Having a dash cam in your vehicle is the easiest way to ensure you have a reliable witness in he said/she said arguments after a car accident. The ability to prove you weren’t at fault, that the light was green, or that you were cut-off could save you hundreds of dollars by avoiding insurance rate hikes and traffic tickets. Thinkware’s F70 is an affordable dash cam that packs a lot of features into its small size.
The do-it-yourself setup of the F70 is straightforward and quick to complete. Everything necessary to mount the camera is included, along with adhesive clips to keep the power cable tucked neatly around the windshield and dash to the vehicle’s lighter socket. The F70 is small in size—3.07″ wide, 1.4″ deep, and 1.24″ high—which makes it unobtrusive to the driver. Once the F70 is plugged in, it is ready to record.
Continuous mode video will begin recording automatically once the vehicle starts and the camera boots up. Videos recorded in continuous mode will be written over as the micro SD card requires space. If the F70 senses an incident, a 20-second recording will be stored in a separate folder that will not be written over by continuous mode, allowing you to feel confident that important videos will remain saved for you to view at a later time. That’s a feature I like in particular. The camera also has a REC button on the driver’s side which allows you to manually record a protected video. Pressing this button stores a one-minute long recording (10 seconds before the button is pressed and 50 seconds afterwards) in another separate folder to avoid re-writing over the video.
Having the F70 professionally hard-wired to your vehicle, like I did, not only prevents using up your interior power resources but also unlocks the Parking mode features of the dash cam. Professional installation at my local car audio shop took less than 15 minutes and with no visible wires at all, the F70 blends in well and could be mistaken for standard equipment.
While an extra cost, I wanted to make sure there were no extra wires and that it was properly done. But honestly, had I known how easy it is to do, I probably would have just wired it up myself.
Parking mode can operate in one of two settings. Motion Detection will record a 20-second video of any movement in front of the camera. The camera will save 10 seconds prior to and 10 seconds after the motion is detected and will store the video in a separate folder that will not be over written with continuous footage. An energy saving mode reduces drain from your vehicle’s battery, but will only record when the vehicle detects an impact. The 20 seconds after the event will be saved in a separate folder.
To view the recordings from the F70, it is necessary to remove the micro SD card and load it onto a PC or Mac. All settings for the camera are also managed using the Viewer software. This is somewhat inconvenient in terms of initial set up as you don’t really know if the camera is angled correctly until going back to your computer—kind of like how old GoPros were. Another word of advice for Mac users, is that you can’t format the micro SD card on a Mac. I figured this out the hard way, when doing a firmware update that required formatting. With no PC in the house I was wondering how I was going to do this, when I discovered that the camera itself can be used to format the card. Simply press and hold the record button until the voice guide prompts you that formatting has begun. Problem solved.
The only default setting I felt necessary to adjust was decreasing the sensitivity of the camera’s interpretation of a “driving event” (an impact for example). While recording in continuous mode, the camera would often give a double beep indicating it was storing a video into the Event file. This was often alarming, especially as I wasn’t out playing bumper cars. The sensitivity was so high that just driving over a dip in the road or a speed bump caused it to go off. Adjusting this setting resolved the issue making this less a complaint about the F70 itself, and more a reflection on the miserable quality of the roads in my area.
The Viewer is simply laid out and intuitive. The video files (continuous, motion, event, and manual) are separated into sections making it easy to find important files. As the videos are recorded in MP4 format they can easily be transferred to your computer, renamed, and shared. While other, more expensive cameras offer Wi-Fi enabled video playback on a mobile app, I don’t find the need to re-watch my own driving often enough to make the added cost necessary—and I do watch my Nest Cam footage regularly. Unlike surveillance cameras that will show you what you didn’t see around your home (yes, I saw you neighbor-three-doors-down stealing my recycle bins) I have had little need to watch footage of everything I just saw through my windshield.
The video quality from the F70 is impressive. The 1080p Full HD video combined with the 140-degree viewing angle gives you a detailed, broad view of your drive. The Wide Dynamic Range means the camera compensates for bright sun or dark, night driving conditions to provide clear video images any time you are behind the wheel. The Continuous mode videos are saved in one-minute increments but will auto play through the viewer with only a brief pause.
The F70 does not have a built-in GPS but Thinkware does offer an accessory tracker that can be purchased separately—at added cost. The tracker can simply be plugged into the port specifically for this purpose on the driver’s side of the camera. Adding the GPS would allow for speed information on video recordings as well as other driving features such as safety camera warnings.
With an affordable price tag, the Thinkware F70 is the little dash cam that can. Its excellent video quality and ability to compartmentalize recorded videos make the driver confident that important incident details are clear and safe. The simple setup and ease-of-use make the F70 an accessible camera to those new to using a dash cam, while features such as parking mode and the ability to add on GPS data allow for everything a more advanced user could need.
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