As a relatively new driver, I am a big fan of dashcams, with the cost of insurance and the issues with fraudulent claims, having video evidence of an accident is essential in my opinion. When you are spending £500+ a year on insurance, it seems daft not to buy a dashcam for a fraction of that price.
The past couple of weeks I have been testing out the new Thinkware F100 which is currently available on Amazon for £119.99, and this appears to site in the lower middle end of the Thinkware range with the F50 being the only model below it.
The full specification of the dashcam includes:
|Camera||Sony CMOS 2.12M|
|Resolution||1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080)|
|Capacity||Micro SD Card 8GB(class 10), 16GB/32GB/64GB(UHS-I)|
|Recording Modes||Continuous Recording, Incident Recording, Manual Recording, Parking Recording|
|Sensor||Triaxial acceleration sensor (3D, ±3G)|
|GPS||External GPS receiver (Optional)|
|Power||Input Power: DC 12 / 24V Supported|
|ETC||Operation Status LED|
Design and Features
Unlike all the other dashcams I have reviewed the Thinkware F100 does not include an LCD display with all the models in the F range following this design. For an LCD based camera, you need to look at the X range.
Due to the lack of an LCD, the dashcam is extremely small which allow you to install it without any obstruction and it should fit comfortably in front of most rear-view mirrors. You can extend the functionality of the camera using a rear camera option which allows drivers to have a clear view of incidents at the rear, recording HD 720p video at 30 frames per second. For taxi drivers, there is an IR camera (internal) option. It films inside the vehicle making taxi journeys safer for the driver and rider. The external camera option is weatherproof and captures any incidents at the rear, particularly useful for drivers of commercial vehicles. It also features Safety Camera Alerts when connected to the external GPS antenna, providing drivers’ regularly updated information on verified speed/red light camera locations and known mobile speed traps.
Similar to all good dashcams, if the power gets disconnected after an accident, the fail-safe recording uses the Super Capacitor for backup power to ensure safe storage of any recording in progress – so you can be assured that your valuable data will be securely stored under any circumstances.
Included in the pack is a 16GB card which is a nice addition to the other cameras I have reviewed omit this, and many users tend to buy the wrong type of card for continuous recording.
The camera uses the FAT system for storage and records in MP4; this allows you just to pop out the MicroSD card put it on your PC and view the files without any complex conversions.
Setting up the camera is about as simple as it gets. The mount is attached to your screen with some 3M tape, and the camera just slots on. As I need to send my sample back, I used the lighter socket for power, and this just plugs into the camera and then the lighter socket, just like any other camera.
One issue I did have with the set-up was that the lighter adapter is hardwired rather than USB, so the adaptor takes up the entire socket. In my case, as I already had a Nextbase up front, I opted to mount this at the rear, only to find I was unable to run both cameras at the same time. I would imagine it is possible to buy a USB power cable, but I can’t see one on the Thinkware Amazon pages. Also, if you are planning to keep the unit installed it would be much better to spend a little money and have it hardwired.
When you drive off the camera announces that recording has started, due to the lack of an LCD this is quite an important feature as you won’t know it is working otherwise. I also prefer this over the Nextbase, as I just ignore that, so on a day to day basis, I have an idea if it is recording or not.
As there is no LCD display or functions to test, the extent of my testing involved driving around a bit to let it record. Then taking it back inside to view the footage.
When you plug the MicroSD in, you will notice there are quite a lot of folders and files. Using a bit of common sense, it is easy enough to work out where the motion recorded videos are located, and they are nicely date and time stamped, so it is easy enough what video you may want to pull. Alternatively, you will notice a setup.exe file which will install the viewer software. This primarily works as a glorified video player, but it has some useful functionality specific to the device itself.
The videos are sorted into categories, with options for continues, parking, manual and location. They are listed in file name format, it would have been nicer if the software translated it into easier to read date and time, but it is easy enough to work out.
If you have the optional GPS receiver, the video will show a map and the speed travelling. It is worth noting that the Nextbase units have GPS built in, and this data is recorded directly to the video.
The critical aspect of these cameras is the quality of the video, and the Thinkware F100 performs admirably. It is easy to make out all the details you could need from the footage, in particular, registration plates. The specification doesn’t appear to state the angle of the lens, but it is wide enough that when I was driving it covered the entire road and pavement on either side.
When you view the video manually via VLC etc, there are some nonsensical data presented at the bottom of the screen, but it is translated into XYZ and time data within the PC Viewer.
The Thinkware F100 is a great little dashcam, it does as advertised and is extremely user-friendly, which will appeal to a lot of none techy people. Once it is set-up, you shouldn’t need to touch it again unless you are in an accident, and I would say this is one of the most essential features of a dashcam.
Priced at £119 on Amazon or £109 on thinkwaredashcam.uk it is very affordable, but both the Nextbase models are only a small amount more and offer built-in GPS.
However, the Thinkware comes into its own with the ability to add on cameras. You can get the main camera plus the standard rear for just £149, which is only slightly more than the single Nextbase camera. While GPS would be good at this price, having a front and rear camera will be far more beneficial.
Thinkware F100 Dashcam
Product Name: Thinkware F100 Dashcam
Offer price: 119.99
Performance - 90%
Ease of use - 95%
Features - 75%
Price - 80%