A reasonably-priced dashcam with high-tech features

You could say that dashcams, or in-car digital video recorders (DVR) have become one of the more important accessories you can buy for your car today. It's safe to say that it spares everyone the hassle of pointing fingers and the he-said-she-said in an event of a fender bender. There are loads of dashcams in the market today ranging from basic to pricey. So what's a good starter dashcam with good quality and packed with features?

Thinkware reckons their F100 model will do the trick.

Yes, the Thinkware brand is a little on the premium side but you do get a lot for the money. Unbox it and you get a plug-in cable, an SD card with up to 124 minutes of recording, a mount with 3M tape and, of course, the Quick Start Guide/Warranty Card. 1080P full HD recording comes courtesy of the Sony Exmor CMOS 2.12MP image sensor. As with most premium dashcams, this one comes equipped with a G-sensor which automatically saves a clip ten seconds before and after an incident.

Product Review: Thinkware F100 Dashcam

To install, I do recommend hiring professionals to set it in place. The Thinkware F100 comes with a permanent mount, meaning you have to place it in a spot that won't obscure your line of sight. Fortunately, its compact shape makes it inconspicuous, and you can mount it behind the rear-view mirror with ease. It is recommended to tuck the wire within the car's pillar to avoid clumps of wiring strewn all over the cabin. You can also wire it directly to your car's electrical system with the optional hardwiring kit.

So what does the F100 miss out from its high-end counterpart? You don't get the Safety Camera Alert feature which comes with a red light warning system, speed camera alert, red light & speed camera warning system, average speed warning system and mobile zone warning system. You also don't get Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), Urban Front Collision Warning System (uFCWS), and Front Vehicle Departure Warning (FVDW) in the F100. If anything, the F800 is a plug-in active safety system whereas the F100 is your more basic dashcam. Still, it offers a lot of Thinkware's tech which have trickled down to this entry-level camera.

One of those features include the thermal protection package which makes it resistant to damage. My personal car has no tint meaning anything electronic left inside will take a significant amount of heat abuse. During the time I used it, it never failed on me and consistently recorded no matter how hot it got. Speaking of recording, it defaults to automatic recording (called Continuous) but you can reconfigure it to manual mode. You can also record with the sound on or off.

Product Review: Thinkware F100 Dashcam

The main benefit of having such a small unit is that it's unobstructive. After it was installed, it never proved bothersome thanks to its mounting. The only time I knew that I did have a dashcam installed was from the occasional beep from the impact sensor. Speaking of which, you can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor. It's a little difficult to adjust since there's no screen but thankfully, the instructions provided were clear enough. If anything, the lack of a screen is the only downside to this otherwise good dashcam.

Just like its high-end counterpart, the Thinkware F100 comes with a parking mode provided the unit has enough stored power. It will shut off after a certain amount of time but will jump right back in action should the impact sensors detect disruptions. It really covers all the basics, this camera. If you're willing to shell out a little more, there's even external GPS receiver you can attach to it, which is a Php 1,000 option. That also gives you to view your recordings on the computer showing your location. Without it, it's your standard dashcam viewer that lists down your recordings with playback.

With its 1080P recording, video is clear and crisp. Plus, the camera automatically adjusts to the light levels during the day and night. Audio quality is good too, picking up even relatively soft sounds as you drive along. Also, the format-free setting of the recordings means it will simply make more space in its memory if needed. Lastly, you can view your videos on Windows and Mac operating systems. As I mentioned earlier, all you have to do is plug it in and let it record away. The easy to use nature of the Thinkware F100 makes it a solid, basic dashcam.

Product Review: Thinkware F100 Dashcam

At Php 6,500, it's priced in the higher spectrum of basic DVRs. Granted, you don't get a screen like on other similarly-priced cameras but the standard features in the Thinkware F100 boasts its appeal. The clear and crisp recording ensures clarity should an unwanted incident should happen, and clear evidence is exactly what you need in situations like these.

The Thinkware F100 dashcam can be ordered through Blackbox Philippines. There, they offer a wide variety of Thinkware dashcams, along with other optional extras for the F100 and other cameras. Some options include the aforementioned GPS receiver, a hardwire cable kit (Php 600, standard on F800 Pro Car DVR) and the F100 Rear Camera (Php 3,600). Put on all the options and it amounts to Php 11,700, which is still pretty good value for all-around protection. Blackbox Philippines also offers a 2-channel set at Php 8,850, which makes it one of the more affordable premium branded kits out there.