Thinkware U1000 dash cam review
The U1000 is the latest model from dash and sports camera brand Thinkware and sits at the top of its line, starting at £339 and rising to £469 for the dual-channel version tested here.
That's not cheap, given that you can pick up a dash cam from a recognised brand for as little as £50, but it does come with a good number of high-end features. The front camera uses a 150-degree Sony Starvis lens and 4K sensor while the included rear camera offers 2K recording. A parking mode with ultra-low power setting can provide night and day protection for up to 24 days and GPS, wifi and smartphone connectivity are standard. Also included are traffic light and speed camera warning, a host of ADAS functions and geo fencing that can track the camera’s location if the vehicle leaves a defined area.
The main camera unit is quite long but fairly flat and should fit behind most rear view mirrors without intruding into the driver’s view, helped by an incredibly thin mount. The downside to the mount is that it doesn’t offer any adjustment and, once fitted, the camera lens only adjusts for height. For this reason, it’s best to hook up the free smartphone app first, which allows you to view live and recorded footage from the camera so you can position it correctly.
The rear camera is a far smaller lozenge-shaped unit with vertical adjustment so you can mount it high up and out of the way.
Unlike previous Thinkware units, the U1000 thankfully comes with a 12V power adaptor as standard for quick installation. But it also comes with the hard-wiring kit for a professional installation - ideal for business users who want round-the-clock functionality and a neater fitting.
Three small buttons on the main camera toggle the power, wifi and microphone while a larger central button allows you to start or stop recording manually. Most of the time, however, the camera will run in continuous mode, meaning as soon as you start the engine it begins recording, overwriting any older footage you haven’t locked. If the camera detects a sharp impact, it will automatically save and protect the footage, stopping it from being overwritten.
Other recording options include a parking mode that requires the unit to be hardwired in. When this is done it offers time lapse recording as well as a “wake on impact” mode.
Connecting the smartphone app is quick and easy and allows most camera settings and function to be controlled via your phone, including activating the various driver aid functions.
As with many higher-priced dash cams, the U1000 offers advanced driver assistance systems in the shape of forward collision detection and lane departure warning. And, as with other cameras, these are incredibly sensitive to the camera’s positioning and calibration and are not a patch on manufacturer installed systems.
The image from the front 4K camera is as good as you would hope, with sharp detail and decent contrast no matter how bright the sunlight, improved by an included polarising filter. The rear camera offers 2K resolution and, while obviously not on a par with the front camera, still produces clear, usable images in day-to-day conditions. Super Night Vision 2.0 might sound ridiculous but the inbuilt image processing does offer a noticeable improvement on low-light footage as well.
The U1000 is definitely one of the more expensive dash cam options on the market. For that reason, it’s probably aimed more at professional drivers and businesses with a fleet of vehicles who need a permanently installed unit. For the money, though, it offers excellent image quality and a wealth of features to offer protection on the move and when the car is parked.