The ThinkWare F770 is a dashboard camera system which records to the front and rear of your car, can be installed as a permanent, powered fixture, warns of speed cameras and drifting out of lane, and can even record for up to 48 hours after you park up.
By any measure it is the all-in-one system and perhaps the ultimate 'dashcam'. But is it worth the £250 asking price, plus professional installation? We hooked one up to find out.
Until recently, dashcams were little more than the source of an endless collection of weird, hilarious and sometimes downright terrifying views into life on the roads of Russia. But their popularity has now spread to the UK, where they play a key role in providing evidence of collisions and vandalism, and working out who is to blame in an accident.
While most dashcams attach to a windscreen suction mount like a satellite navigation system or phone holder, all of ThinkWare's cameras use small plastic mounts stuck to the screen with strong adhesive. This at first looks like a pain but is really a clue that these cameras, the F770 in particular, are to be considered as permanent features of your car interior.
As such, we had the pair of cameras professionally installed into our car; the main unit sits at the top of the windscreen, hidden neatly behind the rear-view mirror, while the rear camera fits at the top of the rear screen.
It is a neat and tidy install which ThinkWare and installation partners Chameleon claim can be performed on almost any vehicle. The cameras are connected by a cable hidden behind the car's interior and the main unit to connected to the battery, so that it starts recording when you turn the ignition.
This power source also keeps the F770 recording for up to 48 hours after you park and turn the car off. Any collisions, such as someone hitting your car while parking, are recorded and saved onto the included microSD card. That 48-hour limit is there for a good reason, as much longer and the cameras will start to draw too much power from the battery; twice our Mini warned us, despite starting as normal, that 'excessive battery drain' had occurred while parked. Several more short, frequent journeys could have posed more of a problem. Thankfully, the length of time recorded after you park can be adjusted via the iOS and Android app.
Parked footage is captured at one frame per second, which makes the resulting time lapses easy to quickly scan through if you need to view a specific event. Sadly, sound is not recorded while parked, which could limit evidence of damage or vandalism in some instances.
We found the camera would often alert us to 'parking incidents' which had not happened. The system's sensitivity is likely turned up so high that passing trucks or a nearby slammed door could trigger the false recordings.
The app, called Dash Cam, is the easiest way to view recorded video, adjust settings and see a live feed (only while parked) from each camera. The app connects to the F770 over Wi-Fi, so realistically you need to be in the car to connect and view footage. Alternatively you can remove the SD card and plug it into a computer or tablet elsewhere.
Video quality of these recordings is excellent and in 1080p high definition. The cameras also work well at night, clearly picking out pedestrians, vehicles and their number plates. The field of view is wide enough to cover both sides of the road, both pavements and the whole height of houses at either side. On motorways the cameras can see right across to the far side of the opposite carriageway. The entire front and back of the car is also clearly in shot, meaning most accidents and incidents should be captured when an accelerometer sensor tells the system to save the previous few minutes of footage.
As well as recording video, the F770 has a suite of driver assistance features to keep you safe. The camera alerts you to nearby speed cameras, giving you a warning and telling you the speed limit at 300 feet, 100 feet and right as you approach the camera. It can also warn you if you stray out of your lane on the motorway and if it thinks you are about to have a front-end crash. The sensitivity of both can be adjusted or they can be switched off completely, as can the speed camera warning.
In fact, the F770 can be adjusted to such an extent that the only noise it makes is a message saying how many potential incidents were recorded when parked, each time you switch on the ignition. The cameras then silently record while you drive, providing no more distractions.
However, if you do need to interact with the F770, things can get tricky. The buttons on the front camera are difficult to see clearly without moving your rear-view mirror, and certainly not accessible while driving. That being said, once everything is set up there is no reason to touch the camera again.
There is also no need to remove the cameras from your car, as their black finish and positioning makes them subtle, difficult to spot and unlikely to attract unwanted attention. We wouldn't ever consider removing the cameras, unless to fit them to a new car. The cameras unclip from their mounts easily, however, but the mounts themselves will require a heat gun to get the sticking pads off the front and rear screens.
The F770 is an excellent car camera system which monitors the road ahead and behind, and records for up to 48 hours while parked. The system includes a good smartphone app for viewing and transferring footage. It also has speed camera alerts and other safety features, although these can become annoying if all are left switched on.
At around £250, the F770 is expensive and the semi-permanent installation won't suit everyone, but for those wanting a fully-fledged dashcam which feels like it was fitted at the factory, this could be the one for you.