Thinkware U1000 dashcam hands-on: Superb 4K resolution and good night vision

Hands on with the Thinkware U1000 dashcam Superb 4k resolution and good night vision zdnet
  • Editors' rating
    8.6 Outstanding

Pros

  • Great in low light areas
  • Useful energy saving parking mode
  • Range of useful alerts

Cons

  • Thinkware cloud features need work
  • Must buy optional radar sensor for full features

I do like the range of Thinkware dashcams. Since I first reviewed the F800 Pro in May 2018, I have been impressed with the feature set. Thinkware has dashcams to suit a range of budgets such as the compact Thinkware F70, the mid-range F200, and the great Q800 Pro.

Now the latest in the Thinkware range, the U1000 has pushed the boundaries for dashcam quality yet again.

Thinkware U1000: Specifications

The U1000 has a different form factor to its predecessors, so if you are upgrading from an older model, you will need to use the new fixing kit. Its dimensions are 65 x 110 x 36mm and it weighs 149g. The rear camera weighs 27g if you choose to fit it.

The U1000 is a 4K Ultra HD camera with 3840 x 2160px capturing video at 30fps.  If you want to have smoother videos, you can change the setting to record at 2K, which will give you 60fps if you need more details on your video files. It has a 2K QHD rear camera with 2560 x 1440px to record what is going on behind you.

The device is simple to use. The power button is next to the Wi-Fi button and the voice recording button. You can also press the manual rec button to record a clip of video manually. Other ports include the radar port (optional), external GPS port, and the DC-in jack

You need to swivel the front camera lens to get the image you want. My car has a very oblique front windshield, so I had to twist the lens almost up to the top to get the view I wanted.

Thinkware U1000: Features

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The U100 has a wide-angle camera covering 150 degrees field of view at the front of the car and 156 degrees at the rear of the car.

This is not as wide as some other cameras on the market which offer 170 degrees -- but this field of view is more than adequate for what you need when in motion. This angle also minimizes the 'fish-eye' lensing that appears on some other cameras.

The dashcam has an energy-saving feature for use when in parking mode. Thinkware says that this energy-saving mode can last for up to 24 days whilst parked. It also has a time-lapse feature that records footage at 2fps whilst you are away from the car. 

The energy-saving mode uses ultra-low-power of 7.8mA  (low power usually uses about 64.1mA) to improve power retention time while in parking mode.

It uses an optional radar module to detect when a car is approaching, wakes up the device so it can record the actual impact.  I did not have the module so could not test this feature, nor, fortunately, did I have any collisions whilst I was using it.

The location of the car is updated every 10 seconds -- useful if you need to know where the car is at any time. You do need to ensure that the device is connected by Wi-Fi to your mobile device. However, when connected, the view on the smartphone is superb.

If you drive at night, the U1000 has Super Night Vision 2.0. This allows for recording clear video in any low-light situation, such as dark alleys, parking lots, or low lit streets.

In pitch darkness, I could still detect objects around the car. It is not an infra-red camera, but it is more than adequate to recognize objects in cities and remote areas in moonlight. Impressive indeed.

Thinkware U1000: Installation

Inside the U1000 box, there is a variety of fixtures. In addition to the dashcam, there is a micro SD card and reader, a TF card, and a power cable to hardwire the unit into the car. There are also sticky pads, and cable clips to mount the rear camera inside the car.

if you do not want to permanently install the hard-wiring kit, you can buy the optional car charger to run the dashcam. This will only provide power to the dashcam when the engine is running. If you want to use the parking feature, the dashcam must be permanently wired into the car. 

Thinkware U1000: Alerts

I do like the range of alerts on the Thinkware models. The U1000 has a speed camera alert "speed camera in 300 yards, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour." It also alerts of mobile speed camera areas, and red light cameras.

Whilst you are driving, the lane departure warning system pings if you change lane, or get too close to the car in front of you whilst coming to a stop in traffic. It will ping if the car in front of you slows down when you are driving at speed. 

It also pings if you go over bumps in the road or potholes. These are recorded as impacts, which can fill up your SD card, so if you drive down rutted roads often, make sure you delete the files from the card regularly.

Thinkware U1000: Challenges

I am still having challenges with the Thinkware cloud. You seem to need to have the device permanently connected to your mobile to take advantage of all the alerts. To take advantage of live view and other features, you need to use a mobile hotspot with a data connection.

If you use a Mi-Fi as a hotspot, then you could configure it to stay permanently connected to the dashcam. However, if several of you use the vehicle, you will need to connect each device to the dashcam to connect to the cloud.

Installing a data SIM would simplify things significantly. However, like the Q800 pro, once connected to the Thinkware Cloud, you can set geofencing boundaries and geographical zones, locate your vehicle, and check any incident via the cloud.

All in all, the U100 is a superb dashcam for people who use their cars a lot. It is priced at $399.99 US for the 1-channel model, with 32GB Micro SD, Cigar jack power cable and standard items, and $499.99 US  for the 2-channel model, with 32GB Micro SD, cigar jack and hard-wire power cable, CPL filter, and standard items. For extra features, the optional radar sensor costs $89.99.

All in all, for your peace of mind, the Thinkware U1000 is certainly worth the cost, if you have a much loved or valuable car.

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