With so many arguments over who's right or wrong on the road, it's better to always have a dashcam as a witness by your side.
We now get our hands on the latest F800 Pro, a premium model from one of the world's leading dashcam makers Thinkware. The Korean technology company has upped the game with features such as advanced night vision, road warning system (LDWS, FCWS, uFCWS, FVDW), WiFi connectivity, and mobile app functionality. Personally having tested the FXD 700 before, I can say that build quality is top notch and durability is really good on Thinkware dashcams.
With so many dashcams in the market, available in different shapes and sizes. One can't help to think if you would really need a premium dashcam when an ordinary one may do the job. We've gone through midrange to premium products and we can confidently say that not all dashcams are made equal. As with everything, you get what you pay for.
The F800 Pro comes with a 2.13-megapixel Sony Exmor R STARVIS IMX291 CMOS image sensor, the same technology used in premium mobile cameras. It is known to have good low-light capability. It now has dual channel Full HD recording (1080p 30fps), 'advanced' night vision, and mobile app support through WiFi. It retains the built-in GPS, 3-axis accelerometer G-sensor, motion sensor, and built-in super capacitor. Recording capacity is now improved with support for 128GB UHS-1 memory cards.
The packaging is now more compact and stylish with 107 mm x 60.5 mm x 32.5 mm; it also weighs in lighter at 104.5 grams.
As with the previous model, a secondary camera is available as an option, but it now gains 1080p and retails for PhP 5,200. Or you can opt to buy it as a package for PhP 3,100 more.
Installation and setup is pretty easy. It comes with a quick slide mount which can be attached to the windshield or a plastic moulding via a high bond double adhesive tape. The device can be powered either through a cigarette lighter plug adapter or an optional continuous power cable wired to your car’s electrical system. I would recommend you to have a qualified electrician to perform the hardwiring to your electrical system. The continuous power option allows for ‘Parking Mode’ which records specific events while the vehicle is parked.
What's particularly new with the F800 Pro is the 'Safety Camera Alert' features it comes with (red light warning system, speed camera alert, red light & speed camera warning system, average speed warning system and mobile zone warning system).
It also comes with a 'Road Safety Warning System' which gives your car advanced safety features such as Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Front Collision Warning System (FCWS), Urban Front Collision Warning System (uFCWS), and Front Vehicle Departure Warning (FVDW) to ensure driver safety. It warns you with a faint tone on collision and vehicle departure warnings and a knocking sound for lane departure warning.
In Parking Mode, the device automatically records a 20-second video when an impact occurs (10 seconds before, and 10 seconds after); it also has a motion sensor which also records a 20-second clip with the same before and after sequence. A new 'Time-Lapse' mode records more frames into a 20-second clip, as well. The clips are saved in their respective folders on the memory card for future reference. The system also has a built in safety shut off feature that automatically shuts down the device when battery power goes below 12.2V (by default) so it does not drain your battery. It also shuts off the dashcam in high-temperature situations with its built-in thermal sensor.
Configuration of the F800 Pro can done via the Viewer software (now available for both PC and Mac) or WiFi via an app for Android or IOS. As a Mac and iPhone user myself, I'm glad they now support my devices. Insert your MicroSD card to a card reader and you can adjust the many settings like brightness, audio recording, voice guidance, video resolution and quality (VGA, HD or Full HD), impact sensitivity, motion sensitivity, safety voltage, and memory card partition. Configuration data is saved to the memory card. The unit comes with a 16GB 'HC I' Micro SD card but you can upgrade to a 64GB or 128GB for more storage. Make sure you buy a 'UHS-1' rated card for efficient Full HD recording.
The ‘Continuous Recording’ function saves files in 1-minute intervals to MP4 files with quality dependent on your settings. I just left it on Full HD to achieve the best recording quality. The front camera records at a 140-degree angle which basically covers your front periphery. Video quality is very crisp and clear during the day and still very good at night despite have a lightly tinted front windshield. The F800 Pro comes with wide dynamic range and auto exposure which automatically adjusts recording settings according to the lighting condition.
The video playback now shows the speed reading based on the embedded GPS in the device, which helps in monitoring the vehicle activity if you're not the one using the vehicle. However, if you get involved in a incident and you were speeding, this would work against you.
The F800 Pro loses still photo mode, which used to allow you to take snapshots on demand before. It also doesn't take a snapshot with the incident now, like it used to.
For continuous recording, impact sensitivity can be set from: Lowest, Low, Mid, High. Finding the right impact sensitivity setting is quite tricky at first, it is set at 'Low' by default, and I think it's about right. Some settings might be too sensitive for your car, it's not a one size fits all. Setting it too low however might not make event recordings in case you actually need one, so better to be safe than sorry.
For parking mode, you can set between: Lowest, Low, Mid, High and Highest. By the default, the system came with 'Mid'.
The proprietary PC Viewer software is recommended to view both front and rear video clips as well as display GPS data outputted to a Google Map sync. It comes with a user friendly interface that is pretty straightforward.
Overall, the Thinkware F800 Pro is quite a sum for a two-channel HD dashcam at PhP 16,000 (PhP 19,100 package). But with its build quality and features, you might really want to give it a good look. As with my gripe with FXD700, I still wish they allowed longer clips for the continuous recording mode. For more information about Thinkware Car DVR products visit www.blackbox.ph.