In this day and age, it pays to have a decent security camera. Be it to protect your home, or to protect your car, it’s always a good idea to have visual evidence in the event that something unfortunate occurs. Enter the next product to grace the review desk: the Thinkware F200 Dash Cam.
This entry-level dash cam setup launched back in July, so it’s still pretty fresh on the scene. Thinkware, however, is a long-standing vet in the game. The company was founded in 1997, and its headquarters are located in Seongnam, Korea. That said, this is the first of its products I’ve tested, and it’s an impressive first experience, for the most part.
Aside from a couple of minor quirks – which I’ll cover later in this review – this is a solid device worth taking a look at for those who want to get into the dash cam game. Especially considering its price tag. The front camera and rear will run you $149 and $49, respectively. That’s a pretty decent deal, all things considered.
What’s in the box?
Main Dash Cam Unit, Rear Dash Cam Unit, Mount with 3M tape (1ea), Hardwiring cable, Rear Camera Cable, Adhesive Cable Holder, MicroSD memory card with adapter(consumable), Quick Start Guide/Warranty Card
Installing the F200 Dash Cam was surprisingly easy and only took about 15-20 minutes from start to finish, not counting the software side of things. The included 3M adhesive tabs work very well and hold the cameras in place, even in very hot weather – I’m assuming it will hold just as well in the upcoming winter months, but I’ll update this review if that isn’t the case.
For those curious, I installed this setup myself in a 2015 Hyundai Tucson. I tucked the cabling into crevices along their paths so that they are mostly out of the way and not overly visible. I’m satisfied with the small area along the right side of the dashboard where the cable is visible, as it doesn’t get in the way of anything or anyone in the passenger seat.
The dash cam itself is positioned directly below my rearview mirror. The mount the camera attaches to has a swiveling base to allow for easy and precise camera placement. I accidentally mounted the rear-facing camera upside down, initially. Luckily, the 3M adhesive is somewhat forgiving should you need to move your camera after placing it. It still does a great job of sticking for me after I flipped my camera right-side-up.
As you can see, I wasn’t too concerned with the rear camera cable hanging loose like it is. It doesn’t get in the way when I open my trunk (see: almost never), and it doesn’t obstruct my view while I’m driving.
It works for me, but you may want to tuck the cable in – it’s a matter of personal preference, I suppose.
Other install notes
I did opt to install the external GPS receiver (it plugs into the dash cam and sticks to your windshield using 3M adhesive), which records and keeps track of time, speed, and location information which are displayed in the video. Additionally, using the Thinkware PC viewer, GPS information of the video is displayed directly on Google Maps. I’ll cover this more in a bit.
I did NOT install the optional hardwiring cable – not yet, anyway – which adds “Parking Surveillance Mode”. In this mode, you also get:
- Impact detection – Captures impacts caused to the vehicle such as hit-and-runs while you are away
- Motion detection – Captures events detected by motion such as potential vandalism attempts
- Energy saving mode – Extends coverage duration exponentially by keeping the dash cam in a power-saving mode during inactivity.
I didn’t install this yet because I’m not comfortable messing with the fuses in my car, but I imagine I have a buddy or two who could throw it in for me at some point – I’m not too worried about it right now, though.
Mobile software and setup
Once you physically install the hardware, all that’s left is the software portion. Here, you’re required to install the Thinkware Cloud app for Android or iOS. The app works with several different models, but some functionalities may or may not work, depending on your specific model. For instance, the F200 does not off Thinkware Cloud access like some of the higher-end models. Just something to keep in mind if you’re wanting a cloud-enabled dash cam.
Setup on my phone was simple, aside from one pretty annoying factor; I couldn’t use my daily device – my Google Pixel 2 – to set it up.
The app worked all the way up to the point where I had to position the camera using my phone’s display as a reference.
For whatever reason, I couldn’t get any image out of the camera on my screen. I assumed this is due to my phone running Android 9.0. This was confirmed by using my LG G6, which runs on Android 8.0, where I had no issues and could see the camera feed just fine on my screen.
I was able to get Live View to work on my Pixel 2 by turning on Airplane Mode and enabling only my WiFi connection. I’ve reached out to Thinkware, as I feel this has to be a bug and not the intended method of connecting since my LG G6 doesn’t have this issue. I’ll update this portion once I hear back from the manufacturer.
Here’s a quick rundown of what I like and dislike about the app.
- I can access video files directly from my phone and save them like I would any other file. (This will come in handy when you’re in an accident and need quick access to the footage.)
- The app is built very clunkily and feels outdated.
- It doesn’t do a good enough job of distinguishing which devices work with Hotspot connection and Thinkware Cloud. I had to get in touch with support to have them explain that cloud services are unavailable for the F200.
- It’s not fully compatible with the latest version of Android. (
Live view doesn’t work on my Pixel 2.See above regarding this.)
In my opinion, the PC/Mac Viewer software is the saving grace when it comes to the software solution for the Thinkware F200 Dash Cam. The interface is a bit smoother and easier to navigate.
Also, using the optional GPS receiver allows you to see video locations in Google Maps, along with timestamps and even the speed at which you were driving. I’m pretty fond of those features, so I generally stick to using the PC Viewer and stay away from the mobile app unless I absolutely need to use it. That’s just a personal preference, however.
If you’re thinking about getting a dash cam, but don’t want to spend a ton of money and/or don’t need a ton of extra features, Thinkware’s F200 is a solid option at a respectable price. As you can see above, the video quality is certainly acceptable, and based on my own experience, the install process was quick and smooth.
Of course, there’s always room for improvement, so what I’d like to see in the next iteration of this model is a 1080p rear camera. More importantly, I’d like to see an updated UI in the mobile application. Yes, the current state works, but as a consumer, I’d rather see something a bit more modern and polished – just my two cents, do with that what you will.
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- Thinkware F200 Dash Cam – $149.99
- Rear Camera for F200 Dash Cam – $49.99
- GPS Receiver – $33.79
- Hardwiring Kit – $24.35