The Thinkware F70 dash cam shares the capability of more expensive dash cams, for a more palatable price.
If those “WTF” Russian dash cam videos are any indication, dash cams are almost essential to modern driving. In an age where most cars are crammed with technology to prevent accidents from happening, most crashes now come down to human error. In those cases, its an appealing concept to have a watchful and impartial account of accidents when they do occur. Enter companies like Thinkware, which manufacture a wide range of silent sentinels for your car. This Thinkware F70 dash cam – launched just this week – is an entry-level model, at around $109.99 from high-level retailers. Some online retailers currently sell the camera for just under $100.
For that sort of spend, you get a full 1080p dash cam, complete with a 140-degree wide angle lens, continuous recording capability and an 8 GB memory card thrown in. Buyers can fit anything up to a 64 GB SD card, which makes the camera capable of storing several hours worth of footage. With a simple adhesive mount, the camera is easy to set up. You just have the Thinkware F70 unit itself and a power cord. No muss, no fuss. But does its relative simplicity mean it can still hack it for most users?
What’s in the box
The Thinkware F70 dash cam doesn’t pull its punches here. It’s simple in honest in its form factor and its plug-and-play capability. When users first open the box, they’re met with a device that looks like an ordinary webcam. While the Vantrue N2 Pro dash cam I reviewed last month may have an LCD display (the F70 doesn’t), it is a bit more fiddly to set up. This is much more straightforward. Slide the camera into the mounting bracket, stick the adhesive mount to the windshield and plug it in. Thinkware thoughtfully includes a set of adhesive hooks you can use to route the power cable around the windshield, out of your line of sight.
The camera uses a front-mounted speaker to communicate what it’s doing at any given moment. “Continuous recording will now start,” is the first thing I heard upon plugging the Thinkware F70 in for the first time. The camera itself has a few different recording modes. Continous mode will record everything in one-minute chunks. Manual recording – enabled by a red button on the side of the camera – will save a one-minute segment from 10 seconds before to 50 seconds after you press the button. The camera will also record accident events it detects, as well as impacts while the car is parked using motion detectors.
How Well Does It Work?
While some cameras will record in 4K and up to 60 frames per second, you don’t get either of those functions here. The Thinkware F70 dash cam only records in 1080p at 30 frames per second. However, that’s perfectly adequate for daily use. A 140-degree viewing angle allows the camera to capture most of what’s going on through the windshield, without a weird fisheye effect around the frame edges. The camera also uses a thermal protection system that will save whatever its recording and shut down in hot conditions. That’s useful during the summer months.
Like several other dash cams, this new Thinkware F70 model does support an external GPS antenna. The GPS unit will keep the time, speed and location of the recordings. That way, you have some more data to help your case in the event of an accident. The camera also uses a Front Vehicle Departure Warning. If you’re sitting at an intersection and the car in front of you takes off, the camera will alert the driver if they don’t move in turn.
Get a bigger SD card
Overall, the Thinkware F70 records smoothly. The 3M adhesive mount security sticks it to the windshield so it won’t rattle around – rendering the footage useless. As it does record in 1080p, the footage is nice and sharp, and it does record smoothly at 30 frames per second. However, a couple quick warnings. The 8 GB card supplied with the camera isn’t enough to hold much footage. Each one-minute clip takes up about 84 megabytes of space, which means the card will fill up after an hour and a half. The camera also does have a microphone and it will record what it picks up inside the car. If you don’t want it to do that – I didn’t want to hear the embarrassing sort of music I listen to, for instance – you have to hold down the record button to disable it.
The Thinkware F70 isn’t a fancy camera, but it’s not meant to be. Thinkware set out to product a low-cost camera that anyone can use for clear, smooth footage. On that front, they’ve succeeded. The dash cam is small and robust, quick to setup, and easy to use. The most difficult part, at least in my car, was routing the power wire. There are more feature-packed cameras on the market, of course, but this one provides a nice balance between price and convenience.
Thinkware warranties its dash cams for one year after the purchase date, and it provides a 6 month warranty on its provided SD cards.