Buy

Thinkware F70 Dash Cam

Part Number: TW-F70