Thinkware F800 Pro Dashcam review: Undoubtedly in the ‘premier league’ of dashcams – Tech| Top Stories

It’s years since I passed my driving test, but not a week goes by when I don’t hear the words of my instructor inside my head: “The number one thing to remember is, everyone else on the road is an idiot.”

Actually, make that ‘not a day’ – there seem to be more idiots than ever.

My commute to and from work is plagued by ‘boy racers’… drivers who speed up behind me when I am doing the limit, flashing me to ‘go faster’ or ‘move over’. They are, at best, a distraction, and at worst, dangerous.

It’s easy to understand why the demand for is on the up. The chance of filming what happens – in case, something happens – is appealing.

Moreover, if like me you have ever been involved in an insurance claim that was deemed to be 50/50 the fault of both parties – and you KNOW that it certainly wasn’t, but have nothing to prove it – the opportunity to be able to supply footage to support your claim has an understandable attraction.

To the uninitiated there appears a myriad of options when it comes to dashcams and it’s easy to get lost in them.

Having two dashcams fitted mean you can record what’s happening front and rear at the same time

How the dashcam fits on your front screen

The dashcam fitted on the front screen from inside the car

Let me be clear from the off then, the Thinkware F800 Pro is undoubtedly in the ‘premier league’ of dashcams; it’s said to be one of the best you can get and its performance proved nothing short of excellent.

It may be among the most expensive on the market (it costs £329), but it does the basics exceptionally well – and any criticisms I have shouldn’t detract from this.

Be aware though, it has some albeit welcome ‘extras’ I’ll detail and which you pay for, so if you don’t need these, you may want to consider other, cheaper models.

As a newbie to dashcams I also learned some invaluable advice to pass on to others considering getting one.

First and foremost, get your dashcam professionally installed. I already have a separate TomTom satnav drooping a wire down into my cigarette lighter, I didn’t want the hassle of it getting tangled up in other wires.

A fitter will be expert at hiding the wiring behind the trim as well as wiring it in direct.

There are plenty of firms who provide this service (around the £100-£150 mark) but you will be well advised to check they have prior experience of installing a device on the same make of car as well as that brand of dashcam.

Second, and I can’t stress this enough, INSIST that your dashcam is wired directly into the ignition. Through no fault of Thinkware themselves, mine was initially wired in to the box under the steering wheel and, to cut a long story short, for the first time in years I found myself experiencing the hell that is a ‘flat battery’.

The lesson I learnt is that if the dashcam is wired directly into the ignition, your dashcam will switch off properly at the turn of your car key.

The dashcam is hard for other drivers to spot

A close up of the box itself

The Thinkware F800 Pro disappointingly suffers from one of the most common modern problems that comes with new tech – an instruction manual that comes in the box whose words are too small to read (no, my eyesight isn’t that bad and yes, you can, I later discovered, download the whole manual online).

Again, if you get it professionally installed, you can be sure that it’s fitted the way the manufacturer recommends and the better fitters will give you some tips on getting the initial settings right. But really, a tiny font isn’t the welcome anyone deserves when buying a top of the range gadget.

I opted for the front facing and rear cameras and both dashcams are designed to be hardly noticeable. They attach via adhesive tape (be sure to place it correctly first time!) and must also be fixed on the glass, so it’s worth noting that if you have other boxes adjacent to the rear-view mirror they may be competing for space.

The cameras on both rotate vertically but not horizontally, so are ideally situated in the top centre of either glass windscreen, front or rear. The rear camera comes with a super-long cable which can be hidden behind the trim – again a good reason to get it installed professionally.

Note: you can turn the rear camera round to record what’s going on in the back seat, which will at the very least appeal to taxi drivers, if not others.

The dashcam can send alerts to your phone

Key features of the F800 Pro

With the Thinkware F800 Pro you can geofence your vehicle

Switch the ignition on and a voice will soon tell you that continuous recording is underway and it’s all systems go. Given its petite size and lack of screen, you hardly notice the dashcam in operation.

