In a sea of highly competitive dash cam options, Thinkware’s F800 Pro stab at offering a premium dash cam product experience is hard to overlook. Spoiler alert: It succeeds in setting new benchmarks for the market overall, but it isn’t a perfect product. Here’s our first-hand review of the Thinkware F800 Pro Dash Cam.
Looks and Design
The F800 Pro almost comes off as too subtle in appearance but that is only a reflection of the seamless and straightforward design, which I am a big fan of. It has a sleek design that avoids the bulky look of many of its competitors.
This dash cam lacks a display because Thinkware designed this dash cam to be configured directly to your smartphone. Your smartphone then becomes the hub in which you control almost all the dash cam’s functions. It’s an unusual approach but one that is definitely forward-thinking.
The simple black color pattern with minimal flourishes of grey seems appropriate and despite being noticeably large measuring 1.1 x 2.5 x 3.25 inches, it neatly tucks into the upper edge of the windshield when installed.
A hardwire installation is truly advised for making this dash cam work as intended. Although the hardwiring kit and multiple adhesives are supplied, the temptation could be there to handle this yourself, but the smartest thing to do is to get a professional to get it done with no hiccups.
A reputable technician can have it up and running for a reasonable cost. It will be money well spent especially if you are going to spring for the rearview camera accessory.
Despite the lack of a screen, the F800 has a lot of useful buttons on it. The interior side houses the power switch, Wi-Fi connectivity mode, and a mute button for the microphone.
The other side of the dash cam contains a reset button and a micro-USB port.
One area in which the F800 Pro really ramps things up a notch is the bundling of advanced driver assistance systems with the camera functions. Collision and lane departure warnings are great safety features that can come in handy for even experienced drivers.
One of the most exciting additions to the F800 Pro that is a very welcome update on the original F800 release is the cloud connectivity function accessed through a Thinkware app. The aim of this is to conveniently provide video footage updates to the owner of the vehicle’s phone.
This is pretty much a boon for owners who may be in situations where equipment to source footage may not be readily on hand. Having the app on the phone immediately makes this a non-issue.
Speaking of which, you will need to have a data plan as part of your phone’s service subscription to get the Thinkware cloud service to run smoothly. Even then, things are not as simple with using the cloud connection as I will explain shortly.
The F800 Pro’s price tag brings with it big expectations for video quality and this dash cam’s daytime footage resolution is second to none. Images appear crisp and clear even in direct sunlight and driving footage always has the right saturation and transitions no matter what.
But what is even more impressive is the night time video captures that capture a lot of important detail and minimizes the negative effects of shadowing on certain angles of vehicles ahead of you.
The excellent Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor really does show its worth in low-light conditions and the resulting moving footage noticeably stands out from the rest of the competition.
Now onto that ingenious cloud connection. The cloud needs to have access to a reliable cellular data connection to operate smoothly, so this is not a dash cam for people with limited data plans.
Your phone’s battery will also be getting a constant workout with all this responsibility. I have a smartphone with an average (according to industry standards) battery life and having to constantly charge my phone more often than usual took some getting used to while testing this dash cam.
The driving assistance features, particularly the lane departure warning, show commendable calibration and are a welcome presence when driving in situations where driving can quickly become less than predictable. It also makes the F800 Pro truly feel like a complete package because even before you may need the F800 Pro’s footage to deal with that unfortunate fender bender, it is very comforting to know measures are being taken to avoid that situation in the first place.
Our Final Verdict
The Thinkware F800 Pro plays in a field of capable dash cams that offer features that could rival it, but its exceptional night time footage ability coupled with the ingenious smartphone setup makes it a dash cam that understands where technology is headed.
Smartphones are quickly becoming the go-to device for most drivers who always feel the need to be connected on more than just the basic level. Being able to access your dash cam’s full capabilities while on the go is a major boon and I believe there are quite a number of people who appreciate that easy accessibility.
This dash cam easily feels two steps more ahead than the competition in terms of overall execution and that largely makes it a worthwhile and long-term investment.4