Hands-on with the Thinkware F800 Pro: A dash cam that does everything you need

thinkware-f800-eileen-brown-zdnet-3.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    9.4 Spectacular
  • $329.99

Pros

  • GPS and Wi-Fi enabled
  • Speed camera verbal notifications
  • Collision detection feature
  • Lane departure road safety warnings

Cons

  • Annoying collision detection beeps
  • No cigar socket cable in box

I was wowed with the Thinkware F800 Pro dash cam within minutes of using it.

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Consumer interest in dash cams is rising in the US, growing at a rate of 35 percent over the last three months. Dash cams are becoming the go-to solution for those looking to ensure their loved ones are safeguarded -- one reason why the dash cam market is forecasted to rise to $2.5 billion by 2025.

The Thinkware F800 is a clever dash cam that does far more than other dash cams I have tested.

Hands on with the Thinkware F800 Pro A dash cam that does everything you need ZDNet
(Image: Thinkware)

Thinkware F800 Pro: Specifications

Previous dash cams have taken up screen real estate and complex buttons have distracted me. The F800 is far less obtrusive, and it does not obstruct my view. It sits behind the rear view mirror and does not interrupt the view.

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It is a small camera without a screen. Its Sony Exmor R Starvis CMOS 2.13M IMX291 140-degree wide angle cameras have a resolution of 1920 x 1080P at front and rear. The unit's dimensions are 107 x 60.5 x 32.5mm (4.2 x 2.4 x 1.18in), and it weighs 104.5g (0.23 pounds).

Thinkware F800 Pro: Features

It comes with a 32GB SD card, expandable up to 128GB. It records HD videos in one-minute loops from the moment the engine is switched on. The camera also has a button to manually record events, although I initially found this hard to find behind my mirror.

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The camera has night vision, time lapse mode, and energy-saving parking recording to reduce power consumption. If an impact is detected,, it will wake up from sleep and record for 20 seconds after impact. Time lapse mode records 2fps to reduce file size.

It even has geo-fencing, which alerts the mobile app if the vehicle goes outside of the pre-defined areas you set. The camera will also show the vehicle's current location and speed on Google Maps - great to see if someone is driving your car faster than you would like them to drive.

Thinkware F800 Pro: Installation

Installing the camera was a challenge. Inside the box, the only cables were for hardwiring the camera into the car. Fortunately, I managed to get a cigar socket cable to temporarily test the camera.

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Thinkware said that it was unusual that there was no cigarette cable, which normally would have come in a plastic bag inside the box. The company also provided a link to a video showing how to permanently connect the red and yellow cables. However, the labels on the cables were labelled the other way to that shown on the video.

Once fitted, the camera uses Wi-Fi to connect to the mobile app or PC. The mobile app is simple to use, and it's easy to remotely configure the camera. You can check, download, or delete recorded images, update firmware, or update safe driving information on the application.

Thinkware F800 Pro: Alerts

The F800 has GPS and several road safety warning systems. It uses Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), Urban Front Collision Warning System(uFCWS), and Front Vehicle Departure Warning (FVDW) voice warnings for driver safety. The first time I drifted out of my lane when driving, the alert scared the heck out of me.

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I really love the various types of verbal alerts. The camera alerts me to speed cameras coming up, how far away they are, and how fast the speed limit is in the area.

It also warned me if I was driving too fast in an area where there are mobile cameras detected, or how far away the stop light enforcement cameras were. A ping reminded me I was driving past a speed camera.

A big niggle I had with the camera was with its sensitive collision detection feature. If the car experiences an impact with a g-force level greater than 3g or 4g while driving, the dash cam sends a push notification alert of the impact to the app. The camera also saves 20 seconds of video to the cloud. The F800 beeps twice for each collision, which is really annoying when driving down a bumpy road or going over potholes, and speed bumps causes beeps and app alerts. I do not need a beep -- I know when I am driving over bumps.

There does not seem to be a way to mute the sound on the camera. However, in an accident, the same alert feature could notify others that a family member had an accident. They could then remotely check that everyone was OK.

The camera has a road safety warning system that calculates the real-time distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you if you are driving at more than 30kmh along an expressway, or under 30kmh in town.

It delivers a three-level early warning to the driver depending on the danger of collision. It also tells you when the vehicle in front of has started to move and your car remains stopped in traffic.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, US roadways are becoming more dangerous. Elderly and youth drivers are the most vulnerable: The over 65-year-old age group have higher rates of fatal crashes than almost all other demographics, second only to drivers under the age of 20.

Thinkware F800 Pro: Verdict

The F800 could provide an added layer of security for family members away from the vehicle, and aside from the bumpy road beeps, it does everything I would ever need from a dash cam and more. I loved this camera.

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Specifications

Video Input
Type Dashboard camera

Top ZDNET Reviews

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