It is controlled via a free-to-download smartphone app. This can wirelessly connect with the device while you are sat in the driver’s seat and enables you to toggle with all manner of settings and adjust to suit (everything from brightness to the minimum level your battery should drop to before it switches off).

There’s a fair bit of ‘trial and error’ here in the first few days, but It’s not too complicated.

The dashcam is essentially always recording (to a removable memory card which also comes with the device) and if anything happens, it will place in an incident folder footage of what not just happened after the event, but in the lead up to it. All events are 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after.

The (supplied) 32MB micro SD card is said to be sufficient for recording roughly 400 minutes of journeys before it starts recording over previous ones. Note: it will also record sound and the speed you were travelling at the time – both of which you can toggle off via the app.

How the dashcam fitted on my car

The Thinkware dashcam on my car is hardly visible from the outside

The dashcam also has a manual video button in the centre of the console, which you can press if you want to record an incident either in front of or behind you that might not register as an accident if the console has not detected any kind of ‘bump’ – e.g. drivers coming up fast behind you flashing their lights to road rage drivers that might get out of a car in front of you.

My biggest issue with the device (and, as I said earlier, it should be seen in context) is that this large ‘manual record’ button is sat in the middle of four smaller ones and when something happens which you want to record, you invariably want to have your eyes on the road in front of you rather than the device, so it’s somewhat too easy to hit the wrong button.

These other buttons are for power, microphone, formatting the memory card and turning the Wi-Fi on and off. It may seem a minor quibble – and maybe I just have fat thumbs – but pressing one of these while aiming for the bigger button happens to me often.

Yet, if you hit the right button, it works – and again, because it is continuously recording, you will have footage from before as well as after; manual is 10 seconds before and 50 seconds after.

At the end of your journey – or indeed, after an accident – you can either download the incidents to your smartphone via the app or take the card out of the device and using a (supplied) USB device, plug it into your computer.

You can download free software from Thinkware to watch your recordings back which can play the front and rear recordings side-by-side playing in tandem as well as, thanks to the inbuilt GPS, display the speed you were going and your location on Googlemaps at the time.

The images are as crystal clear if your windscreen is washed and are saved by date and time in different folders, making them easy to locate.

Likewise, the dashcam on the rear window is hard to spot

It’s a smaller camera on the rear window

You will need this software to activate another uncommon but welcome feature of the F800 Pro – built in speed camera alerts.

The device will tell you when you are approaching one, what the speed limit is, even when you are in a mobile speed camera zone. The only criticism of this I have is that the voice, even on its loudest setting, is hard to hear above music you might be playing in the car. But to be fair that depends how loud you play your music.

Another feature which made me plump for the F800 Pro is that it has inbuilt parking mode – for impacts or motion – i.e. it will record what happens should there be an incident if your car is parked up without you in it.

In parking mode it records for 10 seconds before and 20 seconds after impact detection (because the camera is always awake). I spoke to one person who, using this exact same gadget, was able to prove to someone that their daughter had driven into his car by emailing him the footage, saving him money on insurance.

Other whistles and bells include a lane departure warning (which you can set a minimum speed for so it doesn’t kick in when driving locally) and forward collision warning (again, which you can adjust a minimum speed for) and a front vehicle departure warning, which seems a tad excessive if you are sat behind the wheel as you should be, watching the car in front of you pull away.

The Thinkware F800 Pro is so good that you start to despair of something it cannot do – be accessed remotely when you are not sat in the car to look at what is going on around your vehicle at the time, or view videos of incidents from the comfort of your armchair without downloading.

Thanks to its cloud facility, there are other aspects built in – you can geofence an area so the device notifies you when your car leaves an area or when an impact occurs. However, it doesn’t have its own mobile data facility built in so, without owning my own driveway and unable therefore to park my car close to my Wi-Fi hub, I was unable to test this properly.

But all this said, you can’t help think that such leaps forward must be in development, because given everything else it boasts, the Thinkware F800 Pro is much more than halfway to being perfect.

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