Thinkware F800 Pro full review
You tend to get what you pay for with dash cams, and if you're after more than the basics, then Thinkware has you covered. The F800 Pro is the top-of-the-line model and offers plenty of features. If you buy the bundle which includes the rear camera, as we're reviewing here, you get recorded evidence of what happened both in front as well as behind.
On top of that, it offers built in GPS, Wi-Fi and it uses those not simply for plotting your location and reviewing video, but also to warn you if your vehicle leaves a geo-fenced area. It also comes with a 32GB microSD card and a hard-wire kit which enables the cameras to record when you're parked. More on that later.
Thinkware F800 Pro: Price & Availability
Such a kit doesn't come cheap: you can buy the F800 Pro bundle from Amazon for £329. It's availble from Amazon.com for $409.99.
Thinkware F800 Pro: Features and design
The F800 Pro has a design much like the DDPai X2 Pro. Initially we thought the absence of a screen would be a problem, but although it makes the initial setup a little trickier, it makes for a much more compact unit which can live behind the rear-view mirror out of sight.
It also means there's no reason to take your eyes off the road: information is spoken audibly. Admittedly, some of the chatter is a little unnecessary, but mostly it is useful, such as when you start driving after the parking mode was enabled. The voice tells you how many incidents were recorded in that mode, where most dash cams we've tested don't offer this detail.
The main camera itself is removable from a quick-release backplate which itself adheres to the windscreen via a large 3M pad. It isn't quick release in the sense you can remove it from the car and use it to take photos of an accident: it's designed to stay in position, but can be removed if necessary without having to replace the sticky pad (though one spare is included in the box).
There are five buttons on the underside: power, card format, mic mute, Wi-Fi on/off and a manual recording button. We also like how the card slot is on the rear edge, which was easily accessible about the rear-view mirror in our test car.
Two wires are required: one for power and one rather chunky microUSB to microUSB cable which connects the front to the rear camera.
The cable is extremely long so the main issue you'll have is trying to 'lose' the excess cable out of sight.
Both cameras swivel so you can adjust the tilt angle, but once stuck to the screens, they cannot be adjusted left or right, so it pays to check each is straight before sticking it on. It also means that if your rear screen is curved at the sides, you might have to mount it centrally rather than at the edge or the view will be skewed to one side.
You can do this via the Thinkware Cloud app, which connects to the F800 Pro's Wi-Fi and lets you see what each camera sees.
It's a bit of a disappointment that the main camera tops out at a resolution of 1920x1080, and records at 30fps, not 60. However, the combination of a good-quality Sony sensor and a decent lens mean that sharpness and detail levels are good.
The rear camera is also a 1080p model, and better quality than the 720p unit supplied with the F200.
While the 32GB card is twice the size of the 16GB card you get if you buy the F800 Pro separately rather than as a bundle, it has to record the video from both cameras and so will fill up and begin overwriting the oldest video clips after four hours. You can supply your own card up to 128GB though.
Thinkware has thought out its parking mode well. You must use the hard-wire cable for this, unless your car happens to leave power on in its 12V accessory socket when you turn off the ignition. Most don't, so the camera loses power when you park.
Rather than a box of electronics on the cable, power management is built into the camera itself and via the app you can choose at which voltage the system shuts off to preserve power: no-one wants their dash cam to flatten their battery so the car won't start.
In parking mode, the camera enters a very low power state and wakes only when an impact is detected. It will then record a clip and return to sleep after a few minutes.
Since there's no pre-record (as you get with some parking modes which run continuously) you won't see what happened prior to the impact, but the trade-off is that the F800 Pro's parking mode can run for days rather than hours.
Via the app you can upload safety camera locations, and therefore warnings and the database includes both fixed and mobile cameras.
You also get lane departure warnings, and this system can be disabled below a certain speed so you don't get false warnings when driving around town.
There's also front collision warning, which can also be disabled under a certain speed. You can also enable front vehicle departure warning which will alert you if the traffic in front has moved away but you haven't followed. This could be useful at traffic lights, for example.
A unique feature is the cloud service which lets you set up a geofence and get an alert if the vehicle leaves the area. This would typically be a small area around your property, but while the idea is sound, it works only if you supply an internet connection. That's likely via a portable Mi-Fi router, but it adds a lot of expense just for a couple of features. If your car already has Wi-Fi, it's likely it already has geofencing anyway.
You'll also get an alert if an impact is detected, which could again be useful if your car is parked somewhere it's vulnerable.
There's nothing else: no uploading of video the the cloud, nor cloud storage.
If you simply want the best quality video from a dash cam, you should look elsewhere. But, despite the F800 Pro's 1080p resolution being lower than some rivals and it recording at a relatively low 10Mbit/s, image quality is acceptable (where the F200's is disappointing).
It's possible to read registration plates when you're relatively close to cars in front, and when the video is paused, plates can mostly - but not always - be made out of vehicles at the edges of the field of view.
The rear camera isn't quite as good, but it's still easy to make out the registration of a vehicle close behind. And of course, the benefit is that you can prove what happened in the event of a rear impact: that the vehicle which struck you was at fault, for example.
Image quality from this camera may depend on your own vehicle as some with curved tailgate glass can cause releflections. It's worth checking some test footage before committing to a final mounting posiiton.
The app isn't nearly as good as DDPai's, and doesn't allow you to select a portion of a clip to download to your phone. It's all or nothing. And the Wi-Fi connection isn't the fastest: you'd be better off removing the microSD card and plugging it into a laptop or PC.
And the Thinkware app for Windows is fairly good, allowing you to view the front and rear views simultaneously along with data from the G-sensor.
Overall the F800 Pro is a good dash cam. It offers a lot of features, including a parking mode which will run for days.
Its price a steep, though, and we'd have preferred a higher resolution such as 1440p for at least the main camera.
Some features may persuade you to spend the extra over the DDPai X2 Pro, such as the geofencing and alerts, but ultimately we prefer the X2 Pro for its lower price and much better app.