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Review: Thinkware X700 Dashcam

A few years back, I reviewed the F800 PRO dashcam from Thinkware. The company’s flagship model at that time, it was a very impressive piece of technology. However, with Wi-Fi connectivity (via its own network) and related cloud-based features, it was a fairly complicated and expensive option. It also lacked a live view screen, instead connecting to a smartphone to display live action. The company subsequently released the X700. This is a more traditional dashcam. It ditches the Wi-Fi, gains a touchscreen display, and it’s a more affordable option. But it retains key features that made the F800 so good, namely the widescreen image capture and a high-performance Sony STAVIS image sensor.

Setup and Installation

Dashware is currently selling the X700 as a bundle that includes everything needed for a comprehensive setup. That includes the F700 dashcam itself, a 12V power adapter, a 16GB MicroSD card, a GPS antenna, a rear camera with 19.7 feet of connecting cable, and a wide assortment of 3M mounting tape and clips for installation. At $249.99 for the complete kit, that is pretty reasonably-priced front and back coverage.

During testing, I installed the X700 only, not the rear camera. For most vehicles, this is a pretty simple process and no tools are required. Plug the camera into the power adapter so you can see the camera view on the display, then find a sweet spot on the windshield where the camera gets a good view of the road without obstructing the driver’s view. Typically, that’s somewhere around the rear view mirror. Now would be a good time to use the touchscreen controls to set up the day and time. Then use one of the 3M two-way adhesive pads to attach the camera to the windshield.

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From there, the power cable tucks easily under the headliner, and adhesive clips let you route it out of sight under the dashboard. 

One word of warning. Micro SD cards are tiny. I made the mistake at one point of trying to insert the card when the camera was still mounted to the windshield. Bad idea. Take a few seconds to slide it off the mount first. Fumbling around without really being able to see what I was doing, I somehow managed to push the card in while completely missing the eject mechanism. It was effectively stuck. I had to take the camera apart to retrieve the card. Fortunately, this was easily done — five tiny Phillips screws — and everything was fine once the card was retrieved and inserted correctly. Three cheers for electronics that can actually be user-repaired! However, removing the camera from its mount whenever you want to pop the Micro SD card in or out is definitely the easier way to go… 

Image Quality

The X700 is equipped with a 2.13-inch Sony STAVIS image sensor. It captures wide dynamic range video at Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution @ 30 frames per second, and has a Super Night Vision mode. The lens is 140° wide angle, which has the advantage of capturing a significantly wider view than many dashcams. There is also an integrated microphone, which can be disabled. If you leave it running, the audio is saved as part of the video file.

Here is a screen capture of daylight footage captured by the X700.

And here’s what night video looks like. 

I left it on continuously recording, which captures video as soon as the vehicle is started. The camera saves the video as small chunks (one minute in length and about 84MB in size) and keeps adding to the collection until the memory card runs out of space. Then it begins overwriting the oldest files. The included Micro SD card is 16GB, so that should provide days worth of capture. 

You can also manually capture video using the touchscreen — these videos are saved in a different folder that does not get overwritten by continuous recording. Also, if the camera detects an “incident” it automatically saves footage in another protected folder. Incidents are essentially major impacts like collisions, and big bumps like driving through a pothole. It not only ensures footage from a collision is preserved, it’s a very useful feature for parents of teenagers who borrow the car…  

How Do You View Footage?

You can review any of the captured video footage onscreen, using the X700’s 2.7-inch LCD display. However, you’ll probably want to view it on a PC. This required removing the Micro SD card, so keep that warning about dismounting the camera in mind.

Thinkware has viewer software for Windows and macOS that displays the video, along with key information. If you have a GPS module installed, that includes the speed of the vehicle, for example. My M1 MacBook Pro did not like the viewer software, so I’ve included a screen capture from when I tested the F800 PRO. Expect a similar view.

However, even if you don’t use Thinkware’s viewer software, the videos are saved as standard MPEG-4 movie files. It’s easy to navigate the folders to access the files and play or copy them. 

Optional Features

With the GPS antenna installed, the X700 dashcam offers some driving safety features, including forward collision detection warning and lane departure warning. My review kit didn’t have the GPS module, but I did test these features with Thinkware’s F800 PRO dashcam. They couldn’t compare with the safety systems found in modern cars — one camera and a GPS can’t replicate the accuracy of a swarm of integrated sensors — but for an older vehicle that lacks modern safety technology, it’s a nice extra.  

If you opt for the optional hardwire installation kit, the X700 also detects impacts when your vehicle is parked, saving video of the incident.

Thinkware X700 Dashcam Recommendation

If you’re considering a dashcam for your vehicle, the Thinkware X700 is a solid pick, especially at its bundled package that also includes the GPS antenna and a rear-view camera. It’s easy to setup and install, and the video it captures is high quality. It’s limited to Full HD, but that provides plenty of detail for most purposes and the Sony image sensor makes that footage pop, even at night. 

If you want higher resolution, Thinkware has options. The Q800 PRO captures 2K video (2560 x 1440), while the U1000 does a full 4K. But for users who want a dashcam for protection during accident investigations and to capture the odd interesting video during their drive, the Thinkware X700 provides a nice balance between cost, ease of use/installation, and video quality.

Disclosure: Thinkware provided an X700 for evaluation but had no input into this review.

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